A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.

Uravo The Watcher

ESSENTIAL RULK : Review of HULK Issue # 41

HULK Issue # 41HULK Issue 41 “Omegex 3: Finality” marks the last issue of artist Gabriel Hardman’s run as the penciler on this series.   While he’s incredibly gifted with a classic pulpy style, my relationship with Hardman’s work has been strained at best, specifically when it comes to his incarnation of the Red Hulk.   Drawing him with a stocky, swollen looking frame with a face often greatly lacking in detail, Hardman’s Rulk often looked like one of those giant helium balloons you’d find in a Thanksgiving Day Parade down the streets of New York versus the powerful visual feast past artists have accustomed (maybe even spoiled) fans to.

 

But as the Red Hulk is about to meet his demise at the hands of the cosmic Omegex, this issue reveals it has really nothing to do with the Red Giant and everything to do with the man… Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross. So it’s fitting that Hardman’s swan song is an issue that allows him to draw what he draws best: Humans. Unequivocally, Gabriel Hardman draws a wonderful General Ross.   It’s a fantastic artistic rendition, drawn full of heart. 

Ross and Annie

Ross and Annie

 

And Ross is the heart of this issue, the centerpiece of a superbly crafted story written by Jeff Parker that explores the emotional underpinnings of the man within the beast.   As Essential Rulk Issue #23 “Who is the Red Hulk?” masterfully chronicled the life changing events that drove a man down the road to become a monster, this gem of an issue works as a companion piece that explores how the boy became this man.   The results are sad, even poetically tragic, that will spur sympathy towards the long misunderstood hard ass General. 

We finally learn what happens to that mustache!

We finally learn what happens to that mustache!

 

This is a tale that is most difficult to relive by Ross himself, who can no longer hide within his forever cold and hardened shell.   Buried memories so easily exposed by the advanced being Zero-One haunts Thaddeus, yet he proceeds because he realizes all of humanity.. not just his repressed emotional safety.. may be on the line.   So he tries to win Zero-One over for us, knowing he won’t win against the Omegex just like any other challenge he’s faced.   As Zero-One puts it to the Red Hulk… “This is all cyclical. cyclical loss.   You lose to the hulk.   You lose your daughter to him.   Year after year, you lose.”   But thanks to Parker, issue after issue, the readers win.   This one’s essential.   Pick it up.

 

4.5 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.  
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RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 40

HULK Issue # 40

In HULK Issue #40 “Omegex: Part Two“, writer Jeff Parker spins an unexpectedly interesting tale.   The battle between the two incredible titans Red Hulk and Omegex trumpeted on the cover are never in the forefront, but daringly become the backdrop to something a hundred times more subtle.   All the focus rests on the Red Hulk’s enemy Zero-One and her struggle with her own identity, hinged on finding the answer to a single question that has eluded her purely logical mind:   Was her humanity worth losing?

 

Zero-One’s appearance comes at a time when the Rulk is in grave danger of losing his life.   Onlookers Annie and the Watcher Uravo know it, General Fortean (who joins in on the Omegex’s beat down of the Red Hulk) knows it, and even Ross knows it.   At the hands of the “walking apocalypse“, this may be the Red Hulk’s last stand.   But to understand herself, Zero-One feels she needs to understand the Rulk.   Both her and Ross have clearly evolved to greater beings. Yet, after effectively eliminating all their imperfections, why does the Red Hulk refrain from using his cosmic absorption powers in fear of losing his frail former humanoid self?   Why does he value the weaker state of being?   Why does he value humanity?   This does not compute with Zero-One, so she temporarily pulls Ross out of battle to comprehend his illogical ways.

Omegex has the upper hand

Omegex has the upper hand

 

It’s hard not to admire the risky, yet exceptional story writer Jeff Parker has written in these pages of HULK.   Zero-One’s attempt at comprehending the value of humanity and all its frailties is a tale that feels worthy of a classic Star Trek episode, at its refreshingly best.   Will all fans of the Red Hulk enjoy this type of story? I’m not sure… but it’s brave… and it would be difficult to imagine anyone not feeling moved when the Red Hulk pleads with Zero-One to be released back into battle to save his fallen former friend, while knowing the tremendous price he will pay for it.   And how cool was it finally understand Zero-One’s presence at the Ross family farm in the opening of the previous issue?    Bravo Jeff.

When it comes to the art, this issue highlights artist Gabriel Hardman’s biggest weakness.   While he’s a terrific talent, and his panel layout is creative, battle scenes are just not Hardman’s specialty and it clearly shows. His expertise is definitely more suited for the quieter moments and just doesn’t give the monsters nor their carnage the power they deserve.   It’s like a great pair of shoes that… while they’re extremely well made… just doesn’t quite match the outfit.

 

4 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.  
Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog