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

Villains

RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 50 by talents Jeff Parker and Carlo Pagulayan!

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

This is truly an achievement.  When a comic title reaches a 50 issue milestone it is a really big deal.  For over the past twelve months we have seen plenty of casualties in Marvel comics, where other well known title properties struggled to find an audience and ultimately (and rapidly) were met with cancellation.  Alpha Flight was cancelled after 8 issues.  Moon Knight survived only 12. Ghost Rider was axed after 8.  So it is quite an accomplishment for a new character… a Red Hulk title… in a marketplace where even the famous Green Hulk historically struggles with readership longevity to begin with… has flourished, reached and will certainly surpass the 50 issue benchmark.  It’s even more astonishing when one reflects upon the protagonist of this comic is actually a 50-something gray-haired stubborn, arrogant ex-military man who has embraced and cherished the right to bear arms more lovingly than his own flesh and blood.  There is simply no one else like General Ross in comics today, which makes this success a direct testament to the great character Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross himself as much as the great writer Jeff Parker who expertly channels him time and time again.  So once again, this is truly a great achievement… and a medal of legitimacy and success that Red Hulk fans can wear proudly.

Packed with an interview “Catching up with Jeff Parker”, a Red Hulk timeline, a Rogues gallery, a reading chronology and “The Objective” bonus story written by Parker and illustrated by the talented Dan Brereton that fleshes out Ross’s road to the rank of General, the 50th issue of HULK is a stellar book even without the meat and potatoes headliner storyline.  But in the excellent feature story “Haunted Hulk Part One“, the Red Hulk has come to the home of Dr. Strange in dire need of assistance for a problem that is supernatural in nature. It appears after the events of Las Vegas being totally overcome by Hell itself (see the VENOM “Circle Of Four” story arc), some sort of apparition has latched on to Ross and wants to see the Rulk’s demise by any means necessary. And if those means requires unleashing any dead vengeful soul that has died at the hands of Ross (directly or indirectly) so be it.  Will the Red Hulk be able to stop this retribution of the dead before they make him join the dead?

Writer Jeff Parker returns to stellar form in this celebratory issue, masterfully channeling the true essence of classic General Ross.  And how much more classic can you get than the Rulk muttering “I hate magic“… or in response to Dr. Strange’s induced misty seance in attempt to probe key memories from Ross’s mind, the Red Hulk remarks “I knew this would turn into some hippie smoke-up.”   Simply wonderful.

After perfectly setting up the father daughter reunion in the conclusion of issue 48, Jeff Parker also finally treats the readers to a slice of the Thad and Betty reconnection that fans have hungered for, yet was missing from the previous issue.  Parker shines the brightest at these quieter poignant moments, and the tender discussion about Betty’s inheritance of the old Ross family home struck all the right chords.  We can only hope, after shockingly finding out the L.M.D. Annie and Ross are now sleeping together (literally and assuming figuratively), that Parker explores their relationship too and how it reached the next level.  Considering we never saw them even kiss, it would be fascinating to learn the details of their courtship.  It certainly must have been awkward, with Ross naturally struggling with the fact she is a L.M.D. and not human.   And can an L.M.D. feel sexual arousal, let alone love?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Even with all this Red Hulk goodness, the best part of this comic (especially for readers who have been there since Issue #1) was to see the 50th issue come completely full circle and mark the return of the Abomination in spirit form, taking the opportunity to seek revenge for his murder at the hands of the Rulk.  It’s one of those moments where you can feel the adrenaline shoot through your veins, and I only wish the battle (or more precisely torture) the transformed Emil Blonsky began dishing out could have lasted longer than a single page.  Alas, it’s a minor complaint… one that could be compared to wishing you had a little more whipped cream on top of your ice cream sundae, but it’s not enough to forget what a damn good sundae it is.

When it comes to the art, Carlo Pagulayan is a master at drawing both the Banner Hulk and the Red Hulk.  Pagulayan’s art is fantastic across the board, but his ability to capture the sheer power of the Hulks is simply amazing to behold and a true feast for the eyes.  And unlike many other talented artists before him that have drawn the red behemoth, Carlo Pagulayan actually draws the Rulk significantly different.  Not just drawing the Red Hulk trademark pupil-less eyes, the hairless brows and the spiked out hair (which is all important)… but readers can really see Thad’s age in Carlo’s Red Hulk rendition.  You see, facially, Pagulayan draws the Red Hulk tremendously different from the Green Hulk, so much so that you can view his art in black & white and still immediately recognize which Hulk you are looking at.  And who can ask for more than that?  Pagulayan puts so much care and integrity in his work and this character that it is simply a privilege to have him do art duties in this book.

It can not be stressed enough that Pagulayan  also draws a wonderful Red She Hulk… and the emotions he skillfully conveys when she looks back at Ross one more time before leaving him is as powerful as any balloon of dialogue could provide.  Bravo Carlo!

What a great time it is to be a Red Hulk fan!

4.5 out of 5 Stars 

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

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RULK PREVIEW : VENOM Issue # 13.1 “Circle of Four” Part Two!

 


RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 48

Jacob once had a dream… a dream now replaced with a living nightmare.

The horribly burned and disfigured Jacob, assistant to the formerly brilliant and beautiful project leader Parul Kurinji, once fantasized spending a romantic life with Parul.  But in the fantastic, action-packed HULK Issue # 48, Jacob never could have imagined the macabre reality that would come to pass, ever since Parul changed into the threat to humanity known as Zero/One.  Her creations… twisted acts against nature like horrific aquatic beasts, reanimated corpses and a juiced serial killer… were all manifested to extinguish lives for the woman he once loved.  It had to stop before it was too late.  So Jacob risks everything to bring Ross and his team the data needed to finally stop Zero/One.

Writer Jeff Parker continues to be on fire, this time delivering a spectacular thrill ride in Part Two of the  “Red Sky At Morning” story-arc .  In contrast to the final confrontation of the “Hulk of Arabia” climax between the Red Hulk and Dagan Shah that left a feeling of unquenched satisfaction, Rulk’s pulse pounding assault on Zero/One’s base (with the help of the Red She Hulk and Machine Man) ends with such gratifying results that it feels like the battle has been won… regardless if one eye must still remain perpetually fixed on the war.

Zero/One’s demise would have not been possible without the efforts of Jacob.  Her reluctant and terrified assistant that has seen enough horror to push him into the fray of insanity, became not just a victim… but a savior… quite possibly for the entire human race.  And Parker fleshes out his ironic circumstance so masterfully, it feels deeply tragic when it becomes evident that Jacob may never be able to escape the devastating fate that has befallen him.  Ever.

While it would have been icing on Parker’s oh so delicious cake to witness the Red Hulk’s thunderous blows successfully sink the synthetic island of vessels down to the ocean floor… as well as relish in Zero/One’s betrayer not holding back and watching him actually stick it to her… this hearty dish was simply a feast for the senses and concludes Jeff Parker’s most gratifying story-arc yet!

 With the artistic talents of Elena Casagrande and Rachelle Rosenberg on the job, there is some serious Girl Power in this issue, which is fitting for a story filled with such powerful women.  Where the drawing is concerned, it seems the work and ability to dazzle the readers by the best Zero/One artist hands down Elena Casagrande increases with every panel.  From her eye catching unique aquatic beasts to her downright impressive sinister Black Fog, and her uncanny ability to draw a natural female form to a robust Red Hulk that keeps on getting better and better, Casagrande’s delightful imagery has developed into a wonderful unique style.

 Now with coloring, unfortunately a colorist can sometimes have a thankless job.  But if anyone is deserving recognition in this department it’s the beautiful work by Rachelle Rosenberg.  Talking about it doesn’t do it justice. Let’s let some of her wonderful brilliance in coloring speak for itself. Take a look:

 

I would love to see this creative team work full time together.  This is an excellent, excellent comic.

5 out of 5 Stars 

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


RULK REVIEW : AVENGING SPIDER-MAN Issue # 3!

“They’re going back to their home.  We worked out a treaty.  You’re a military man.. you like treaties, right?” – Spider-Man

“I guess…” – Rulk

“Yeah, sure you do” – Spider-Man

While reviewing the previous AVENGING SPIDER-MAN  Issue # 1 and 2 (which can be read here), the series was simply proclaimed as “pure fun”.  It’s a compliment harder to achieve than one might think, and fortunately for comic fans everywhere, the 3rd and final issue of the Spider-Man / Red Hulk team-up continues that trend… and does not disappoint.

When we last left Spider-Man and the Red Hulk, the Rulk was slain by Ra’ktar, the King of the underground dwelling Molans who possibly possess the sharpest substance on… or underneath…  the Earth.   Slain with a sword crafted by this dangerous substance, Ross lay defeated…. and Spidey took that distraction as an opportunity to flee with the imprisoned Jonah Jameson.  But to Jonah’s surprise (which may finally spur a shred of understanding and admiration towards the arachnid hero that saved him ) Spidey can only show Jonah the way out before his strength of honor, code and conscience compels the web-head to return to the side of the Red Hulk… regardless if he will ultimately meet the same deadly fate.

Writer Zeb Wells strikes gold again and expertly highlights the stuff that these two mismatched heroes are truly made of.   From Spider-Man’s honorable refusal to leave without his partner… to the Red Hulk’s refusal to give up and let his enemy get the best of him, all the right chords are struck.  And who could not appreciate the Rulk trailing a pool of blood, forcing his body to move all while giving himself a rigged military pep talk… “On your feet Ross!” “Buck up soldier!”

In the perspective of solely Red Hulk fans, sure the time spent on Rulk in this issue was a little short changed, but the unorthodox yet classic way Spidey defeated Ra’ktar served the story well… including the revenge-denying truce that enraged Ross much more than any punch or sword stroke ever could.

Joe Madureira’s art is purely insane, in the utmost complimentary way.  With the brilliant coloring of Ferran Daniel, Madureira’s talent produces stunning upon stunning images that are so very unique, surreal and tantalizing.  His gift is truly a special one… and who could not love his thrilling use of silhouettes!  It’s simply wonderful.

This is a comic book that will remind you why you like the Superhero genre.  Pick it up!

4 out of 5 Stars 

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


RULK REVIEW : KING-SIZE HULK Issue # 1

It’s been my experience that Giant Size issues (or in this case King-Size issues) are more often miss than hit.  Rather than getting a worthy addendum to a character’s current story arc, readers were too often “treated” to pointless new shorts that felt like useless filler surrounded by a sea of reprinted stories… leaving one at best unsatisfied and at worst with a feeling that the reader has just been “had” by a publisher’s money grab.  Fortunately, for Red Hulk fans, this is neither.

Beyond the classic comic reprints including the overplayed first appearance of Wolverine with the legendary villain Wendigo, KING SIZE HULK Issue # 1 features three new stories written by Jeph Loeb, two that are very good reads which actually flesh out the first half of the Red Hulk story arc.

It begins with “Where Monsters Dwell” drawn by the one of best artists in the business: Arthur Adams.  Six miles beneath the surface in a gamma base reinforced cell, Bruce Banner is drafting a report on a dossier S.H.I.E.L.D. asked him to review.  They have been tracking a mysterious new Hulk… a Red Hulk… heading west through Canada on his way to Russia.  No one knows at that point he was on a path to murder Emil Blonsky a.k.a. the Abomination, but Red ran into some trouble along the way in the form of a Wendigo and apparently there is more than one.  So Banner hypothesizes what happened that lone night with the details and evidence that was provided to him.

If any penciler could match Red Hulk’s sheer power conveyed by artist Ed McGuinness, it would likely be Arthur Adams.  The over abundant muscled frame he creates joyfully oozes a raw power few talents can match.  You can almost feel the Rulk’s core radioactivity simmer off the page.

Jeph Loeb finishes the tale at the offices of General Thaddeus Ross.  Sitting at his desk, Ross finishes Banner’s analysis by reading a postscript that seemingly is a heavily nuanced warning to the General himself.  It’s very well done.

The second story is the weakest of the three.  “Wait until dark” explores what happened to She-Hulk between the moment she was ripped from the bridge of the Helicarrier by the Red Hulk until she was thrown back at Iron Man’s feet in a state of unconsciousness (in the beginning of HULK Issue #2).  The problem is not with the story selection, but with Jeph Loeb’s odd need to interject an overdose of humor in She-Hulk’s narration of the event.  I know a witty sense of humor is not out of place with her character, but it feels severely out of place here.  All the appropriate fear and emotional impact in recounting the crimson hulk state he could kill the She-Hulk at any time, and her realization he was truly capable of that feat, is immediately dulled by the attempt at humorous narration.  Like when the Red Hulk makes this threat while pressing close and choking the life out of She Hulk, we read her comment “I wanted so badly to make a joke, like “worst breath, ever”.

Artist Frank Cho does a serviceable job in this story.  He is truly gifted at drawing a sexy female form, but many of She-Hulk’s erotic poses he draws feel forced.  Often a loss of subtlety is interpreted by some as gratuitous, but his gifts (and hers) show never the less.  Unfortunately Cho’s Interpretation of the Rulk is less inspiring.  Undoubtedly it’s well drawn, but his Red Hulk looks less like a Hulk and more like a linebacker who plays professional football.

In Loeb’s third and final entry “The Death and Life of the Abomination”, we return to the lonely underground cell of Bruce Banner for a quieter, more poignant moment. On the edge of his bed, Bruce sits and reads an analysis that was drafted by his nemesis, General Thaddeus Ross. Ross was asked to render this opinion as an envoy of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the brutal murder of Abomination. Under the premise that the more one understands a person’s life… the more one will understand their death… Ross delves into the life of the Abomination, the monster that murdered his daughter, his one and only child.

Understanding that he never lets a weakness (a.k.a. his true emotions) show, Ross and his cold and guarded analysis actually makes his words that much more touching because of it. And unbeknown to the cold and war hardened father, the writer General actually shares a tender moment a thousand miles away with the reader Bruce.. the only other man his daughter ever loved. It’s all a credit to Jeph Loeb, who teams up with the legendary classic artist Herb Trimpe who returns to drawing the Hulk after fifteen years.

Anyone who felt the Red Hulk’s first story-arc was lacking depth and needed a little more emotional resonance, should be pleased with what they find here. This collection is not a complete delight, but contains enough enjoyable addendums to warrant a read.

3.5  out of 5 Stars

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

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NEW RULK : AVENGERS (7-12) Trade Paperback out now!

It’s history in the making! Read how the Red Hulk continues his path to redemption and joins the mighty AVENGERS!  Originally released in a hardcover format, this trade paperback is out now and comes highly recommended!  It’s a terrific read!

Here are the details:

image

AVENGERS Volume 2 (Issues 7-12)

Published Date: January 11, 2012

Format: Trade Paperback

Retail Price: $19.99

The Story: One of the greatest secrets in Marvel history is laid bare – and it just may reignite the Civil War between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers! The Illuminati thought their days as the world’s protectors were over – until the Hood escaped from prison and embarked on a quest to gather the all-powerful Infinity Gems, which the super-secret brain trust had taken responsibility for safeguarding. Now, Iron Man, Professor X, Mr. Fantastic, the Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt will face a reckoning like never before when Steve Rogers learns of their years-long subterfuge. Will even the combined might of the Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers and Illuminati be enough to take down a cosmically powered Hood? And did somebody say “Thanos”‌? Plus: What is the mystery of the Spaceknight?

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


RULK REPORT : The RED HULK is General Ross… or is he?

*SPOILERS*

Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness (the talents that gave birth to the Red Hulk) are the creative team behind the new miniseries AVENGERS X-SANCTION that marks the time-travelling return of the former mercenary mutant Nathan Summers… otherwise known as Cable.  One by one members of the Avengers are finding themselves between Cable’s crosshairs and before the night is over… Falcon, Captain America and Iron Man have all become his prisoners.

Enter the Red Hulk to the rescue.

When Rulk secretly enters Cable’s lair in Issue # 2, Red Hulk puts the mutant down with the help of some major artillery.  But as Cable seemingly undergoes his death throes… he recognizes Rulk not as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross…. but as no one other than Major Glenn Talbot!  Here is their exchange:

So what does this all mean?  Why does Cable think the Red behemoth is Glenn Talbot?  Is it simply just a wink and a nod from writer Jeph Loeb to all the Marvel readers that thought the Red Hulk was Major Glenn Talbot prior to the big reveal that it was General Ross?  Or does this have deeper meaning?

Cable did come from the future.  Could it be that Talbot becomes some sort of a Hulk in our distant future?  Or could Talbot have become the Red Hulk in an alternate timeline instead of Ross… and the future Cable returned from was not our current timeline?

It is an intriguing mystery, which hopefully will shed more answers within the upcoming issue # 3.

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