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

Essential Comic

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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ESSENTIAL RULK : Review of HULK Issue # 2

HULK Issue #2THE @#$%ING HULK IS HERE!” the She-Hulk horrifyingly screams as her body is violently ripped from a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier command center by a fearsome pair of oversized red atomic hands.   “JEN!” Tony Stark calls!   “DAMMIT!   How did he get in here??   And am I the only one to see RED HANDS NOT GREEN??”
 
Making up for only a cover appearance in the first issue of the HULK, the Red Hulk appears early, exploding onto the second page of Issue #2 “The Smoking Gun” like a volcanic eruption that never lets up.
 
Moments later, pounded into a pulp and unconscious, the She-Hulk is hurdled back through the chamber’s ceiling, crashing at Stark’s feet.   Tony lurches back in shock and instinctively pushes Maria Hill away.   “Commander Hill.. Get to Safety… OR GET SOME ARMOR ON!!
 
This exciting, action-packed rollercoaster ride of an issue reads more like an action scene in a feature film than your usual comic.   Jeph Loeb successfully penned a Juggernaut of an action piece (and horror) for the Red Hulk’s first reveal, giving Iron Man, the She-Hulk and the Hellicarrier itself a beat down that will never be forgotten.   It’s extremely well paced, with a sense of urgency and dread needed for this type of issue. 
 
Iron Man hunting the Rulk

Iron Man hunting the Rulk

 

None of this would be possible of course without the brilliance of artist Ed McGuiness who designed and draws the thunderous Rulk so devilishly menacing in this book… having the red monster lurk and attack from the shadows of the Helicarrier (reminiscent of film classics like “Alien”.)   The dread and panic drawn in the faces of the heroes are all exceptional as well as the intense armored look of a pissed off Iron Man as he tries to save his crew and his ship.   The corridors of the Helicarrier have an appropriate dark, claustrophobic feel creating a tension that the hellish creature can jump out at you at any time… and all this great art is surrounded by Ed’s trademark action panels, fittingly grand in scale. 
 

Red Hulk's first inside comic appearance

Red Hulk’s first inside comic appearance

 

Presenting the first inside comic page appearance of the Red Hulk (as well as Rick Jones’ first appearance of his new alter ego A-Bomb) and you have one essential issue… and where action comics are concerned.. among the best of the best.  

5 out of 5 Stars 

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

VARIANT COVERS:

HULK Issue #2 Variant A

HULK Issue #2 Variant B
HULK Issue #2 Variant C Second Printing 

ESSENTIAL RULK : Review of HULK Issue # 1

HULK Issue # 1‘’If you hadn’t acted so irrationally we wouldn’t be in this situation” – General Ross

“Don’t be ridiculous Ross.   This isn’t about me.   This is about you General.” – Doc Samson 

 
No one knew how telling those words would be, when HULK Issue #1 hit comic stands across the world with a mysterious, daunting, new symbol of unbridled power and rage on its cover:    A roaring, fiendish, electric devil of a beast, fearsome and magnificent to behold.   It was a different Hulk.   It was a new Hulk.   And he was red.    The Red Hulk was nowhere to be found in the pages of the premiere issue of the HULK, but the cover was so profound…   he didn’t need to be.   What was shockingly found was the corpse of an evil, well known nemesis of the Hulk.

The body of Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, was discovered dead in a rural part of Russia.   Savagely brutalized, chunks of flesh missing from his head and chest, the carcass of the monster was sprawled disturbingly on the ground.   And surrounding Abomination’s lifeless body was an array of aggressive, oversized footprints hot with gamma radiation.   Surveying this grim scene, there could only be one logical conclusion: The Incredible Hulk murdered the Abomination. 

Yet, there was one glaring problem with that theory.   Bruce Banner was currently imprisoned in a S.H.I.E.L.D maximum security cell with no possible way to escape.   How could it have been him?   It also became quickly obvious to the investigative team led by Doc Samson that this killing was not your ordinary Hulk ‘beat down’, a furious rage that perhaps went too far.   This attack on Abomination was very different.   Very calculated.   And it looked like revenge.   ‘’This was punishment” Samson assessed.   A very different kind of Hulk was among them now.      
 
 

Bruce in Captivity

Bruce in Captivity

 

HULK Issue #1 exploded onto the comic scene in January of 2008, intriguing readers around the world with the question… ”Who was the Red Hulk?”.   Combining the magnificent cover and interior art of Ed ‘born to draw Rulk’ McGuinness and a solid whodunit story by Jeph Loeb, the debut of the rip-roaring Red Hulk catapulted to the top of the sales charts, ranking #1 as the best selling comic book of its month.   It was a huge success for Marvel and a landmark issue that gave birth to a new Marvel legend… a legend who’s appeal has still not waivered.  Even after three and a half years since its debut, the Red Hulk comics continue to outsell the Green Hulk comics to this day and has built up quite an arsenal of books, posters, video game appearances, action figures, statues, t-shirts and other collectables all in his image. 

History had been made.   A new major character had joined the best of the Marvel Universe lore and he was here to stay.   The Red Hulk cometh… and this was the issue that started it all.   It’s a ”must have”.  

4 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 

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


 VARIANT COVERS:

HULK Issue # 1 Variant A

HULK Issue # 1 Variant BHULK Issue # 1 Variant C
 
HULK Issue # 1 Variant DHULK Issue # 1 Variant EHULK Issue # 1 Variant F 2nd Printing
 
HULK Issue # 1 Variant G Marvel's Greatest Comics Edition

ESSENTIAL RULK : Review of HULK Issue # 23

As a young man, Thaddeus E. Ross was involved in a plane crash that nearly took his life.  Doctors said he’d never recover.  Doctors said he’d never walk again.  But with sheer will and determination he proved all the experts wrong. Thaddeus Ross rehabilitated himself to perfect health and subsequently lost all respect for anyone who referred to themselves as ”doctor”.  Enter Doctor Bruce Banner.
  
So begins General Ross’s recollection of key moments in his life which led him to this pivotal point in time… this point in history.  Lying half-naked on the floor, powerless, his old tired human form crawling down a dark cold corridor of a Hellcarrier with a cosmic hulk lurking after him, while the white house was under attack.  How did it come to this…?
 
”Who is the General Ross” is so much more an accurate description of this outstanding 23rd issue of HULK than ”Who is the Red Hulk”.  Ross’ best moments, and his worst, are compellingly recalled in the General’s own words that led him to this fall from grace, a life riddled with good but flawed intentions.  From struggling with his feelings towards his daughter Betty (both in life and in death) to his blind vengeful obsession to bring down the Hulk once and for all, the real breaking point came when his true love had fallen apart. His country.  It was broken. It had turned to hell, and the assassination of Captain America, maybe the one superhero he truly secretly admired, was more than likely the last straw.  Up was down.  Right was wrong.  And making some unholy alliances and becoming the one thing he hated the most, a red version of the Hulk, seemed the best way for Ross to fix everything…. to bring his daughter back… to save the country.. and to finally destroy the Hulk. 
 
When it comes to the art, the dream team who worked on this comic speaks for themselves.  Ed Mcguinness, Dale Keown, Herb Trimpe, Ian Churchill, Tim Sale, John Romita JR., Mike Deodato, Sal Buscema and Leinil Francis Yu.  It’s quite an all-star lineup.  Often multiple artists working on the same book doesn’t quite work, but here it works masterfully.  Mcguinness’ art representing the current day while art like Tim Sale’s work represents flashbacks of the past is so wonderfully put together.  Bravo.

Red Hulk vs Cosmic Hulk

Red Hulk vs Cosmic Hulk
 
 
 
Ross transforms into Rulk

Ross transforms into Rulk
 
 
HULK Issue 23 is not just essential for Rulk fans, not just essential for Hulk fans, but essential reading for everyone who has a love for the Marvel Universe and the characters that live and breathe it.  This one shouldn’t be missed.
 
5 out of 5 Stars 
 
VARIANT COVERS:    
 
Hulk Issue #23 Variant