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RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 53 by talents Jeff Parker and Dale Eaglesham!

Rick Jones is always getting into trouble.  The same young man who was responsible for unleashing the world-breaking Incredible Hulk upon the Earth (and paving the way for the genesis of every Hulk currently in existence) is now responsible for freeing some evil, dormant Mayan Gods who might just bring our age to a burning apocalypse… or some other fate equivalent in nastiness.  Yes, someone at S.H.I.E.L.D. should strongly consider locking this Jones boy up and throwing away the key!  Yet along with the Red Hulk, Machine Man and the Alpha Flight team, Rick (transformed into A-Bomb) instead tries to remedy the fate befalling us due to his ineptitude… and put a stop to the Mayan doom he brought upon the world.

Writer Jeff Parker sets up an interesting story-arc in HULK Issue # 53 “Mayan Rule, Part One: Bloodletting“.  Taking advantage of the timely concerns held by some that the end of the world is coming based on the Mayan calendar, Parker craftily strikes while the iron is hot when public awareness is at its peak (regarding this real world upcoming Mayan cataclysmic event.)  Chock full of magic, bloodletting, human sacrifices, mystical mind control and a heaping load of superheroes, there is plenty of excitement to be had… which reads more like a Marvel “The Next Big Thing” Event (than a character book that focuses on the chronicles of the Red Hulk.)

Yet there in lies one of this issue’s problems.  Ross and his red alter ego takes a major backseat to the events and the characters that surround him.  Replacing the main Hulk logo with an “Alpha Flight” title might even seem more applicable here.  And while Jeff Parker remains the ultimate weaver of well constructed stories, the way the events leading into this issue’s present day can be uncharacteristically confusing.  In this order… the story contains a flashback, followed by a later flashback, followed by the A-Bomb in real time describing too briefly the events that occurred prior to both flashbacks… all based on an old A-Bomb backup story one may have trouble recalling told back in HULK Issue # 31.  You won’t be alone if you find yourself skipping back a few panels asking yourself “what did I just read?”

Artist Dale Eaglesham is quite a talent. While he seems to alternate back and forth from a properly drawn Rulk (one without eyebrows) to a Red Hulk with scraggily gray hairs above his eyes, the powerful frame he gives the crimson beast is quite delightful and imposing. Dale also gives the Red Hulk a military cut of hair that really suits the Ross alter ego, and looks extremely sharp.

Dale Eaglesham definitely seems to be born to draw Alpha Flight. The way Dale draws these underappreciated characters is outstanding, and he may just well hold the prestigious honor of drawing the best Sasquatch and Puck to ever grace a comic book page. And who could not love the double page splash of this team, accompanied by the Rulk and crew as they ascend upon the mysterious new Canadian Mayan temple?

The unique borders Eaglesham adorns around various panels of this book is spectacular.  They resemble Mayan aged-old hieroglyphics which demand recognition for its sheer creativity, as well as the fascinating cover for this issue.

Sadly however, in an unfortunate move, the solicitation trumpeting the next installment’s cover (issue # 54 hitting stands in two weeks) prematurely revealed this issue’s shocking ending, ultimately dulling the blow of Jeff Parker’s otherwise dramatic and climactic punch.

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

NEW RULK : HULK Issue # 53 and AVENGERS vs X-MEN Issue # 5 is out today!


HULK Issue # 53

Writer: Jeff Parker
Penciller (cover): Dale Eaglesham
Orig. Published:  June 06, 2012
Imprint: MARVEL UNIVERSE
Rating: T+
Format: Comic
UPC: 5960605992-05311
Price: $2.99

The Story:
The Mayan Gods are here! Guest starring Alpha Flight, Machine Man, She-Hulks, A-Bomb!


AVENGERS VS XMEN Issue # 5

Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciller (cover): Jim Cheung
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Orig. Published:  June 06, 2012
Format: Comic
UPC: 5960607748-00511
Price: $3.99

The Story:
The fiery conclusion of Act One is here! Clashing on a lunar battlefield, the tide of the conflict will be turned…


RULK REVIEW : “Nightmare in Red” Season 2, Episode 9 of AVENGERS : Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Red Hulk’s Television debut!

History has been made Rulk fans!

“Nightmare in Red” marks the thrilling television debut of the monstrous Red Hulk, which is the 9th episode of the second season of the immensely popular animated series AVENGERS : Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  While this landmark episode will not air in the United States until Sunday, June 24th, the crimson giant’s debut has already premiered in other countries (as well as streamed online), enabling this advance review… which does indeed contain spoilers to a degree that varies depending on the reader’s previous knowledge of the Red Hulk’s true identity and lore.  So how did the Red Hulk’s television premiere measure up?

The episode begins with an airborne General “Thunderbolt” Ross and Major Glenn Talbot arriving on the landing pad of a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier.  The decorated officers have flown there to argue their case with Maria Hill that the U.S. Military needs the sample of Hulk’s blood, currently stored in a secure chamber of the helicarrier, in their effort to militarize it.  They also express their utter disdain for allowing the Avengers to harbor a monster such as the “Hulk” under the protection and guise of a heroic teammate.

During this heated exchange, unbeknownst to Hill, the blood sample of the Hulk is stolen… and later mixed with an unknown reddish component and ultimately injected into the arm a mysterious person on board:  his identity hidden by shadows.  The injection transforms the figure into the raging Red Hulk, who begins to dismantle the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and his crew.

It’s soon obvious that the Rulk is not the one calling the shots however and there is a master plan afoot to capture Bruce Banner.  But the Red Hulk has a plan of his own… a plan to finally defeat the Incredible Hulk and prove he is no longer the strongest one there is.

There has been a lot of creative changes made to Red Hulk’s origin in “Nightmare in Red”.  Some are due to time constraints.  Others are due to the nature of being a children’s television show.  Yet some key changes were made simply because the show’s creators are trying to tell a larger tale over a great deal of episodes (like the looming Skrull invasion) versus many self-contained more origin accurate stories told in one or two part episodes.  The show’s writers opted to take a creative license (or uncreative license) and made changes to the Red Hulk continuity to make the character fit within the series current “big picture”.  The result is an initial level of frustration, like when the realization is made that neither Leader, M.O.D.O.K, nor any member of the Intellegencia seem to be involved with the Red Hulk’s creation.  This really doesn’t do the character justice.

Not all of the Red Hulk comic history was discarded for the sake of this television series’ continuity however.  The SHIELD Helicarrier attack and the assault on Agent Quartermain was ripped from the pages of HULK Issue #2.  Doc Samson appears to be playing a role in duality again… and the theme “Who is the Red Hulk” is honored here, never revealing that General Ross is the Rulk in this episode (which pretty much all but guarantees this is not the last we’ve seen of crimson giant this season.)

And while his absorbing powers are nowhere to be found, the Rulk’s radioactive heat core is on display numerous times.  The Red Hulk also has a scene where he expresses an oh so enjoyable sinister, arrogant laugh (that gets to the core of why we find the red villain so enjoyable.)

As with the AVENGERS : EMH series as a whole, the animation suffers from a subpar quality, yet it’s offset by some terrific voice acting and enjoyable action scenes that are pretty well choreographed.

Even with all the disappointing origin changes, it was extremely exciting to finally see the Red Hulk grace the small screen.  Let’s hope the Rulk’s next appearance is even better.. and more faithful to the character we’ve grown to love!

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

RULK REVIEW : HULK SMASH AVENGERS Issue # 5

That’s all you got?  COME ON!  I’m not that’s green MAN-CHILD you’re used to bullying!” – Rulk

In the one-shot HULK SMASH AVENGERS Issue # 5, the spotlight shines on a villainous Red Hulk in the final installment of a five issue smash fest that celebrates new yet era-inspired “Hulk versus Avengers” tales uniquely told within different timelines of the Marvel Universe.  Designed to take place between the events of the Red Hulk demolishing the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier [HULK Issue #2] and the battle between Rulk and the A-Bomb in the desert of Death Valley, Nevada [HULK Issue #3], the story revolves around Iron Man’s belief that uncovering the identity of the crimson giant will be the key to his defeat… and the imprisoned Bruce Banner holds that very key.  And as the mysterious, seemingly unstoppable, crimson Hulk keeps hitting and pilfering S.H.I.E.L.D. installations, Iron Man understands he needs answers… right now.

This issue’s script penned by writer Fred Van Lente portrays a spot-on villainous Red Hulk.  Lente superbly symbiotically captures the quintessential Jeph Loeb Red Hulk… a brash personality that is constituted more of “bad-assed” than “bad”. The story is balanced well, moving back and forth from a suspicious, tense yet restrained conversation between Bruce Banner and Iron Man to a rip-roaring battle between the Red Hulk and the Avengers.

Lente’s writing works in spite of Michael Avon Oeming’s disappointing art. While Oeming is very capable of designing interesting layouts, his caricature drawing ability needs improved structure and polish before achieving a favorable level of his professional skill set.  However, interesting new revelations woven into this story offsets the issue’s shortcoming, especially when we learn that the Red Hulk has been hitting and stealing various goods from S.H.I.E.L.D. and obviously supplying it to the Intellegencia, in an effort to reach their mutual goals.

The only thing frustrating other than the art is precisely fitting this story in the Red Hulk continuity.  The only logical place this addendum can fit is between the Helicarrier attack (where Tony Stark realizes the new Hulk is red) and the battle with A-Bomb (that ruptures the ground unleashing the Banner Hulk from captivity). The problem is both the conclusion of issue #2 and opening of issue #3 suggests Rulk’s rumble with A-Bomb and Iron Man dealing with the Helicarrier wreckage occurs at the same time.  The ability to overlook this error in continuity will be the deciding factor if fans ultimately adopt this one-shot event and integrate it into the timeline of their favorite Red Hulk lore.

2.5 out of 5 Stars 

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

NEW RULK : HULK SMASH AVENGERS Issue # 5 and WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN Issue # 11 is out today!


HULK SMASH AVENGERS
Issue # 5

In Stores:  May 30, 2012
Format: Comic
UPC: 5960607743-00511
Price: $2.99

The Story:
Hulk’s “smashing” series comes to an end! With Red Hulk squaring off against some of the Avenger’s biggest names, the team must rally together in order to end Red Hulk’s destructive path.


WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN
Issue # 11

In Stores:  May 30, 2012
Format: Comic
Price: $3.99

The Story:
Cyclops comes to the Jean Grey School!  Will Wolverine’s X-Men join Cyclops against the Avengers?  ICEMAN vs RED HULK!