Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Loeb, McGuinness, Buscema, Churchill, Deodato, Keown, Romita Jr, Sale, Trimpe & Yu
The question of “who is the red Hulk?”, is seemingly answered in this issue. For about thirty five pages we get the complete picture of the creation of the person behind the red Hulk. It’s more than just an origin story as it weaves the origin of the red Hulk throughout the previous green Hulk stories told over numerous decades. It’s a good story because it used an army of artists to set the tone of the various time periods visited. As for the actual believability of the whole thing….well, let’s just say you need to take a leap of faith on this one.
Red Hulk’s identity was revealed in the previous issue and touched on the last issue of Incredible Hulk, but in case you don’t know about it, this is your warning.
The comic book opens with the childhood of General Ross. As you might expect he had early exposure to adventure that led him into the military where he excelled. Eventually he finds himself working with Dr Banner when Banner becomes the Hulk. The story continues through the various pieces of drama that Banner and Ross have had over the years, such as the death of Betty Ross, Ross’ daughter and Banner’s wife. Much of this comes across as recap but is made interesting because of the array of artists used, including using Tim Sale to illustrate Hulk’s first meeting with Ross.
Eventually Ross starts making behind the scenes deals with the likes of MODOK and The Leader to help save his daughter’s life, and his own. During the end of World War Hulk, Ross is transformed into the red Hulk and from there a new conspiracy is born. The story is concise and quite entertaining. However, it uses so many crutches to get through it you might find it unsatisfying, bordering on ridiculous.
If you have read Hulk over the past two years you may recall several instances where Ross and the red Hulk are together on the same panel. This is explained away by admitting that the Ross in those scenes was a robot. Okay, that’s not only invalidating those previous stories (such as Ross’ death) but it also makes this story less likely to be on the level. The story doesn’t explain where Ross’s mustache goes when he changes into the red Hulk and it barely explains why anyone needed to dupe various people into thinking that Ross was NOT red Hulk. I suspect Jeph Loeb either didn’t know in the beginning that Ross was to be the red Hulk or he changed his mind along the way. It’s annoying.
The artwork steals the issue. An all star cast of artists all bring their uniqueness to the characters that make this issue something special. The issue simply wouldn’t have been this interesting if only one art team performed the duties throughout and across all of the timelines covered here.
This issue does carry a $5 cover charge which is steep in my opinion. You get extra story pages with no additional content like a reprint or sketches. I’m not sure it’s worth the cover charge mainly because this issue is a one paragraph recap summary in the next issue. As entertaining as the artwork I found the story to be frustrating at times and led me to wonder what other characters are simply robots. That’s not a good thing. I would think this issue is for the die-hards though it provides a good jump on point for new readers.
3.5 out of 5 Geek Goggles