If I were just grading the main story in this book, I would rank it higher. Artist Gabriel Hardman and colorist Bettie Breitweiser are my favorite art team-up in comics right now. They make the book look great, and Jeff Parker pulls off the seemingly impossible task of picking up the pieces of Jeph Loeb’s red Hulk story to create something not just understandable but compelling to a newcomer. The dynamic between Bruce Banner and his old nemesis (now the red Hulk) Thunderbolt Ross has a great tension. By keeping the focus on that relationship — with an enjoyably badass Steve Rogers and a fight-happy Iron Man for seasoning — Parker creates a fine comic that I want to keep reading. Also, there are cyborg zombies, the kind of thing that reassures us we’re in a Jeff Parker comic. Unfortunately, the backup story, by Parker and a different art team, is just a long, generic fight scene (featuring Rick Jones as some kind of giant blue monster???) that ends up taking away from the overall strength of the book.
In Hulk #25, there are a handful of moments where Jeff Parker gives the Red Hulk a shot at real redemption, where this long-standing character becomes a bit more than the cigar-chomping, order-barking caricature he’s been for a long time. And then he undermines the whole thing by including an over worn Red Hulk vs. another superhero (in this case Iron Man) fight. Haven’t we seen this superhero-on-superhero violence enough by now? At least Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman get an Agents of Atlas cameo snuck into the issue.
I haven’t read Hulk regularly since the end of World War Hulk but was under the impression that this would be a good “jumping-on” point, and as Jeff Parker writes good, I decided to give it a try. I think he does what he can with the situation he is handed but I just don’t get it. In theory the idea that basically everyone around the Hulk is suddenly the Hulk has some potential, but it’s not grabbing me yet in practice. Of course, we’re just one issue in so I’m probably jumping the gun a bit. I’m also having a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that General Thunderbolt Ross is now a giant red Hulk. I think there’s some fundamental problems with the premise of this incarnation of the Green Goliath, but the writing and art are strong enough that I may give it a few issues.
I haven’t been reading any Hulk books for the longest time, but since the book is being taken over by the Atlas team of Jeff Parker & Gabriel Hardman, I couldn’t resist. Bruce Banner, working for Steve Rogers, is attempting to rehabilitate ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (the Red Hulk) by using him to clean up the Leader & M.O.D.O.K.’s mad scientist messes. This is a lot of fun and Hardman’s art has never looked better. There’s also a good back-up featuring Rick Jones fighting a sea monster.