In the first few pages of Hulk #25 – you know you are dealing with a new writer… dare I say, a better writer. You know you are dealing with a new Red Hulk too. And you know what’s funny? The people reading the Hulk now – are Hulk fans – it won’t sell like hot cakes (which is too bad) because it has two strikes against it. #1 – Loeb left. Believe it or not this guy has a following. People who will buy anything of his – even if it’s 5th grade level fluff like Hulk #1-24. #2 McGuiness is out too. Ed couldn’t stay though… I mean Parker’s style and his wouldn’t mix well. There isn’t a whole lot of opportunity to showcase splashy page action – but what there is is a whole lot of great storytelling going on!
I’m not sure how in depth people really want me to go with these issues – and I hate just doing a basic recap – but within the first few pages Parker sets up the reader to let you know this is not going to be the same comic with little one liners and convenient “new” powers popping up. Basically, you’re not going to see Red taking a ride on the Surfer’s board and killing much powerful characters for no reason – and more so – you’re not going to see Red arbitrarily punching out a Watcher.
In fact, in the first few pages, Bruce does some surgery on Ross that removes the absorbing power all together. Ross thinks Bruce is jealous of how powerful he was – when, in fact, Bruce was saving Ross’ life. The power was a fail safe, explained by Bruce, to kill Ross within a year. Wow – see what Parker just did there Loeb? He EXPLAINED what happened! It’s what good writers do! They don’t just keep writing crap that he will HOPE to explain later, leaving a whole bunch of plot holes that people will explain by saying “It’s tongue in cheek!” “It’s light and FUN!” Man, I want to kick those people in the temple.
Let’s move on, shall we? With the Red de-powered and ready to help out Cap – not to mention a thousand monsters now attacking the Earth – they send Red out to California to take on a bunch of people infected with a replicating alloy that is spreading. Cap says that he’s sending a partner along with Red – Red tries to deter that idea and jumps off – but Cap already sends Iron Man out. He also sends a message that the Red Hulk will be there to help him – but that message doesn’t make it!
With Red at the scene, beating down the replicating diseased people, Iron Man assumes he was sent to take Red out. He attacks – and he attacks HARD! And as he has Red on the ropes he is attacked by the real threat – and they start replicating through his armor! By the time Red gets up all he sees is an empty Iron Man shell…
Thank you Parker for coming out of the gate swinging – and really knocking it out of the park! I’m really interested in a character I had nothing but contempt for for the past 2 years. This storyline is fun – and actually makes sense so far! Hardman does a fantastic job – but I feel like people are going to be down on his art – mainly because they are going from McG to Hardman. But the truth is – this is the way to go when you switch artists – going with someone in a totally different style that still looks pretty damn great. The only gripe I have is wanting to know where this all falls in continuity. Before – or AFTER Dark Son? Grade: A