When the Red Hulk came on the scene, in the premiere issue in fact, we lost one of the oldest Hulk villains that there ever was. The Abomination met an untimely end, riddled with bullets from Ross’s over-sized gun. The biggest chasm that the death left was the Hulk not having a foe that can’t have a strength vs strength bloody beat down battle. The Red Hulk was there to fill that gap in a way – but his immediate mishandling really destroyed that idea. Loeb’s weak grasp of Hulk lore lead to even weaker battles between the two Hulks. A confused idea of how the Red Hulk’s powers are handled led readers down an unsure road of which Hulk was the bigger powerhouse – when Abomination always was the stronger of the two monsters – until the Hulk grew stronger. Even the final Hulk/Red Hulk fight where the Hulk beat the Red Hulk with a thunder clap was a baffling and ultimately dissatisfying finale.
With Duggan taking over the mantle and we already seeing the new and meaner Hulk take down other gamma monsters I knew we’d be in for a treat when the Red Hulk made his appearance. I mean, we have almost an entire issue of the two Hulk’s beating each other bloody – even after we learn that Doc Green is holding back – the battle becomes so much better! This is what the Red Hulk should have been created for – a new villain that could really lay into the Hulk and give him a run for his money. We are even left with the knowledge that this was just round one between the two as the Red Hulk is left being dropped into a volcano.
Next up, from the cover image, is the de-powering of Lyra. We will see how that goes. I do see one issue here that I thought I’d bring up now. How is it that the gamma serum can’t de-power Bruce – so shouldn’t it also not be able to de-power his children? They weren’t just dosed with a more gamma like Rick Jones, Betty and her Dad were – these are beings who were created from Bruce’s DNA. Maybe Duggan with address this – but I also think that explanation might not be coming. I had this thought with the end of this issue with the She Hulk being warned of Doc Green coming – but her affliction came straight from Bruce’s blood! If the cure doesn’t work from him – it certainly shouldn’t be able to effect her! But I guess we’ll see…
Bagley’s art continues to impress and the book is better than it has been in years. Tell your friends to pick up the Hulk – tell your grandmother! Tell everyone! We need to let people know that the Hulk is worthy again! Hulk fans had to suffer through the Loeb years with high sales, further infuriating true readers, there is no reason that this series shouldn’t be in the top ten every month! Grade: A