Sunday, March 11, 2012

Red Hulk: Planet Red Hulk TPB

I absolutely loved Jeff Parker’s first trade on the Red Hulk; this one is solid, but not quite as good. Part of the problem is the diversion to an alien world that gives this trade its name. Planet Red Hulk just doesn’t have the time (and really doesn’t need it) to have the resonance that Planet Hulk did. I can dig the idea that we want to see Rulk go through the same sort of problems that Bruce Banner did. Putting Rulk in this uncertain a situation with this little fallout just doesn’t work as dramatically.

The Earth-bound portions of the story are much, much stronger. Parker is creating a slew of new villains for Rulk, including Zero/One, a reality-altering tech villain; Black Fog, an intangible speedster; and Fortean, Rulk’s own “General Ross.” That’s right, Rulk is now on the run, just like the green goliath.

It is surprisingly fun seeing Rulk deal with Hulk-style problems with a more strategic world-view. I particularly enjoyed seeing him take on Black Fog; when did speed ever actually beat strength? Fortean has some pretty sweet tech to make things difficult too.

Parker’s main strength in this trade is his development of the supporting cast. The LMD (life model decoy) androids get whittled down, but it’s a surprisingly poignant scene seeing how Rulk had grown attached to his handlers. I also enjoy the perspective that Jacob brings to the Zero/One story. We rarely see the formative experiences of new super-villains!

Gabriel Hardman’s art continues to stun me with its power and detail. The action is simply top-notch, and I love the character design in play here. The new villains listed above all have great, instant-classic designs (especially Black Fog). There is one cover where all these villains show up to attack Rulk, and they look like they belong already! Plus Patrick Zircher gets to draw Zzzax and MODOK, an added bonus!


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