Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hulk: Hulk of Arabia TPB

Jeff Parker continues to do no wrong. He’d already turned me on the Red Hulk, turning him from a character that enraged me on sight to one of my new favorites. Now you add it Machine Man? Well, I’m not made of stone here. Adding in one of my favorite Kirby creations, then writing him like this just made this book an easy sell.

Machine Man isn’t a complicated character, but he can be a fascinating one. I love seeing Red Hulk come around on the guy, starting with their common ground in military research. It’s also fantastic seeing Machine Man make his oddball predictions about comic book science, then take satisfaction when he’s correct. I’m thrilled that Aaron Stack will be appearing in the Red She-Hulk title in Marvel NOW.

Arabian Knight is pretty great too, especially with the redesign and focus that Christos Gage worked into the Union Jack series a few years ago. Now, we don’t get as much of the Knight as it seems at first, but man, it works. I actually went back and re-read a lot of dialogue in this collection after a big reveal, and it all totally works. Very nice work from Parker.

The last line-up of the Secret Avengers shows up too, and their use really highlights a thought I had after reading their series. War Machine, Valkyrie, Black Widow, Steve Rogers… this is a real Avengers team. Call them covert if you like, but missions like this (taking on the Red Hulk) make it hard to not rank them as a pretty great “standard” lineup for the Avengers.

In the end, this is a world-building storyline. The Marvel U needs some more locales in the Middle East, and I think there is a lot of potential in the new country established here. Red Hulk doesn’t actually accomplish a ton, but when we’ve got a new super-powered bad guy with regional influence, packing powers with ties to the Rigelians (of Recorder fame), that’s a can’t-miss with me.

Patrick Zircher nails it, as he always does. He gets to do some sweet mythical designs, like the Manticore and the Scorpion gal who show up here. Machine Man’s extendable arms, jet-powered head, and other silly powers don’t look silly when drawn this cool. I’m not a huge fan of Fortean’s huge Redeemer armor, it’s a bit too generic, but all the other super-details look great. I dig Sultan Magus’ design; he’s got a regal look that doesn’t offset his ability to get his hands dirty. I see long-term potential with the character.


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