This is an odd collection. I’d been loving a lot of Jeff Parker’s ongoing stories with Rulk, and I enjoyed about half of this collection, but then it takes an odd turn.
The first half of the trade deals with another battle with Zero/One, the crazy scientist lady who achieved her origin a few issues ago. Only now she’s created a huge artificial island, an army of zombies, and a squad of crazy sea-creatures. That’s in addition to her personal super-villain Black Fog. I’m still blurry on exactly what she’s going to accomplish, except for “mad science,” but that’s a good place to start. Rulk, Machine Man, and Red She-Hulk all team up to take on her forces. It’s an impressive battle.
Then I lost interest for a bit as the focus switched to the supernatural. It seems Rulk picked up some sort of ghostly tormentor, and he seeks out Dr. Strange to help deal with the haunting. The story never quite fits right for me. I don’t care for the Forgiven at all, who needs good guy vampires? And the Legion of Monsters doesn’t seem like a good fit for the title either. And heck, I’m still annoyed that the secret villain ever turned bad in the first place, so I didn’t care for his reveal either. I’m not saying Parker doesn’t fill this part of the book with some good lines and strong interactions, but my lack of interest in the main plot dulled my appreciation a bit.
Carlo Pagualyan handles most of the art, so everything looks clean and heroic. His strong lines are a perfect fit for the violent world of the Hulk. He even does a nice job on the many monsters that show up. It seems to me he enjoys drawing Machine Man, because X-51’s panels are always full of fun, rube Goldberg-ian devices. I do have to say I don’t care for Dr. Strange’s current costume. Why would you mess with a classic like that?