Comics You Should Be Reading: Hulk

Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: Gabriel Hardman

Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman were the creative team on the tragically short lived Atlas series. Atlas lasted 5 issues and I recommend everyone go out to collect those 5 issues. Fortunately, Marvel decided to keep the team together despite Atlas’ poor sales. The team is now doing Hulk starting with issue #25. I haven’t read any Hulk books in a few years but this creative team on the book made me buy Hulk #25. I’m glad I did because now I have another book on my pull list every month.

This Hulk series isn’t about the Hulk that many of you know. Bruce Banner and the Green Hulk play a part in the book but the star is the Red Hulk. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the story but Red Hulk is really General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Thunderbolt Ross has been trying to take down the Hulk since the Hulk first came into existence. After decades of failing, Ross decided the only way to take down a Hulk is with a Hulk. He went to M.O.D.O.K. and the Leader, two classic Hulk villains, and they helped him become the Red Hulk. Long story short, General Ross failed and Green Hulk proved once again he is the strongest there is.

That is a very basic and quick back story to get you caught up with the series. In Hulk #25 Red Hulk is recruited by Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers to repay the world for the evils he has committed. Deep down Ross is a good man and both Banner and Rogers know he can still do good. Not only that, Red Hulk is extremely powerful and could put that power to good use.

It turns out M.O.D.O.K and the Leader have done a lot more than make the Red Hulk. They had dozens of plans to help them rule the world. Their most diabolical was called Scorched Earth. If they were ever defeated and couldn’t take over the world, they would destroy it. Dozens of their most lethal plans would be set into motion at the same time in hopes to overwhelm the world’s heroes. Scorched Earth has just been activated. Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner are trying their best to stem the tide but they need more fire power. Red Hulk is that fire power.

That is the premise this first Jeff Parker Hulk run will have and it promises to be filled with awesome scenarios. We already get a glimpse of what the Hulk will be fighting; giant sea creatures, techno-zombies, monsters and more. Jeff Parker seems to have a knack for creating crazy villains and creatures for his heroes to fight. In his Thunderbolts he has had trolls from Asgard and disgusting parasitic monsters. In Atlas, and some of Atlas’ mini-series, he had an alien race that could possess humans, monsters made of diamonds, a time altering entity that kept pitting Atlas against different versions of the Avengers, and more. All of those may sound crazy, and they are, but Jeff makes them all fit in the comics. More importantly, he makes all of them interesting and multidimensional (go read Atlas 1-5 and that last sentence will become a little joke for you). With this Scorched Earth scenario, he is giving himself a reason to create amazing villains for Hulk to smash.

Along with the villains, it looks like each issue will have Hulk teaming up with a hero from the Marvel U. Hopefully his meeting with Thor and Namor go better than his current team up with Iron Man in issue 25. Let’s just say that some wires get crossed and Iron Man doesn’t know Red Hulk is on his side. The cover of the issue is just the tip of the iceberg in Iron Man and Hulk’s meeting.

Something that Jeff Parker has done in the first issue is really show you why these characters are doing the things they do. It is easy to simply say that Red Hulk wants to repent, but Jeff Parker shows us why he wants to. Through Steve Rogers, Parker shows us why Ross did such evil things in the first place and why Steve is hopeful that Ross can change. Parker also shows the readers why Bruce Banner is willing to work with someone who was recently trying to kill him. In a scene that manages to make little Bruce Banner into a total badass, Banner basically says that Ross and Red Hulk had the best chance they will ever have to finally kill Green Hulk and they failed. Banner isn’t afraid of Ross and Green Hulk isn’t afraid of anything. Parker does a great job of making all the characters’ choices believable.

The art in the book is fantastic. Hulk looks like a mass of muscle and power. Explosions, cars smashing into monsters, Iron Man fighting Red Hulk, everything looks fantastic. Gabriel Hardman’s art for Atlas was great and that continues in Hulk #25. Gabriel Hardman takes Jeff Parker’s crazy monsters and creates them perfectly on the page. I’m excited to see Hardman draw more heroes as Red Hulk teams up with them. Steve Roger’s new costume is kind of dumb looking but Hardman actually makes it look cool. I don’t want to see Steve Rogers without a trench coat again. Check out more of Hardman’s art here.

Every comic book fan should pick up Hulk #25 no matter your feelings about the Hulk. A great comic is a great comic no matter the main character. I’m very happy that Marvel saw the greatness of this creative team on Atlas and is giving them another book to create. They are making me care about a character I had no interest in. Hulk #25 promises a great future so jump on board now.

Pictures via Marvel.

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  • I’m personally not a Hulk fan, but I think the idea of making Thunderbolt Ross into a “bad” Hulk is great for a story.