Comics

Red She-Hulk – From NOW! To Uncertainty

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Red She-Hulk was an odd book to produce during the first Marvel NOW! reboot but it was an interesting one as it was renumbered and spun out of the former Red Hulk comic.  It was a good book, and whether or not you had read any of the previous run or had any previous knowledge of the character, Jeff Parker made the title accessible for the new reader.  Simply put, Betty Ross, the former wife of Bruce Banner is now a She-Hulk and she is red.  Also, she carries a giant sword.

During the run, Betty is out to stop a government project named Echelon by any means.  She has seen the future and has found that if they are allowed to continue what they are doing, humanity will be pushed out of the way and cease to exist.  Joining her in her journey, first as an adversary and then as a partner is Aaron Stack – the Machine Man.  Also in the book, coming as a complete surprise is Nikola Tesla and the original incarnation of SHIELD featured in the Jonathan Hickman penned series of the same name.  We also get appearances by the Avengers and Man-Thing who is quite simply, awesome!

The great thing about the series is that it told a single story consistently as if there were no pauses in it whatsoever, so when reading it in a single sitting it flowed from issue to issue.  It also featured one of the greatest characters to not have an ongoing title currently, in the form of Machine Man.  Machine Man should be on an Avengers team at the very least if he does not have a title of his own as he has an excellent design and has been one of the best android characters in the Marvel Universe for the last thirty years.  He is consistently entertaining and is one of those characters that bring a smile to the face when he shows up.  The same arguments also apply to Man-Thing who is actually quite hilarious in the book.
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The artwork is top-notch by the always dependable Carlo Pagulayan and his pages on the book are some of his best.  His facial characteristics are stronger than they have ever been and his pencils have tightened up from some of his earlier work on Incredible Hulk and Agents of Atlas.  He also makes Betty and her alter ego very distinct from each other in body size and presence yet still retaining some aspects of Betty in Red She-Hulk without seeming like a larger carbon copy drawing.  The man is now ready for the big leagues and should be on one of Marvel’s top tier books.

The inclusion of the Brotherhood of the SHIELD was an excellent addition to the story and fit perfectly in Parker’s tale.  Nobody else seems to be doing anything with the characters or storyline, including Hickman at the moment, so to see it turn up in one Marvel’s third tier books was pretty incredible.  Hopefully Hickman will get around to finishing the tale, or at the very least let someone else finish it for him.  Perhaps Mr. Jeff Parker who wrote this very book?

The worst part of the book though had to be the title and the titular character’s name – Red She-Hulk.  It has always seemed like Marvel handed down an edict saying ‘we need more Hulks but they must have Hulk in their name to make them accessible’.  Red Hulk, Red-She Hulk, this Hulk, that Hulk and so on.  Whether it was Marvel or just the well having run dry on character names is unknown, but they should have tried a little harder.

All in all, a great book but sad to see it end with only ten issues under its belt.  It had everything it needed for success on every front but just failed to find an audience.  Hopefully Betty Ross finds her way back into a book somewhere down the line as she has proven to be a strong female character worthy of more.

4.5 out of 5

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