Marvel started this “family event” off with a bang. Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier crafted a great opening story to set the stage for this one. For this issue, Marvel has assembled a classic art team in John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson.
In the previous issue, we saw how the Intelligensia (Marvel’s league of intelligent villains) was formed. They were helping each other behind the scenes. Then Dr. Doom betrayed them. M.O.D.O.K. presented his new plan to the Leader. They would create their own Hulk. A stronger red Hulk who would help them with their plans.
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Dean White
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colorist: Mark Paniccia
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins at the Washington monument. Doc Samson, Ms. Marvel, and Capt. America are studying a crime scene. General Thunderbolt Ross (in the Redeemer armor) ambushed the Red Hulk. Ross was able to beat the Red Hulk in this armor. When the Red Hulk was down, Ross let his guard down. When he opened his helmet, Red Hulk struck. He killed Ross. Samson says that what Ross did amounted to suicide but they will tell the world that he died a hero. When the funeral is over, Samson vows to kill the Red Hulk.
Arlington National Cemetary, General Ross’ funeral…various superheroes are there to pay their respects. Doc Samson speaks first. He tells the history of Ross’ career. Ross married and fathered a girl named Betty.
Intelligensia Monitoring Station…Red She-Hulk is watching the funeral on numerous view screens. She says it would have been fun to be there. A voice off panel says there is enough speculation that she is connected to the Red Hulk. She does not care. Samson went to the funeral. The voice says that is a different circumstance.
Back at the funeral…various people speak then Rick (A-Bomb) Jones goes next. He introduces Bruce Banner. Banner talks about Ross’ relationship with his daughter Betty. Ross hated Banner. It broke his heart when Betty married Bruce. Ross ranted against the Hulk. Even though Banner was the Hulk, he believes Ross saved more lives by raging against the Hulk.
Later that night at the cemetery…Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot show up. Glenn tells her it is not safe to be there.
Intelligensia war room…Doc Samson is discussing the situation with the rest of the group. M.O.D.O.K. says that with the murder of Ross, the Red Hulk has fired the first shot. Now it is their turn.
The cave…the Red Hulk and another person are entering the cave. Red Hulk says no one would believe he is working with the other person. The other person is revealed to be Bruce Banner. Banner says that they want the same thing. For them to succeed, Ross had to die.
The Good: John Romita Jr. knows how to draw. He is comfortable drawing people and the big scenes. The energy explodes off the page when he draws the Hulks in action. His two page spread of the Hulk/Thing battle was amazing.
The page where Red Hulk takes out Ross in the Redeemer armor was one of those wow moments. The page showed the massive amount of effort it took for the fallen Red Hulk to throw that punch. The armor shattering told you that Ross was in serious trouble.
After looking at this issue I would like to see Romita Jr. draw a star spanning Fantastic Four story. He is able to incorporate the Kirby style with a modern take on comics.
Jeph Loeb has been turning in very light scripts for the Red Hulk. Most issues have been all action. This one was different. This story reminded me more of his Batman stories than his Red Hulk ones. Although we still don’t know who the Red Hulk is we at least got a story in this issue.
This story is centered on Thunderbolt Ross’ death and funeral. Ross deserved to be the focus of this issue. It was nice to see that his good qualities and shortcomings were both recognized. Even Banner admitted that Ross did a lot of good in his life.
The surprise at the end did catch me off guard. I did not expect to see Banner and the Red Hulk working together.
The Bad: My complaints about this issue are few.
I do think it is time to reveal the identity of the Red Hulk. This has drug on for too long.
The other complaint I have is the return from the dead of Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot. While reading this story, you just knew that Betty was returning.
Overall: A good book. It was my favorite Loeb Hulk story to date. If Loeb had written the Red Hulk like this, I would have enjoyed his series more. Even though he is not credited it seemed like Jeff Parker contributed some ideas to this story. I hope we see Romita Jr. on the Hulk again.