Thursday, 20 March 2014

Red She-Hulk: Hell Hath No Fury Review (Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan)

The day of the Hulk Prime incident produced more than one Hulk – in the gamma explosion, Bruce Banner was transformed into the Hulk but his girlfriend Betty Ross and her dad, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, were also exposed to the gamma radiation that would turn them into Hulks themselves years later. “Thunderbolt” Ross became Red Hulk and Betty? Betty Ross is Red She-Hulk! 

In Hell Hath No Fury, Red She-Hulk has glimpsed a nightmarish future if super soldiers become standard in the US military and sets out to stop the research – with any means necessary! But her activities, including accidentally murdering a test subject, brings her to the attention of the Avengers who try to bring her down. Meanwhile, X-51 aka Machine Man investigates the cause of Red She-Hulk’s behaviour and discovers the shocking truth of the future!

Jeff Parker is a terrific writer – look at his Batman ’66 series for some of his best work to date – and his Red She-Hulk isn’t bad, but it’s not as brilliant as his usual stuff. Part of it is down to the character who’s like any other superhero in the Marvel Universe – they charge in, smash stuff up, etc. – except (and probably due to her Hulk side), Betty’s very disagreeable and difficult to like. I get that she’s on a mission but the tone is way too serious (very un-Marvel-like) and her character comes off as one-sidedly unpleasant. 

It also feels like an arbitrary adventure. I’m not sure what Red She-Hulk’s usually about – I’ve never read one of her books before this – but I’m guessing the whole “stopping the terrible future” thing isn’t her main motivation. Banner’s thing was about trying to find a cure, Red She-Hulk’s story seems like an interchangeable storyline you could put on any Marvel character.

X-51/Machine Man is a cool character - he’s another one I don’t think I’ve seen before in any Marvel books but his whole “living armour” thing is awesome and apparently he’s a more powerful android that both Ultron and The Vision so that’s pretty badass. And I liked that there are degrees in Hulking out where Betty can transform into Red She-Hulk and then go to the next level which is an even bigger Red She-Hulk with a seriously berserker rage, like in Dragonball Z where Goku can go saiyan and then super saiyan. 

Carlo Pagulayan’s art is really good throughout and suitably epic and kinetic when it needs to be. This is however the first Marvel book I’ve read where I’ve found the editing to be sub-par. In at least two panels I spotted the artists’ directions that hadn’t been rubbed out, making it into the final print! On one panel for Machine Man the note reads “Pls put glowing perspective grid lines” and in a later panel for Iron Man the note says “Glow glow glow” around different spots on his armour - very sloppy stuff, Marvel! 

Parker hasn’t won me over to the series with this book but there are worse Marvel books out there to read than this. Red She-Hulk shows in Hell Hath No Fury that she’s a character with potential even if it’s not fully realised here.

Red She-Hulk: Hell Hath No Fury (Marvel Now)

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