RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 40
In HULK Issue #40 "Omegex: Part Two", writer Jeff Parker spins an unexpectedly interesting tale. The battle between the two incredible titans Red Hulk and Omegex trumpeted on the cover are never in the forefront, but daringly become the backdrop to something a hundred times more subtle. All the focus rests on the Red Hulk's enemy Zero-One and her struggle with her own identity, hinged on finding the answer to a single question that has eluded her purely logical mind: Was her humanity worth losing?
Zero-One's appearance comes at a time when the Rulk is in grave danger of losing his life. Onlookers Annie and the Watcher Uravo know it, General Fortean (who joins in on the Omegex's beat down of the Red Hulk) knows it, and even Ross knows it. At the hands of the "walking apocalypse", this may be the Red Hulk's last stand. But to understand herself, Zero-One feels she needs to understand the Rulk. Both her and Ross have clearly evolved to greater beings. Yet, after effectively eliminating all their imperfections, why does the Red Hulk refrain from using his cosmic absorption powers in fear of losing his frail former humanoid self? Why does he value the weaker state of being? Why does he value humanity? This does not compute with Zero-One, so she temporarily pulls Ross out of battle to comprehend his illogical ways.
It's hard not to admire the risky, yet exceptional story writer Jeff Parker has written in these pages of HULK. Zero-One's attempt at comprehending the value of humanity and all its frailties is a tale that feels worthy of a classic Star Trek episode, at its refreshingly best. Will all fans of the Red Hulk enjoy this type of story? I'm not sure... but it's brave... and it would be difficult to imagine anyone not feeling moved when the Red Hulk pleads with Zero-One to be released back into battle to save his fallen former friend, while knowing the tremendous price he will pay for it. And how cool was it finally understand Zero-One's presence at the Ross family farm in the opening of the previous issue? Bravo Jeff.
When it comes to the art, this issue highlights artist Gabriel Hardman's biggest weakness. While he's a terrific talent, and his panel layout is creative, battle scenes are just not Hardman's specialty and it clearly shows. His expertise is definitely more suited for the quieter moments and just doesn't give the monsters nor their carnage the power they deserve. It's like a great pair of shoes that… while they’re extremely well made… just doesn’t quite match the outfit.