Add ANOTHER element to this title's backburner...
It is common knowledge that this title, while receiving a noteworthy amount of positive industry reviews, is among Marvel's lower selling ones hovering around the cancellation mark. It is a fun title with strong characterization, crazy concepts and a consistent artistic feel from its stable of revolving artists. Overall, it is a triumph all across the board: from its writer Jeff Parker, from its artist pool and even from how it has been handled editorially.
But I can't get behind what this latest issue throws at us. This title already has multiple recurring plot threads that weave in and out of the ongoing narrative when impeding crossovers allow. We have multiple villains (Zero / One, M.O.D.O.K, General Fortean) who come and go with their ongoing threat level undiminished. On one hand it's interesting to see these issues be allowed to simmer gradually rather than being settled once and for all and letting Red Hulk get on to a new story with a new villain. On the other hand, with no less than three backburner stories going, this issue has a NEW one for us.
This one-off issue has Red Hulk coming into conflict with The Eternals, who for whatever vague reason have deemed him a scarier example of humanoid super-beings than all the others, and have sent Ikaris to test him. This story does not resolve completely within the issue, and is clearly intended to rear its head again later on. But that will be after our next random 3-or-so-parter "Haunted Hulk" which, I assume, ties into none of the recurring threats (now up to FOUR). Is it WISE for a title that is perpetually on the cancellation bubble to keep adding to its list of unresolved crises? I can't imagine so. Believe me, I'd hate for this title to be axed, but if I were writer Jeff Parker, and aware of the danger my title was in, I'd maybe consider resolving SOME of the ongoing plot threads before adding another that I knew would not be returning for at least another 3-4 issues.
Looking at this issue by itself and not in the grander scheme of things, it's actually a really weak one for this title. The conflict at the heart of the issue is kinda hard to swallow (seriously, why are The Eternals so deeply concerned about new Hulk when Old Hulk has never really caught their eye). Further, while I have enjoyed Elena Casagrande's art on this title in the past (particularly when she got to draw M.O.D.O.K), in this issue her art comes off looking somewhat rushed and even lazy. There are many panels where perspective is used to make extraneous details in the foreground take up most of the panel and the dwarfed characters on panel have all their expression washed out. Also... the issue of Sersi. In an issue prominently featuring the Eternals (given away on the special treat cover by Eternals miniseries artist John Romita Jr.), the fact that one of the most well known members of that group should be able to pop up in a few panels, and speak in those panels, and even a longtime Marvel Zombie like me doesn't realize who the character is until somebody says her name, is a HUGE problem. Sersi has a distinctive look to her that should have been a fast give-away, yet as she first pops up in two of those aforementioned panels where the characters on panel are really small and have most of their detail washed out, Sersi appeared to just be some random bystander. I don't know why Casagrande went with these strange perspective decisions in this issue, but it REALLY didn't work.
All in all this is still one of Marvel's more fun books, and I look forward to this plot thread (and the 2-3 others) being given time to resolve... but I just can't see as how this particular new plot thread was a wise idea in the big picture.