Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of being able to read the 42nd issue of the HULK comic series "Hulk of Arabia Part One". Due to hit comic stands October 5th, advanced copies in the form of an ashcan became available via this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. Smaller than a traditional comic with only black & white interior art, this marketing tool was distributed to a select few and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy. What I found is the best Jeff Parker HULK issue to date.
General Fortean is out hunting Rulk again and it is not surprising that Ross is finally losing his patience with him. At any time the Red Hulk can put Fortean out of commission permanently, yet he still pulls his punches, out of compassion for the obsessed General that so mirrors his formal self. Yet, that compassion is slipping because his former comrade doesn't let up. Then, suddenly, General Fortean lets up. He not only backs off... he retreats. Rulk ponders "he's not one to retreat in battle".
It’s not long before Annie, his life model decoy companion, calls the Red Hulk back to base camp with some news to report. General Fortean received a transmission that an ex-Colonel, current mercenary Will Krugauer was killed in the Middle East. Fortunately the transmission doesn’t concern Ross, Annie concludes. Ross responds "It concerns me". Krugauer was his friend, and after gathering some intel, the Rulk abruptly leaves to enact revenge on the army who killed him. Annie can't stop Ross and fears the worst. She has no choice but to put a call through to Steve Rogers… "This is exactly what he's always feared would happen."
Writer Jeff Parker masterfully strikes all the right chords with "Hulk of Arabia Part One", a tale of good but flawed intentions, a tale of revenge and regret. Parker understands and utilizes that it's the General's brash and arrogant selfish actions (which keeps him on the outside of the hero community looking in) that makes red giant so compelling. Just when you think you can trust the Red Hulk, you can't, and Captain America is forced to send in the Secret Avengers to stop him.
Learning that artist Gabriel Hardman's last days of drawing the Rulk are approaching won't be troublesome one bit with Patrick Zircher on the job. His superior art in this issue results in one fantastically drawn Red Hulk and associated characters. The art is so well done that part of me wishes this book would stay in black and white, in fear that the coloring would diminish Zircher’s beautiful work. His use of silohettes are terrific and his action scenes are outstanding, especially the panels drawn in the Red Hulk's perspective… like when his fists smash the Earth under some soldiers feet sending them flying into the air.
Parker’s and Zircher’s work combined has resulted in a perfect issue. Can’t wait for Part Two.
5 out of 5 Stars
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.
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