When we last left the AVENGERS, a badly beaten Red Hulk awkwardly crashed through a window of the Avengers Tower to warn the Earth's Mightiest of a new, grave threat. Someone evil has obtained two of the all-powerful infinity gems and did the improbable: Single handedly obliterated the Rulk.
In Issue #8, this revelation is especially alarming to Tony Stark because he, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange and the rest of the now disbanded secret organization called "The Illuminati" was each charged with hiding the infinity gems many years ago. So Iron Man abruptly leaves to meet with the group’s former members, with a suspicious Captain America not far behind.
Once again writer Brian Michael Bendis gives Avengers fans another solid entry in this enjoyable story arc with an old school feel. When it comes to the Red Hulk, it's interesting to see while most of the Avengers have a level of understandable caution and mistrust towards Rulk, Steve Rogers clearly has more concern and content towards Stark, likely based on a lingering "civil war" bad blood between him and Tony (while Ross has been slowly working with Steve towards redemption.)
Of course, the rest of the heroes clearly don't see it the same way and feel a level of unease with the Rulk's presence. Thor goes so far as warning Spider-man and others that the Red Hulk is tougher than the Green Hulk... a much debated topic among fans... showing that writer Bendis’ perspective is the contest is not all about brute strength, but the training and the ability to use that strength effectively, that tips the scales towards Ross when equally matched. And where every learned detail of their unknown enemy is crucial, that very military training and knowledge of hand-to-hand combat also enabled the Rulk to assess their mysterious infinity gemmed villain as an inexperienced fighter, something the Avengers might be able to exploit when the time comes.
Once again, the only gripe is with the average art of John Romita Jr. While this issue certainly appears less rushed than his last entry, Romita’s artwork is still missing a level of expertise that this series truly deserves.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.