Every artist has a portfolio, a collection of art that defines its creator. That body of work highlights the illustrator's talents and always features the best artwork he or she has ever done. Undoubtedly, in the massive portfolio of Ed McGuinness, we would find HULK Issue #3. It's that good.
Now when we last left the Red Hulk, everything to this point had presented the crimson menace as a terrifying monster. Uncaring and unfeeling, the Rulk was an unrelenting beast that lurked in the shadows until his moment of strike... a moment one would likely not survive. Yet he was a monster with a plan who was deliberate, methodical and precise. And except for the occasional growl, he was a silent killer. This all changes in issue #3 "Creatures on the Loose"
Seemingly drunk with arrogance over his new found power, the Red Hulk steps out of the shadows and lets his bravado show. Relishing an opportunity to beat on Rick Jones as A-Bomb (who seems to know the secret identity of the red behemoth only in the form of Rick), the Rulk lets himself break out of his shell and reveals his brash & cocky personality. The Red Hulk even reveals a moral compass within while bragging over his takedown of the first Abomination. Rows of houses came crumbling down and innocent lives were lost as a result of that battle... but the Rulk self servingly blames the collateral damage on Emil Blonsky's "cowardice". It was his decision to hide in that small Russian village rather than face his attacker.
Even with these revelations and compelling turn of events, there is not much writing to critique. Except for some intrigue over a tampered recording between General Ross and the imprisoned Bruce Banner that Iron Man reviews, the bulk of the story is the no holds barred battle between the A-Bomb and the Red Hulk. Somewhat lackluster in story progression, to be fair, there's not much to work with in the terms of dialogue for Jeph Loeb when it comes to A-Bomb's child like intellect.. but Rulk's braised attitude shines nicely.
What the lack of plot development leaves room for is the main course, an opportunity for artist Ed McGuinness to let loose and stunningly draw the hell out of this book. As a complete issue, it may well be the best book he's ever drawn and would explain why this issue was not on schedule and frustratingly delayed for several months. It's a rare situation when I should just stop writing and let the art speak for itself. That situation is now.
4 out of 5 Stars
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.
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