''Planet Hulk'' is one of the best, if not the greatest, Hulk stories of all time. So you can understand one's trepidation when beginning to read HULK Issue #34 ''Planet Red Hulk Part One'' that this comic will be a rehashed, bore of a story that is cashing in on the success of the Planet Hulk name. Fortunately, with great relief and delight, only the latter stood correct.
When a distress signal is received from a pair of Russian cosmonauts orbiting in a shuttle around Earth, Steve Rogers knew the Rulk was perfect for the search and rescue job.. giving Ross yet another opportunity to make up for all the wrong he's done. Yet things aren't always what they appear. So when the Red Hulk enters the shuttle cockpit and discovers the fate of the cosmonauts, the prey has arrived and the trap is sprung, sending the Rulk hurtling through outer space. Was it Bruce Banner who set the trap? Or was it a vengeful superhero finally seizing the opportunity to rid the Earth of the red behemoth? No matter. The Red Hulk was on a collision course with two warring planets and his survival is what counted now.
Regardless of the slight déjà vu reading this comic, Jeff Parker does such a good job here spinning a fresh and enjoyable tale that you wish a more original title would have been used like ''The Red Planet'' or ''A Planet of his Own''... something to give this storyline more of its own identity. Regardless, it's a great read, matched equally with great art thanks to the talents of Carlo Pagulayan, who hasn't made me this happy artistically since creator Ed 'Born to draw Rulk' McGuinness was on the book. I love his take on Red Hulk, choosing to let Ross' advanced years.... wrinkles.. gray streaks in the hair.. all come through in the features of the Rulk. It's a great touch! Add the brilliance in coloring by Jesus Aburtov especially in the universe scenes, and we got a true feast for the eyes!
Next issue marks the conclusion of Planet Red Hulk, leaving us with only a two issue story. This is certainly a shame as it leaves me speculating on a potentially greater story that could be ultimately left unrealized: The Rulk is now in a distant galaxy, between two planets with two warring races. I am sure one of those races could be helped in the art of war, to overcome the other. I'm sure one of those races could use a General.
4 out of 5 Stars
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.