Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hulk #23 [2010] by Jeph Loeb

HULK #23
This is the penultimate issue to the World War Hulks storyline and General "Thunderbolt" Ross is revealed to be the infamous Red Hulk.
We start off with him crashing a propeller biplane and the doctor told him that he will never walk again. Ross recovered and he has a “healthy disrespect” with anyone with a prefix of doctor in front of their names. Then came Dr. Bruce Banner who became the Hulk during his watch and he coveted the power of the monster he created. Ross tried to stop the Hulk many times over but it resulted with him loosing his daughter’s trust. Failing consistently he had thoughts of suicide however it would be an admission that the Hulk had won.
During Peter David’s run Ross died while sacrificing his life for his daughter Betty. The Leader resurrected him and used him against the Hulk. For once Ross felt the power he craved and vowed that he should be the one who destroys the Hulk.

Tragedy strikes as the Abomination poisons his daughter and the Hulk is sent into deep space. Ross became a man without a purpose after realizing he is a “father without a child” and the “general without a war.”

The assassination of Captain America woke his sense of patriotism that allowed him to join forces with M.O.D.O.K and the Leader to prepare for the Hulk’s return. The climax of the first World War Hulk ended with the Hulk reverting to Bruce Banner using satellites to siphon off the gamma radiation and collecting it for the Cathexis Ray at Gamma Base. This collection of gamma radiation was used to rebirth Ross into the Red Hulk.

Ross first mission as the Red Hulk was to settle the score against the Abomination for murdering Betty. Much like Juggernaut falling from the sky in the classic 1995 Uncanny X-Men #322 asking the question “Who Stopped Juggernaut?” The murder of the Abomination was the very first clue on the identity of the Red Hulk. Major of fans thought it was Alan Quartermain including me who was the Red Hulk as Loeb stated that all the clues needed to deciphering the identity of the Red Hulk was in the first six issues of the adjectiveless Hulk series.

Jeph Loeb brings his “A” game to this issue as well as a host of talented artists who have previously drawn the Hulk. Characterization is what Loeb is known for and as much as I hate the World War Hulks storyline especially the Hulked-Out Heroes issues the payoff within this issue was worth every penny. Fantastic issue and one of the best since he came aboard to Marvel. Loeb is really finding his footing on Marvel ground after two years of average Hulk stories.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - 5 OUT OF 5