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Review: Hulk #23

See this whole conspiracy through the Red Hulk's eyes.

No Caption Provided
Thunderbolt Ross reflects on the years-long master scheme he orchestrated to become the Red Hulk.

The Good

This actually a solid character analysis, giving Thunderbolt Ross greater complexity than you ever thought he was capable of.  I was especially impressed with how Loeb was able to make him sympathetic without ever excusing his actions as naivete. You really do feel the conflicted emotions he has; his paradoxical hatred and jealousy of the Hulk, his shame and pride in the face of Betty's moral character. It was also good to see this whole complex storyline finally woven into a cohesive narrative. And it was definitely a treat to see such an all-star line-up of artists showing off their takes on the Jade Giant and his foes - - especially given how radically different their interpretations can be sometimes. It's funny to see which ones give the Leader a widow's peak and which ones don't!

The Bad

McGuinness' art is really more suited for flat coloring with just a little rendering and I couldn't help feeling that the colors had too much gradient in the portions featuring his work. You can make the argument that the robot Hulk should have shiny skin, but General Ross definitely shouldn't, and it was a bit off-putting. Also, while I liked Ross' confessional narration on the whole, there were definitely parts where he was saying things that were a little too obvious and self-aware - - thoughts that would've been better conveyed through implication than being stated outright. The part where he says he grew up to hate doctors, and DOCTOR Banner is one of them, is an example.  I'd also say that LMDs are too convenient a "McGuffin" to get out of any plot twist.

The Verdict - 3.5/5

Back when Norman Osborn returned for the first of many times, Marvel put out a great one-shot detailing the whole Clone Saga from in his journal. This worked just like that worked, giving the reader a "behind the curtain" view of the past couple years of Hulk storylines from the perspective of its mastermind. Despite some points that ran a little too on-the-nose, this was definitely a great character piece and a good "twisted recap" to bring some perspective on World War Hulks now that it's coming to its conclusion.