A Good End To A Surprisingly Solid Red Hulk Story
It would be an understatement o say I never cared much for Red Hulk, but Jeff Parker concludes his first arc of Rulk's series and succeeds in selling someone like me on the character.
Parker is really playing into the idea that Ross has become the monster he has always hated and that Ross is now paying penance for all he's done by becoming an outcast whose only choice is to work for the man he still hates. It is a very interesting context to put the Red Hulk into and should make for further interesting stories. Overall, the Intelligencia's Scorched Earth protocols have served their purpose in setting up action set pieces as Parker establishes this new Rulk premise pretty well.
The problem lies in how the idea of Red Hulk can only be redeemed so much. In time, the absurdities of Red Hulk's introduction to the Marvel Universe under Jeph Loeb can be overlooked, but as nitpicky as it is, there is one thing about Red Hulk that will continue to plague him. The fact that Ross absorbs his mustache every time he transforms into Red Hulk is irredeemably stupid. We know the only reason is happens is because Loeb wished to drag out Red Hulk's mystery identity and the lack of a mustache was the only thing holding back people's absolute certainty from the start that it was Ross. But the mystery, as artificial as it was, is now over. The character is now stuck with this nonsensical detail that we see every time he transforms.
Seriously, just have Ross shave off his mustache until this Red Hulk chapter of his life is over.
A-Bomb deserves mention too, since Parker has also done an excellent job selling Rick Jones' new status quo.
This issue also features the debut of M.O.D.O.K. Superior in what is an effectively ominous and creepy scene. My feelings are mixed about how this is technically a new M.O.D.O.K., but the way Parker establishes this new M.O.D.O.K, seem to make that technical detail irrelevant.
The back-up feature starring Uatu the Watcher is quite possibly one of the most interesting things ever done with the character and the Watchers in general. It is rare that we get a story actually focusing on Watcher, which is understandable given their whole purpose is not to take an active role in things. The inventive way Uatu orchestrates some payback for the Red Hulk's attack on him is an interesting new facet of the character.
With the Scorched Earth story arc now complete, Parker shows the redeemable qualities of the Red Hulk character and the story mileage the character has.