Hulk 24 Review: The Final Chapter in the Red Hulk Saga, brought to you by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness. I had blogged and podcasted when this Who is Red Hulk storyline took Marvel Comics by storm, and I went on the record to say how horrible Rulk as a character was, and how bad Jeph Loeb’s writing was. Basically, the Rulk arc was crash commercialism- that worked in terms of sales and publicity. Hulk has been selling like hot cakes, not necessarily from older fans that loved Peter David, but from Marvel zombies, teenagers, speculators, and completists. Regardless of who the target audience was, Jeph Loeb did the job: he made Marvel tons of money with such a juvenile plot and WWE-like gimmick by simply having a RED version of the Hulk running around and concealing his identity for THREE years, and spanning much, much more than 24 comics.
The Who is Red Hulk storyline spanned the reborn Incredible Hulk comic book, a few mini-series, and some one-shots. Throw in a bunch of different She Hulks and Son of Hulk, and you have a whole new Hulkverse and status quo.
Although I’ve written so many bad things about Rulk when it first began, over the months I got excited about Red Hulk. This is because of writer Jeff Parker getting involved with the Fall of the Hulks, which really helped the other Hulk comics out, and really made The Leader and The Wizard’s Intelligencia a serious threat. Of course, Greg Pak continued his outstanding writing on Incredible Hulk, and when he pitched in on other titles. Without Greg Pak and Jeff Parker, Fall of Hulks/World War Hulks would continue to be a laughing stock, and a ONE-STAR comic event.
Once you get away from Loeb and McGuinesses’ desire to have a battle royal “Who is the Strongest” fanboy masturbation contest, you can see that this series referenced Hulk’s continuity and history, in addition to some lost characters. Although the message board mutants will always complain about not being 100% “accurate” there was a full circle with the Hulk’s history. This was and has always been a war between Thunderbolt Ross and Bruce Banner, for the love of Betty Ross Banner.
Issue 24 was the ultimate battle between the two most powerful creatures on Marvel Earth: a RED Enneargam Personality Type 8 vs a GREEN Enneagram Personality Type 8. Yes, as of last issue, Bruce Banner is the Green Hulk again, and he is as powerful and intelligent and clever as his World War Hulk form from a few years ago. Bruce won.
More spoilers about the new status quo:
Glenn Talbot returning was a red herring; he was really a LMD (life model decoy).
Red Hulk can’t turn back into Thunderbolt Ross because the world saw the best funeral for Ross on TV, and he went out a hero. So he’s given the Superboy Prime prison somewhere under heavy guard.
Betty Ross is still Red She-Hulk.
Jen Walters She-Hulk is still alive.
Doc Samson is thankfully dead.
Banner will raise his son. In addition to Hulk vs Rulk, we saw Hulk vs Son of Hulk, as Banner had planned at the beginning. It was very touching.
Hulk #24 is rare in that the storyline really did finish with an EXPLANATION POINT, instead of same lame finish. History will look down upon Jeph Loeb’s Rulk because of how horrible it started off, and many fans never gave Fall of the Hulks a chance. I don’t blame them, but around halfway through, things started to get real hot. At the end, Hulk 24 had deep psychology between two mentally unhealthy people, but Banner came out a hero. Jeph Loeb went out good as well, although his average quality rating is probably horrible with his bombs. His reputation was taking a hit before Rulk, and the fanboys list him on their Most Hated Comic Book Writers list now. Loeb is done, according to the message board mutants.
The Rulk event had too many warts to be considered high quality, but “it wasn’t that bad” to me, although when I go back and rate each issue, I have a feeling the overall grade will be poor. My heart raced at the anticipation of comics written by Pak and Parker, and at least Loeb knew how to grandstand and be unpredictable (if not irrational).
That being said, for the sake of prosperity and balance, here’s some reasons why the Rulk arc sucked:
- Rulk- He started off like a message board mutant who was stronger than God. Then his personality abruptly changed to being patriotic (Ross).
- Everything seemed random, but not in an Alan Moore way- in a Vince McMahon way.
- Marvel’s shipping schedule confused me, and sometimes you could tell that Loeb had no idea what was happening in Incredible or the other comics.
- Speaking of continuity, I hated the fact that I didn’t know what Dr. Doom was doing in Hulk and his own limited series at the same time, AND the fact that this was not Mark Millar’s version of Dr. Doom (Doom is millions of years old).
- Plot lines still not wrapped up: Green Scar, what did Banner whisper to Ross in Hulk #3, why did Amadeus Cho determine that Talbot was NOT an LMD, and more.
- Loeb’s plots are like big Hollywood movies: they make sense only in their own warped context if you don’t think too hard.
- The tone and content between Loeb, Pak, and Parker sometimes contradicted each other, especially plot details and at the end the Hulk’s personality. Makes this very tough to read in one sitting.
Bottom line: I enjoyed it, and will not join the bandwagon and throw monkey crap on it. I realize I have to apologize for it. But I’m not saying this is “my Hulk”, because it’s not. It’s New Marvel. It’s a different era. Sales were super high, and everyone was talking about it. Nothing was BROKEN, and new writers can easily continue on. The Red Hulk storyline can’t compare to previous Hulk events or runs, but around halfway through, they were pretty good. The earlier issues from Jeph Loeb’s run were total garbage but Pak and Parker prevented it from being The Worst Ever.
At the end of the day, I was entertained, and that’s all that counts. I do recommend this storyline for fans. You will realize how message board mutants overreacted.