Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
Parker, Pagulayan, Paz, Staples & Brereton
The anniversary issue. Always hit or miss. This one comes in with a standard length story, a ten page backup, a villain gallery, an interview with Parker and a brief history of Thunderbolt Ross, all for four bucks. Before I even read a page of the story I knew I had value for my money. I'm pleased to say that this book is a good read and provides readers with enough mystery and intrigue to come back for more. Overall, I would call this anniversary issue a success on multiple fronts.
The main story is the kickoff to an arc, which is a much better idea than wrapping up a ton of plots in the anniversary/payoff issue. Red Hulk aka General Ross, is at his base with his robotic friends when he witnesses some kind of mystical entity takeover his robot partner, wreak some havok and then vanish. Red Hulk does what any reasonable character in the Marvel Universe would do and goes and seeks out Doc Strange.
Hulk has a sit down with Strange and Strange unravels some of the Hulk's mind for analysis. These scenes appear to be flashbacks but they play out like hallucinations. In them we get a bit more understanding of Ross' regrets and some of his fears. These notions are actually expanded upon in the interview with Parker in the back. The issue ends with some unknown villain tracking the Red Hulk.
The backup story seems like a feeder into the main story, though set many years prior when General Ross was a Colonel. This is about the age-old talisman-type object that attaches itself to a victim and transforms them into a monster. This was recently seen in a Star Wars crossover called Vector. The object doesn't possess Ross at all but he does "touch" the object at the end of the story. It's a good cap to put on the mystery in the main story.
The book is a very entertaining read. Red Hulk is a character that doesn't have a ton of continuity yet and Parker is building his villain cache, so to include it in this issue makes a lot of sense without taking up too much space.
The only trouble I had with the book was the lack of context for some of the references. I'm not demanding footnotes, but nowhere does this book mention things like the "Circle of Four" crossover in which Red Hulk died and came back along with the Ghost Rider mantle. Strange was also a part of the story so I would have thought a mention of it would have been natural.
The art duties are split up based on the story and the styles couldn't be more different. The main story is all flash with heavy details and exciting panels. It's perfect , playbook Hulk art. The backup is much more of a water colored wash with a faded-picture look. It fits because of the nature of the story and that the characters are all army men. Overall, the book is equal visually with Parker's entertaining script.
Parker is writing a very good story here, long and short term. This issue serves as a terrific jump-on point for new readers. You will find different heroes and villains with some familiar faces sprinkled in for good measure. Based on the interview it sounds like Parker has some grand plans for this title so I am very pleased to be on board. I definitely recommend checking this comic out.
4 out of 5 Geek Goggles