RED SHE-HULK #58
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves
Release Date: October 10, 2012
And kick ass she does. Parker has turned in an action-filled first issue starring the fearsome Red She-Hulk that sets her character up for handing out beat downs left and right as she turns up the heat on a US Military special project. There’s a nice vibe of secret agent without an agency to the issue, but still manages to mix in a fair amount of good old-fashioned ragey fight scenes that I imagine anyone coming to a book with a Hulk in the title would expect. I’m not entirely clear on Betty’s motivation in taking down a project that obviously (and admittedly) mirrors the one that created Captain America, Nick Fury and others, but at the same time, I’m not sure I need to be… yet.
The superstar on this issue is definitely Pagulayan, as he illustrates a Red She-Hulk that is both beautiful and terrorizing, angry and funny, all the while remaining statuesque and powerful. Page layouts are defiantly dynamic, but still feel controlled — not unlike Betty herself, who clearly doesn’t suffer from the same anger-fueled outbursts that her big green male counterpart does. While I’m not normally crazy about comic books that are dominated by fight scenes, I was deeply entertained by Pagulayan’s expressions for Betty as they shift from panel to panel. Seeing a character reveling in a fight one moment and gritting her teeth in the next adds a lot to the interplay that many artists often overlook.
For someone like myself who wants to give Marvel Comics a chance but has very little background with the characters, Red She Hulk is a pretty strong win. Not only is it a second ongoing title from the publisher to feature a female solo lead character, but it also does a pretty excellent job of introducing the status quo to potential new readers. Packaged as data files collected by X-51, the so-called Machine Man, a full background bio is provided to get you up to speed on everything you need to know about Betty Ross and her background with the Hulk. And if you don’t know who the Hulk is — even just a little — then perhaps we need to have a talk anyway.
That said, my one disappointment in the matter of the elusive “new reader friendliness” is that this is not, in fact, a #1 like most of Marvel’s upcoming launches, but a #58 continuing the previous Hulk series with a new name. Petty difference? Maybe, but it still leaves me with the nagging feeling that I’m a few years behind already. That, or that Marvel’s not really as invested in this character as they could be, so why should I be? Nevertheless, Red She-Hulk is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of strong, smart women — red and green alike —going all out and busting heads across the comic page.