I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: Jeff Parker is one of the best superhero writers in comics. Last issue was one of Marvel’s “Point One” issues that set the stage for the series and provided a jumping on point. This issue takes that issue and re-presents the concepts in one page so readers can jump right in and swim along with the rest of us who have been reading this book for a while.
On the run and trying to avoid an obsessed General, the Hulk finds himself all alone and unable to return to any semblance of life as he knew it. The obsessed general is General Fortean, who has vowed to take down the Red Hulk for the role the Red Hulk played in killing General Thunderbolt Ross. Fortean served under Ross and saw the Red Hulk allegedly kill Ross. What Fortean doesn’t know, but we readers do, since these are comics and this is their wonder, is that Ross is the Red Hulk. With micromines implanted in his brain by General Fortean, Red Hulk cannot revert to his human form without his brain melting down, and he can’t go near anyone he holds dear without endangering them in Fortean’s quest.
It’s this sort of celebration of the comic book as a comic book – over-the-top action, pulse-pounding adventure, comic book science, and absurdly fantastic characters – that makes books Parker writes so very fun to read. This eighth issue of Parker’s run as writer reaches back to Parker’s and Gabriel Hardman’s first issue. In doing so, they introduce a character who will certainly offer a challenge to the Hulk (Red, Green or otherwise). That new character is Zero/One, and her origins spin out from the Omnisapient Corporation. That corporation is where Red Hulk first encountered the scorched Earth campaign that M.O.D.O.K. and the Leader set in place. It’s a new Hulk villain spun from the legacy of old Hulk villains. Fun stuff.
Hardman’s art is topnotch throughout, handling a man whose skin has been burned off with the same dedication and detail as he uses for the Hulk’s struggles against Fortean’s rock soldiers. Using negative space around his panels and an unorthodox panel structure, Hardman’s panels dance across the page and help the story move with cinematic flair. Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors magnificently complement Hardman’s work and bring out the emotion in the characters and settings. Zero/One’s interactions with Jacob – in fact, her very essence – is stunning and brilliantly set upon the page.
Parker’s work here has given me a new appreciation for “Hulk” and this book continues to deliver month in and month out. It’s a consistently energetic and informed read with a very tangible connection to the rest of the Marvel Universe. Zero/One is the first of the new foes Parker and Hardman are creating for Red Hulk, and if the others spring to life like she did in this issue, this title will be one to add to your pull list. Unless, of course, you’ve been paying attention in class and have already added this book. In that case, enjoy.