I’m not going to mince words here; “Red She-Hulk” #59 was a bit disappointing. As a comic book goes, it’s decent, but not impressive. There are heroes and fights, explosions and other cool things, but Jeff Parker and the tag-team of Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves just don’t bring it all together tightly enough.
In fairness to Parker, he’s still writing the heck out of the Marvel U, tapping corners of the universe to find characters that no one else quite knows how to handle. Rather than giving us a Red She-Hulk (here’s hoping he can come up with something more catchy than that) story, Betty Ross and her alter-ego take a back seat and essentially become supporting members or even antagonists in what is largely a Machine Man/X-51/Aaron Stack story. If the title of this comic book were “Machine Man” or “X-51,” my overall assessment would be dramatically different. After all, as Parker did with Red Hulk, he’s selling Machine Man in such a way that I actually not only care about the character, but I’m interested to read more about him. Not so much with Red She-Hulk. That said, there is an Avengers cameo in this book that adds some flair to the story, but the quartet from the Quinjet really function more as setup than solution.
So Avengers and Red She-Hulk (with jetpack!), robots and explosions. All that has to lend itself to some fantastic art, right? With Carlo Pagulayan’s name on the cover, I was hopeful, but what I found inside, again, disappointed me. The art from Pagulayan, with an assist from Wellington Alves is good, but not great. I’m not quite clear where the handoff occurs, but the art is inconsistent throughout the issue, starting strong, but becoming rough and sketchy by the end of the book. At one point, as Captain Marvel flies into action, not only does she look like a photocopy of a photocopy, but her energy blasts are poorly defined, leaving the reader to guess a little more than should be necessary, especially given the openness of the backgrounds in those panels. As with every book from Val Staples, the colors are slick, popping the characters off the page. I’d like to see what the duo of Staples and Pagulayan could do for an entire issue.
The second issue of the Marvel NOW! launch of “Red She-Hulk,” while disappointing, does offer some nice character bits and moments of development for X-51. As the automaton says in conversation with Captain America with regards to the Red She-Hulk, “I am building a profile, Captain. It is far from complete.” That is a fair assessment of the two issues of this series so far. Jeff Parker has built profiles before and made marginal characters interesting. I have no doubt he can make me care about Red She-Hulk, but I need to see more than I’ve seen in “Red She-Hulk” #59 to draw a firm conclusion.