Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves’ “Red She-Hulk” #60 continues Red She-Hulk’s quest to shut down a super soldier program, a worthy goal, but Parker and team continue to keep us at arm’s length from Betty in a way that is both frustrating and distracting.
The first half of this book, though not uninteresting, is dissatisfying because, like previous issues, it doesn’t feel at all like Red She-Hulk’s book. Had it been called “Aaron Stack aka Machine Man” or “Machine Man and Red She-Hulk,” it would make a whole lot more sense. About halfway through, Betty finally shows up to bust some heads and infiltrate the super soldier base, but it’s all surface.
I’m just not sure I understand Parker’s approach to this title. It feels like he really wants to write an Aaron Stack title (which would be cool, let’s face it) but has been forced into writing a book called “Red She-Hulk” instead. Even when Red She-Hulk takes the stage in the second half of this book, it still feels like she’s being discussed in her own book, rather than owning it. We’re never in Betty’s head, which would be okay, except that we’re constantly in Stack’s head. It makes no sense.
The plot about Betty being seen as a bad guy by all the good guys while all she’s trying to do is shut down a dangerous super soldier program is solid and Parker’s writing is strong, but it’s just a book that doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be. However, it does have an excellent table turning cliffhanger and that final splash page redeems a lot of failures of the book.
The art by Pagulayan and Alves is good, but not great. Even though technically there are no major issues with the storytelling, it feels mechanical and passionless. The only moment that stands out is the final panel in which Red She-Hulk hulks out in a way that we generally don’t see for She-Hulks. Though that page is a delight, it also draws a sharp contrast between that panel (full of energy) and the rest of the book (rather rote).
If Parker, Pagulayan and Alves can capture the magic of that final panel and extrapolate it out into the rest of the book they might have something, but three issues into this series, I don’t see it.