It’s the end of an era for Jeff Parker and all things red and hulky in “Red She-Hulk” #67. Except maybe it isn’t. Parker doesn’t go out with guns blazing, but instead just melts into the shadows, quietly wrapping up the drama that has enshrouded Betty Ross and her crimson-skinned alter ego for the past year plus.
There’s no shout out to the scarlet goliath’s next appearance, nor do her comrades depart the pages before the final panel. That gives Wellington Alves (I believe) a nice group portrait to close the book, but it doesn’t do much for new fans Red She-Hulk has accumulated through the machinations of Parker and crew. The cast that Parker has pulled together: Aaron Stack/Machine Man, Jen Walters, Tesla, Man-Thing and Red She-Hulk, and future voyeur savant Ellie all but wave to the camera in what should be their final act as a pseudo-team. With all of the action and conflict that went into this arc and the series in general, it’s rather a letdown last panel that leaves with a cliffhanger of sorts and a sentence without closing punctuation.
To be kind, the art in this issue is a bit of a hot mess. I’m pretty sure the scenes in the 616 proper are supposed to be based in a swamp or marsh, but it feels more like an open prairie, left to the colorist and reader to complete than for the artists to define. Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves have been time-sharing this entire storyline, with neither one of them truly “owning” the look of the book, but collectively agreeing to leave the art fully functional yet unspectacular. Pat Oliffe’s work is not of the same style, so it stands out a bit, but the coloring of Guy Major holds it all together, like puzzle glue. Sure, the individual forms are still visible, but that glue makes the pieces work. Take away that glue and you’ve got a pile no one wants to deal with.
The Ancient Order of the Shield factors in, offering an escape clause that simply was not present in an otherwise mundane story. Stuff gets hit, stuff blows up and good guys prevail. I’m interested to see what’s next for Red She-Hulk, even if this story won’t be top of my mind at that time. Parker, as he has a knack to do, drew my interest to Red She-Hulk and to Machine Man: characters I cared less about than Night Nurse and Frog-Man. The formation of a team is mentioned at the end of “Red She-Hulk” #67 and if Parker took Red She-Hulk, Machine Man, Frog-Man and Night Nurse and wrote the “Adventures of the New Champions,” I’d be all in.