This issue kicks off with Hulk (Red) getting his butt kicked by Namor. Of course, in typical, conniving Red Hulk fashion, the butt-kicking has ulterior motives behind it. What’s the best way to get back to the surface for air while you’re fighting Namor deep below the surface? Make him angry and have him throw you out of the ocean. Works every time.
Beyond the quick start, this issue lumbers along, like the megalife (huge dinosaur-like creatures) from Island X-86 where the remainder of this issue (save a pair of visits from Banner to the former big-domed duo of disaster, M.O.D.O.K. and the Leader) takes place. Hardman delivers some nastily uncommon beasties that would make Ray Harryhausen punch the air in celebration if he were to read this comic. All the same, the weird creatures that Hardman delivers makes me want to see some Hardman-drawn dinosaurs — tyrannosaurus and triceratops, stegosaurus and diplodocus — all the more. It’s obvious from the imagery on the page that Parker is writing to Hardman’s strengths.
Hardman uses some unorthodox page set-ups, such as the page that has the credits and five non-symmetric panels. You can check that page out right here on CBR in our preview of this issue. Hardman mirrors this five-panel set-up a couple times throughout the issue with great effect. The wider negative spaces are uncommon in comics today, and the combination of Hardman’s artwork and Breitweiser’s coloring makes those spaces that much more effective when they are applied.
This issue serves as a nice breather from the succession of high-octane fisticuffs between Hulk and a trio of Marvel’s heaviest hitters since Parker and Hardman took over this title. The structure of Hulk teaming up with/fighting a major powerhouse made this book feel a bit like a reinvention of “Marvel Team-Up” on steroids. Red Hulk continues to team up in this issue, but with Rick Jones (currently going by the moniker of A-Bomb) who is more a supporting character in the Hulk corner of the Marvel Universe than a headliner worthy of team-up billing.
With the previous backup story now merging into the main story of this issue, Parker is able to use the backup story space to investigate the effects of Red Hulk’s punch to Uatu’s face. It strikes me as an odd choice to back up this story, and I would have personally preferred to see a few more pages of the adventures on Island X-86, but there is logic for putting this story in this book, as it seems as though Hulk’s hit may have given Uatu some concussion-like symptoms.
This book continues to impress me and more. It has actually given me a newfound appreciation for Red Hulk. I’m not completely sympathetic to his cause or lot in life, but I do look forward to reading Parker’s adventures and soaking up Hardman’s art every month.