Hulk #42

Although they've pushed the platform of their "Point One" program at readers whenever they can, Marvel chose not to do so with this issue of "Hulk." I consider that a missed opportunity, as this book is about as perfect a jumping on point as any for this series.

Jeff Parker has been writing rousing adventures for the Red Hulk and continues to deliver stories worthy not only of the power available only to a Hulk, but also of the intrigue inherent in adventures of a retired and in hiding Air Force General. It's an odd balance, but Parker makes it work and, in doing so has made Red Hulk a character that I look forward to visiting with every month.

This month is no different, save for the change of location, the renewed purpose Red Hulk works with, and the new artist on the book. Patch (formerly and perhaps still Patrick) Zircher joins Parker on this title in time to shift the location and the way things are going to happen in this book. Receiving word of the untimely passing of a former ally, Red Hulk takes matters of vengeance into his own over-sized hands and sets out to balance the scales of justice. Unfortunately, that goes against the deal Red Hulk has made with Steve Rogers. That puts some wrinkles into what should be a straightforward story and makes the time until the next issue way too long.

Zircher's art is stylistically in line with departing artist Gabe Hardman's, but Zircher's work lines are more smooth and his work, on the whole, is less filled with significant black shadows. The book seems more open, but that is in part due to the shift in location as well. Much of this issue takes place in areas that are unencumbered by buildings, traffic, or crowds, giving Zircher the chance to emphasize the characters and exhibit the power and mass of Red Hulk.

Rachelle Rosenberg's colors are somewhat muted, never quite shining through completely, but in this issue that works. The glaring light of the desert and the firing of energy weapons invite bright yellows and harsh shadows, and Rosenberg delivers. Some spots are a little too over-polished, with burns and dodges being taken a bit too far, but the art still looks good in sum total.

Although Marvel might not be insisting it as much, this issue is a brilliant jumping on point for readers. Jeff Parker has been entertaining fans on "Thunderbolts," and his work here is every bit as strong, unapologetic, and enjoyable.

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