Or – “A Character Even *I* Wasn’t Sure I Wanted To Give A Chance…”
There’s a lot of dislike for both Red Hulk and Red She-Hulk among fandom, and with good reason. But when Jeff Parker started using the crimson giantess, I was intrigued. When he threw in Machine Man, I started buying. And when the story got rolling, I was hooked. Now, with the final issue, I’m wondering if this is the last we’ll see of irradiated Betty Ross. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Clever and well-written.
Art teams working seamlessly.
Jeph Loeb’s long shadow.
The ending promises more cool stories that we’re probably never going to get to see…
RED SHE-HULK #67
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan/Patrick Oliffe/Wellinton Alves
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Red She-Hulk: Betty Ross has a mission, based on a brief glimpse of the future: Keep a superhuman apocalypse from engulfing her world. With the help of Aaron Stack, Machine Man, she has finally found the mind behind the conspiracy, but can monster and machine together stop the terrible world that’s coming?
OVERCOMING IGNOMINIOUS ORIGINS.
We open this issue in the middle of a massive battle between The Avengers, a legion of Machine Men and Echelon, the government-issue superhumans whose actions were what Red She-Hulk saw ending the world in the first place. I’m not sure that it’s intentional, but I find some entertainment in the fact that the “evil supers” destined to end the world look remarkably like Bryan Hitch’s designs for The Ultimates, all buzz-cuts and short sleeves, with too much uniform in their uniform and not enough costume in their costume. Things get bad when Betty’s allies are compromised, first with Machine Man falling under military control (given his origins as a military experiment, this makes sense), while Jennifer Walters loses her She-Hulk form when one of Echelon’s ground troops drains her of gamma energy. (Having both regular and red versions of She-Hulk in the book is a little distracting, not to mention confusing, and it’s high time that Betty got a decent codename.) The battle moves at breakneck pace, and we find that the whole thing is taking place in an alternate timeline, as Machine Man and She-Hulk Classic travel back through a Man-thing-induced portal to the regular reality.
“AN ELEGANT SOLUTION…”
Jeff Parker is a writer who has done much with Marvel’s lesser lights, creating the epic and wonderful Agents of Atlas, and giving characters like The Wasp, Rocket Racer and others new life. In the case of Red She-Hulk, he gives her something that Jeph Loeb never successfully did: A reason to exist. That may sound harsh, but the entirety of the Red She-Hulk’s existence before taking over Red Hulk’s book was as macguffin and mystery, with no expectation of what to do later (save for the sadly aborted arc in Matt Fraction’s Defenders.) This issue wraps up her first storyline, tying her into the S.H.I.E.L.D. miniseries featuring Tesla and DaVinci and all that, linking her to the original She-Hulk in ways that give her an identity of her own, and even setting her at the forefront of a makeshift team of super-heroes, a Parker specialty. That, combined with comics’ lack of female solo books, makes it a shame that this is the final issue of her book, a shame made even more noticeable by the upbeat ending, wherein She-Hulk vows to keep fighting that battles that no one else will.
THE BOTTOM LINE: IT SEEMS CRUEL TO END WITH A NEW BEGINNING…
When Marvel announced this book, I knew that it probably wasn’t long for the world, but I am glad that editorial was willing to give Parker and Red She-Hulk a shot. The ‘Route 616’ arc has been a fascinating story, and one that I’m sorry won’t continue immediately. I’d personally like to see the team of Tesla, Jennifer Walters, Machine Man, Man-Thing and Betty Ross again, even though Marvel’s current publishing strategy wouldn’t really allow it. There’s too much emphasis on getting the NEXT BIG THING out the door, with books like this serving as bin-filling loss-leaders that will be ignored and forgotten in a year or three. (Remember The Loners? Avengers Initiative? Even the Agents of Atlas?) Still, though, Red She Hulk #67 wraps up the arc and the series on a very high note, with multiple artists delivering a seamless whole, and justifies its odd rationale with excellent story, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.