Sunday, 14 October 2012

SPECIAL GUEST REVIEW Red She-Hulk #58 by Eugene Liptak

Bruce Banner’s love interest Betty Ross has played an important supporting role, for better or for worse, ever since the Incredible Hulk debuted 50 years ago. Her reincarnation as the Red She-Hulk during Jeph Loeb’s time on the Hulk titles has gained popularity thanks to Greg Pak and Matt Fraction’s respective runs on Incredible Hulks and Defenders. As part of Marvel NOW! her new solo series begins with General Reginald Fortean successfully demonstrating the capabilities of three volunteers from his Echelon super soldier programme to a small gathering of the military-industrial complex. The joy proves short lived when Red She-Hulk makes her splash page entrance with a heavy tank held above her head. The three Echelon soldiers initially gain the upper hand by wrapping the tank's gun barrel around Betty. Betty, however, is the master and in short order she teaches the recruits that being superhuman means one has to absorb plenty of physical and verbal punishment (click on image to enlarge).
Despite the rout suffered by Echelon, along with Betty’s warning that more of the same will follow if he continues with his programme, Fortean soon has Captain America searching for her from his Avengers Quinjet. Machine Man, flying alongside, soon detects Betty in her human form, infiltrating an Echelon facility in Virginia. Betty arrives just in time to find recently paroled, and very muscular, programme volunteer Vin Corsico about to tear the clothes off a female lab technician.
A brutal slugfest ensues that leaves Betty caught in a headlock, with Corsico suggesting they should participate in some government-funded coupling. Betty’s enraged response results in Corsico’s right arm snapped in two before a fatal left hook leaves him crumpled on the ground before her, ending the issue.

Writer Jeff Parker succeeds in setting up a compelling story, with Betty’s strength and fighting skill the main attractions. Machine Man’s character profiles of Betty and her father are woven into the story, cleverly catching readers up with her recent history without interrupting the narrative. The reason Betty has gone rogue against Echelon is not fully explained, but her precision-guided maelstroms against it, risking a collision course with the Avengers, are enough to have me impatiently awaiting the next issue. 

One nitpick is the fact that General Fortean is part of the United States Army Air Force - which has not existed since 1947, unless General Billy Mitchell’s dream of a separate air force went unrealised in the Marvel Universe. 

Pencilers Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves choreograph Parker’s script nicely without any jarring transitions between their respective art styles. Colourist Val Staples provides subdued hues that highlight well the little details like Betty’s red streaks and glowing yellow eyes. 

If Pagulayan's cover is any indication, Betty will soon deal with plenty of familiar faces. One wonders what Jennifer Walters has to say about what Betty is up to.

Eugene Liptak is an author and a librarian. He is currently writing a book about US Navy special warfare units of the Second World War for Osprey Publishing.

2 comments:

  1. Look at the She-Hulk face!
    This is Carlo Pagulayan or Wellington Alves, pencil?
    Horrible face, she looks really ugly.

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    Replies
    1. Which face? The cover or the inside?

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