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Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?’ provides Bruce Banner with an impossible foe

We can see Red Hulk as Banner’s deserved punishment for World War Hulk.

At the time, World War Hulk felt like a definitive shift for Bruce Banner’s Hulk. It seemed impossible, after reading the cataclysmic events of that story, that the Jade Giant could be easily redeemed; sure, his revenge-driven tantrum might have had legitimate motivations (the Illuminati had banished him, and his space-family had been killed by their meddling), but the wide-scale (implied) murder of the situation must have ramifications, right?

The announcement of the Red Hulk seemed to further back up the expectation – Bruce and Hulk must be getting shelved and replaced by this new menace.

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But justice for super-heroic blunders was not in the cards in the 2000s. The first superhero Civil War had come and gone, and Tony Stark, ostensibly the villain of the piece, had simply been promoted to the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. despite having helped found an inter-dimensional gulag, backing a homicidal Thor-Bot, and lending an incidental hand in the assassination of Captain America. Around the same time, over at DC, members of the Justice League had mind-wiped several people and covered up a brutal sexual assault and murder.

Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?

Marvel Comics

Heroes were getting up to bad stuff all over, and direct ramifications were rare, delayed, or so rushed that it felt irrelevant.

The events in Hulk Modern Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk? follows the trend of the latter. The book kicks off with the Abomination being murdered and the mystery at hand leaves only Bruce Banner as a suspect, but the first issue ends with the reveal that Banner has been firmly ensconced in a secret prison facility. This is his punishment for ravaging New York; he is free and Hulking about by the third issue.

His freedom is a necessary component for the ensuing narrative, of course – who else but the Hulk could stop another Hulk? Not that nobody else tries; the series features a who’s-who of super strong bruisers, gamma-powered and otherwise. A brief backup features She-Hulk and a team of “Lady Liberators”, a sort of semi-condescending proto-A-Force. Sentry and Carol Danvers are on hand, as is Rick Jones’ A-Bomb.

 

Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?

Marvel Comics

If there were ever any artists that could perfectly render this powerhouse heavy cast, it would be Ed McGuinness and Art Adams. Throughout the issues, the Hulks are rendered with such dense gravity that it’s impossible to ignore their brutality; they are deserving of the name ‘Hulk’. The monsters – such as a horde of Wendigo – are rendered truly, irrefutably monstrous. With Frank Cho’s particular brand of questionable cheesecake, She-Hulk’s adventures are likewise affecting; there are no pages in this volume that do not feel powerful, beautiful, or brutal.

Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?

Marvel Comics

The Red Hulk, we’re told, is a threat deserving the powerful opposition. Indeed, while our heroes try to uncover his identity, we see them summarily defeated with such ease that he begins to seem an impossible adversary. Punching out the Watcher, jumping into space to, stealing both Mjolnir and the Silver Surfer’s board, and tearing through the cosmic forces of Terrax, Galactus, and the Elders of the Universe, Red Hulk is such a threat that he begins to feel boring to the reader. How could one being do all these horrible things that the Marvel Universe has told us, for forty years, are impossible?

Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?

Impossibly powerful and deeply unlikeable.
Marvel Comics

For all its narrative foibles, the story of Red Hulk never loses its compelling drive. Readers yearn to know his identity, and his repeated beatdowns of major characters instills a genuine feeling of jeopardy. Abstractly, we might see Red Hulk as Hulk’s deserved punishment. He is forced to suffer a constant, looming, and impossible foe in the same way that the Marvel Universe suffered him throughout World War Hulk.

Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?
‘Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?’ provides Bruce Banner with an impossible foe
Hulk Modern Era Epic Collection: Who is the Red Hulk?
Sweeping consequences for World War Hulk under the rug, 'Who is the Red Hulk?' instead provides an existential punishment for the Hulk in the form of an insurmountable foe.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.6
Visually dynamic and packed with gravity.
Provides and incredible cast.
Sets up a deeply compelling mystery.
Red Hulk is so powerful he begins to feel boring.
8
Good
Buy Now

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