By: Jeff Parker (writer), Carlo Pagulayan , Wellington Alves (artists) and Javier Tartaglia (colorist)

The Story: Betty Ross gets away from the Avengers and Machine Man continues his investigation on the Red She-Hulk.

[Editor’s Note: Everyone give a hip-hip-hooray for the newest addition to the WCBR staff, Hugo Robberts Larivière, who should be congratulated and honored for his name alone.  Looking forward to his thoughts on comics from now on.]

The Review: Being a fan and follower of Jeff Parker, I would not dare miss any of his mainstream Marvel titles. Having read his Thunderbolts, Agents of Atlas and Hulk runs, one could see that he has talents for writing interesting characters and fun superheroics. However, the switch from Hulk to Red She-Hulk has not been without problems.

The biggest problem that is very apparent in this title is the lack of character study on our title character. In this book, the character that we follow is not Betty Ross, but Aaron Stack, the Machine Man (also known as X-51), a support character from the Red Hulk ongoing. We see close to everything from his point of view, which is actually fascinating and well-written, as Jeff Parker never lets go of the fact that he is an android, yet still has a lot of humanity in his mannerism and his speech. Everything that happens is connected to the title character, but it is not always shown. Betty Ross is, in her own title, an important character that is central to the plot. She is the protagonist, but not the narrator, a role that is attributed to Machine Man instead. Considering the fact that ever since the switch up from Hulk to Red She-Hulk, Machine Man has been the character we have the more information on. Considering the amount of development put on the character, it makes me wonder why the series was not named Machine Man in the first place.

However, even though the titular character still hasn’t been properly deepened yet, the title does not suffer from a lack of imagination. One of the best scenes after Betty flees from the Avengers involves a particular character from Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D series talking with Aaron Stack about many interesting concepts, one of those being a supermachine that can predict human history. This scenes actually explains the conflict of the series for us readers, which makes the book that much smarter, explaining the reason why Red She-Hulk did attack the military in the first place in issue 58. It does not deepen her character much, but it does show the main conflict of the book, which is actually very interesting.

Another department that is not lacking would be the art, with Pagulayan and Alves doing great work in this issue. They particularly shine when it comes to drawing technology and machinery, making it looks advanced, yet not alien or improbable. The action scenes are also well done, with each blast or punch thrown shown having impact on the character or environment. Colorist Javier Tartaglia does deserve some respect here as well, as the rich palette of colors mesh well together. Considering sometime how many characters and action are in each panel, it would be easy to dismiss it, yet he does a very fine job.

Conclusion: Despite the lack of focus on Betty Ross as a character, the issue is a good show of imaginative concepts along with some very nice action scenes. I am eager to see where this title goes.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière

Some Musing: -Who else would totally read a Machine Man series written by Jeff Parker?