By: Jeff Parker (Writer), Carlo Pagulayan, Wellington Alves (Artists), Val Staples (colorist)
The Story: Red She-Hulk and Machine Man escapes from a military base, then they engage in some conversation, explaining their motivation for what each other does.
The Review: In my previous review of this series, I said that the title character of this series should have been Machine Man, as he was the one which had received the most screen-time and had received much more development than Betty Ross. Since he had been our point of view character and that, in the span of three issues, we knew close to nothing of the reasons why Betty Ross was doing all these actions; the title was suffering since the book is titled Red She-Hulk.
This issue shows how much a series can change in the span of a single issue as we finally get more focus on Betty as a character, with a large part of the issue dealing with just who she is, who she was and how she got directed on the path she is right now. This helps us readers in connecting with her, since that character has actually been active since the 60’s in the Marvel Universe.
Jeff Parker does the smart choice of writing her as a woman who had to deal with a lot of tough situations in her life, which makes her much more sympathetic as a character . She has changed from a simple plot-device to an actual person that could be interesting to follow. He also picks up glimpses of characterisation from previous series to help us get more of a feel on Red She-Hulk, incorporating the badass woman written by Greg Pak and the adventurous woman presented to us by Matt Fraction in his Defenders. Although Red-She-Hulk is much more central as a character now, it has not ridden us of Machine Man, who now tags along with her for what could make the two central characters in this series. Their dynamic is actually fun, with the curious and logical Aaron Stack and Betty Ross the woman who has seen plenty of dangers as the wife of the Hulk.
Even though there is a lot of character work and deepening here, this issue does not lack in action, as we can see plenty of it during the opening scene of the issue or in the flashback told by Betty Ross as she tries to explain her actions to Machine Man. Jeff Parker has a talent to write original action scenes that makes great use of character traits of those in the midst of them, as shown in both Hulk and Thunderbolts. This talent can also be seen here as we see the berserk Red She-Hulk and the meticulous Machine Man both act in very distinct and different manner to situations which shows some true depth of characterization in some of the key moments of these action scenes.
What makes these action scenes good though would not be solely on Jeff Parker’s shoulders, as Carlo Pagulayan and Wellington Alves both shine as well in those moments. Their knack to show energy blasts and machinery is well-used with General Fortean and Aaron Stack, although they can also show savagery and brutality with Red She-Hulk smashing and slashing her way around. A small weak point in the art, albeit it is a nitpick, would be that the enraged Red She-Hulk looks like a female General Ross, which is both funny and disturbing in some way. Remove the long black and red hair and they look exactly the same. It is probably supposed to look this way, but it is a little bit weird all the same.
The Conclusion: A nice issue that shows some focus on the title characters with some good action and overall strong art.
Hugo Robberts Larivière