By: Jeff Parker (Writer), Carlo Pagulayan, Wellington Alves (Artists), Val Staples (Colorist)
The Story: Betty and Aaron are on the run as S.H.I.E.L.D is trying to get them.
The Review: This title is a little bit infuriating. One second we think we’re going to have some more moment with our titular character and delve into who she is and what she wants, the next we get sidetracked with dozens of side characters that advances the plot without our heroine.
This does not mean it is a bad title or a bad issue, but it is annoying to see that Betty Ross does not necessarily have a great impact in her own book. So far, there seems to be more focus on the threat, Aaron Stack and the side characters than on Red She-Hulk. While there seems to be more characterization on her part, it still does not make her such an important or integral character to the plot. It even seems like they could have replaced her, so far, with a whole plethora of other characters and it would not have made any difference.
In the actions scenes it would make a difference, as Parker had said that he wanted to show the power of a Hulk, which is shown here, in the big action setup of the book. Here, Aaron and Betty fight some S.H.I.E.L.D agents, which cause some hilarity for the two powered individuals. Granted, most of the time, the S.H.I.E.L.D agency is usually portrayed as a tad ineffectual when fighting against meta-humans threat in the Marvel universe, but Parker here rectifies that in a smart way. The agency is supposed to be the world’s top authority on meta-humans and espionage, so it would make sense for them to be thoroughly prepared against people that can destroy a building with their fists. The fight here against those agents is surprisingly well done, as Parker redeems the field agents from decades of incompetence as they are able to put Betty and Aaron on the ropes after only two pages. Kudos for that, Mr. Parker.
Another thing that should be noted is the fact that Parker knows how to work with the larger Marvel universe and its other book. He is a team player and it shows, as some of the setups of this issue use some of Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk, Bruce Banner being part of S.H.I.E.L.D and the use of this series first villain, Mad Thinker, as preparation for what will happen next in this arc. So far, Parker seems to be moving his pieces sharply, gathering some more interest in the same way he did in his Red Hulk tale, albeit with different characters now. The main threat is advancing slowly, but the plot is going somewhere.
What’s is also going somewhere would be the art from Pagulayan and Alves, who are in a much better shape this month. The first few pages are kind of rough, but the whole thing becomes significantly better as it goes. The technology here looks really nice, but what looks really good are the S.H.I.E.L.D strike team. Their armors, their gun, their poses, their expressions, close to everything about them makes them look cool and professional. The facial expressions of each characters are really well done too, like when Betty and Aaron goes from comprehension toward their situation, only to be laughing in the very next panel, without looking forced or silly. A lot of what makes the art looks good here can also be attributed to Val Staples, the colorist. The action scene would not look half-as good if the beams, explosions and other effects were not as carefully colored as they are.
The Conclusion: While the book could clearly begins to get a better grip and focus on Betty Ross as a character and a driving force for the whole plot, Jeff Parker manages to makes this a good issue with some good actions and some neat concepts, helped in this greatly by the whole team of artists.
Hugo Robberts Larivière