Hulk #49 - 'The Incident' - Parker, Casagrande and Curiel
Story - I can't really believe that Red Hulk has almost reached 50 issues (and with various King-Size, Alpha, Gamma and Point One issues, it's actually over 50). I know it's not technically a new character, but it is a new concept, and it's great to see it last so much longer than I think anyone would have expected. Jeff Parker has taken a fairly ridiculous character and make it make sense, and under his pen, this title has become one of the most enjoyable traditional superhero comics on the market.
This issue is no exception, delivering epic superhero punch-up action, but crucially, it's action with a brain behind it. The centrepiece of this issue was a fight between Hulk and Ikaris of The Eternals, which was of course, awesome. Seeing these kinds of fights is a base, playground kind of pleasure, but it was still fun. I've always liked The Eternals, especially Neil Gaiman's recent-ish reinterpretation of them, and it's good to see them back involved in the Marvel Universe.
I also liked how this fight didn't just happen for no reason, it spins out of Hulk's recent confrontation with Zero/One, and looks set to not be a one-off guest appearance. It looks like The Eternals are going to be a big subplot in this book for a while. This is good, as Parker has so far managed to juggle several subplots and villains in this title to good effect. This book is old-school in that way, and if you like stuff like Invincible, this is very similar. Except with a big red dude punching shit up.
I will say that there probably wasn't enough of a fight for my liking, but it's hard to strike a balance between fight scenes and other scenes, not every title can have a mini-series just for the fights!
Overall, this was another top-notch issue of Hulk, the team of Rulk, Machine Man and Annie the LMD is now in a very strong groove, and Parker just keeps adding more and more subplots. Yes, the character was invented by Loeb, but it's not that ridiculous comic anymore, it's still got the brawn, but now it has the brains. Here's to another 50 issues!
Art - Elena Casagrande has stepped onto this book after the departure of Gabriel Hardman, and for me, she's done a fantastic job. Her style is somewhat similar to Hardman's, but perhaps it's a little bit more expressive. It reminds me at times of Leonard Kirk or Paul Pelletier, which is perfect for an old-school book like this one. I loved her depictions of the Eternals, who looked both goofy in cool in that klassic Kirby way.
Best Line - 'Because I protect the weak, not destroy their homes like you modern heroes do' Oh snap! Ikaris telling it like it is!