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Red Hulk

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

It used to be that comics were single stories in single issues. Then they began to develop their own ongoing internal continuity, which has grown and expanded so that now everything is connected. Nick Fury starts a war with Latveria and is forced out of his job as director of SHIELD. When the Hulk destroys a big chunk of Vegas on a rampage, his colleagues use one of Fury's LMD robots to trick Hulk into space. He lands on a distant planet, and is actually happy until the rocket which carried him there explodes and destroys everything. Blaming the ones who sent him there in the first place, Hulk comes back and declares war on Earth. The heroes rally and Bruce ends up locked in a cell three miles underground, clearing the stage for the introduction of the mysterious Red Hulk.

Who is this new Hulk? Smashing onto the scene after the events of World War Hulk, this strange Red Hulk is pulverizing gamma-powered individuals with an agenda all its own. What created this new menace, how can he be stopped and what does this mean for the rest of the Marvel Universe?

Let's be honest: Jeph Loeb's current Hulk comic isn't very well written. Things happen (ridiculous things), but there's no characterization and no progression. It's just a series of guest stars jobbing to Reddy to show how much of a badass he is. One issue had him punching out the Watcher, for instance. Come on. No Hulk's had this much blatant and illogical "creative control" in his contract since Hogan. But while the story is crap, the art is at least lively, coming from the pen of Ed McGuinness - and say what you will about Loeb, but he absolutely gives his artists fun things to draw.

The Red Hulk debuted in March of 2008, and Target's exclusive series of Marvel Legends toys hit stores in September. That has to be some kind of speed record for turning a new character into a toy. Of course, there are some extenuating circumstances surrounding that, but we'll get to that in just a bit. Red comes in six pieces, easy for you to collect and connect: head, arms, legs, and trunk. Of course, they all slip together easily, and hold their tension well - he won't fall apart on you, unlike some BAFs we could mention.

The assembled figure stands a hearty 8" tall, which is the size you'd expect from a standalone Hulk figure. Of course, there's a reason for that: remember we mentioned something weird about how quickly this figure was produced? He was originally intended and designed to be a single-carded figure, released in the Fin Fang Foom series (when that BAF was going to be built from 12 figures, not eight). "Ed McGuinness Hulk" was one of the ones cut from the line-up, but the work was already done, so all they needed to do was use a different color of plastic and not put him together at the factory. Ta-da!

The sculpt is very good, and undetailed. Normally that would be a proble, but not with Red Hulk. The character's only been drawn by three artists in his short career, and they all three - McGuinness, Frank Cho and Art Adams - have an uncluttered art style that would be poorly represented by an overabundance of detail. Everything is big and blocky, and there's no mistaking this is McGuinness' character; he even has the silly little curlicues on his elbows, a very McGuinness-ish trait. He has big veins on his forearms, biceps and neck, and a few cool details on his pants, like the undone button on the fly and a slightly ripped back pocket.

The only "new" part of the sculpt is the head. They couldn't just use the scrapped sculpt's noggin, so Red Hulk gets a new face. He looks vastly angry, as he should: part of the character's premise is that he's filled with more rage than even regular Hulk, though he has the added advantage of intellect to drive his actions. While Hulk's usually had a shaggy mop of hair, his chroma-keyed counterpart has a spiky 'do sticking up off his scalp. Sadly, the figure has no accessories: he could have come with the big gun he used to kill Abomination, or the knife he used to decapitate the Wendigo, but then he would have needed new hands.

Red Hulk is nicely articulated, with a ball and socket neck, balljointed shoulders, wrists, hips and ankles, hinged elbows, chest and knees, and swivel waist, biceps and thighs, which is plenty for rumbling with your other Marvel Legends. The red chosen for his skin is nice and deep, and there are darker shadows painted on him, even on his blue pants. His eyes are black, with white irises, just making him look creepier, and there are varying tones of gray in his hair. And fun fact: if you hue-shift Red Hulk by about 110°, he ends up looking just like the normal Hulk, pants and all. Weird!

The Target series of Marvel Legends is actually a fairly nice assortment of six figures, and there are no real clunkers in the bunch. There's an exclusive Marvel Select Red Hulk available from BigBadToyStore.com, but it gets wrong everything this BAF gets right: it's oversized, over-detailed, underarticulated and poorly proportioned - seriously, look at its tiny little head! It's terrible. Yes, you'll pay more to get the ML version (especially if you bought the six figures before Target "corrected" the price), but he's a better toy. Right now the mystery of who he really is remains ongoing (and the reveal will almost surely be a let-down), but that doesn't mean it's not worth adding Red Hulk to your collection.

Spiral | Union Jack | Black Spider-Man | Adam Warlock | Wolverine | Silver Savage

-- 01/05/09

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