Well, SHIELD has tracked down the handgun used to kill the Abomination, and sure enough, it was somehow stolen from a SHIELD Helicarrier. How on earth did the Hulk get on board a Helicarrier to steal a frickin’ huge handgun? Maybe they can ask the Hulk since he’s RIGHT BEHIND YOU! Well, right behind SHIELD director Tony Stark. Red Hulk takes down She-Hulk pretty easy, ambushes Gen. Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson, hits Iron Man with jet planes, and wrecks the Helicarrier, mainly by taking out a few specialized systems that keep it in the air. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, the Hulk also confronts Rick Jones, who has one heck of a surprise up his sleeve.
Obviously, we finally get our first real look at the new Red Hulk. On the Helicarrier over New York, he’s mostly a growling animal, though he knows exactly what parts of the ship to take out to make it crash. But in Alaska, he talks normally and intelligently, though he still seems pretty dadblasted murderous. Obviously, Rick Jones isn’t the Hulk after all, so who is this new Hulk?
I got a theory — of all of the people listed on the “character page” in the front of the comic — Bruce Banner, the Abomination, Iron Man, She-Hulk, General Ross, Doc Samson, Maria Hill, and Rick Jones — there are three who we never actually see at all in this issue — Banner is in lockdown in a prison in Alaska, the Abomination is dead… and Doc Samson just isn’t there. And isn’t it funny how Samson, a guy trained in psychology, was pulling off a full CSI analysis of last issue’s crime scene… almost as if he actually knew in advance how the crime was really committed? Of course, there’s still a possibility that there’s more than one Red Hulk — he seems to get from New York to Alaska awfully fast, and he seems to have a different personality from one place to the other, too.
Verdict: Thumbs up. Mystery!
Justice League of America #18
A bunch of supervillains afraid of getting sent off by the government to a prison planet (in other words, the “Salvation Run” miniseries) surrender to the Justice League in exchange for being given asylum. The Suicide Squad, a bunch of former villains who work for the government doing dirty black-ops jobs, show up to take custody but get turned away. Later, they sneak back when all the big guns are out, but they get their butts handed to them by Vixen, who now copies various metahuman powers instead of just animal powers. There’s also a backup story about Red Tornado deciding whether to take the risk of getting a new body, or continuing on as just a computer system aboard the JLA HQ.
Verdict: Thumbs down. The fight where Vixen takes out almost the entire Suicide Squad single-handedly is pretty cool, but this issue suffers the same problem as the last — they assume we all know about the “Salvation Run” series, they assume we know who Amanda Waller is, they assume we know who the Suicide Squad is. They assume we’re all fanboys who are clued in on all the minutiae of the DC Universe, and that we’re all reading every single pointless “event” comic that comes out. It’s not just that it’s the type of thing that’s going to confuse new readers and run them off — it’s also just plain sloppy storytelling.