The issue opens with the aftermath of the red hulk destroying a helicarrier. Now, I know this isn’t Loeb’s fault so much as Marvel editorial’s, but seriously, how many Helicarriers are there? Seems like half the time the only reason they ever show up is to be destroyed. Let’s just say I’m not the only one who’s noticed. The thing about storytelling is that if you repeatedly destroy a SHIELD helicarrier, it ceases to seem threatening when someone does it, and what’s more, SHIELD start to look like a bunch of muppets. Someone needs to balance this out ASAP by having SHIELD show up and actually do something helpful that doesn’t end with the helicarrier blowing up, for a change. Or maybe they’re took SKRULLY for that.
The rest of the issue – well, it’s just more of the same now. If you were, for whatever reason, intrigued or entertained by the Red Hulk saga, good luck, there’s plenty more of it here. As for who the Red Hulk is, well, with the Rick Jones theory properly debunked, it seems fairly obvious that Loeb is pointing at Doc. Samson, using the same deeply obvious narrative feints he employed in Ultimates of having people say “Doc Samson disappeared, then the Red Hulk showed up!” – as in Ultimates, whether it’s a misdirection or not isn’t clear, but for the sake of good writing everywhere, I hope so.
Now, to be fair, this is by far the best issue of the series, but that’s not saying a huge amount. One definite criticism worth levelling is that there’s not a lot of story here at all. Perhaps Loeb is trying to play to McGunness’ strengths by focusing on splash pages and spreads, or perhaps he’s just gotten lazy. Either way, as a result Hulk #3 is the light comic that won’t spoil – or sate – your appetite between real stories. To Loeb’s credit, I find myself intrigued by what Banner and Ross might have talked about that they kept secret, but it’s not enough for me.
At the end of the issue, Banner escapes his cell by, er, changing into the Hulk and smashing his way out. At this point, imagine me rolling my eyes. The man destroyed most of New York and enslaved a bunch of heroes and they way they deal with him is to lock him in a cell that can’t even hold him. Really? And the triumphant return of the Green Hulk, who was so vengeful he almost destroyed the planet, is… a return to the old childlike Hulk? Pak’s near-masterful Hulk epic is being effectively erased from history. So much for the “amazing” third act of Planet Hulk/Word War Hulk we were promised Loeb would deliver. The title’s become a complete train wreck and I’d sooner see Loeb off it for good. Avoid. At all costs.