It became commonplace a few years ago to suggest that there hasn't been a good for sales Marvel character created for over a decade.
Sure Deadpool and Cable sell books (to a certain point) but they are creations of the 1980s don't forget.
I like to think that an exception to this rule is the Red Hulk. He has had some great runs and appearances and seems to be gaining a good chunk of popularity.
His birth and big first splash into comics with the 'Who is the Red Hulk?' storyline by Mr Loeb and McGuinness was pretty much missed by myself. I read the issue where he picks up Thor's hammer and gives the Thunder God a kicking and I bought but didn't read the run from there onwards. It just seemed to me to be a cute trick to have Hulks of different hues filling up various Hulk comics. It smacked a little bit of desperation (well to me anyway).
I then picked up on the character again with the superb Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman run on the book. Great traditional story lines with some great new villains created specially for this title. Oh, and a lot of desert walking which always fits.
I then began to pay attention to the character and really began to enjoy his appearances. His inclusion in the Avengers seemed like a great idea from Brian Bendis and John Romita Jnr.
Recruited by Captain America. He was the steadfast and disciplined soldier. The character of General 'Thunderbolt' Ross was never far from the surface and his aggression and grinning violence was ever a point of tension. The eye seems drawn to him on a page and you wonder what he is thinking and how he will react.
Back in the early days of the regular Incredible Hulk title General Ross was a bit of a driven and crazy man of power. There was a little bit of Dr Strangeglove and a touch of the lone gunman about his singleminded pursuit of the green monster. To me this should be reflected in the Red Hulk. Let's clear out all this Red She Hulk, Skar , punching The Watcher etc bullshit. Let's make him the loner that this man turned monster should be.
His appearance recently in an almost solo Avengers story in the Avengers main title worked excellently. Who else would you choose for such an assassination mission? Not Wolverine I her you cry. He has as good as been neutered since his symbolic crowning as the new Xavier at the School for Gifted Mutants. He doesn't seem to have it in him anymore. I partly blame Mr Jazz Hands for his on screen appearance by the way.
Perhaps this is why I like the Red Hulk character. He has that savage nature. He does unexpected and often just practical things without the hesitation of the rest of the Avengers. There seems to be an unspoken bond between him and Steve Rogers. Beyond that of the obvious military link. They know and feel what must (not should) be done.
With the Red Hulk there is rarely a happy ending. We always feel that he might fail. He doesn't always come out on top. For such a powerful and bestial creature we feel the chance and fear of failure.
This is where they go in the most recent Avengers issue. Possibly seen by some as a fill in issue I would postulate that it is so much more than that. In it we see a suicide mission. Planned with a military eye and carried out like a black ops job. Red Hulk travels to Utopia. Gets a huge kicking and returns to the Avengers with an 'x' carved into his chest by the now Phoenix channelling Cyclops.
Written by Brian Bendis and drawn by the ever excellent Walt Simonson I love this book. Some might also see it as simplistic but to me it cuts right to the heart of Ross and his Hulk persona and reveals to us the state of this guerilla war. Fire Red Hulk out of a canon and he will hit his target.
Brutality. Unpredictability. A tragic quality. And he doesn't take shit. Ideal.
Really interested to see how he is used towards the end of this story.