So, that happened.
Last issue, through some funky happenstance, Thunderbolt Ross, aka the Red Hulk, found himself the king of an entire planet bearing a striking resemblance to Pandora from Avatar. In Hulk #35, the Crimson Colossus (how's that nickname grab you?) realizes that the people he rules over and the people they've been warring with since as long as any of them can remember are, to put it snootily, simpletons. So he pulls out the oldest trick in the book, letting the ex-warmonger become a peacemaker.
Once again, it's not particularly clear what Jeff Parker's doing with this little interlude/rerun of the Planet Hulk epic. Maybe it's just a little breather from the rising tension of T-Bolt's dual archenemies – General Fortean and Zero/One – hounding him with intent to murder most foul. Maybe it was a chance to have the ex-general showcase some military strategery and completely out-think two entire planets full of beings. Maybe Carlo Pagulayan wanted to go balls-out with drawing crazy space monster wars. Or, perhaps it was just a way to delay the big world-breaking arrival of the Omegex until after this Fear Itself stuff has run its course so it doesn't feel redundant. Whatever the intent, the result is just kind of a shrug-off story.
Then again, it's hard to do anything coherent with the Watchers. Those bobble-headed narrators forbidden to interfere, but they always do. If they didn't, we'd never know they existed. In this case, since the Uatu we all know and love has gotten a little screwy ever since the Red Hulk punched him in the face back during Jeph Loeb's ridiculous run, now his Watcher friend is manipulating events and the timestream to delay the arrival of the Omegex, and thus the extinction of the human race, starting with Ross. The whole Planet Red Hulk event apparently didn't even really happen, but was a quick time-branch-loop thing that was being observed just to see how Ross would differ from Bruce Banner in the same situation. Uh, sure, okay.
So, essentially, the net gain from this entire divergence is that Ross is now aware that the Omegex is coming to kill Earth, and he's earned a little good favor from Steve Rogers for helping out some astronauts. That'll probably come in handy if he's going to try to rally the troops to fend this thing off after everything is already broken after Fear Itself. Of course, that is if Ross is even still alive after the pounding he took from Aunt Petunia's Demon-Possessed Nephew Benjamin J. Grimm, aka The Ever-Hatin' God-Eyed Angir the Soulbreaker over in the talking-head heavy Avengers #14, from which he apparently "never returns."
Judging by the preview of Hulk #36, though, his actual title will be ignoring Marvel's big rock-em-sock-em event for a while longer, just like Ed Brubaker's Captain America seems to be doing. Makes sense – Thaddeus Ross has always respected the Captain enough to follow his lead.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 5/10