Trapped in the mouth of a massive man eating worm, the somewhat reluctant and oddball team of Red Hulk and Spider-Man seek to rescue the Mayor of New York, J. Jonah Jameson, from a civilization of mole people. That is if they don’t become the creature’s breakfast first.
Deep underground, the stench of… what I’m going to call muck, causes the giant worm to spit out Rulk and Spidey. Both are then taken into custody by the Molians.
Spidey finally awakens after the neurotoxin wears off. Meanwhile Jonah is negotiating with the new Mole king named Ra’ktar. Unbeknownst to him, Jonah is taken to be prepared for battle as he accidentally challenges the king’s rulership. Next Rulk and Spidey encounter the damaged village of the Molians and receive clues that Jonah is nearby. Spidey decides to help the Molians while Rulk sternly objects, until Spidey reminds him that being a hero doesn’t mean just following orders.
Jonah is about to face the Mole king Ra’ktar, while the Moleman exhibits his regrets on the situation. Before Ra’ktar can use his king blade, Rulk steps in and volunteers for battle by charging to attack. Ra’ktar slashes Rulk with his sword, splitting him open. Rulk misses a heavy blow and Ra’ktar follows up with a slice across Rulk’s neck putting big Red on his back.
Ra’ktar is about to deliver what looks like would be the final blow, when Spidey shoots a thick web to the base handle of his sword. Spidey pulls with all his might but the web strand breaks! Rulk screams from intense pain as the sword is plunged hard deep into his chest. Seeing this happen, Moleman is greatly disappointed; Spidey is in shock and Jonah curses out loud.
Once again, the art stands above all else. Strong and detailed work with tons of expression, and eye stretching dimension.
The story is brawny and nothing short of exciting. Jonah retains his striking humor and outlandish appeal, but Rulk really comes out as the star this time. It really seems like a Rulk highlight book. Spidey looks awfully small and childlike, much more than in his “amazing” counterpart. He looks a lot more like the ultimate version. In fact, this story feels more like it belongs in the ultimate universe due to its otherworldly atmosphere.
I have to say the enemies must have been inspired by World of Warcraft or something very similar. Their armor designs alone lead towards prehistoric fantasy and dungeon crawling lore. I really enjoyed the physical conflict between Rulk and Ra’ktar. It’s interesting to see Rulk get owned and by a complete unknown no less. It makes me wonder how Skaar, son of Hulk, would have fared.
I was somewhat disappointed by our two heroes just being regurgitated by the giant worm in the beginning. I would have preferred they come into conflict with it externally, so I feel like that was untapped story potential wasted. I imagined Rulk bursting through the teeth of the beast and Spidey dodging / distracting the multiple tongues, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
It might have been nice to have a change in scenery, maybe check in on the other Avengers or the local media, something other than underground, but I don’t take much credit away for that. More characters would greatly benefit this story, as it still feels a little too simplified and straightforward. There’s got to be something else important going on somewhere.
I’m betting that Rulk’s military approach versus Spidey’s moral values will be a continuing theme, in fact I'm hoping for it, as I’d like to read more back and forth banter between the good guys in red. Top that off with my desire to see Spidey get more physical.
Once again this was a cliffhanger ending, although this time much more critical as Rulk’s very life is in grave danger. What will Spidey be able to do to reverse the situation? Who will he call on next? Can anyone defeat the brutality of the Mole king Ra’ktar ? I absolutely can’t wait to find out. This issue really upped the ante, at least in terms of action and I found it quite enjoyable from page to page and panel to panel. With a few edits and additions I think this title could turn out solid 5-star rated issues. Most considerably, the story needs more characters and depth plus a stronger focus on Spidey. Otherwise it's Marvel magnificence.