WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers #684
"Avengers: No Surrender" sees the debut of a new kind of Hulk - the Iron Hulk. In Avengers #684, the Red Hulk dons the Iron Patriot armor to take on the Immortal Hulk. And even with the "Hulk" moniker being held by the character already, the Iron Hulk is the comic book hybrid hero Marvel fans never knew they needed.
This version of the Red Hulk is Robert Maverick, an aging four-star general who became a superhero in the 2017 series U.S. Avengers longside a new Iron Patriot. Maverick uses an implant called a Hulk Plug-In that lets him "hulk out" for one hour. Unlike his predecessor, Thunderbolt Ross, this Red Hulk gets to keep his mustache when he transforms. Though the character is still relatively new and not well known, Red Hulk became one of the main characters in the "Avengers: No Surrender" event, which merged three Avengers titles for a 16-part weekly story.
"Avengers: No Surrender" opened with the Earth being kidnapped as part of a cosmic game between the Grandmaster and his brother, the Challenger. While simultaneously battling two supervillain teams, the Avengers have lost two of their own, the Human Torch and Red Wolf. The situation worsened when the Hulk was revealed to be alive and now in the service of the Challenger. The Hulk charged into the Avengers' secret base, forcing Maverick to transform into the Red Hulk.
Unfortunately the Red Hulk isn't strong enough to physically match the Green Goliath. According to his teammate Toni Ho, the Red Hulk can't beat Bruce Banner's Hulk even "on his best day. ".
Knowing his strength won't be enough, Maverick decides to wear Toni Ho's Iron Patriot armor. After the Hulk easily defeated Cannonball and Living Lightning, Maverick made his grand entrance as the Iron Hulk. With his new upgrade, Maverick may have enough power to at least stand a chance against Marvel's strongest hero.
It remains to be seen if this will be a one-off appearance or the beginning of something new. Maverick was warned that his "hulk outs" are getting shorter and weakening his heart. It's possible that fighting the Hulk could result in his death. If he survives, it seems obvious that he'll become more popular as the Iron Hulk than he was as the Red Hulk. Having already done battle with a Hulked out Deadpool, it seems Maverick is already one of Marvel's biggest magnets for outlandish, crowdpleasing comic moments.
Fans of Marvel Comics in general may be getting to know him better soon, considering Marvel's new Wolverine/Hulk hybrid, Weapon H, has already been given his own series.
Whether the Iron Hulk lives or dies, the comic sets up an epic slug fest for Avengers #685.
Avengers #684 is on sale now from Marvel.