NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for U.S.Avengers #4
You would think that a Marvel hero like Deadpool would get old fast - not being able to truly be killed limits the stakes of any story they're involved in. But Wade Wilson outlived many of his peers on the comic book page, becoming even more popular as he shed reality for downright insanity in the modern age, capped off with a blockbuster movie of his own. That means that as much as his transformation into a Hulk-like Frankenstein monster would imply he's even more formidable, it's fitting he should subvert expectations, more than meeting his match in Marvel's new Red Hulk.
The introduction of yet another Hulk-ified hero (following on Marvel's tease of a Wolverine/Hulk hybrid) comes as part U.S.Avengers #4, a largely standalone issue that (like most adventures involving Deadpool) descends into slapstick, body horror, and some commentary on Marvel's own recent tie-ins and events. The "Monsters Unleashed" story in particular, which draws Deadpool to a distant castle in the nation of Lichtenbad for for a one of a kind Red Hulk/Dead-Hulk story (and battle) from writer Al Ewing and artists Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and Jesus Aburtov.
How The Merc Became The Monster
Casual fans of Deadpool may trip up over the idea of him being mutated into a hulking, monstrous behemoth with series mental issues (although the mental issues are par for the course). To be clear, Wade's contract didn't include the transformation, but came about as a result of a mad scientist's idea of fun. And by 'mad scientist' we mean a real mad scientist: Victor Vandoom, descendant of yet another creature creator from Marvel's distant past. It's Vandoom who has created a new super soldier serum to sell to foreign governments. Unfortunately, this serum is based on the one flowing through Corporal Todd Ziller's veins, better known to current Marvel fans as the candidate who was once meant to follow in Captain America's footsteps, but instead turned into a Godzilla-esque beast (named American Kaiju). Actually, that may be a more impressive serum to sell to fascists and open-minded military leaders.
When Deadpool attempts to infiltrate Vandoom's castle, Vandoom has Ziller subdue him so the injection can be given, scrambling Wade Wilson's mind along with his genetic makeup. Next thing you know, Deadpool is scrambling through the surrounding wilderness looking like a horor film's idea of the Hulk, pushing his internal monologue into a mix of fairy tale and heroic medieval poetry. The well-studied comic fans will be quick to point out that with a healing factor lifted from Wolverine (thanks, Weapon X program) no serum or toxin should take over Wade's system for long, and they'd be right. But in the thirty minutes or so (by his estimate) that he's transformed, he just so happens to run into the U.S.Avengers' new Red Hulk.
Red Hulk vs. Dead-Hulk
Completely unbeknownst to Deadpool, General Robert L. Maverick shows up in pursuit of American Kaiju, looking to end the threat quietly (since he was in charge of the project that created him, and his U.S.Avengers team requested the issue be handled without raising S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Steve Rogers's attention). Thanks to his "Hulk plug-in" Maverick has sixty minutes to track down Ziller and... end the problem. Instead, his parachute-less landing attracts the attention of Deadpool who is less than diplomatic on his best days. What follows is a slugfest not likely to soon be forgotten, made all the more interesting by the blows to Deadpool's head knocking his brain's healing factor back into action, allowing readers to hear his attempts to explain the situation to the "Tom Selleck Hulk" emerge as nothing more than monstrous mumbling.
The fight can only go on for so long since, let's be honest, there was never a chance Ziller wouldn't turn into the lumbering lizard painted with the Stars and Stripes in this issue. The action needed to justify Ewing and co.'s decision to turn every four pages into a separate "Monster" tie-in following each of the characters' perspectives. It's a sense of humor that boosts the enjoyment of a title already rich in both, and for obvious reasons, worth a look for fans of Deadpool... in human form, or Hulk-ified.
U.S.Avengers #4 is available now.