I love logic. And if that statement sounds tinged with more than a little sarcasm, then good for you! You know me better than most!
Now, on to the point, and I have one (not at the top of my head): it amazes me to no end when people take something like, say, the ongoing mystery of the identity of Red Hulk, and they start to make totally illogical guesses in a fashion that is akin to throwing excrement through a fan as a means to hitting a bull's-eye. More often than not, you're going to hit every other place but the bull's-eye, and you're going to make your housemates mad at you as they ask aloud why you can't use some other implement that's not nearly as messy (or, perish forbid, one that actually makes sense).
Is it my own understanding of the way mysteries work that makes me shake my head when I see the theories that permeate the Internet lately? The latest theories I've seen for the identity of the Red Hulk (with the names of the individual and the places I saw them not identified to protect the guilty) include Samuel J. LaRoquette (better known as the Leader's henchman, Rock), Philip Sterns (better known as the Leader's brother and the Hulk's enemy, Madman), SHIELD agent Clay Quartermain, and a henceforth-unnamed, previously-unmentioned son/blood relative of General Ross. And I've just heard that Red She-Hulk could be Diane Davids, better known as the Leader's minion, Ogress.
Out of the countless theories out there, few prove resistant to close scrutiny. I've refuted some of the above theories and the reactions have proved, well, very interesting. Some out there must think "argument" is something that must conjure another "a"-word, "anger." They retaliate with accusations and would rather blindly hurl insults about the quality or quantity of my research than defend their own theories. They seem to have forgotten that criticism isn't personal, that any flaws I point out aren't meant as attacks against the individual. If you hadn't considered a point or think you may have to revise a theory, then own up to it--don't hurl an insult!
I believe that Red Hulk's identity has already been alluded to time and again over the course of the series thus far. If this were an earlier era of Marvel comics, I might suspect the answer to be somewhere far outside the scope of writer Jeph Loeb's current tenure; however, since the story is meant to be collected and read as one lengthy arc, independent of the vast majority of Hulk canon, meant to be enjoyed by more than just the longtime fan, I would say otherwise. Also, the mystery of Red Hulk has been ongoing for over 2 years (Hulk #1 had a cover date of 01/2008) and still has gone unresolved. Hence, the payoff must be equal to or greater than the buildup, yet it must fit the clues given. If you put these ideas together, that means that the Red Hulk is someone well known to both characters in the Hulk's corner of the Marvel Universe and the fans. It also must be someone who has been at least referenced or name-dropped since Loeb's Hulk #1.
And right there, that eliminates all the alternatives suggested by those individuals I mentioned above, except one: Clay Quartermain. And if you think I think it's Clay Quartermain, all-around good guy, SHIELD operative believed killed on board the SHIELD Helicarrier in HULK #2, you've got another think coming. (For my money, Quartermain was killed by Leonard Samson because he would have recognized the situation surrounding the Red Hulk as too similar to when Ross became Zzzax--which Clay helped with way back when.)
I've also heard the excuse that the regular mystery rules don't apply because of Jeph Loeb, who, as the pundits put it, is so god-awful a writer that he will throw excrement at the printed page and whatever sticks, he'll write about. I think that is simply an atrocious way of looking at any writer. Jeph may not be my favorite writer, but I have to say he knows his way around a mystery (c.f. "Hush," "The Long Halloween," and "Dark Victory," among others). and I should think the vast amount of proof I've posted previously about Ross being Rulk should silence the staunchest critics.
General Ross is the most natural fit for the identity of Red Hulk. What would you have to alter about him to have him be the Red Hulk? So it calls in question some of his appearances during Loeb's own run, likely having a Life Model Decoy substituted for Ross at many key points. With virtually every other possibility, it causes the writers, Loeb and Pak, to have to create or amend large pieces of those characters' histories, and in the case of the "henceforth-unnamed, previously-unmentioned son/blood relative of General Ross," it requires them to actually invent a whole character out of nothing, purely to make a character who fits all the clues (and even then, Rick would never recognize someone we haven't even met, such as in Hulk #2--that's a false lead).
If Jeph Loeb is playing fair, which I believe him to be, then you can find the Red Hulk's true identity on this very blog, way back in August '09. The man himself has been quoted as saying that Hulk #600 provides the last of the clues necessary for one to figure the mystery out for himself--which is impossible if the mystery relies on past details, little bits of retroactive continuity, that were yet to be revealed in any Marvel comic.
Now, seeing the extra tidbits in the previews of Hulk #21 and Incredible Hulk #608, both due out next week, I would say yet another possibility was crossed off the list, and that's the big one everyone shouted about since the ending of Fall of the Hulks: Gamma. I called it a red herring then and my opinion remains the same.
Does anyone have any well-reasoned theories about Red Hulk being someone other than General Ross? If so, step on up! I am absolutely ecstatic to listen to your theories!