When Marvel announced the “Hulk of Arabia” storyarc at San Diego ComicCon 2011, they promised to introduce a Dr. Doom level villain in the Middle East. Dagan Shah’s rise to become The Sultan Magus lived up to the hype, as he and his new nation of Sharzhad are firmly established as a mega power in the Marvel Universe. Well crafted by writer Jeff Parker and artist Patrick Zircher, “Hulk of Arabia” continues the strained relationship between Red Hulk and the U.S. government while, also, fleshing out a nearly vacant part of the MU.
When one of General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (aka the Red Hulk)’s former military compatriots is killed while a mercenary in the Middle East, Hulk sets off to get answers. That answer comes in the form of Dagan Shah, leader of a nomadic rebel group, now the ruler of Sharzhad, quite possibly the most powerful Middle Eastern country, and known as The Sultan Magus. How he came into so much power and was able to build a nation in so short a time is revealed within “Hulk of Arabia” and Parker did an excellent job of believably placing Magus and Sharzhad firmly into the Marvel Universe. Zircher’s art not only masterfully executes the story, but, literally, builds Sharzhad, and its citizens, from the ground up in majestic fashion. Add to that, suburb appearances by the military android, Machine Man, and the Afghani super hero, The Arabian Knight, and this tale is a remarkable effort in character and world building. Something much needed in the overabundance of New York City centric stories in the Marvel Universe. The Secret Avengers interfering with Ross’ quest also further explores the delicate relationship between the Red Hulk and the Avengers. Shah’s power source also allows for the creation of additional super humans, which will only continue to build Sharzhad’s significance. The Sultan Magus can next be seen in upcoming issues of Dark Avengers