Tricked by those he once trusted and even considered friends, The Hulk has been trapped on a space shuttle and shot off into space. The Illuminati, which is made up of a small band of superheroes consisting of Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Ironman, and Dr. Strange, decide that the Hulk is too dangerous to remain on Earth, especially after his last rampage in Vegas. They pick out a planet with no intelligent life with vegetation and livestock, and hope he can finally live in peace. The shuttle instead goes through a wormhole, and he ends up on a violent planet called Sakaar which is ran by a tyrannical monarch named the Red King. The Hulk is soon defeated and sold into slavery. -summary
Planet Hulk is definitely one of the more interesting storylines in Marvel continuity, and I'll say it's the most interesting and the best storyline in the Hulk mythos. It took the character to new heights, and proved there was a lot more to the being who ran around in torn trousers yelling "Hulk smash!" Writer of the story Greg Pak, introduced the character in another light, and placed him a position where it was just fine for him to cut loose, and be the monster everyone said he was. Planet Hulk is by far the most thought provoking Hulk story and is now my personal favorite. The graphic novel collects Incredible Hulk #92 - #105, Planet Hulk:Gladiator Guidebook, material from Amazing Fantasy #15, and Giant Size Hulk #1.
Greg Pak put together what some consider to be a masterpiece, and it's hard for me to disagree with that claim. The story is interesting from the beginning as the Hulk is quickly defeated and he learns that he's no longer invulnerable; by passing through the wormhole, his powers were heavily dampened and for a majority of the time he is not at full power. After being sold off, he's then placed into the arena to participate in gladiatorial combat for the spectators enjoyment. He then meets others in his position, and things become worse as he must attend their gladiator school called the Maw. Eventually, he sets his sights on the Red King.
The character development is great concerning the Hulk. He refuses to be broken, and at the same time, he refuses to trust his new allies, but the most important thing here happens to be his increasing anger. He blames the Illuminati for every hardship he must endure. He never forgets that one of these days he's going to make them pay. The other characters introduced have their own stories, and they also must deal with their hardships, but they rarely reveal any other sides to their personalities and they just feel under-developed accept for maybe one. This motley crew would eventually take up vows and call themselves the Warbound. Although reluctant at first, the Hulk begins to trust once again, and understands there is a place for a monster. The Red King is also well developed and he's completely consumed by power and control. He sees the Hulk as a serious threat to his throne, because the Hulk, ironically, bears traces to their legendary Sakarson, which happens to be a being who will liberate and unite their world.
There are many twist and turns in the story, and it soon becomes more than a fight for survival. Hulk and the Warbound seek to overthrow the Red King, and this births a series of brutal battles. Pak does a very good job weaving together this fluid narrative. The pacing is outstanding, and I enjoyed the well use of its themes.
Planet Hulk contains an ample amount of thought provoking content setting it apart from normal comic books, but the action isn't forsaken at all. The action moments can be very brutal, with plenty of graphic deaths. A majority of the artwork which is by Aaron Lopresti is beautiful to say the least, with great character designs and very nice backgrounds. The world of Sakaar gives off the feel as if a monster belongs there. It's battle weary and it makes it seem like the Hulk is the perfect fit. The place was clearly destroyed by monsters, and it seems only a monster can set things right and maintain it.
Planet Hulk is no doubt a storyline that shouldn't be missed. It's also newbie friendly since it doesn't require prior knowledge. I can't recommend this story enough. If you love comics, especially Marvel, then this belongs in your collection.
-Concept, Action, Artwork, Pacing, Ending
-Secondary characters needed more development
Hulk: Planet Hulk Prelude
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