[Review] Hulk: Planet Hulk - Greg Pak

Title: Hulk: Planet Hulk
Writer: Greg Pak
Illustrator: Aaron Lopresti, Carlo Pagulayan, Juan Santacruz, Gary Frank, Takeshi Miyazawa
Publisher: Marvel
Publication year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 416

This is it, Planet Hulk. It was incredible (get it?). I didn’t expect it to be an epic adventure story, but it is. It collects The Incredible Hulk issues #92-105. It started with Hulk arrived in a strange planet called Sakaar. The planet (or the empire that’s on the planet) is led by an oppressive king called the Red King. Hulk was captured and enslaved to be a gladiator. He tried to fight the guardians. Apparently, while passing the portal that brought him to the planet, he’s somehow weakening.  In his weakened state, he’s forced to participate in a gladiatorial contest along with several other slaves. They grew close and were bonded as the Warbound. They then decided to take down the Red King together and rebelled against his oppressive government.

That is the main storyline of Planet Hulk. But there are much more happening in the comics. There are twists and turns in every issue contained within Planet Hulk. For example, there are subplots about the past of each Warbound member that aligned with the main storyline. The one thing that pops out the most in each subplot is this savior called ‘Sakaarson’ that supposedly will save the people of Sakaar. In the main storyline, they believe that Hulk is the Sakaarson. He of course, denies it, but there are proves that make everyone else believe that he is.

Planet Hulk is an epic adventure (almost dystopian, because of the oppressive government) with a little sprinkle of space opera. From what I gather, the main theme of this storyline is how Hulk is often perceived as a monster and how he couldn’t fit anywhere on Earth. At least that’s what the Illuminati members thought. But again, sending a person (or person/Hulk in this case) that you call a friend into outer space by deceiving him is a not-so-humane thing to do, isn’t it. Ironically even in planet Sakaar, where everyone living there is a ‘monster’ by our standard, Hulk is still considered as a monster. When he finally feels belong, it’s all destroyed by … again, the Illuminati. It’s no surprise how much anger towards the Illuminati that Hulk has; which leads to another Hulk storyline, World War Hulk. I kind of wonder what would happen if the Illuminati just leave Hulk alone living in a secluded area in Alaska, like in the beginning of Planet Hulk.

Art-wise, this comic is set in a foreign planet with various species living on it. So the panels are filled with many vibrant colors. It’s not set on earth, so there’s no limitation on what color one could choose for a certain object. It’s beautiful, but for some scenes (like the fighting scene), it can be too much. In comic fight scenes, everything moves fast. You would want to know what happened in the next panel immediately. It’s unlikely (at least for me) to savor the background scenery. So those vibrant colors could be distracting and take you away from the scene.

Overall, Planet Hulk is a great storyline. From the built-up to the main storyline, they are all not disappointing. To be honest, I never imagined that I would read comics about Hulk. As a character, he’s my least favorite out of Marvel’s characters. Every time I watch Marvel movies, he’s the one character that I could care less. When in truth is, he’s just a misunderstood character. All he wants is just to be left alone. It was an epic reading experience. I recommend reading Planet Hulk, even though you’re not familiar with Marvel’s world continuity. Personally, I recommend reading this storyline starting from the prequel comics, which are Fantastic Four #533-535 and New Avengers: Illuminati #1. Reading Amazing Fantasy #15 is not necessary, at least for this storyline, perhaps for World War Hulk if you’re interested in reading that. I think it’s the best way to get into the Planet Hulk storyline.

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