It seems like forever that we left off our Comic Book Club excursion into the current continuity of Marvel comics. When we last saw Cap and the gang, well Cap was dead, Iron Man was the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Spider-Man had outted his secret identity to the public, and the X-Men were all around devastated. But this leaves out a fairly large character: Where is Hulk? Let’s take a break from Earth’s trouble for a while and head deep into space to explore today’s Comic Book Club: Planet Hulk.
Back before the events that lead into Avengers Disassembled, the Hulk had been responsible for quite a bit of damage in Las Vegas, causing the Illuminati- a group consisting of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Namor, Black Bolt, and Mr. Fantastic- to decide Hulk is far too dangerous to keep on Earth. They concoct a plan to be rid of him and trick him into a spaceship, making him believe he’s the only one who can disable a rogue satellite. Once in orbit, the spaceship blasts out of our galaxy and a video recording informs Hulk that he’s just too destructive. As a last resort, they’re sending him to live peacefully on a deserted planet.
Flash forward and Hulk finally crash lands. The twist is that his ship has veered off course and headed through a wormhole, so instead of a peaceful, uninhabited planet, he lands on planet Sakaar, a gladiatorial planet with constant battling. Immediately after landing, Hulk is enslaved with an obedience disk and sent into combat in gladiator matches, mostly for the amusement of the Red King.
Now, those who understand Hulk lore, there are a few things that you’ll probably understand by this situation. Hulk’s power comes from anger, so the angrier he becomes, the more powerful he gets. He just crashed on a war planet after being tricked by those he trusted and then forced into bloodsport, so take a guess how mad he is. Then hold on because his rage is only going to get bigger for a while.
Hulk quickly forms a warbound pact with a group of warriors consisting of a mish-mash of aliens, shows that he’s outclassing everyone in all the matches, then heads into battle against an enslaved Silver Surfer. After breaking the Surfer’s obedience disk, Silver Surfer breaks all the slaves’ obedience disks, allowing things to switch from the movie Gladiator to something closer to Braveheart.
A hefty portion of the story involves Hulk’s warbound fleeing from the Red King and his forces, messing them up when need be, all while being chased by Caiera, the Red King’s best lieutenant and apparently quite a Xena-style badass. Everything leads to an encounter with a bunch of spikes, things that cause horrible mutations if they stab someone. When Caiera tells the Red King about the spikes, he informs her that he’s the one responsible, causing her to switch sides and pretty much fall in love with the Hulk.
It should be noted that I’m shrinking the timeline down significantly here. The planet is rooting for Hulk, calling him the Sakaarson and the great hero that shall free them from the Red King’s rule. As Hulk and his warbound continue fighting against the king’s forces, his legend grows and so does his strength. At last, a final conflict occurs with Hulk overthrowing the Red King while at the same time managing to pull the planet back together after an explosion set off by the Red King meant to split it in half.
Let me reiterate that there: Planet Sakaar is hit by a series of explosions meant to rip it into two pieces, so the Hulk leaps into the planet’s core, or someplace near it, and pulls the pieces back together in a glorious moment that only works in comics. And I’m totally fine with this.
After becoming the planet’s new king, there’s a bit of simple peace where the Hulk deals with life with Caiera as his queen and his warbound at his side. Everything is great and the world becomes prosperous and it seems like the perfect ending.
Then the spaceship Hulk came in explodes, destroying a huge chunk of the capital city, killing Caiera, Hulk’s love and the woman carrying his child, in the process. This, naturally, upsets Hulk quite a bit and he rallies his warbound to him, deciding they’re going back to Earth in order to kill every member of the Illuminati as he believes they’re responsible for blowing his ship up.
And that’s where we leave things for today. The full Planet Hulk saga is easily compiled in one complete collection. Take note, I’m summing this up really quickly, but Planet Hulk isn’t short by any means. It’s a long epic and covers every bit of time that Hulk spends on planet Sakaar. There are fantastic battles and quiet moments with the Hulk wrestling with himself as Bruce Banner, all while his warbound find ways of endearing themselves to the reader, even if they’re freaky alien beings. Bottom line, Planet Hulk is worth a long, gradual read.
Of course, it’s best to piggyback Planet Hulk with World War Hulk, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Come back for the next installment and find out what happens when you kill the love of Hulk’s life. Probably not good things.