“Hulk Smash”, “Puny human, leave Hulk alone” essentially summed up the Hulk until Peter David merged the intellect of Bruce Banner and the power of the green goliath. Planet Hulk, though takes this quintessential characteristic of powerful monster who wants to be left alone and clearly casts him as the hero.
The Hulk has been banished from Earth, by the brains behind Shield, Fantastic Four and the Avengers, hurtling through space in a shuttle bound for an uninhabited planet. He gets pulled into a blackhole and deposited on to Skaar, a planet ruled by despot Red King.
There are numerous allusions to the Slave revolts that have littered our history and entertainment, Spartacus, Ben-Hur, Nate Turner, Gladiator. These are tangled with references to the Hulk as being some sort of messiah, the irony is he’s not the messiah just a naughty death dealing rage machine. There are clear parallels between this and the John Carter/Barsoon stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but this is way better than the Disney film released in 2012.
This has an old-school vibe to it; the story telling is very dense, it is not a series of gratuitous pin ups linked up by dodgy monologues so it is a very satisfying read. The action is not stretched out to fill pages. Things move really quickly – confrontations, conflicts and dramas are quickly dispatched but even so it’s not repetitive. The art features a number of artists but their styles gel pretty well.
The story is completed by a series of text pieces that describe the location, history and culture of Skaar, so if you like books with maps, you’ll like this. Otherwise if you aren’t heavily invested in Marvel continuity or characters this is a good jumping on point; Iron Man, Mr Fantastic and Dr Strange only have small cameos early on and the only other Marvel reference is Silver Surfer who appears for a chapter or two.
An enjoyable read for the sand and sandals crowd.