Leading up to Marvel Studios’ 2017 movie Thor: Ragnarok, I decided to plunge into the comic story Planet Hulk by Greg Pak. I had heard from multiple sources that the movie would draw inspiration from this story arc. And for those of you who’ve seen it, it surely did.
I’ve never really been much of a Hulk fan. But there was something about the premise of the story that spoke to me. And I do like to prepare myself and having some references ready when watching the Marvel movies.
Also, part of the prelude to the cross over event Civil War (the first comic book I read if you remember) lays the ground to the Planet Hulk storyline. So in some way, it felt kind of natural to read that too. And I’m glad as heck that I did!
Put briefly, our green radioactive protagonist is put into involuntary exile by the Illuminati, consisting of Iron Man, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange and Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans. A decision they make based on previous catastrophic events happening on Earth because of the Hulk. Having completed a mission on a S.H.I.E.L.D. space station, he is shot into space and away from Earth to an idyllic and peaceful planet, where he can do no harm.
But the spacecraft is sucked into a wormhole and does not reach its intended destination. Instead the Hulk winds up on the planet Sakaar. Here, he is captured by The Imperials, a red-skinned Sakaarian race who has taken over power of all life on the planet enslaving them. The Hulk and a group of other slaves (amongst those is the obscure pair Korg and Miek from Thor: Ragnarok) are forced to fight as gladiators against native fire monsters and rebellious robots.
Without giving too much away, all I will say is that alliances develop, and the hope of a revolution with the Son of Sakaar in the lead arises. Things do not, however, go exactly as expected, and the story ends with a rather unsuspected and unanticipated twist.
My Thoughts on “Planet Hulk”
All in all, Planet Hulk has what every good comic book should have: a great set-up, an intriguing story, nice graphics, interesting characters, and last, but certainly not least, consequence! Because what would Planet Hulk be without the constant reminder of the people who actually sent the Hulk to Sakaar. And the future vengeance that motivates him throughout the entire story. Well yes, it would be an isolated story arc about our green friend. However, the imminent threat towards Iron Man, Reed Richards, Black Bolt and Doctor Strange, as a consequence of their actions, raises the story to a whole other level. It will hurt!
Planet Hulk is an excellent example of my fascination with the Marvel universe. You have an overall chronology and motivation in each story; they’re all connected, and what happens to one single character often affect other characters, if not the entire universe. This story is most certainly an example of this, at least.
Why You Should Read “Planet Hulk”
If you want to gain a better understanding of The Incredible Hulk and get to know other aspects of his personality aside from the recognizable “Hulk Smash!” character, Planet Hulk is the go to comic book. Besides the battle against physical threats on Sakaar, a battle against himself (or rather his human counterpart Bruce Banner) rages on in his mind. Previously (and in the MCU movies), we are usually siding with Banner, feeling pity. But in Planet Hulk, you get the perspective of the Hulk, which is an interesting approach. Many times, Banner even appear a villain.
In conclusion, I will definitely recommend Planet Hulk. And I will even do so, whether you like the Hulk or not. It just got something. It’s redeeming, exciting and surprising. Also, it’s rather necessary if you as part of Marvel Universe continuity choose to read World War Hulk, as that is the direct sequel to Planet Hulk. But let’s talk about that on a later occasion.
The Hard Facts and How to Read
Planet Hulk was written by Greg Pak and drawn by Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti. It is a part of The Incredible Hulk run from 1999 and spans across issues #92-#105.
You can see the complete reading order of the issues within the Planet Hulk story arc below.
- Fantastic Four (1998) #533-535
- New Avengers: Illuminati (2006)1 (relatively optional)
- Incredible Hulk (1991) #88-95
- Giant-Size Hulk (2006) #1
- Incredible Hulk (1991) #96-105
- (Amazing Fantasy (2014) #15)2
1) New Avengers: Illuminati is found in The Road to Civil War, a tie-in to the crossover event Civil War from 2006.
2) Amazing Fantasy #15 references different events leading up to the Planet Hulk story. Therefore, it can really be read anytime, but it will probably make most sense reading it after the story.
You can get the issues in different ways. You can either choose to read them on Marvel Unlimited or buy them in their physical form as a collection of TPBs or an omnibus.
The omnibus solution is by far the most expensive option, especially since it seems to be out of print. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of having all issues collected in one book (and has a couple hundred dollars to spend), the omnibus is the way to go.
What to Buy?
DISCLOSURE: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at NO additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Planet Hulk: Prelude (2006)
The Road to Civil War (2006)
Planet Hulk (2006)
Planet Hulk Omnibus (2006)
Buy on Amazon ($200+)
© Image by Marvel Comics