Evil Geek Book Report – Planet Hulk
I thought it was fate. I had bought a copy of Planet Hulk months ago and let it collect dust in my “to read” pile. The morning I decided it was finally time to check it out, a few hours later the rumor hit the internet that Marvel was considering making it part of Phase 3 of their Cinematic Universe. That sealed the deal for me, it was meant to be. I’ve never been a fan of the Hulk or even read a single issue of one of his series, but this was something I picked up based solely on the premise and its rave reviews. It seemed too good not to check out.
The set up for the book is as follows. The Marvel Universe Illuminati (consisting of Professor X, Dr. Strange, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, Namor and Tony Stark) decide that the Hulk is a menace and decide to orbit him into space to a carefully selected quiet planet where he can finally be alone and at the same time no longer a threat. Guess what? That doesn’t happen. Hulk’s ship enters a wormhole and crash lands on a planet called Sakaar. In a weakened state Hulk is captured, enslaved and outfitted with an obedience disk to keep him in line and controlled. He is then forced into gladiatorial combat for the entertainment of the tyrannical emperor and the planet’s citizens.
Our lumbering dinosaur forms a friendship (or war pact) with the fellow gladiators he has been thrown together with. Hulk gets more pissed with each fight, thus growing more powerful and allowing him to advance with each round. This begins to make him a fan favorite and the scurge of the emperor. A small scale revolution begins to form around this group of gladiators and their admirers that eventually tumbles out of control. Guess what happens next? I won’t ruin it if you don’t know, but if you’ve ever seen the movie Gladiator or Spartacus (toss in any given myth about a savior/Christianity) you will have a pretty good idea.
Ultimately, I was let down by a lot of what this book had to offer. I’m genuinely surprised by all the accolades/rave reviews it received, especially on how original the story was. Really? Like I mentioned above, it took Gladiator movies and mixed in a dash of John Carter. Maybe that’s new to Hulk fans, but original it ain’t.
Perhaps I was naïve to think this would be more than your typical “Hulk Smash!” book. While it was a tad bit more complex it was still 14 issues of Hulk fighting and destroying everything…and I literally mean everything. That’s the other thing; it’s just too damn long. The plot is drawn out forever and stretched way too thin. It should have been half that many issues and condensed. The odd thing is with that long of an arc you’d think it would capture the essence of time better. But everything feels like it happens within the span of a week. I’m not sure what the actual length of time it’s supposed to take place in. 1 month? 6 months? A year? The ending is also very abrupt and feels shoe horned in. The sense of time management in this book is very odd.
Was it awful or unreadable? No. It was just boring, mediocre and dragged on way too long. Half way through, I was dreaming about it ending. I tried to think where else I had encountered author, Greg Pak’s writing and realized he had been the man behind Magneto: Testament, which had the same effect on me. Intriguing premise and not bad but “blah” more than anything. Carlo Pagylayan’s art was a bit busy, but enjoyable for the most part. The cover art by Jose Ladronn was actually the real highlight for me.
Now, with that that being said, I do actually think this would make a good movie and be an excellent choice for Marvel to make. It’s not easy to make new and interesting Hulk movies beyond the origin story. But if the tabloids are correct and the Avengers 2 ends with them tossing the green giant into orbit that would lead to a standalone Planet Hulk movie, then they are playing their cards right.
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