Greg Pak, the latest writer on The Incredible Hulk and now The Incredible Hercules, evidently ushered in a new period in the life of Bruce Banner, the Hulk with the Planet Hulk storyline. I wasn’t aware of this till my son got me to buy him an issue, then the graphic novel. I’ll be reading that soon because Pak has definitely made me curious.
Evidently in the Planet Hulk storyline, the Hulk was shot into space as a means to get rid of him. He landed on a planet called Sakaar. As it turns out, Sakaar is filled with warring races and violence. Hulk is enslaved, becomes a gladiator, and eventually king. He takes a woman named Caiera as his bride. Just as Hulk’s life seems on an upward turn, the vessel that brought him to the planet explodes and kills most of the populace. Caiera dies and the Hulk goes back to Earth on a killer rampage.
However, as it turns out, the story on Sakaar doesn’t end there. The people who live on that planet are incredibly hard to kill. Caiera manages to give birth to her son even as he lies dying. As one of the Shadow people, the child can run within minutes of being born. He can also survive the lava and other natural disasters that befall the planet. Given that he was half-Hulk, I could believe that.
The story moves quickly through the boy’s life. He grows up in days and becomes a killing machine, a predator that hunts what he needs. Caiera remains to deliver a voice-over for the book, and that insight feels real and natural. Her words are easy to read and create an instant bond with the boy.
I love the violence of the planet as well. It feels like an old Edgar Rice Burroughs novel mixed with Robert E. Howard. An alien Conan the Barbarian alone against the world. I flipped through the pages as anxiously as my son had, waiting for the story to unfold in the brightly colored panels filled with explosions of action. Within minutes, the boy’s plight had won me over.
Somehow Skaar becomes a leader of a bunch of giant ant-like things. I’m sure that bond will be explained later. The full-page splash of them battling a giant serpent thing is intense. Ron Garney’s artwork fits the series to a T.
Pak doesn’t slow the pacing down as he moves the time to a month later and a killing raid against people too weak to protect themselves or get away. Those deaths obviously leave a mark on Skaar, but we don’t know what it means yet.
Then, a year later, the action unfolds again as another group of raiders attacks a community. This group is led by Axeman Bone, who’s destined to become a chief villain in the series judging from the story time he’s given. Axeman Bone kills a young man who must be related to Caiera because he has the same flesh-to-stone power she had. Pak had me at that because at first I thought that was Skaar.
We don’t see Skaar again till the end splash page. By this time he’s fully grown and in a savage berserker rage. I don’t know how intelligent Skaar is because he never speaks in this issue, but there’s plenty of action.
I was definitely intrigued with this first issue, so my son and I are going to pick them up for a time and see what develops. Pak’s sense of pacing and Forney’s pencils are worth the cover price investment, and I’m really curious about where they’re going to take the Hulk’s son. Hopefully they won’t take him off-planet for a while. There seem to be plenty of adventures waiting there, and I’d love to see Conan-style adventures for a time.
With the movie out this summer, plenty of attention is being paid to the Hulk. There’s even a new, mysterious red Hulk on the loose in the new volume of the series, and Dr. Bruce Banner is trying to help figure out what that means. I’ve also heard the Hulk is supposed to have a daughter by an old character named Thundra. That story is set in the future.
Peter David was the first writer in a long time to really build an audience for the Hulk, but Greg Pak’s take on the character has obviously done the same. Now we also have Skaar, the Son of Hulk to follow, and I’m down for the ride to see what we’re going to be offered.