Incredible Hulks: Planet Savage


By Greg Pak, Dale Eaglesham, Tom Grummett, Drew Hennessy, Cory Hamscher, Rick Magyar & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5159-3

Once upon a time, Bruce Banner was simply a military scientist accidentally caught in a gamma bomb blast of his own devising. Thereafter, stress or other factors caused him to unpredictably transform into a gigantic green monster of unstoppable strength and fury. As both occasional hero and mindless monster he rampaged across the Marvel Universe for decades, becoming one of the world’s most popular comicbook features and multi-media titans.

As such, he has often undergone radical changes in scope and format to keep his stories fresh and his exploits explosively compelling…

In recent years the number of Gamma-mutated monsters rampaging across the Marvel landscape has proliferated to inconceivable proportions. There are now assorted Hulks, She-Hulks, Abominations and all kinds of alien affiliates and ancillary atomic berserkers roaming the planet, so be prepared to experience a little confusion if you’re coming to this particular character cold. Nevertheless these always-epic yarns are generally worth the effort so persist if you can.

During the all-encompassing ‘Planet Hulk’ storyline of 2006-2007, the Jade Juggernaut was exiled to space and crashed on distant, brutally primitive world Sakarr, where he was enslaved as a gladiator before rising to briefly become messiah-king of the entire place after defeating the terrifying Red King.

He married an incredibly powerful once-enemy with ancient, ancestral tectonic gifts dubbed Caiera the Oldstrong, unknowingly spawned a son, and lost his new wife when the ship that brought him to Sakaar exploded…

Bereft and enraged he made his way back to Earth, oblivious of what he’d left behind and inflicted a punishing World War Hulk on the heroes and homeworld which betrayed him. Eventually that blew over too – but not without horrific and lingering consequences. Now Banner has notionally taken charge of a cadre of his fellow gamma gargantuans…

This collection gathers The Incredible Hulks #623-629 – a tome of two halves covering April to July 2011 – written in its entirety by film director, screenwriter and comics-nerd Greg Pak; opening with the eponymous ‘Planet Savage’ illustrated by Dale Eaglesham & Drew Hennessy.

In a hidden lab a worried cohort of monsters and outcasts (She-Hulk, Red She-Hulk, A-Bomb, Skaar: Son of Hulk, Korg of Krona, No-Name of the Brood, Sakaarian Elloe Kaifi and mostly human scientist Kate Waynesboro) battle to save the transformed Banner-Hulk from succumbing to injuries incurred battling demons and almighty Grecian Skyfather Zeus.

No sooner has he barely passed that crisis than the original green giant – who currently possesses Banner’s intellect – is off answering a distress call from the fantastic antediluvian nature preserve dubbed the Savage Land.

After trying to restrain the recuperating hero, a cadre of comrades reluctantly join him, painfully aware that the only thing keeping their friend alive is the Hulk’s inner core of rage: if Bruce rests or even calms down, both will assuredly die…

The clarion call they’re answering comes from modern-day Tarzan and self-appointed wild-life guardian Ka-Zar. Something very nasty has gorily eradicated a small enclave of Sakaarian refugees and the jungle lord is in dire need of a little back-up.

Sadly, not all of the otherworldly asylum-seekers are victims or innocent and before long the Hulk’s heavy-hitters are battling to the death against an army of mutated horrors controlled by a former ally.

Most horrifically, Banner’s compromised state has made him easy prey for an insectoid infestation that could end his rampages forever…

Following the conclusion of that gorily bombastic battle the tone twists to wry and witty Spy-Fi in a light-hearted, tradecraft-tinted tale ‘The Spy Who Smashed Me’, limned by Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher & Rick Magyar.

The sensational skulduggery starts as Bruce’s ex-wife Betty Ross vanishes. That’s a pretty big deal since she is also the Red She-Hulk…

After still-recuperating hubby asks Amadeus Cho (8th smartest brain on Earth and 2nd most aggravating kid in the world) for assistance in locating her, they jointly discover that Betty’s power-levels are fluctuating to the point that she’s on the brink of a most unwelcome and soon-to-be-permanent final transformation…

Man and boy track her to Italy where Bruce goes undercover in a very stylish tuxedo made of unstable molecules, but ‘When in Rome’ Betty is no mood to quit partying and refuses to come back to the med-lab. Perhaps it has something to do with mesmerising immortal arch-enemy Tyrannus who’s ensorcelled her into helping him steal the legendary Pandora’s Box from the Museo della Mitologia Antica

Almost immediately the undercover part of the mission heads south and the artefact – still packing the destructive equivalent of “All the World’s Evils” – triggers global panic-alerts, prompting NATO to grudgingly accept the Hulk’s “offer” of assistance in ‘Live and Let Smash’.

Working with sultry Museum Director and antiquities expert Dr. Sofia di Cosimo, Hulk heads straight for Tyrannus’ subterranean realm to stop the former Roman Emperor from opening the most dangerous container on Earth…

And that’s when an unsuspected third faction busts in; snatching the doctor, the dictator and the hotly disputed relic, unleashing mythological madness and forcing Red and Green Gamma Gladiators to work together in a manic effort to halt a mystical meltdown and apocalyptic return of ancient atrocities in the spectacular showdown ‘License to Smash’

If you’re still capable of being shaken and stirred this collection also includes a cover and variant gallery by Eaglesham & Hennessey, Jock, Doug Braithwaite & Sonia Oback, Frank Cho & Jason Keith, Eaglesham &Peter Steigerwald and Michael Del Mundo, plus a ‘Pencil Gallery’ featuring covers and full pages by Eaglesham.

An intoxicating rollercoaster of action and sheer fun with plot pared back to a bare minimum, there’s much to recommend in this blistering, romp, especially if you’re a fan of magnificent mindless graphic mayhem – and what follower of the Hulk isn’t?

© 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.