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Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk Paperback – April 16, 2008
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The reviews were right. This is the Hulk at his best.
Not that it's the place to start. It's good to have some idea of who the Hulk is, how he is portrayed in other titles, because you need to understand how the rest of the Marvel Universe views Hulk to understand how he ends up on "Planet Hulk" (Sakaar) in the first place.
But once he's there, he harnesses his strength, his disdain for everyone and everything, and he transforms the world. Gone are the tedious psychological dramas with Banner struggling with his Hulk identity; in the Planet Hulk issues, Banner appears once, and briefly. This is the Hulk's moment to shine, and he confuses the religious citizens who can't decide if he's the awaited Savior, the prophesied Worldbreaker, or both. It's the story of a slave uprising that becomes a revolution, of love found unexpectedly, of not being able to escape your past.
The quality of the collection suffers when it strays from Planet Hulk. An issue of Amazing Stories is included because it has a short story with Amadeus Chi, who appears briefly in the Planet Hulk storyline. Giant-Sized Hulk is a little better, containing "Banner War," a short story which takes place in a dream during the Planet Hulk story; a random encounter with the Champions who misjudge Hulk/Banner's intentions; and finally "The End," which isn't a bad end to this volume. Finally, the Planet Hulk Guidebook is reprinted her, giving you all the information you could possibly want about Sakaar and it gladiators.
This was a very enjoyable read, and despite the length, the story is so engaging that once you get into it, you'll read 2-3 issues in a sitting and finish it in no time, and wish that there could have been more. I'll be more open-minded about the Hulk in the future, and will be looking for more along these lines.
This collection also has a good deal of other material after the actual planet hulk storey is over. There's an issue of an anthology series that gives the origin of Amadeus Cho, but dispute his being a supporting character for the hulk he has little to do with the planet hulk story, and the rest of that issue is random mini stories.
If you love a tale of a reluctant hero fighting his way to the top, this story will do it for you. To complete the saga I would get World War Hulk as well, but Planet Hulk is worth it alone.
Hulk is one of the best characters, but he doesn't get a chance to cut loose and do some serious smashing as often as I'd like to see. This is the perfect adventure for him- thrown into a violent, alien world, where his opponents are varied, many, and nearly as powerful as him. It's a planet ripe for smashing, and nobody does it better than Hulk! Kudos to the writer and the artist both, for "Planet Hulk" is a blast. It would make a great gift for any comic fan, but also for a young boy who is reluctant to read- this would undoubtedly draw him right into the strange world of Hulk!