Monday, June 2, 2008

Planet Hulk

Wow. Just plain wow. I can't say enough good things about Planet Hulk. Andy had loaned it to me on a whim and I knew very little about it going into to it. What little I did hear sounded good though, so I thought, "Why not?". By the second page I was hooked, big time.

It's already in trade paperback format, so if you're into comics, or just plain 'in the know', this is all very old hat to you. For those who aren't're in for a real treat, it's worth the price of admission. The extremely short synopsis is that the Hulk is betrayed by a handful of Earth's heroes and exiled to an alien world. If that wasn't bad enough, he ends up on the wrong planet, a planet ruled by the elite headed by a non-forgiving emperor. He is bound as a slave, made into a gladiator, and seen as the prophesied savior by the weak and exploited of the planet. He creates an uprising to go against the regime. In the end, Earth betrays him one last time. The world befits a rich sci-fi setting, with a mix of high technology and feudal minded civics. Fellow gladiator slaves alongside the Hulk hail from the breadth of space and contain an interesting cadre of allies, including one very independently minded Brood.

The writing is top-notch, and although I've just given you the plots to both the original Conan, as well as Gladiator, it is pulled off flawlessly in the comic translation with the big, green machine. What struck me the most is how ordinary the writing made a very extraordinary character such as the Hulk become. Seemingly everyone on the planet was on par with the power level of the Hulk and what was more important than what they could do was how they could do it and interact with one another. There was some great character development, especially with the Hulk himself. The artwork was very reminiscent of one of my all-time faves Larry Stroman, and it did well to capture the alien environment, varied species, and carnage on a grand scale. Again, if I had a rating system, this one would easily score the coveted ten out of ten. The moments in Hulk history where I stood up and took notice were when Dale Keown did the artwork, and the stint that Peter David did as the author. Well this latest endeavor bests these previous efforts and makes this a comic experience truly worthwhile.

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