I never have been a big fan of the Hulk. I read "The End" in another collection, and it was decent (it is contained in this collection, but the Maestro story arc in the separate collection is the better story), and I read "Hulk: Gray," more on the strength of the Daredevil and Spider-Man titles in Marvel's "colors" to retell iconic origins - and both of the other titles were more enjoyable. I had come to think of Hulk as little more than a retelling of Jekyll and Hyde, working okay in Avengers titles because it would be interesting to see how his rage and strength would be played against the strengths of the other characters, but Hulk wasn't compelling enough to want to read 24 pages on his own - much less 420. But the reviews for this were overwhelmingly positive, and the price was great.
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.
- Hardcover: 392 pages
- Publisher: Marvel Enterprises (27 June 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780785122456
- ISBN-13: 978-0785122456
- ASIN: 0785122451
- Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 2.5 x 27.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.4 Kg
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