Graphic Novel Review: The Incredible Hulk: Return to Planet Hulk

The Incredible Hulk: Return to Planet Hulk

The Incredible Hulk: Return to Planet Hulk - Credit: Archant

Head back to Sakaar with a decidedly different Hulk...

(Panini Books)

One of the defining Hulk stories of the modern comics era told of Bruce Banner’s exile to Sakaar, a barbaric planet in another galaxy, where he fought his way from the gladiatorial pits to overcome the tyrannical Red King and unite the world under his benevolent rule. But the tale was to end in tragedy, with the death of the Hulk’s queen Caiera and the ruin of much of the world…

Many of the themes featured in the storyline were to be developed in the Thor movie Ragnarok, which made another visit to Sakaar inevitable. Unfortunately, with Banner currently out of the picture by virtue of him being dead (temporarily it would seem), the return journey is made by his giant green successor, the “totally awesome” Hulk.

Although initially functioning with his own genius personality dominant, Cho has recently found the Hulk’s brutal side frequently taking control, a situation which is exacerbated by the savage environment of Sakaar.

He discovers that a new Warlord has seized control in the wake of Banner’s departure, and is forcing the planet’s nomadic tribes to engage in The Gauntlet, a series of arena trials for his entertainment and their survival.

Representing the Dokka’abi Clan, Cho enlists in The Gauntlet, and he soon realises that his only chance of victory comes at a price - giving into his rage and allowing his Hulk persona to manifest. But once out, can he put this big green genie back into its metaphorical bottle?

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Despite a fan-pleasing cameo from Thor, original Planet Hulk creator Greg Pak seems to be treading over the same ground in this sequel, which also runs at half the length of its predecessor, leaving little room for further world building or character development beyond Cho himself, who faces a moral dilemma over what he should do to achieve victory. A second trip to Sakaar has certainly been long overdue, but it warranted a longer stay than this brief visit, which is more of a mini-break than a proper excursion.

That said, there’s no question that this storyline delivers everything you’d expect from a summer sci-fi blockbuster, with extreme action sequences, an exotic alien world and epic encounters between the forces of good and evil, so grab the popcorn and settle in for a whistle-stop return to Planet Hulk…