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Review of Incredible Hulk #94 (v2)
 
Published: June 2006
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Charlie Brooks
October 17, 2011
When we last left off with Planet Hulk, the Hulk and his new gladiator friends were enjoying a feast to celebrate their success in the Great Arena of Sakaar. Said feast was promptly interrupted by a group of insurgents seeking to recruit the Hulk in their attempt to overthrow the tyrannical Red King. Surely, with The Incredible Hulk #94, we see the Hulk join the rebellion and then have our plot kick into high gear as he takes on the Red
king?

Not exactly.

One of the fun things with Planet Hulk is that we get to see the way the Hulk thinks even when he doesn’t outright state his thoughts. In this case, the Hulk actually turns the rebellion down, causing one of his gladiatorial companions, Elloe, to leave the group and get arrested as a rebel. The Hulk’s reasoning on the matter:

“You don’t get it, do you? Puny pinkies. Like the puny humans. First they call us monsters. Then they come crying for help. And then they call us monsters again.”

Even without the childlike demeanor, the Hulk still holds a very basic view of the world, and he stops trusting once he’s been betrayed. In this case, we see echoes of the Illuminati’s decision to shoot the Hulk into space – the Hulk saved the planet immediately beforehand and was exiled anyway. Thus, even on a new planet, the Hulk is unwilling to trust others who want him to be a hero.

Later on, the Hulk meets again with the Red king’s lieutenant who challenged him earlier. She tries to kill him, only to find out that the Hulk is gaining speed and strength now that he’s had some time to recover from his travel through the wormhole that brought him to Sakaar. Again, there’s a lot of credit to give to both the artist and the colorist here, as we see a lot of tension and budding respect between the Hulk and his green-eyed foe. When trying to kill the Hulk fails, the lieutenant offers to buy the Hulk and bring him to the steppes, an area outside the Red King’s jurisdiction where he can be left alone. That’s what the Hulk wants, right? He’s always said, “Hulk just wants to be
left alone.”

Well, not exactly. The Hulk declines the offer and heads back to the slave pens, choosing a life as a slave over a life as freedom. What does the life of a gladiator offer to him that he likes so much? This is a question that will take many, many issues to resolve.

Another fight in the Great Arena begins, but things go poorly for the gladiators. The Red King, seeking to kill the Hulk for slashing his face in front of a crowd, cheats and sends in a group of Death’s Head guards – essentially killer robots – and then drops a bomb on the arena. Naturally, the Hulk, born in a gamma bomb blast, manages to overcome the bomb and defeat the robots, but at the cost of the life of one of his companions, Lavin
Skee. The resulting scene of mourning Lavin’s death doesn’t carry the emotional weight it should, though, since we know very little about him. This is probably the first time in the story that something in the writing has rung hollow, but at least it’s followed up by another intriguing scene.

The remaining gladiators explain their past and take an oath to become Warbound, fighting for one another to the death if needed. The flashbacks to their past are beautifully executed, with several talented guest artists providing unique artistic styles as each new character gives their backstory. For example, as Korg the stone man gives his history, we get Jack Kirby- style art as we flash back to Journey into Mystery #83, the first appearance of Thor, and learn that Korg is one of the Stone Men from Saturn that the Thunder God sent packing. As with the introduction of Korg and the Brood in the last issue, this serves as a nice reminder that the Marvel Universe is a big place with lots of people in it, and that the heroes affect things far beyond their own world.

Things become even more interesting when the Hulk explains his history, providing a perspective on his origin story that we haven’t seen before. In the Hulk’s eyes, everyone on Earth fears him because he is the strongest one there is. The weakest of the humans, Bruce Banner, fears him the most. But Banner is also one of the smartest people on the planet, and he created the gamma bomb. Yes, that gamma bomb…the one that created the Hulk in the first place. But the Hulk claims that Banner tried to kill him with the bomb. Very, very fascinating – it’s long been implied that the Hulk was always a part of Bruce Banner just waiting to get out, but it’s never been hypothesized that Banner was trying to kill a part of himself with his gamma experiments. Was Bruce trying to commit suicide when he ran out onto the testing field? Was the gamma bomb just part one of Banner’s experiments with radiation that might have altered his body and mind? Diehard Hulk fans might remember that Banner has on several occasions used gamma rays to either control his transformation or to attempt suicide. Maybe the Hulk has something there. And, as with the Hulk’s earlier views on heroism, he doesn’t fully explain himself, leaving the reader to piece things together. This is a good thing, in my view – anytime a comic book can get you thinking beyond what is just on the page, it’s a good thing.

The issue closes with the lieutenant pulling out another trick to take down the Hulk: bringing in a gladiator known as the Silver Savage. Said gladiator is revealed on the last page to be none other than the Silver Surfer. What is he doing on Sakaar? How was he enslaved? Those are questions that beg answers in the next issue. Hulk fans also know that there is trouble coming for the jade giant, since all his might is fairly useless against someone who wields the Power Cosmic.

With more fun action, some intriguing insights into our main character, and an ending that accomplishes the rare feat of actually providing some suspense with its cliffhanger, Planet Hulk: Exile, part three is another wonderful tale. Three issues in and the only criticism I have to offer the story is the anticlimactic death of a minor character. Greg Pak and company were doing something right with this story, and it only gets better from here.
 
 
 
 
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