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Review of Incredible Hulk #95 (v2)
Published: July 2006
Reviewer Rating: Star Wars RatingStar Wars RatingStar Wars RatingStar Wars RatingStar Wars Rating
Avg User Rating: Star Wars RatingStar Wars RatingStar Wars RatingStar Wars RatingStar Wars Rating
Charlie Brooks
October 22, 2011
Anger: it drives us to do things we regret, but it can also force us to take necessary action. For comedians, it can be a tool to fuel their jokes. In politics, it creates effective but polarizing social movements. It can blind us, but it can also force us to do the impossible.

Anger has always been a central theme to the Incredible Hulk, and the epic storyline Planet Hulk explores that theme of anger as both a tool and a danger. Planet Hulk: Exile comes to an end with The Incredible Hulk #95, but in doing so it only opens more doors for the next part of this world-shaking adventure. Here we see a glimpse of the damage the Hulkís anger can do, but also of the great things it can accomplish.

At the end of the last issue, we found out that in addition to the Hulk, the Silver Surfer has also become a slave on the strange planet of Sakaar. We get a brief background of how this came to be, with the Surfer drawn to the wormhole which weakened the Hulk. Like the Hulk, the Surfer was weakened when he came through the portal, which allowed his silver skin to be pierced and led to him getting outfitted with a slave disk, which forces him to do his mastersí bidding or fry his brains. The Surfer is the last-ditch attempt to stop the Hulk and his Warbound in the Great Arena, where the team has won two fights now and will get their freedom on a third victory.

This issue is essentially one big fight, but we get a couple of important plot tidbits before the carnage begins. First, one of the workers in the arena notices that from a drop of the Hulkís gamma-irradiated blood, vines have begun to grow. Second, one of the Hulkís Warbound, Hiroim the Shamed, states that the Surfer has been painted to look like the legendary Sakaarson, the savior of the planet. The legends on Sakaar focus on two major figures: the Sakaarson, who will save the world, and the Worldbreaker, who will destroy it. Keep that in mind for now as we move on with the story.

The fight between the Hulk and the Silver Surfer goes about as well as you would expect it to for the Hulk. Our green-skinned hero is strong, but the Surfer matches up well with him. The mistake that the Surfer makes is starting the fight early. The Hulk recognizes him as a friend due to their time together with the Defenders, and itís when heís trying to talk to his old comrade in arms that the Surfer attacks. And thatís when we see the Hulkís anger take hold. In the midst of the frenzied battle that follows, the Hulk hits and shatters the Surferís slave disk, freeing him. The Surfer pauses to thank the Hulk, but the Hulk is in a full rage now, believing himself betrayed by his old friend. He pounds the Surfer to a pulp, to the point where even the crowd stops cheering at the gruesome beating. Possibly the only thing saving the Surfer is one of the Hulkís other friends, his Warbound companion Korg, stopping the Hulk and telling him that theyíve won. The battle is over, the Surfer is defeated, and the Hulk and his companions have earned their freedom.

Well, not just yet.

First they need to prove their loyalty by killing a threat to the Red King: Elloe, one of the gladiators who fought by the Hulkís side. The Hulk refuses, and we get a short bit where the Hulk fights against his obedience disk while it comes close to frying his brains. As a Hulk fan, I would have loved to see the Hulk do the impossible and break free from the slave disk through stubbornness alone, but it is not to be. The Surfer recovers from his beating and, now freed of his slavery, uses the power cosmic to free the Hulk and his fellow slaves. The chaos we long for follows, as the Hulk and his Warbound tear down the Great Arena and take the freed slaves with them into the wilderness.

Way, way back in 1967ís Tales to Astonish #92, the Hulk saw the Surfer and tried to steal his surfboard in an attempt to escape a world that hated him and fly into space. Now, almost 40 years later, we get a callback to this as the Surfer prepares to leave Sakaar and offers to take the Hulk home. The Hulk refuses, pointing out that all heís ever wanted was to be on another world, away from the puny humans who hounded him. The Surfer departs as a friend to the Hulk (hopefully having learned his lesson not to throw a punch at the Hulk again), and the Hulk leaves with the refugees on the run from the Red King, having chosen the path to heroism. Will it work out for him, or will his anger resurface and destroy this new world that he has found? That is the question that we will explore as the story progresses, and one that will remain central through Greg Pakís five-year run on The Incredible Hulk. Can somebody who is driven purely by rage ever be a real hero?

Through four reviews now, Iím sounding like a bit of a broken record when I speak of each issue in glowing terms. But, as I said before, Planet Hulk is a modern classic and one of the best stories ever told with this character. Thereís not a lot of bad to be found here. I will state that the four issues of Planet Hulk: Exile are mostly good in the way a fun action movie is good, with lots of action and only hints of character development or a more subtle plot. But this is all just the warmup. As we leave Planet Hulk: Exile and head toward Planet Hulk: Anarchy, weíre going to see some in-depth exploration about not only what makes the Hulk tick, but also what is going on in the mind of his merry band of monsters, the Warbound.
  Johnny Darkness Says:    
  2017-03-14 23:10:18  
  Very good review.  

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