Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Warzones: Planet Hulk Review (Sam Humphries, Marc Laming)

In the gamma-infected, Hulk-infested part of Battleworld known as (what else?) Greenland, the Red King is causing trouble for Emperor Doom. A gladiator version of Captain America and his Warbound, Devil Dinosaur (a red T-Rex), are dispatched to meet up with a rogue Hulk, Doc Green, to assassinate the Red King and free his hostage and Cap’s bestie, Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. 

I was a little wary of this one because it’s written by Sam Humphries and it’s a Secret Wars tie-in but actually Planet Hulk wasn’t bad. Besides Cap being a gladiator, one of the few connections to the original Planet Hulk is Greg Pak who returns to write a short prequel where it’s revealed how so many Hulks came to be. It’s not very good and, given how pointless these tie-ins are, wholly unnecessary. There’s a section of Battleworld full of Hulks - that’s fine, I totally accept that on this bizarre patchwork pseudo-planet, no need to explain it any further! 

In fact it feels less like Planet Hulk and more like Planet Kirby. Captain America, Devil Dinosaur and Hulk - these are all Jack Kirby creations. I’m not sure why he thought to throw him into the mix but including Devil Dinosaur was an inspired choice by Humphries - Devil definitely adds to Cap’s very one-dimensional character (about the only thing he has to say is “I gotta save Bucky” ad nauseam!). 

Everything in Greenland is hulked-out from the animals to the plants so Cap, Devil and the Doc’s journey across it to the Mud Kingdom had some eventful moments - a little bit Manifest Destiny even, if you read that Image series. It’s a straightforward plot with few surprises - buuh, do ya think Cap will make it to the Red King? - and you know something’s up with the Doc’s true/de-Hulked identity. It’s not exactly a fascinating or deep read but it’s also not boring. 

Marc Laming’s art made the book for me. Seeing our trio of heroes walking across this ruined fantasy landscape (and it does have a Warcraft-y feel to it with the Hulks looking orc-like) was really cool and Laming shows Devil in his element, fighting everything from monster plants to groups of Hulks - good stuff! It’s not breath-taking art but it’s good quality. 

Planet Hulk is perfectly ok for what it is: a disposable, done-in-one story for an overblown event. It may not be among the best but it’s certainly not among the worst Secret Wars tie-ins either. Go in with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised!

Warzones: Planet Hulk

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