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Skaar Smash!!

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In 2006, Marvel set their sights on the Hulk. The Green Goliath was one of their major characters, and they felt it had been a long time before he got the proper push.

They created an event which lasted well over a year. It started with the Hulk being shot into space, being put into exile by his superpowered friends in the Illuminati. They intended him to arrive at a peaceful planet where he could bother no one and no one could bother him.

Unfortunately, the space ship went a bit off course, and the Hulk landed on the hostile planet of Sakaar. From the moment he landed, it was a case of kill or be killed. He was pressed into service in the planet’s gladiatorial arenas where each day he had to fight for his life over and over again.

This was the Planet Hulk arc, a brand new direction for the title and character. Gone were the stories inspired by Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, replaced by ones inspired more by Conan the Barbarian. It was a savage world for a savage Hulk, and fans reacted positively.

But, this being the Hulk, his being consigned to an alien world wouldn’t last forever. He was one of Marvel’s most recognizable properties. And, with a movie coming out that placed the character firmly on Earth, there was no question that the Hulk would be brought back home.

While the Hulk’s exile was designed to be temporary, the fan reaction to the Planet Hulk storyline, and the barbaric world it was set in, led Marvel to believe that there was life in the concept even without the Hulk starring in it.  Hence, we have this week’s Skaar, Son of Hulk.

Over the events of the Planet Hulk storyline, the Jade Giant rose from gladiatorial ranks and eventually overthrew the evil dictator of Sakaar, the Red King. He also fell in love with Caiera, a native of Sakaar and one of the Red King’s slaves. They were soon wed and Caiera became pregnant with the Hulk’s child.

But the good times were not to last. The ship that brought Hulk to Sakaar experienced a power failure. Its warp core exploded, damaging the planet’s tectonic plates, resulting in massive destruction and the deaths of millions of the planets residents, including the Hulk’s wife and unborn child.

Or so we thought.

At the end of World War Hulk, the crossover event that spawned out of the Hulk returning to Earth to mete out some vengeance,  a grey skinned man rose from the lava pits on Sakaar. This man was Skaar, son of Hulk and Caiera.

So Marvel has figured out a way to return to the Planet Hulk concept, with a character connected to the Hulk instead of the Hulk itself. And it has raised interesting questions, so much so, that fans might feel compelled to buy the series just to find out the answers.

Is Skaar who he says he is? Did Caiera really die? How did Skaar survive? How did he get so old so fast? And will he and his father ever meet?   

The answers to these questions and more will start to be answered in tomorrow’s Skaar, Son of Hulk #1. And Marvel is hoping that these answers keep your interest in the savage sword and sorcery that made Planet Hulk so popular alive.

Also out this week:

Chuck #1:

My favorite new show of the recently completed TV season had to be Chuck. Chuck Bartowski is a computer expert for Buy More who inadvertently gets a whole database of Government secrets hotwired into his brain. This makes him a desired property for both the NSA and CIA. He went from being in customer service to the world of espionage overnight and the adjustment hasn’t been smooth.

The TV show is adapted into comics this week, and I wonder if it will adequately capture the show. What makes the TV show great is the charisma the actors bring to their roles and the way they play off one another—something that’s difficult to portray in a comic book. But if the comic is half as good as the TV show, then Wildstorm might have a hit on their hands.

Peter Johnson & Zev Baron (W), Jeremy Haun (A), DC/Wildstorm Comics, $2.99.  Six-Issue Miniseries.

Invincible #50:

Robert Kirkman excels at two things: writing zombie stories and writing solid, old-school superhero stories. Invincible is where the latter ability shines through. This week, the title reaches a milestone few comics, be they Marvel, DC or independent, ever reach—its 50th issue.

Image is celebrating this special anniversary in style, making an occasion of it with a double-sized issue, a return by series co-creator Cory Walker, a climatic final confrontation between Invincible and Cecil Steadman, and a total upheaval of the status quo. The events that set the stage for the next 50 issues of Invincible start here, making this issue a celebration of what came before and a peek into the future. This is a must-have for Invincible fans everywhere.

Robert Kirkman (W), Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker and Bill Crabtree (A), Image Comics, $4.99.  Ongoing Series.

Local #12:

Local has been one of the most unique and creative series to come out of independent books in the past several years. It follows Megan McKeenan on her 10 year journey across North America. Each issue was self contained and was set in a different town of city in the United States and Canada. Megan was the common thread in the series, but some issues she was only a background character and some the lead.

Now Megan’s journey and the series itself has come to an end. She has settled in a Vermont house she used to vacation in as a child. She reflects on her travels which took her from Portland, Oregon to Brooklyn, New York, from Tempe, Arizona to Toronto, Ontario, Canada—with many stops along the way. What does the future hold for Megan? Will she find the peace of mind to settle down or will her restlessness put her on the move once again?

Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly (W), Ryan Kelly (A), Oni Press Inc., $2.99. Final Issue.

Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust?:

There are two things I know for certain about Marvel’s Secret Invasion crossover. First, any Marvel character could be a Skrull and second, Marvel is going to milk the event for all its worth with a deluge of one-shots, specials and miniseries trying to coax the most money out of rabid fans’ wallets.

Which isn’t to say that all this “milking” won’t result in good stories. Take this one-shot for example. It features the return of the Agents of Atlas, written once again by Jeff Parker. The series featuring these characters, also written by Parker, was a favorite of mine a year or two back. And the special pairs Beast and Wonder Man once again. The camaraderie between the two was one of my favorite parts of the 70s era Avengers. And, who knows? Maybe we’ll find out who is a Skrull!

Various (W), Various (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One Shot.

Salvation Run #7:

Nothing illustrates the chronic problem of comic book lateness better than the last issue of a series that was supposed to lead-in to Final Crisis arriving in stores two weeks after the first issue of Final Crisis hits the stands—one month and one week after it was supposed to come out.

That’s the case with this issue. The worst part is, we’ll never know what delayed this issue so much. Anyway, this issue answers who will live and who will die and will anybody make it home? Some of those questions were partially answered by Final Crisis #1. But if you want to find out the complete answer, you might want to pick this one up.

Matthew Sturges (W), Sean Chen (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

B.P.R.D.:War on Frogs #1:

The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense have been helping out Hellboy in many ways, one by giving him aid and support in his fight against the supernaturally evil and also by keeping the Hellboy mythos alive on comic book stores every where. Now, the B.P.R.D. is getting help from a comic book legend—Herb Trimpe.

Herb Trimpe has been involved in comics for over 40 years. A whole generation of fans thinks of him as THE Hulk artist for his seven-year run on Incredible Hulk. He was the artist lucky enough to achieve immortality by being the one to draw the first appearance of Wolverine. And now, he’s lending his able craftsmanship to the Hellboy universe. I’m sure they’re happy to have him.

Mike Mignola & John Arcudi (W), Herb Trimpe (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99.  One-Shot.

The Madgalena/Daredevil:

Religion doesn’t often play a part in comic books. Sure, there have been comics devoted to Bible stories or the Pope. The devil has plagued (or offered deals to) many a superhero. But, with the rare exception, the involvement of faith has been transitory at best. But two characters where religion, specifically Catholicism, has played a part in their history are about to meet.

Frank Miller made Daredevil’s Catholic faith an important part of his character, especially during his “Born Again” arc. And The Magdalena is one of the many characters in Top Cow/Image’s history that has a religious bent, in this case, Catholicism (she is a descendant of Mary Magdalene and has the power to redeem men’s souls). Tomorrow, they join together in an intercompany crossover.

Phil Hester (W/A),Top Cow Productions, $3.99. One-Shot.

Eternals #1:

Neil Gaiman’s agreement to write two miniseries for Marvel was a deal that sent a bolt of electricity through the comic fandom. He is one of the best writers working in any media, and having him come back to comics for Marvel was quite the coup. And Marvel tried to capture lightning in a bottle by spinning off Gaiman’s 1602 into a quasi-cottage industry. But, since Gaiman wasn’t involved, the 1602 titles really didn’t go anywhere.

But that hasn’t stopped Marvel. They are now trying to spin off concepts Gaiman came up with in his Eternals miniseries into a regular, ongoing series. But Charles and Daniel Knauf, while decent writers, are no Neil Gaiman. Will it work this time? Only if the Knaufs use their own voices to build on what Gaiman left behind instead of trying to duplicate his style and tone.  

Charles and Daniel Knauf (W), Daniel Acuňa (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99.  Ongoing Series.

Charlatan Ball #1:

Joe Casey’s other Image series, Gødland, is a weird and trippy tribute to the Kirbyesque sci-fi titles of the 1970s. It is funny, wacky and definitely out there. So when Image says this series, Casey’s latest, is “graphic fiction on ‘shrooms,” you’d better sit up and pay attention. They know what they’re talking about.

The series stars Chuck Amok, a low-level player on the stage magician circuit. Suddenly, he finds himself transported to a world where magic isn’t the name for some cheap parlor tricks, but it is a real force of nature and actually works. Amok couldn’t even do fake magic right, how will he fare with the real deal?

Joe Casey (W), Andy Suriano (A), Image Comics, $2.50.  Ongoing Series.

Burnout:

MINX is back! DC’s experiment of melding teen lit with manga was so successful the first time out that they are bringing it back for another round. This is just the first of many titles to come in the months ahead.

Danni has problems. She has just moved away from all her friends. Her mom just moved in with her alcoholic boyfriend. Just when things can’t get any worse, in comes Haskell, a boy who is so cool she immediately develops a Defcon 1 crush on him. Unfortunately, he is also her soon-to-be step-brother and a die-hard environmentalist.

What should she do? Become an eco-terrorist just to please him? Do nothing and hope he notices her on her own? Or just forget about the whole thing?

Rebecca Donner (W), Inaki Miranda (A), MINX/DC Comics, $9.99. Original Graphic Novel.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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