Prepare for Planet Hulk!

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According to some, you can’t please all the people all the time, but don’t tell that to Marvel. 

Click to enlarge In a press conference given Tuesday, January 3rd to promote the Planet Hulk storyline taking over the Incredible Hulk series soon, it quickly became obvious that while everyone involved in creating the event is justifiably enthusiastic, the ones who will truly love this major epic are comic book fans of all types. This book may well end up being the most exciting – and satisfying – event of 2006.

The action is literally out of this world. Exiled on a planet far removed from the Marvel Universe as we know it, the Hulk finds himself in a battle between those who want to rule the savage world (the Imperials), those who are trying to survive it (the enslaved Natives), and those who might just determine its future (the Shadow People). Mad as hell and freed from the confines of Earth, the Hulk lets loose in ways you’ve only fantasized about. But he’s surrounded by aliens who have their own agendas and – as he will unfortunately discover – he’s not the strongest creature on the planet.

Greg Pak, the acclaimed author of Phoenix: Endsong, has written what promises to be a memorable Hulk adventure, and the artwork by Carlo Pagulayan (“Emma Frost”) is phenomenal. Eventually ending in 2007 (scroll down for the complete Planet Hulk timeline – ed.), the fourteen-issue masterpiece will change the Hulk in ways you can’t imagine, and it seems very likely that fans – of the Hulk and of superheroes in general – will be talking about this story for years to come.

This project has a particular appeal to fans with pleasant memories of the Jarella and Crossroad storylines. Greg Pak freely admits to being a big fan of those classic tales, but warns that Planet Hulk is “another creature altogether”. While the sub-atomic world of Jarella revolved around magic and the Hulk’s imprisonment in the Crossroads gave Bill Mantlo a chance to tell fantastic “Twilight Zone” stories with the character, Planet Hulk is pure science fiction with healthy portions of humor, violence, politics, and emotional struggles. Forget swords and sorcery – this is all about battle axes and blasters.

Click to enlargeNewer fans will see a version of Hulk that has all but disappeared in recent years. For better or worse, the monster has often ended up being an infrequent guest star in his own comic book, and when he is the focus, he usually can’t let loose to the degree readers might want. But with an entire planet to conquer, the action is guaranteed to be explosive and fun. The stakes are much higher – vulnerable to attacks, the Hulk must use his wits along with his muscles – but the rewards are much greater, too. As for any possible role Bruce Banner might play in the proceedings, Marvel would only say, “Our lips are sealed.”

For crossover fans, the Planet Hulk series within a series will be self-contained. However, there are surprising connections to what’s happening in the main Marvel Universe. New Avengers: Illuminati will have at least one shocking revelation regarding the Hulk, and fans of Amazing Fantasy #16 might notice something a little familiar on Planet Hulk. While the Hulk will not be featured in the upcoming “Civil War” event, his absence will create a major power vacuum that will have consequences for others. And for those who always want to know what’s next, the end of the massive Planet Hulk story will coincide in important ways with what will be happening in the rest of Marvel’s line.

As for those who have no interest in superheroes, or in this character specifically, Planet Hulk might just be the story that changes your mind. Greg Pak has crafted a science fiction epic that promises enough action and excitement to satisfy the biggest fanboys (and girls), but Planet Hulk is also the emotionally complex tale of a creature caught in a fundamental struggle to understand himself and his place in the universe. By isolating the Hulk far from Earth, Pak gets the chance to mix massive destruction with insights into a character that still has so much untapped potential.

The Planet Hulk storyline will begin with Incredible Hulk #92, but those people not currently collecting the series might want to pick up issue #91 also – available in a couple of weeks – which sets events in motion. Because there will be several twists, surprises and key issues during the run, Marvel will be promoting the storyline throughout the year. Fans may want to consider preordering issues if they don’t already, since some if not all of the issues might sell out rather quickly.

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Planet Hulk Timeline

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan
Covers by Ladronn

Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk: Prelude  TPB March

Part One Feb-May 2006
Planet Hulk: Exile 
Issues 92-95

Giant Size Incredible Hulk #1 June 2006  
24 brand new pages of story
Reprinting Hulk the End

Part Two July-Oct 2006
Planet Hulk Handbook
Planet Hulk: Anarchy
Issues 96-99

Part Three Nov 2006-Feb 2007
Planet Hulk: Allegiance
Issues 100-103

Finale Mar-Apr-2007
Planet Hulk Armageddon
Issues 104-105

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