The Incredible Hulk #92


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The Incredible Hulk #92


  • Words: Greg Pak
  • Art: Carlo Pagulayan
  • Inks: Jeffrey Huet
  • Colors: Chris Sotomayor
  • Story Title: Planet Hulk: Exile, Part One
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 8, 2006

The Jade Giant gets hoodwinked off the planet, then finds himself on an alien world where he may not be the biggest bully on the block. Welcome to Planet Hulk.

The faint smell of impending civil war is in the air. Already one can sense moves made on a chess board the scale and scope of which only the nimblest of minds can comprehend. Like a pawn—the most powerful and unpredictable one imaginable—The Hulk is taken off the board first. The players, the brain-trust of heroes now known as The Illuminati, have realized that in the coming conflict The Hulk would surely tip the balance in any side’s favor, so they’ve seized the opportunity to send him into space toward an uninhabited planet. But something goes wrong, and The Hulk emerges from a wormhole and crash lands on a world as riven with strife and conflict as our own. Worse, he may not be the strongest being on the planet. 

Stronger than any mortal on Earth, indestructible, as well, and perpetually pissed-off, The Hulk has always been more a force of nature than a superhero. And while the Jekyll/Hyde dynamic between Bruce Banner and his alter-ego has a timeless, elemental appeal, Big Green has been a lackluster character for too long. I suspect that this is due to how the character is presented. A monthly series is a real challenge, because The Hulk has to be, in some sense, irrelevant if the rest of the Marvel Universe is going to be interesting. The maxi-series, however, is tailor-made for him. Indeed, the first chapter of the 14-part Planet Hulk signals a bold, new direction for the character as well as the series. 

Greg Pak may have come to comics scripting from a screenwriting background, but if this issue of The Incredible Hulk is any indication he’s a natural. The narration captions at the bottom of page 1, for instance—“This is the story of the Green Scar, the eye of anger, the world breaker . . . Harkanon, Haarg, Holku . . . Hulk. And how he finally came home.” The tone evokes both an epic as well as a personal journey ahead, and the one-page set-up scene it concludes is written with as much empathy and economy. A tightly paced and engrossing read follows, Pak animating his scenes with crack (and at times hysterical) dialogue and engaging characterizations. While I don’t have a die-hard fan’s appreciation for just how many different Hulks there have been over the years, Pak’s Hulk intrigues me. Neither a brute with Banner’s brain nor a nine-foot child capable of bench-pressing an ocean liner, Pak finds a satisfying middle ground where The Hulk acts, reacts, and thinks like a brawling behemoth, the sort of dude who’d be the last one standing (wearing Thor’s dented helmet) if the Marvel Universe all of a sudden went “Fight Club.” This sort of Hulk may not be definitive, but he drives the narrative with bigger stones than anyone can imagine and fits right into Pak’s gladiator-themed story.

But as strong as Pak’s writing technique is in this issue, stronger still is Planet Hulk’s premise. Taking the Hulk off the board before The Civil War starts and sending him by mistake to a planet where he is routinely outclassed is a strong storyline if putting him  back into the spotlight is the goal. Add crack dialogue and the sense that the aliens pitted against him have no idea who they’re messing with (this issue’s most engaging aspect and the source of its humor), and Greg Pak is off to a great start.

Critiquing the art in an Incredible Hulk comic begins with the man/monster himself, and it bodes well for this miniseries-within-the-series that Carlo Pagulayan’s pencils have a natural feel for the character. His shots are well-framed, which, given the material, is a considerable accomplishment, as he depicts the Hulk with the presence the character requires and keeps his proportions consistent throughout, while also making sure that The Hulk doesn’t crowd the panels. Accomplished, as well, is how he captures The Hulk’s combination of powerful poses and fluid movements that, when done well, make any comic he’s in visually arresting. Lastly, something has to be said about how sharp and polished the art in this issue is thanks to deft inks by Jeffrey Huet and vibrant colors by Chris Sotomayor.

I wouldn’t want to live there, but for the next 12 months Planet Hulk will be a very interesting place to visit.

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