"This is the story of the Hulk..." "May he who dies... die well."
is a Marvel Comics
storyline that ran through 2006, written by Greg Pak, with Carlo Pagulayan, Jeffrey Huet, and Chris Sotomayer penciling, inking, and coloring respectively.
The storyline centers around The Hulk
, naturally, as he is sent into space by Tony Stark
, Reed Richards
, Doctor Strange
, and Black Bolt
. After a fight with the Thing left Las Vegas in ruins and about two dozen dead (later retconned
), it was decided that he was too dangerous for Earth, and that they would send him to a peaceful planet with no intelligent life so he couldn't hurt anyone, and finally get his wish of being left alone.
Of course, everything goes horribly wrong.
The Hulk, understandably upset at this turn of events, damages his space ship, sending it off course and into a wormhole. He then crash lands on the alien planet Sakaar, which is very full of intelligent life, and none of it is friendly. Weakened by his trip through the "Great Portal", as the locals call it, the Hulk is implanted with an obedience disk, which forces him to obey commands and sent to the great arena to fight for his freedom.
The storyline is very popular among Hulk fans as it gives the green giant some very real character development for the first time in years, where as previously the focus had been on Bruce Banner (or Banner in the Hulk's body).
Planet Hulk was later adapted into an animated film. The film was very condensed, changing several aspects of the story and removing a few characters completely, but is still considered one of the better Marvel Comics animated adaptations, receiving considerable critical praise. It's also notable for being one of the more violent Marvel movies, depicting blood and fairly graphic deaths.
Marvel has teased that this storyline will be revisited in 2015, however, based on the promotional images◊
, it appears as if this new treatment will be somewhat different from the original
The Planet Hulk Comic provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Caiera and Elloe. Both Dark Action Girls, to an extent.
- Action Survivor: Both Elloe and Miek start out this way before growing into badasses in their own right.
- All There in the Manual: Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook, a special written by Greg Pak in the style of The Official Guide to the Marvel Universe, detailing information about the Planet Sakaar, its people, its political situation, and the characters featured in Planet Hulk.
- Anti-Hero: Hulk himself rates as a fairly strong antihero in this storyline, at times pushing Type IV.
- Arc Words/Book Ends: "This is the story of the Hulk, and how he finally came home."
- Asskicking Equals Authority: This is more or less how Sakaar runs: Though a mixture of hereditary succession, and proving you're the baddest mofo' on the planet. Hulk eventually defeats the Red King, and ends up king himself.
- Badass Boast: The Hulk gives one so epic, it's broadcast across all of Sakaar:
- Badass Normal: Elloe. Imperials are apparently equal to humans, and Elloe because of her training is the equivalent of an Olympic level athlete; she's still able to fight evenly against Miek after he transforms into a Hive King.
- Barbarian Hero: The Hulk
- Blood Knight: A running theme is the inner conflict between Hulk's desire to be left alone and his blood knight tendencies.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: Hulk was forced to learn some new techniques to keep up with the other gladiators. Though he seems to earn them very quickly: In his first gladiator battle, he already cut the Red King's cheek:
Hulk: Hulk slash.
- The Caligula: The Red King.
- Continuity Cavalcade: Many nods to older stories. Two in particular:
- The Warbound members telling their stories. It includes nods to the X-Men battling the Brood, Thor's original adventure, and Hulk’s first transformation as a gray Hulk.
- "Banner War", where the Hulk dreams first of defeating the beasts of Jarella's world and nearly marrying her, then of the Warbound beating up all the heros whom Hulk sees as his tormentors, complete with Miek stabbing The Sentry for making the Hulk sleep in his kitchen.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The "Sakaarson" and "Worldbreaker" concepts are rather similar to the idea of Christ and the Anti-Christ that's popular in many works about Christianity. Also many adherents to the faith refer to "The Prophet" who supposedly foretold all of this, potentially an allusion to either Jesus or Mohammad. The Red King's father was believed by many to be the Sakaarson; the Red King believed himself to be the Sakaarson (though many believed him to be the Worldbreaker); Hiroim believed himself to be the Sakaarson in his youth, but later started believing that the concepts of the Sakaarson and the Worldbreaker were metaphorical. Many believed the Hulk to be the Sakaarson (a belief Hiroim exploited to rally support for the rebellion) while some, including Miek, believed the Hulk to be the Worldbreaker.
- Interestingly, the Silver Surfer was mistaken to be the Sakaarson, or as in Hiroim's first assumption, painted in the fashion of him. This would imply that the prominent beliefs about the Sakaarson would be that he would either have a grey or silver body.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Pretty much the whole Warbound but also the Spikes, who are mostly children unable to overcome their hunger.
- Determinator: The Hulk, of course, but Miek as well, who cut off one of his arms to get out of a bind.
- Downer Ending: The Hulk is just not allowed to have a happy life, is he?
- The Dragon: Caiera is this to the Red King before her Heel-Face Turn
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Red King's name is Angmo-Asan. He's never referred to as such throughout the story.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Lavin Skee, after being mortally wounded:
Hiroim: Hold still. I'm a shadow-priest; you'll want a prayer.
Lavin: No, I want a sword.
- Fantastic Racism: The three main races on Sakaar, the Imperials, the Shadows, and the Natives, have varying degrees of prejudice between them, mostly between Imperials and Natives, though Imperials who believe they're an offshoot of the Shadow species tend to think they're superior due to being further evolved.
- Fertile Blood: A major element in Planet Hulk, as Hulk's blood creating life gives greater proof that the Hulk is indeed the prophesied Sakaarson, savior of the world of Sakaar.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The second day of the gladiator games and the death of Lavin Skee with No-Name, Korg, Hulk and Miek telling their experiences, prompts Hiroim to make them Warbound: comrades for life.
- Five-Man Band: The Warbound
- Foreshadowing: Red King drops a bomb on Caiera as she cradles a child in her arms; her oldstrong powers let her survive the blast, but the child turns to ash in her arms, triggering her Heel-Face Turn. This mirrors her own death in the Hulk's arms at the end of the comic, triggering his Face-Heel Turn going into World War Hulk.
- Fragile Speedster: Miek pre-transformation.
- Genre Savvy: Two moments for the The Hulk: He initially wasn't in a hurry to make friends, since he immediately figured out how Sakaar works, and notes they may be forced to kill each other later. Having had a long history of being misunderstood, doesn't join the La Résistance noting that after they help them, they'll still be treated as outcasts afterward.
- Gladiator Games
- I Choose to Stay: Silver Surfer offers to take Hulk back to Earth. Hulk refuses, recounting that the first time he ever saw the Surfer, he thought he was a spaceship, and wanted to make him take him to an alien world away from the humans. Now, he's finally there. This is a big moment in the story because up until this point, the Hulk's motivation was "Smash Red King, get off this rock, smash Earth.", and this showed that he was letting go of revenge. Of course, this was at the half way point...
- Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: The Hulk wades around in lava several times throughout the story as if it were water (he does get burned early on while his powers are weakened, though). During the climactic fight against the Red King, he dives beneath Sakaar's tectonic plates and shifts them back into place to stop an earthquake.
- The Load: Miek, at first.
- Mr. Fanservice: In universe, Lavin Skee.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Caiera; it's revealed in a flashback in Skaar: Son of Hulk that her obedience disk was removed when she was still a child; her oath to be the Red King's shadow was all that bound her to his service.
- The Nameless: Brood doesn't have a name, and is referred to only as No-name or Brood throughout the story.
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Hulk and the rest of the Warbound (apart from Elloe), initially. The latter comes around, though Hulk himself takes a bit longer.
- Pet the Dog: Twice for Brood: when she tells a tale to some children using little figures and, later, when she ends up running a daycare.
- Powered Armor: How the Red King fights.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Warbound. The Hero is a monster exiled from his own world by his best friends because of his Unstoppable Rage. The Lancer was a celebrated general who was exiled from his people as a heretic. The Big Guy was a would-be alien conqueror who was forced to kill his own brother. Miek is an unhived, exiled from his own people. Brood is the last survivor of a brood hive destroyed by the X-Men. Elloe was a former noble whose father was executed in front of her. Caiera is the former right hand of a despot.
- Red Baron: The Red King. Also, the Hulk is most commonly referred to by his gladiator name, the Green Scar, and later, the Green King.
- Revenge: Mainly in foreshadowing for World War Hulk, revenge is a recurring theme, with Hulk plotting revenge for his exile, Elloe seeking revenge for the murder of her father, and Miek contemplating taking vengeance for the murder of his father and enslavement of his hive. When asked what he would do, the Hulk responds:
Hulk: I'd never stop making them pay.
- Revenge actually summed up the final battle between the Hulk and the Red King, with the former asking Miek to 'chem' all of them together to confront the Red King with his crimes before he smashes him.
- Took a Level in Badass: Miek eventually manages to hold his own in armed combat before transforming into a Native King, a massive version of his race (roughly the size of the Hulk or Korg) possessing super strength.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Hulk, of course, and being the Worldbreaker, his actions eventually do destroy Sakaar.
- It wasn't the Hulk's fault, or at least not directly: The warpcore of the ship he arrived in seemingly malfunctioned and exploded causing Sakaar's destruction.
- The Spikes, who are actually space faring beings who feed off of cosmic energy, but their ship crashed on Sakaar and they were forced to eat flesh to survive. Hulk eventually helps them return to the stars.
- Worf Had the Flu: Partly the reason why Hulk was able to beat the Silver Surfer in combat: The obedience disk weakened him, and he recently came through the Great Portal. Hulk likewise suffers this early on in beginning: The Imperials actually consider it a sign of badassery that the Hulk was even able to stand upright having just passed through it, but he later gets enslaved nonetheless.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Sakaar is just a generation past having survived its own zombie apocalypse, the Spike Wars. The alien parasites known as the spikes function as The Dreaded to the natives of Sakaar.
The Planet Hulk animated movie provides examples of the following tropes:
- Almost Kiss: Between Hulk and Caiera at the film's close.
- Anti-Villain: Caiera, at first.
- The Cameo: Several of Marvel's "cosmic" characters cameo in this movie; Adam Warlock, Starlord, Gamora, Pip the Troll, a Skrull, and Grandmaster. Notably, Grandmaster shows up in the shadows behind the Red King as he watches the Hulk's first fight in the arena, suggesting more may be at play here. Thor and Beta Ray Bill show up in a flashback, and Bill returns later.
- Death by Irony: The same spiked bugs that the Red King used to kill Caiera's parents are used on him by Caiera herself by the end of the movie. For bonus points, he flees and runs to his robot guards and orders them to kill everyone - but he's infested, so they decide to incinerate him to prevent the spikes from spreading.
- Enfant Terrible: Knowing that the Red King used the Spikes to infect villages and later had every one infected be killed, including children, while he was still a child or pre-teen comes to this!
- Deuteragonist: Caiera, although she starts out as a Villain Deuteragonist.
- Foreshadowing: Korg mentions how, right before he went into the wormhole that brought his group into Sakaar, they were being followed by Beta Ray Bill.
- Happily Ever Before: The film ends with the Hulk marrying Caiera and being praised as their savior, while the comics followed this with the shuttle that brought the Hulk exploding, destroying the city and killing Caiera.
- Heel-Face Turn: Caiera, after learning the Red King, the person she's fiercely loyal to after he saved her, caused the destruction of her village.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Caiera is firmly in the Red King's camp acting as his dragon because she believes he was a Messianic Archetype who rescued her from the spores which turned her family and whole village into mindless zombies. Then the spores return to a town which is harboring fugitives and Caiera warns the king of the threat, and he coldly tells her that he sent them and that he did so before to her village to discover her superpowers and recruit her as his bodyguard. And he still expects her undying love and loyalty after this revelation. Cue Caiera's Heel-Face Turn and Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Since it's the Hulk, this is inevitable. However, special mentions to the battle against Beta Ray Bill, who Hulk continues to pummel even after Bill has already lost consciousness.
- One-Hit Kill: Hulk completely flattens a lava kraken.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Large sections of the story are removed, such as visiting the shadow people and acquiring the stone ship, Brood's character is removed all together and the Warbound section is condensed. Silver Surfer doesn't appear for licensing reasons, and is replaced by Beta Ray Bill. And of course, the ending is either changed or cut short.
- Stupid Evil: The Red King plunges headfirst into this when he, with no prompting, just goes and tells to Caiera (whose entire family was killed by the Spikes) that the Spikes were his weapon from the beginning, and then expects her to remain his faithful servant. Then he wants her killed when she puts a Spike on him.
- This Is Not My Life to Take: Hulk chooses to spare the Red King's life, instead letting Caiera kill him with a spike bug.