Comic Book / World War Hulk
He's Back, and guess what? You're all screwed.

"Puny humans. I've come to smash."

A 2007 Marvel Crisis Crossover, which occurs between Civil War and Secret Invasion.

Before the Civil War, the Illuminati (a group consisting of Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, Professor Xavier and Black Bolt) made the decision that Hulk was a threat to the world because of his unstable and dangerous mood swings. Instead of killing him, they shot him into space, towards a planet without intelligent life where they hoped he'd find peace.

However, due to a malfunction in the spaceship, the planet he landed on was Sakaar: a very harsh world where Hulk was captured, enslaved, and turned into a gladiator. Thus began Planet Hulk, where Hulk fought for a living and eventually found friends and true love, toppling the local tyrannical ruler and effectively becoming the king himself. And they all lived Happily Ever After... or did they?

Unexpectedly, the ship which brought him to Sakaar exploded, shattering the planet and killing many people, including Hulk's wife and unborn child. Hulk got mad. So he gathered his remaining friends and returned to Earth, hellbent on making the Illuminati pay for what they did to him. At this time Hulk was in a new form, the Green Scar, who retained his mind and whose rage, while at levels it had never touched before, was dispassionate and icy cold. Already disorganized and estranged by Civil War, the heroes were unable to meet him in force. They were also suffering an enormous loss of popular support, which only increased once Hulk revealed what the Illuminati had done to him. In short, they're all screwed when Hulk gets back.

Hulk then turns the Earth heroes, especially the Illuminati, into gladiators, to make them feel his struggles and suffering before he was King. He spares Namor, who voted against the decision, and Professor X, who wasn't present (and after seeing the result of House of M, Hulk decided that Xavier had suffered enough). He set the Illuminati against a monster; then forced them to take up weapons and try to kill each other. The moment is eventually interrupted by the Sentry, who had overcome his Split Personality problem just in time to bring the battle to Hulk. The two beat each other into exhaustion, but it was enough to shake Hulk out of his rage and remember his humanity and their friendship — just in time for one of Hulk's allies to kill Rick Jones in front of Hulk. Oh, and that same ally had been the one who caused the destruction of Sakaar in the first place. Hulk goes off his rocker and slays him; everyone else would've been dead if not for Iron Man activating a satellite beam that subdued Hulk and turns him back to Bruce Banner. (Jones soon came Back from the Dead once again.)

Bruce Banner is later imprisoned until he can control his Hulk self, and was later released when the mysterious Red Hulk appeared. Meanwhile, in the planet of Sakaar, it turns out that Hulk's son Skaar survived. But that is another story...

In the aftermath of World War Hulk, the title was turned into The Incredible Hercules.

Tropes used in World War Hulk:

  • Anti-Villain: Hulk and The Warbound. Hulk for just trying to get some sort of justice (if in an insane and unhelpful method) and the Warbound...for helping Hulk or something.
  • Arc Words: "May he who dies... die well" and "Never stop making them pay."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Almost literally; as Hulk is trying to break through Sue Storm's force field to get at Reed, she pleads with him to stop. Hulk responds, "If I sent a bomb, killed your husband, your children, your whole world... would you ever stop?!" Sue is so taken aback that she lets down her guard, allowing Hulk to shatter her force field with the next punch, incapacitating her, and beat the living hell out of her husband.
    • Hulk delivered another one to Jim Wilson's father. When the latter accuses him in his son's death, Hulk won't have any of it:
    Hulk: Jim died of AIDS. And the avian flu is not my fault either. But what I'm wondering is why Jim was living on the streets when I met him? Why he said he was an orphan? Why he never once mentioned you?
  • Badass Boast: Several.
    Doctor Strange: [to Hulk during a (failed) attempt to talk him down] Hear me well, Bruce... Your anger means nothing to me. I am the SORCERER SUPREME. I could snuff the feeble flame of your mortal life with the merest twitch of a finger. But I am also your friend.
    Bruce Banner/Hulk:[Seconds later] Got you. *breaks Strange's hands*

    Black Bolt: [to Hulk, very very quietly] Enough.
    Hulk: I didn't come here for a whisper. I wanna hear you scream!
  • Brawler Lock: Hulk and the Juggernaut. Hulk wins it through brains.
  • Break Them by Talking: After Hulk has the X-Men at his mercy, Mercury shows him the Xavier School's cemetery and tells him about all of the innocent children who had been murdered by Stryker and the Purifers in the aftermath of the Decimation, drawing a direct comparison between what the mutants have been through and Hulk's own loss, and helping convince him that Xavier has already suffered enough.
  • Contemptible Cover: Issue 13 of Heroes for Hire, volume 2, which tied into this, features a cover more fitting for a hentai manga than a manstream superhero comic, depicting Black Cat, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing surrounded by tentacles.
  • Crisis Crossover: Duh.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: It's hard to describe what the Hulk did to the X-Men in any other terms. Ghost Rider gets one in on Hulk during his tie-in to the story, more or less having a response to everything Hulk throws his way. Eventually, he just drives off, figuring Hulk is actually in the right here, resulting in an Oh, Crap! moment for the Illuminati when Dr. Strange points this out to them.
    • In one of the tie-ins, there's also a (probably non-canon) bit of comic relief showing the Hulk's fights against weaker Marvel characters, which show the Hulk, among other things, incapacitating them by flicking them with one finger.
  • Dark Action Girl: Elloe, No-Name was this at first.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit:
    • X-23 lets Hulk grab her to bring her close enough to put out his eyes with her foot claws, catching him by surprise and making her one of the few people who actually manages to slow him down, however briefly. Hulk puts her through a wall for her trouble.
    • Later, Hulk reverses this by letting Wolverine try the same trick, allowing Logan to blind him so he can bring him close enough to kick his ass and put him out of the fight for good.
  • Duel to the Death: See the Arc Words above.
  • Eye Scream: Hulk gets his eyes put out twice, the first time by X-23, and then by Wolverine. Good thing he can heal. He actually let Logan cut out his eyes so he'd get close enough to grab.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Miek, who turned out to have been responsible for the destruction of Sakaar all along.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Averted, as Doctor Strange and others discover. Bruce Banner agrees with the Hulk and is working with him.
  • Foreshadowing: Banner tricking Doc Strange into lowering his guard so Hulk could cripple him could be seen as foreshadowing for Bruce's more cold, manipulative behavior after he takes a level in badass in Fall of The Hulks.
  • Free-Fall Fight: Hulk vs. Iron Man ends up like this, with Hulk trashing Iron Man's Hulkbuster suit while they're in a state of free fall with Stark Tower collapsing around and beneath them.
  • Genre Blind: Korg doesn't have any clue on extraterrestrial tropes. When was the last time you saw someone seriously saying "Take Me to Your Leader"?
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Neither side is entirely free from blame, but neither is entirely in the right either. The Illuminati had done some shady things, and basically ignored any evidence that didn't point to Hulk being an uncontrollable monster, but they weren't guilty of the crimes leveled against them by Hulk, who in turn may have had a good reason to be angry, but went about getting justice in a profoundly counterproductive manner that basically ignored any evidence that didn't point to the Illuminati being 100% pure evil.
  • Interrupted Cooldown Hug: Elevated to an art form.
    • Hulk and Banner actually take advantage of the cooldown hug by letting Doctor Strange think it's working, tricking him into lowering his guard.
  • Jerkass: There's no question that the Hulk's persona takes this turn.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Dr. Strange tries this to get Hulk to calm down. It doesn't work, and Strange gets his hands broken.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Illuminati did deserve a good ass-kicking.
  • Meditation Powerup: After Hiroim sees that Hulk almost killed Brood in a fit of rage while fighting a group of Space Pirates, he decides to teach Hulk to focus his anger from his usual indiscriminate Unstoppable Rage into the Tranquil Fury we see him in for the remainder of the story.
  • Noble Demon: Hiroim.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The battle with Sentry is a mutual example, though Hulk insisted afterwards that even then he was holding back.
  • Not So Different: In World War Hulk: Frontline, Ben Urich attends the gladiator matches set up by the Hulk so he can report on them later. He's shocked by the blood lust and barbarism...of his fellow humans who are cheering the display. He comments that the Hulk's Sakaaran forces aren't invading or occupying Earth. You can't be invaded when the invaders are just like you.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction many of the heroes had when Hulk announced his return, having already beaten Black Bolt, one of the very few beings on Earth who was considered more powerful than him showing he's even stronger than he was before, and in addition has a posse of super-strong pals, most of whom are all are jonesing for Revenge.
    • One by the Sakaarans when the Sentry shatters their starship and busts out something approaching his full power.
    • Hardball, when he realizes the power-negating S.P.I.N.Tech dart Iron Man was about to use on Hulk was an empty he substituted when he stole the real one for Hydra.
  • Opt Out:
    • The Ghost Rider originally shows up to stop Hulk, but (being the Spirit of Vengeance as he is) he claims that Hulk's vengeance is justified and rides away rather than defend the Illuminati. (Blaze wanted to talk to Hulk and Zarathos did not care since Lucifer was on Earth. They only fought because Hulk got confused by their argument, thinking Ghost Rider had insulted him)
    • She-Hulk was given the chance to just walk away by her cousin, but she refused. Things didn't go too well for her after that.
  • Out of the Inferno: After the X-Men crash their jet on top of him. He kindly returns it.
  • Pet the Dog: Hulk decides to spare Xavier and the X-Men after seeing what he had been through. He comments he came to put Xavier through hell, but he's already going through it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After having a few people testify as to why the members of the Illuminati suck, Hulk delivers one himself.
    Hulk: Don't like it, do you? It's not fair. Not the whole story. You have excuses. Explanations. You're innocent. These people don't know what really happened. They don't know what's in your heart. Now you know how it feels.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The premise of the storyline.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The aforementioned Interrupted Cooldown Hug.
  • Smoke Shield: At least twice; after Tony blasts him with missiles, and after the Human Torch and Storm combine a lightning bolt and fireball.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    Doctor Strange: (to Tony Stark, referring to the Hulk) He withstood Black Bolt's voice. Do you think your machines can stop him?
    Hulk: (to Tony Stark, referring to the Sentry) Stupid humans. You think your machines can stop him?
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Hulk insists no one will die by his hand or the Warbound's, to show that they're better than the Illuminati.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Barring Hiroim and Korg, everyone from Sakaar wants to nuke Earth and kill everybody. In their defense, until the Big Reveal at the end it did seem like Earthmen (specifically the Illuminati) had done the same thing to their home planet, so this is kinda justified. Later played straight with Miek, though.
  • Tranquil Fury: Though Hulk is "madder than he's ever been", he's nowhere near as savage as he usually is due to his time on Sakaar making him smarter.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets, naturally. Of course, the birth of the Green Scar persona is implied to have been caused by the Hulk reaching heights of anger he never had before, too.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Not one nonviolent attempt to stop the Hulk or talk him down from his rage succeeds. The characters who try appealing to Hulk's friendship or better nature get slapped down just as brutally as the ones who are unashamedly out to kill him.
    • This does go both ways; Hulk and his Warbound offer everyone except for the Illuminati the chance to simply walk away. Understandably, no one takes him up on that.
  • Wham Episode: Issue #3; it's the one where Hulk crushes Doctor Strange's hands. Up until this point, Bruce Banner hadn't made an appearance in the story, so the possibility of getting through to him and stopping the Hulk that way was still open. This issue revealed that, perhaps for the first time, Hulk and Banner were in complete agreement, and getting through to Bruce simply was not going to happen.
  • What If?: The What If?: Planet Hulk and What If: World War Hulk specials offered three versions of it:
    • One version had it that Iron Man's nuclear strike to subdue Hulk ended up wiping out most of the heroes, one of them being Skrull Queen Veranke (under the guise of Spider-Woman), causing the Skrulls to view Hulk as some sort of prophet of their upcoming invasion. When Secret Invasion kicks in, even more heroes die, but Hulk wises up and joins the resistance against the Skrulls... and then it turns out Wasp was being impersonated by the Skrulls rather than Hank Pym, and then plants the human bomb serum to Hank, again, wiping out almost all heroes and humanity... except Hulk. When Silver Surfer visits, Hulk demands that Galactus wipe out the Skrull planet as his vengeance, and after being left all alone again, Galactus promotes him as his Herald.
    • Another version had Thor and the Asgard warriors join in the brawl, but was interrupted when an innocent civilian pleads them to use their strength not to fight each other, but to help them from peril. While doing that, Hulk was reminded of his old friendship with the fellow heroes, and Miek's treachery was discovered before it could result in a great disaster. Sentry came too late as eventually Thor told the heroes to redouble their efforts to win the people's trust, and Hulk went back to Sakaar to rebuild the planet and punish the traitorous Miek. Yeah, they really did live Happily Ever After.
    • A third has both Miek and the Hulk dying instead of Caiera, who goes on such an utter retaliatory attack that she actually kills the Illuminati (except possibly Namor and Prof. X), and takes over the planet, forcing the humans and the other heroes to build a massive statue for the Hulk that takes twenty-one years to construct before using her powers to turn herself permanently to stone. Because of Miek's death in the blast, his treachery is never discovered, meaning that Caiera's actions make her an utter monster because while she believed herself justified due to the way life on Sakaar works, the human race is now damned to live as slaves to people who pretty much worshiped a monster that was too dangerous to live on their world. She even lampshades it when she is convinced by Hiroim to spare the rest of the world after killing the Illuminati because if she didn't, nobody would be left to honor his memory, to which she claims, "They'll wish they were dead".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After learning about what the Illuminati did, and what with the Plethora Of Bad Decisions surrounding the Civil War, many people end up rooting for the Hulk and his Warbound.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Tony Stark, just coming off Civil War mind you, does a version of this with She-Hulk. It's not Tony's fault that Jennifer made him use highly illegal and experimental nanites to cut off her powers. After all she was completely out of order getting mad at him for sending her cousin into space.
  • The Worf Effect: Black Bolt was considered to be one of the very broken characters in cosmic Marvel, but Hulk takes him down first, and almost entirely off panel. Though that ends up subverted come Secret Invasion, when it turns out Hulk just beat down his Skrull imposter.
    • Another example would be when he defeated Doctor Strange (bar none the top sorcerer in the universe), while Strange was channeling a demon so powerful that Umar herself feared it. (But Worf Had the Flu; see below)
    • Hulk also beat the Sentry, who was considered the most powerful superhuman on the planet at the time, albeit not entirely mentally stable. This was a rare double Worf-ing, since the point was to show that Sentry and the Hulk were the only people who could have a full-out, nothing-held-back fight without one instantly obliterating the other.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Doctor Strange lost to the Hulk, even though Strange would have won easily if he'd been going for the kill. In Strange's defense, 1. the last thing he wanted was to kill his friend Bruce; 2. his attempt at a non-lethal solution had backfired and left him too crippled for his usual sorcery; and 3. he was struggling to hold Zom back from murdering everyone. When he let Zom have control he was winning easily, but as soon as he saw that ordinary people were in danger, he got distracted and subsequently lost the fight.
    • There's also been some back and forth regarding the Sentry fight, with later writers implying that due to Sentry's more fragile mental state, he wasn't at full power here, despite the fact that the dialogue in the book makes it clear that, if anything, Sentry was meant to be stronger in this fight than he had been previously.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Because Hulk's the only one the Sentry can hit... "LIKE THIS."
  • Worthy Opponent: After their brief battle, Hiroim seems to consider Iron Fist to be this, shocked that the human was able to actually hurt him.
    Hiroim: I will pray for you, Iron Fist.