"May he who dies... die well."
"Never stop making them pay."
Planet Hulk 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 on The Hulk, naturally. After a fight between The Hulk and The Thing leaves Las Vegas in ruins and kills two dozen people (later retconned), members of the Illuminati—specifically Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, and Black Bolt—decided that The Hulk was too dangerous to leave on Earth. Their solution: Send Hulk to a peaceful planet with no intelligent life so he could not hurt anyone, finally granting the green behemoth his wish of being left alone.
Of course, everything goes horribly wrong. The Hulk, who is understandably upset at this turn of events, damages his spaceship; this sends it off-course and into a wormhole. The ship crash lands on the alien planet Sakaar, which is very full of intelligent life—none of which is friendly. Weakened by his trip through the "Great Portal" (as the locals call it), The Hulk is implanted with an obedience disk that forces him to obey commands, then sent to an arena to fight for his freedom.
This storyline is very popular amongst Hulk fans, in part because it gives the not-so-jolly green giant some actual character development for the first time in years. (Stories prior to this one focused on either Bruce Banner or Banner in The Hulk's body.)
Planet Hulk was later adapted into an animated film with the same title; it changed and condensed several aspects of the story (and removed a few characters completely). Despite the changes, it is still considered one of the better Marvel animated films. It is also one of the more violent Marvel movies, thanks to visible displays of blood and a few graphic deaths.
The ending of Planet Hulk led directly into the World War Hulk storyline. Secret Wars (2015) features a Planet Hulk mini-series in which Steve Rogers and Devil Dinosaur journey into Greenland, a region of Battleworld populated by Hulks.
The story is revisited for the Marvel Legacy era in "Return to Planet Hulk" as part of the title rebranding of Amadeus Cho's Totally Awesome Hulk back into Incredible Hulk as Amadeus is brought to Sakaar unknowingly by those seeking the Worldbreaker.
The Planet Hulk storyline includes the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Elloe grows into this after initial reluctance, and Caiera duels Hulk to a standstill in the animated movie. Both are 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 learn them very quickly: In his first gladiator battle, he already cut the Red King's cheek:Hulk: Hulk slash.
- Brought Down to Badass: Denied access to his Power Cosmic and weakened by the portal, the Silver Surfer is still able to battle the Hulk and his Warbound—and dominate the fight—until the disk is broken.
- The Caligula: The Red King.
- Cerebus Retcon: The entire reason the Illuminati decide to send the Hulk into space is because he accidentally killed some civilians during a fight with the Thing. The fight in question occurred in Fantastic Four #533-535, and actually came to a peaceful resolution, with no civilian casualties mentioned at the time. There were even jokey moments showing civilians placing bets on the outcome of the fight, a far cry from the tragic incident the event would later be painted as.
- Continuity Cavalcade: This comic has numerous nods to older stories, two in particular:
- The Warbound members telling their stories, which includes nods to the X-Men battling the Brood, Thor's original adventure, and Hulks 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.
- The Brood is an especially vivid example of this: She looks incredibly evil and monstrous, yet she is one of Hulk's staunchest and most reasonable allies—and one of only two who never starts shit with him in any way. She even plays with some kids.
- 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 HeelFace 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
- The Hulk is The Hero (also ostensibly the Biggest Guy).
- Hiroim is The Lancer and also The Smart Guy.
- Brood is The Smart Guy.
- Korg is The Big Guy, with shades of The Smart Guy stemming from his military experience.
- Miek and Elloe are both The Chick, with Miek later becoming The Big Guy after his transformation.
- Caiera is The Sixth Ranger
- 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 HeelFace Turn. This mirrors her own death in the Hulk's arms at the end of the comic, triggering his FaceHeel Turn going into World War Hulk.
- Even before that, in the start of this particular arc, Namor called the Illuminati out, not only on their failure to cure Banner of his condition, but also on the possible consequences of Hulk coming back.
- 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.
- The Oathbreaker : Hiroim the Shamed is called so for having renounced a previous Warbond pact before joining the Hulk's.
- 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.
- The Sociopath: The Red King, most definitely. He causes untold, needless destruction both For the Evulz and to get what he wants.
- 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.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The spikes are weak towards fire. Good thing too, otherwise they would have basically overrun the planet.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
- The Hulk, of course, and being the Worldbreaker, his actions eventually do destroy Sakaar. 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. That, and Norrin stopped fighting after the disk was broken. 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.