Red Hulk is sent to space, and trapped on a barbarian planet. Sound familiar? Well, this ain't your daddy's Planet Hulk!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki and Jesus Aburtov
Reading through Jeff Parker's run on Hulk, which is approaching the year-mark, it came to me that the series is sort of a rationalisation of Jeph Loeb's run. Loeb's take on Hulk was a crazy, madcap ride that often made no sense. Some loved it, some hated it - I personally enjoyed it a lot (I don't really need Hulk to make sense), but it was out there. It felt like it didn't really fit into the established rules of the Marvel Universe. But it was a part of it, was in continuity, Rulk is very real, and he's here to stay.
As such, Parker has kind of gone through Loeb's run and and revisited it in ways to try and make it fit. When Loeb had Rulk punch the Watcher in the face it was a silly joke, something to shock the readers and make them laugh; but Parker has made it deadly serious. He's turned Uatu into an enemy of Red Hulk, and that punch has now led to the introduction of a serious threat in Omegex. Rulk's stupid fights with Thor and Iron Man and Sub-Mariner also have an impact in Parker's stories, with them not being able to trust him as he tries to turn over a new leaf. And now we've got Parker's refracted lens shining it's red light onto the story which kicked off this whole Rulk mess, Planet Hulk. And it's a lot of fun.
I must admit I didn't like the original Planet Hulk. I'm averse to Hulk in space at the best of times, but I felt that Greg Pak put the character into a situation that he didn't fit into. The character of Hulk in Planet Hulk was completely different from the normal Hulk- he was too smart, and Banner was nowhere to be seen. When a story completely ignores the central concept of a character, it's not going to be for me.
But Rulk is a different character than Green Hulk, and as such being sent to a barbarian planet isn't really a stretch. Rulk is actually Thunderbolt Ross of course, so waging war is perfectly within his wheelhouse, and seeing him assert control over a planet is fine. He's wanted to do the same to Earth for a long time!
This issue is a lot of fun, and reads at times as a sort of parody of the original Planet Hulk. This isn't set to be a plodding 12-issue 'epic': Planet Red Hulk is a two-issue job, in and out, Rulk Smash, end of. The use of Carlo Pagulayan as artist adds to this effect; he illustrated half of the original story, and using him here is a great idea. Parker has had a lot of fun contrasting how Red does things differently than Green, and there can be no better contrast than the two Planet Hulks.
Parker is not only rationalising Loeb's insane take on Hulk, he's rationalising the last five years of ol' Jade-Jaws, while at the same time putting his own unique spin on it. This issue was great fun, it was a nice break from the rapidly escalating subplots on Earth, and it made me smile. And that's what Hulk comics should do, they should make you smile as a massive primary-coloured dude pounds into another dude until his face is mush.
Review by: Niam Suggitt