Marvel’s Legacy books have brought their stories back to the start to various degrees. In some cases, the throwback is subtle, in others we literally see the first Avengers team in the age of dinosaurs. More than anything, these new stories capture the essence of what their characters are. For THE INCREDIBLE HULK #710, writer Greg Pak had brought the newest person to use the Hulk name back to the place that redefined what the Hulk could be.
Planet Hulk is not so arguably the most pivotal Hulk story of all time. Before that, Hulk was a character who was iconic, without many iconic stories. Dropping Bruce Banner on the desolate Sakaar and forcing him to fight in an alien arena redefined his role as it pinned him against several enemies on his level. This new arc takes the Green Goliath back to Sakaar with the added twist that there’s a new young scientist behind the controls.
For a while, Amadeus Cho’s definitive quirk was that he had full control of himself in Hulk form and actually had a lot of fun when it came to smashing. Most of that aesthetic has gone out the window on Sakaar. Against these almost Hulk-level enemies and weakened from the jump between planets, Amadeus has to rely on The Hulk to survive, which in this case means giving it full control the way Banner had to for years whether he wanted to or not. It’s a solid direction for fans who lamented the idea of a plucky Hulk, and really brings the character to a place more nihilistic than ever. Amadeus set out to make the Hulk fun and he failed. Now he’s heading down the path of his predecessor.
Greg Land’s pencils are clean while still conveying the grit of the situation. The action-packed superhero book is becoming more rare in this age of creator-owned works that put story before action, but Land conveys the explosive movement of a superpowered arena with all the intensity you’d expect. The book also features colors by Frank D’Armata, whose use of red on the people of Sakaar contrasts with Hulk’s green to create an “us vs. them” vibe.
Overall, the issue doesn’t do much to captivate. More than anything, we get 20 pages of familiar action and a predictable cliffhanger, which sort of defeats the purpose of a cilffhanger. It will be interesting to see how the Return to Planet Hulk evolves from here, but for now the story doesn’t feel like a follow up as much as a rehash.
(W) Greg Pak (A/CA) Greg Land