Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Aaron Lopresti
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Hulk is stranded on a foreign planet, where he had to fight as a gladiator. Now he escaped with some friends and is on the run again.
Comments: The one year story arc of "Planet Hulk" is well underway. And so far it hasnít been earth shattering, but the stories arenít bad either. What we missed in Bruce Jones' run we get here in every issue: Hulk smashing!
Jones provided an excellent run focusing on Dr. Bruce Banner and his struggles with his inner monster. The stories were sophisticated, had great plots and excellent writing. Greg Pak is doing his best with "Planet Hulk" which reads like a science fiction/fantasy story, especially when you look at all the top level cover art so far done by LadrŲnn. They could easily have been covers for any fantasy novel, and when you put the covers side by side you almost get sequential art of what has happened to the Hulk.
Somehow I feel that Greg Pak is struggling with the story. It moves at a great pace, and there is a lot of action going on, but the writing doesnít reveal any great plot points. There arenít great cliff hangers, and the dozen characters heís placing alongside the Hulk are very one-dimensional. Marvel even needed a special Gladiator comic book to provide more depth to the characters. And thatís a shame. A good story with a good writer can put all that depth in the story arc itself. A story is a development of characters. Writer throw stuff like drama, action, grief to the characters and see how they handle the situation. Many of Pak's Hulk issue do just that, but still the characters remain without any real depth. Bruce Jones provided character depth but didnít give us much Hulk smashing action. That part of the Hulk persona is well presented in "Planet Hulk" so far. Gladiator Hulk can handle every fighting situation, and thatís what this story arc is about.
Aaron Lopresti draws a great Hulk, but has trouble sometimes with the amount of things that is going on in a panel. I donít know if this is part of Greg Pakís writing, but a lot of panels are too cramped with characters and surroundings. As a result, the reader doesn't get a moment's rest. This is great for the pace of the book, but itís hard to focus on just one panel. If you look at the entire composition of just one page, you get the feeling that there are too many panels that have to be covered for just one page. Fighting scenes become too small (look at pages 7 and 11, for example). They would be great splash pages of Hulk with the great monster or Hulk smashing through some rocks.
Overall, it is a very nice to see The Incredible Hulk on a foreign planet and smashing the hell out of every issue, but donít expect real development in the beloved monster persona called Hulk.
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