“Planet Hulk” Story Arc Explained

VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Written by Shane O'Gorman

Hulk want to know…are you not entertained? Welcome to “Story Arc Explained,” the series that gets you up to speed on the comic books you didn't read. Today we'll be covering the key plot points of Marvel's “Planet Hulk” run by Greg Pak, Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti, that unfolded in the pages of “The Incredible Hulk” #92 through #105 and “Giant-Size Hulk” #1.

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Hulk want to know…are you not entertained? Welcome to “Story Arc Explained,” the series that gets you up to speed on the comic books you didn’t read. Today we’ll be covering the key plot points of Marvel’s “Planet Hulk” run by Greg Pak, Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti, that unfolded in the pages of “The Incredible Hulk” #92 through #105 and “Giant-Size Hulk” #1.

It’s no secret that the Hulk is an unstoppable, destructive force of nature. His extraordinary strength and, shall we say, ‘temper problems’ have caused more collateral damage over the years than any military weapon could ever hope to achieve. The final nail in the coffin was when the jade giant lost control in Las Vegas, practically levelling the entire city. The Illuminati – a group consisting of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Stephen Strange, Charles Xavier, Namor, and Black Bolt – came to the conclusion that Hulk had become too high of a risk to keep him around any longer. They tricked the Hulk, sending him into orbit for a mission, then launching him through a wormhole rather than returning him home. The initial plan was to send him to a lush planet without any intelligent life where he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else.

However, a navigational error sent Hulk to the planet Sakaar. Upon his arrival, the Hulk was confronted by a savage alien race and quickly incapacitated. Before long, the green goliath found himself tagged by a device known as an ‘obedience disk’ and forced into tense gladiator matches to entertain Sakaar’s emperor: the Red King. He’s tasked with surviving three rounds in the arena – if he’s successful, he will be freed. Hulk wasn’t alone in this pickle, though, as he forms a desperate alliance with other combatants: Miek – an insectoid Sakaar Native; Elloe Kaifi – a Sakaar Impreial whose noble father Ronan spoke out against the Red King, Lavin Skee – Elloie’s bodyguard; Korg – a Kronan warrior; Hiroim – an ex-Shadow Priest; and finally, No-name, the Brood.

After a series of victories, the Hulk became something of a celebrity on Sakaar, as the people cheered for “The Green Scar” – the name given to him after he scarred the face of the Red King in combat. It’s also discovered that Hulk’s blood causes vegetation to grow on Sakaar. His actions and unrivalled strength are noticed by a resistance group known as the Sakaar Democratic Insurgency, who tracked him down and attempted to enlist him into their rebellion. chooses to decline their offer and instead continues to fight in the arena. However, Elloe decides to abandon the group, and is taken into custody along with many of the other rebels by the Imperial Death’s Head Guard.

Later, in the arena, the Red King decides to drop a bomb on the Hulk and his fellow gladiators, literally. The Hulk leaps into the air and takes the bulk of the explosion, saving his friends. Layvin Skee is wounded in the ensuing battle, and later dies from his wounds, inspiring the remaining gladiators to form the Warbound, a sacred bond between warriors.

The Red King pits Hulk and his Warbound against none other than the Silver Surfer, who has also been marked by an ‘obedience disk’ their third and final round in the arena. After a vicious struggle, the Hulk happens to destroy the Surfer’s ‘obedience disk’, thus freeing him from the shackles of the Red King – but that doesn’t stop Hulk from continuing to smash him. With the final round over, Hulk and his crew expect their freedom, but the Red King’s top Lieutenant Caiera presents one more test: execute the captured rebels, including their friend Elloe, and then they will be free. They refuse, and just in the knick of time, The Surfer removes the obedience disks of all the other gladiators. Finally freed, the Hulk and his warbound tear through the walls of the coliseum to their freedom. The Surfer offers to take Hulk with him on his return to the cosmos, but Hulk decides to stay on Sakaar.

Free from their obedience disks, Hulk and his companions are now on the run, with Caiera in hot pursuit. In his travels, the Hulk frees slaves and meets many inhabitants of Sakaar who claim he exhibits qualities of a hero of legend; a figure who would rise up and become the savior for the people of this world known as “Sakaarson.” But Hulk has no interest in puny legends and make-believe, so he ventures on, eventually clashing with Caiera in a deadly battle Interrupting the skirmish is a sudden bombardment of spores, that cause freakish mutations and grizzly deaths to anyone they impale, turning them into Spikes. It’s revealed that the Red King launched these weapons to stop the Hulk, knowing full well Caiera was in the area. Horrified by this revelation, Caiera joins the Hulk to spite her former master.

The Hulk and Caiera rally together an assault on the Red King’s capital, culminating in a final showdown between the big bad and the big green. The Hulk comes out on top, taking the throne and Caiera as his wife. Hulk briefly lets Bruce Banner take control for a brief moment, and a monument is built in the city from the ship which the Hulk first arrived in. It seemed like they would live happily ever after…

Unfortunately, the warp engine in the ship that brought Hulk to Sakaar malfunctions and explodes in a fiery blaze, obliterating the entire city. Hardly anyone survives the blast; this includes Hulk’s queen Caiera, who had become pregnant with his child. It should be expected that the Hulk’s good old anger issues kicked in big time after that, as he blamed the heroes of earth for what happened. In his fury, the Hulk’s next move, along with his Warbound, is an all-out attack on Earth in an act of vengeance for what had happened… but that’s a whole other story.