Greg Pak, The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk

In the pantheon of comic heroes, none stand more powerful than the Incredible Hulk. Well, unless you’re counting this summer’s box office numbers, then the greater clout lies with both Iron Man and Batman.

Nonetheless, Planet Hulk, a 2006 Marvel Comics crossover storyline collected here, is one of the most innovative stories in hero-based graphic novels of the last twenty years. As you may already know, Hulk reigns supreme in the Marvel Universe as the most powerful creation of comic powerhouses Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. But it's the Hulk's instability that prompts a group of heroes called the Illuminati, comprising Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt and Dr, Strange, to trick the Hulk and launch him to another planet. Their mark misses and Hulk ends up on gladiator planet where he is tormented until he goes to war alongside his fellow gladiators to defeat a man who rules through fear and deceit. That plot sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? And much like Russell Crowe, the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets — and he doesn’t disappoint.

Planet Hulk 's success comes from taking a time-tested character and placing him in an unfamiliar environment that perfectly shows of both his strengths and weaknesses. We see new dimensions to the anger-fueled green goliath that we’ve never seen before such as a desire for peace and family. Ang Lee attempted something similar in his 2003 movie, but completely missed the mark. Ultimately, Planet Hulk is a superior reinvention of a classic character and is well-worth picking up for fans both old and new.

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