Hulk Trade Post: World War Hulk & Planet Skaar

World War Hulk (Marvel)
Written by Greg Pak, drawn by John Romita Jr.
Collects World War Hulk #1-5

After recently reading and really enjoying the first few books of Greg Pak’s run on Incredible Hulk, I wanted to go back and read what’s been happening to Hulk since Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, so I decided to give WWH another read. I had my problems with it when it first came out, for two specific reasons: first, I don’t really dig JRJR’s artwork and second, I thought some of the cooler aspects of the story were kept off panel (the fight with Blackbolt).

Did I have the same problems going in this time? Well,  yeah, mostly. I still just can’t get into JRJR’s art. I like he draws Hulk, Doctor Strange and some of the War Bound, but the new Hulk Buster Iron Man armor just looked silly. This might sound odd, but I’m also not a fan of how he draws rubble. It always looks like multicolored toothpicks thrown at a panel and glued down. His faces also don’t carry much weight when the camera is pulled back past full-figure level.

But even that didn’t completely detract from my enjoyment of a big, bonkers series where Hulk essentially wages war on Earth and the people who sent him into space. I still wish the Blackbolt fight had been shown on panel, even if it was a Skrull or whatever and I’m not a big fan of the reveal about how the Hulk’s ship actually blew up on Sakaar, but overall, it’s a compelling story. There’s definitely the feeling, though, that this could have been a lot crazier if there wasn’t so much continuity and other books to worry about.

With the end of this series, Jeph Loeb hopped in and started writing the simply title Hulk, while Hercules took over Incredible Hulk — still written by Pak — and Pak also started writing the adventures of the son Hulk didn’t even realize he had on Sakaar (Skaar). This is where I fell off as the books were originally coming out.

Hulk: Planet Skaar (Marvel)
Written by Greg Pak, drawn by Butch Guice, Ron Lim & Dan Panosian
Skaar: Son of Hulk #7-12, Planet Skaar Prologue

The reason I didn’t keep up on Skaar is because I was just confused. I was under the impression that, at the end of Planet Hulk, most of the planet was actually destroyed, so I had no idea how this little dude was alive or how he was born from a woman that died on a planet that exploded. This seemed like a good enough place to take a break on Hulk, so I stepped out of all of it.

I wanted to get my hands on the first collection of Skaar comics, but couldn’t and didn’t want to wait too long before reading this collection and moving on to some of the other Loeb books I’d picked up. This one was a lot of fun, as it turns out. Not only did I get a much better idea of who Skaar is as a character, but it was also fun to see him living something of the same life his dad did, but making very different choices. He even winds up fighting alongside and enslaved Silver Surfer, but this time, the Surfer is working for Galactus and he gets brought into the mix. The way Skaar wants to handle keeping Galactus away from his home planet is pretty intense, but again shows how he differs from pops.

I get the idea that this is basically the kind of Hulk Pak would have written if this was a creator owned book. He’s on another planet and a total badass, so he can basically do whatever the hell he wants and does. And in the fact that it acts as a nice endcap to one of my favorite comic arcs — Planet Hulk — works on it’s own and leads well into the Incredible Hulk stuff I like and I’m happy with the story all around.

Comics Comics Comics Comics: Silver Surfer #54 (1991)

SILVER SURFER #54 (Marvel)
Written by Ron Marz, drawn by Ron Lim
While moving all our stuff from one storage unit to the other this week, I organized a bunch of the unread comics I’ve got and pulled out over a dozen Silver Surfer issues, thinking they might compliment all the Green Lantern comics I’ve been reading lately. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Since the issues were pretty spread out, I didn’t get much of an idea of the overarching story and also didn’t always care about the specifics of the issues. I’m getting to the point where I recognize the set-up for a specific kind of story and then just flip through to see if I’m right, which I tend to be. Things got better with the Ron Marz written issues, and, surprisingly enough, my favorite of the bunch was actually an Infinity Gauntlet tie-in.

Let’s all be honest, tie-ins have a tendency to suck because they’re very often foisted upon creative teams and feel like blatant cash grabs (like most of the Blackest Night tie-in issues). It takes a very special writer to take something like that and seamlessly combine the event with their ongoing story and Marz pulls that off beautifully in this issue, hooking you right from the beginning with a fight readers probably never thought they’d see. Rhino vs. Silver Surfer? Okay, I’ll bite.

As it turns out, the issue itself is a bit of a bait and switch. They get you in the door with the implied promise of a knock down drag out battle between two pretty tough though not nearly evenly matched opponents and turns it into a story about animal safety. But in a cool way. If you’re not familiar with Infinity Gauntlet, and even my memory’s a little rusty on the subject, there’s a part where Thanos kills half the universe for his lady Death. We’re on Earth after that as the heroes plan their attack. Not wanting to stand around and do nothing, the Surfer starts wandering around what looks like Central Park and comes across a tiger wandering around. After a little investigating, he finds that Rhino has been freeing the animals at the zoo so that they could spend the short time the universe still had free. It’s a pretty cool beat that shows some actual character for the bruiser. I’m not familiar with him outside of the 90s Spidey cartoon and some video games, but I got a pretty good feel for him in this appearance.

As you might expect, Rhino’s temper gets the best of him and he starts the fight with Silver Surfer. Like a drunk musclehead trying to fight a zen martial arts master, Silver handles him with kid gloves and the two finally stop after something happens to one of the freed animals. Realizing it might be better for the animals to get put back in their cages–for their own safety–the two work together and then part on pretty good terms. I really appreciate what Marz did by zooming in really far on some interesting character moments while this big giant threat to the entire universe was going on. You even get the fight promised on the cover, but that’s not what the comic is actually ABOUT. Actually, I’m not really sure what it’s about. Is there a message here about thinking things through and not being a hot head like Rhino? Is it that some people need imprisonment to keep them safe? I don’t really know, but I like that the comic made me think. I’ve also got to give credit to Ron Lim who has a great knack for drawing powerful looking and dynamic figures. Sure, the backgrounds could have been more detailed (there’s a lot of white in this book), but I like the look of the book.

So, if you’re digging through quarter boxes at your next comic con or have this issue deep in your collection somewhere, I recommend getting it and having some fun. Of the pile, this is the only issue of Silver Surfer I’ll be keeping, though I would be interested in reading more of Marz’s run on the book. Maybe they’ll get around to doing trades of that stuff soon.