Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: John Romita Jr.
Published by: Marvel Comics

Not So Jolly Green Giant

During Peter David’s classic run on the Incredible Hulk, he had the Hulk give this prescient warning that for every time he was moved against, he would level a city. Here we are, many years later, and the Hulk prepares to do just that. Not that he hasn’t had sufficient provocation. Reminiscent of the events of Incredible Hulk #300, just prior to the Civil War, the Hulk was deemed too great a threat to be allowed to just wander about at will, so a group of individuals Dr. Strange (conductor of the aforementioned issue #300 debacle), Black Bolt (leader of the Inhumans), Iron Man, and Mr. Fantastic (leader of the Fantastic Four) decide to jettison him off into space. This led to the events of the Planet Hulk storyline (familiar to any long time readers of the Hulk. See: Jarella): he ends up the planet Sakaar. He rises to the top, falls in love, loses it all, and returns home. Now joined by warbound, sworn soldier allies/his personal army, he’s what you call, let me search for the technical language, pissed.

“You say you’re his friend, but all you’re doing is dragging him straight to hell.” –Rick Jones

On one level, World War Hulk is about consequences. Everyone wants to be redeemed, to have some meaning attached to their lives. Hulk found his at Sakaar and it was taken away from him. No matter how bad the life one has lead, they can always make a break and start anew. However, even if they are forgiven their past, there may still be consequences for that past – in this case, for the Hulk as well as for those responsible for his situation.

“Someday we warbound will pay for the rage in our hearts.” –Hiroim

In a lot of ways, the Hulk is dealt with as a force of nature, a green apocalypse. The angrier he gets, the stronger he gets – and he has never been angrier. He also has been portrayed as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sort of character. Bruce Banner, his sometime alter ego, engages in a battle against the enemy within, an impurity of men’s souls which, in his case especially, is symbolized by the destructive, self-defeating power of anger.
This corrupting nature brings with it a cycle of destruction, warping man’s sense of right and wrong, and spirals into a pattern of fear, violence, and death. The need to deal with this taint is one view of how redemption works. Sometimes this comes out as wrestling with the idea of man having a darker nature to resist, restrain, or kill; that we have a corrupted self within us (a sentiment that echoes Romans 6:6). We all need to see the need to walk away from our old lives and embrace a new one. We have to opt out of a worldview of selfishness, one that promotes the death cycle.

“I’m searching for a hero … the only one who can defeat and redeem the Hulk in the same instant.” –Dr. Strange

As Rick Jones reminds us, “A hero wants justice. Not revenge.” It’s a lesson we’re all waiting for the Hulk to learn because there’s no plot beyond the Hulk coming for his list of the four conspirators. Planet Hulk’s entire raison d’etre is to be a revenge movie. Not much of a plot, per se, only a countdown to the revenge moment in which we are invited along to enjoy the ride. It’s the plot of Kill Bill … in spandex, fight scenes strung together and about as satisfying. I’m reminded of the book The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe. However, it was a one-shot compared to a drawn out 5 issue rampage. But at least you get to enjoy John Romita Jr. artwork.

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