|PLANET HULK No. 1, July 2015|
Despite Senior Editor Mark Paniccia’s back page assurances to the contrary, it is very easy to believe that many of this “Secret Wars” tie-in title’s 72,868 readers in May 2015 thought “Planet Hulk” was going to be little more than a dissatisfyingly goofy magazine whose only real selling points were “perhaps the greatest Marvel Team-Up yet” of Captain America and Devil Dinosaur, and the fact that the storyline was set upon a “Battleworld” island which was populated by numerous incarnations of Doctor Bruce Banner’s famous green-hued alter ego. For whilst Sam Humphries’ actual narrative concerns a rather serious assassination mission by Steve Rogers in order to save the life of his long-time friend Bucky Barnes, the tales’s cringingly-corny place names, such as Gamma Lake, She-Hulk Shore, Port Banner and Barrens of the Tribal Hulks are at best uninspiring.
Fortunately however, once the Minneapolis-born writer’s script moves beyond the shield-carrying Killiseum gladiator’s victory over “the Wolverine clan”, and the Captain’s subsequent attempt to feed Arcade to his prehistoric partner, matters become far less “crazy-cool” and actually settle down into a somewhat enthralling adventure involving “the themes of friendship… loyalty, idealism and nobility.”
Indeed the American author’s characterisation of an especially sinister Sheriff of Agamotto, who seems to revel in the pain and anguish of the chained former living legend during a tense scene set within “the heart of Doomstadt”, is particularly well-penned. Especially when events within the “Secret Wars” mini-series itself reveal that Stephen Strange knows very well who his captive formerly was before Earth-1610 and Earth-616 collided and yet still appears to smirk and evilly grin as the scarred ‘super-soldier’ is forced to bow before Doctor Doom in humble obedience; “The people love to see you fight. But they will love another. You breath now only by the grace of Doom. Since the day of your birth, you have owed your life to Doom.”
Marc Laming’s artwork is also rather pleasing to the eye, most notably his wonderful illustrations of Jack Kirby’s red reptile, even if some of the Englishman’s actual layouts, such as when Devil Dinosaur supposedly ‘gulps up’ Arcade and Captain America, don’t necessarily clearly convey what’s actually happening upon the first read.
|The regular cover art of "PLANET HULK" No. 1 by Michael Del Mundo|