|PLANET HULK No. 2, August 2015|
Set within the Battleworld barony of Greenland, Sam Humphries’ script for Issue Two of “Planet Hulk” seems to be far more concerned with subjecting its 47,944 strong audience to overly long speeches about survival and friendship, than exploring the deadly flora and fauna of this patchwork kingdom, and as a result proves to be something of a dissatisfying experience. In fact, apart from a frivolous four-page long flashback depicting Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes’ already evidentl close relationship, nothing of much consequence occurs to the Sentinel of Liberty, Doc Green or Devil Dinosaur for two-thirds of the comic… Except perhaps it’s made clear that the axe-wielding warrior and his green-skinned guide “to the Mud kingdom” won’t be getting along with one another all that well; “Tell your beast to back off. Or you’ll be Hulk gruel before Sundown.”
Fortunately however once the ‘travelling companions’ do begin their quest to assassinate the Red King and enter an “infernal jungle”, the Maryland-born writer finally starts to inject this decidedly lack-lustre narrative with some much needed action by having “Lord Rex” tangle with both the killer-plant “Doomicus Hulkicus Carnvoirae", and some gigantic Bull Hulks within short succession. Admittedly such absurdly named creatures do momentarily break any spell with which Humphries’ work held the reader. But their inclusion, and Captain America’s eventual ‘escape’ from the stampeding behemoths courtesy of a fast-flowing waterfall, genuinely brings this particular periodical to a pulse-pounding conclusion.
Sadly just as inconsistent as the plot to “The Path” is Marc Laming’s contribution to this publication. The “Kings Watch” artist’s pencilling is actually extremely engaging, with his interpretation of Devil Dinosaur looking every bit the lean mean killing machine many fans of Jack Kirby’s creation imagined the Tyrannosaurus Rex to be. Indeed the freelancer’s reimaging of the Incredible Hulk as the “soldier of fortune” Doc Green is also extremely well rendered, and there’s certainly plenty of dynamic energy packed into this comic’s proceedings once the fighting finally begins.
What this title does lack however is any proper pacing to the narrative. For whilst the British illustrator’s artwork is first-rate, a quarter of the book actually consists of little more than splash-pages. Something which arguably smacks of Laming dishearteningly mismanaging the flow of the story…