Review by Karl Verhoven
Few are the beings who can give the Incredible Hulk a proper battering, but Zeus is among them, and that’s exactly what he did during Chaos War. It’s rather cheating, then, to have a quick application of the electric paddles being all that’s needed to have the Hulk back to peak smashing performance.
Planet Savage combines two multi-chapter stories by Greg Pak, very different, although despite bearing the Incredible Hulks title, they largely ditch the assorted other Hulks and associates who helped out during Dark Son and Chaos War. The title story returns the Hulk’s alien allies the Warbound for a trip to the Savage Land. A few Sakaarians have settled there, but are being killed by a creature unknown to the land’s ruler Ka-Zar.
With giant alien insects, panaoramas of a land where dinosaurs still exist and the Hulk and his allies, new artist Dale Eaglesham has the opportunity to deliver something astonishing on his pages, but he never does. There’s plenty of a snarling Hulk and a gloating villain seen in close-up, but no sense of wonder beyond the power, and that’s a shame. Tom Grummett is better on the longer second story, which reprises the idea of Bruce Banner, technological genius, in a plot involving old enemy Tyrannus stealing the original Pandora’s Box from a museum. What will happen if he opens it and looses mankind’s evils on the world once again?
The emotional pull is meant to be the danger to Betty Ross, once Betty Banner, and now the Red She-Hulk. The genetic engineering of her transformation by the Leader was revealed in World War Hulks to be applied with no consideration for the person within, and Betty only has a number of transformations remaining until she’ll no longer be able to change back again. Unfortunatelt for those who care about her, she constantly repeats how much she enjoys being a She-Hulk: “This is who I am. You? You’re scared of it, but I love it”. It’s an interesting idea undermined by the obvious, which is that if she loves it, why does she revert to being Betty at all? Pak hopes we’ll ignore that. Also very convenient, although more in keeping with superhero comics, is the manifestation of Rome’s previously unknown protectors, who’ve somehow never considered any previous Marvel universe threat worth revealing themselves for. It doesn’t really matter, as they’re only cannon fodder for the Hulk anyway. The ending is one of those hardly original moments when the Hulk saves the day, but loses what really matters in doing so, and because the set-up has been clumsy and contradictory audience empathy is entirely absent.
These are two run of the mill Hulk stories, with the second continuing into Pak’s Hulk finale, Heart of the Monster.