Green Days: A Hulk Fan Blog

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Review- Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook

Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook
By Anthony Flamini, Greg Pak, and various artists
$3.99 US

I usually don’t go in for guidebooks, handbooks, “secret files,” or whatever you want to call them. I enjoyed the 1980's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe when they first came out, but have since regretted the fact that the things ever saw the light of day. I think the idea of cataloguing the specifics of super-heroes and super-villains has led to an RPG-mentality among comics readers (evidenced by the ka-zillion message board posts across the net devoted to answering the all-important question of whether or not Drax-with-a-power-gem can defeat Thanos-with-a-kazoo) that judges comics not by artistic or storytelling ability, but by whether or not Spider-Man should have been allowed to beat up Firelord. And the Marvel handbooks of recent years haven’t even had the advantage of being pleasing to the eye. While the old OHOTMU featured numerous panels borrowed from comics in which the profiled characters appeared, such snapshots have been rare in the more recent volumes, and usually they’re poorly cropped and only included to fill space.

Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook is a cut above the rest, and the reason is that the goal isn’t to chronicle the events any reader could find just by reading the comics on which the guidebook is based, or the cataloguing of power limits.

True to its name, PH: GG pretends to be an annual guidebook for audiences of Sakaar’s gladiator games. The guidebooks gives readers a surprisingly intricate history of Sakaar, its people, its geography, its wildlife, and the surrounding star system. A prime example of the guide’s thoroughness is an entire page dedicated to Ronan Kaifi, a character who lived and died in about two or three panels of Hulk #93. It includes three beautiful double-page maps – drawn by Jim Calafiore*** – of the Tayo Star System, Sakaar, and the Crown City. It’s a testament to how far Pak and co. went to create a believable and engaging setting for “Planet Hulk,” and it also provides ammunition for my desire for the green guy to NOT return to Earth for vengeance after the conclusion of “Planet Hulk,” but to remain among the stars and have more epic adventures. I even found myself thinking, while reading about specific historical events or characters, that those stories on their own could become cool mini-series.

***While I can’t provide a link to confirm this, I believe I recall an interview in which Calafiore claimed the Hulk was one of his favorite subjects to draw. I don’t think he’s ever been a regular Hulk artist, but he did a wonderful job drawing the character for guest appearances in Black Panther and Exiles (and perhaps others I don’t know about).

The history that Flamini and Pak outline is both believable and interesting, as are the scientific explanations for much of the technology, physiology, etc. (of course, this is coming from someone who knows as much about science as Jerry Bruckheimer knows about subtlety). At 48 pages, PH: GG includes a hell of a lot more extra info than I was expecting, and the info proved engaging enough that I read it all the way through without a break, despite the two tpbs I had bought and was waiting to crack open (Rocketo and Silent Dragon, for anyone who cares).

For the first time since I started reviewing parts of “Planet Hulk,” I do have to admit to some disappointments, though most of my complaints have to do with the formatting of the book rather than information contained within.

For example, while the aforementioned double-page maps already put PH: GG a few notches above any of Marvel’s recent handbooks as far as new art is concerned, most of the art is pulled directly from “Planet Hulk” issues (I only spotted one piece that may be new or may be from a future issue – a pic of the Death’s Heads fighting the Devil Corkers on pg. 27). Of course, this is to be expected and usually isn’t a problem, but it’s regrettable that more new pictures couldn’t have been commissioned, particularly for the “Wildlife” and “Wildebot” sections. There a number of pictures in the “Wildlife” section where you really have to squint to even figure out where the wildlife in question is hiding, and the pic included in the “Wildebot” section features the Imperials running from the wildebot more prominently than the wildebot itself.

It may just be that my eyesight is failing and I need some glasses, but the white lettering on the black background gave me some trouble. Also, the font size changes often to suit the formatting, and in particular a lot of the profiles for the warbound gladiators got really, really tiny. I was blinking and rubbing my eyes a lot while reading PH: GG.

This isn’t so much a complaint, but I think it would’ve been cool if the formatting of PH: GG more strongly suggested the idea that it was something produced on Sakaar rather than a handbook for comics readers. Admittedly, this might have been difficult, particularly when trying to keep the cost of the book reasonable. The only really successful example of something like this I’ve seen is the Astro City Visitor’s Guide that came out right before Astro City: The Dark Age.

As far as the information contained within PH: GG, most of it is consistent, but there is one itty, bitty thing that’s been bugging me. “Planet Hulk,” we find out in the intro of the guidebook, is set in the Sakaarian year 566 Post. The guidebook stays true to the idea that the time between the creation of the Fantastic Four to today equals about 10 “Earth” years. In Hulk’s profile, for example, it says that Bruce Banner became the Hulk 10 Earth years ago. Likewise, in Korg’s profile, it says he fought Thor 10 Earth years ago. But, using the Sakaarian designation for years, Korg’s profile says he landed on Sakaar in 464 Post. Since “Planet Hulk” begins in 566 Post, that means either A) Earth years are 10 times as long as Sakaarian years or, B) going through the Great Portal causes some kind of time shift or, C) someone made a boo-boo. If the answer is A, then it might have been a good idea to work in an explanation of the difference between Earth and Sakaarian years. If the answer is B, then that opens up some interesting possibilities concerning if/when Hulk returns to Earth. If the answer is C, then, whoops.

In spite of its faults, Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook is certainly one of the best handbooks this Hulkling has come across. It lives up to Anthony Flamini’s comparsion – made during a brief interview in Giant-Size Hulk #1 – to the appendices found at the end of The Lord of the Rings. The info contained isn’t essential to understand or enjoy “Planet Hulk,” but it adds a historical flavor to the epic that will make it that much harder to say goodbye when it concludes next year.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Linkage- Preview pics and artist interviews

Over at Hulk News, Nate's posted three unlettered pages from Incredible Hulk #97.

Incredible Hulk: Engine of Destruction's Stephen Yarish has interviews with "Planet Hulk" artists Aaron Lopresti and Carlo Pagulayan.

Look for a review of Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook here at Green Days sometime tomorrow.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A little helping o' Hulk funny

Jim Starlin had a Q & A over at Newsarama, during which he answered questions from fans submitted earlier in the week.

One questioner, going by the title "Eldritch," jokingly asked "Who would win in a fight between Batman and Captain America?"

Starlin's response:

Who would win in a fight between Batman and Captain America? The Hulk.

Damn straight, True Believer.

Eat that with your butt.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dear Marvel, this is Mick's Wish List for The Incredible Hulk

So, apparently Marvel’s new movie production company is going to be making The Incredible Hulk. The film will be, in Avi Arad’s words, a "do-over." Like Batman Begins, we’ll get a new origin and presumably a new cast, rather than a sequel.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. While Batman Begins succeeded at the box office, this isn’t the same situation. Batman and Robin was a horrific failure, and Begins raked in the dough in spite of it, but movie-goers had 8 years to forget Schumacher's failure as well as the three worthier films before it. On the screen, Hulk has only had Hulk, and disappointed audiences may not be willing to give the Green Goliath the same benefit of the doubt they gave the Dark Knight, particularly if Marvel doesn’t give them enough time to forget and forgive.

For the record, I enjoyed Hulk, and appreciated what Ang Lee was trying to do, though I do think the film could’ve been better. No matter how much I liked it though, that doesn’t mean I’ve ignored the less-than-favorable reaction from others.

It’s way too early to speculate what’s going to happen, what direction the film will take, who will direct, whether the Hulk will be CG or a guy-in-a-suit, etc. Zak Penn (The Fantastic Four, X2, X-men 3) has been named as writer, and that’s just about the most solid news that’s come out so far. Considering this new movie production arm of Marvel is untested, I’m not entirely convinced the thing will even get made.

Regardless, I thought I’d make a little wish list for the (hopefully?) upcoming film.


I apologize that I don’t have a link to the quote, but I did read that Penn has said a lot of the story will be inspired by Bruce Jones’s run on the comic.

Dear Marvel, please send Mr. Penn some comics in which the Hulk actually appears.


No guy-in-a-suit. Please God, no guy-in-a-suit. Fantastic Four may have been a financial success, but ol’ Benjy wasn’t headlining the film, was he? Someone who looks like a slightly more expensive Toxic Avenger might work in a team film, but he ain’t gonna carry his own summer blockbuster.

Get Weta. Get their phone number and apologize for the comments circa-Hulk about Hulk making Gollum look like nothing. They created, through motion-capture and animation, a major character that helped to enrich the flavor of two two-and-a-half-hour-plus films. Get Weta. They’re freaking incredible, and they’ve got cool accents. Hell, call Andy Serkis while you’re at it.

Don’t let the director be the motion capture actor!

Watch Jackson’s King Kong. Kong vs. Dinosaurs. Watch it a lot.

Call Weta.


No disrespect to Eric Bana, but if you’re doing a reboot, you’ll need a new Bruce Banner. It’s difficult to have an opinion about Bana’s performance either way, because I feel like he wasn’t given a lot to work with. Of all of Hulk’s weaknesses, I feel the dialogue was its most glaring. It was just dead. It had no flavor. It sucked.

Now that you’re doing a "do-over," use the opportunity you missed the first time around. I read the Hulk trivia page on IMDB and it claims David Duchovny, Tom Cruise, Steve Buscemi, and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role. It honest-to-Hulk amazes me that the actor who was born to play Bruce Banner isn't mentioned on that page.

Ed Norton.

Most notably with Primal Fear and Fight Club, Norton made his name playing characters possessing extreme dual natures: the wimp and the bully. He's perfect for the role, and overall is a superb actor. I just can't think of anyone who's better suited.

Regardless, even if you don't pick Norton, do us all a favor and don't be stupid enough to allow this rumor to be true.

As for other characters, I only have advice for two.

Shortly after the release of Hulk, I believe there was a rumor going around that a sequel was in the works with Geoffrey Rush being considered for the role of The Leader. Whether or not it was true, make it true.

Now, I thought Sam Elliott was brilliant as Thunderbolt Ross, but again if this is going to be a do-over, you need to re-cast.

Gene Hackman.

He'd be perfect for the role, and it'd just be cool for the guy who played Lex Luthor to hound Marvel's resident strongman.


Just put Rick Jones in it. If there's one thing the Spider-Man films have proven, it's that channeling the chemistry of the source material's supporting characters is just as important as it is with the lead. I have no idea why Rick didn't get a place in Hulk. If I recall correctly, a poster at Alvaro's Hulk message board (sorry, I don't have a direct link) once theorized that Rick might have been kept out of Hulk in case any studios decided to adapt Captain Marvel. With both the first and second of Marvel's nega-band Captain good and dead, this seems like a pretty far-fetched possibility at this point. Unless someone decides to adapt the stories of this new Captain Marvel who's on the way, but who knows whether or not Rick will even be involved with that.

Just put Rick in it.

And keeping with the subject of the supporting cast, if you're going to put Glenn Talbot in it, do it right. Talbot was a complex and tragic character in the comic, and was often depicted as heroic despite the fact that he was unsympathetic towards Banner. He wasn't a money-grubbing, one dimensional thug. And while you're at it, give the role to an obvious choice. He's used to rejection.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Essential Defenders...Volume 2???

I was doing a little blog-surfing and found a post at Comics-and-More announcing that the blogger had found, among other things, a solicitation at Amazon for Essential Defenders, Vol. 2 with a release date of December 20, 2006.

The description says it will collect Defenders #15-#39 and Giant-Size Defenders #1-#5.

Could that be right? All FIVE Giant-Size Defenders? Pinch me, I must be stupid!

If it is correct, it will make up for a teeny-tiny disappointment. Namely that, again assuming the solicit is accurate, it won't be including Marvel Two-In-One #6-#7, which crossed over with Defenders #20.

Review- Incredible Hulk: Prelude to Planet Hulk

The Incredible Hulk: Prelude to Planet Hulk
By Daniel Way, Keu Cha, and Juan Santacruz
Published by Marvel; $13.99 US
Collects Incredible Hulk #88-#91 and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Hulk 2004

So, "Planet Hulk" has got the entire greenskin-lovin’ world feeling like they managed to locate that remote control from Click and found out where Power Girl likes to jog. Words like "best," "since," "Peter," and "David" litter not only the fan message boards but just about every other review. He may not be getting Civil War numbers, but it’s obvious Hulk’s making the kind of splash the book hasn’t made in a while.

As a regular browser and poster on a few Hulkilicious message boards here and there, I’ve seen a lot of unfamiliar "faces" on the green forums in the past few months. And a lot of them tend to ask what there is before "Planet Hulk" that they should read. So, I thought I’d take a look at the story of how Hulk got lured into the last frontier in the first place.

The story: Bruce Banner seeks solace in the Alaskan wilderness. Nick Fury finds him and enlists the reluctant scientist to use his greener side to dispose of a decades-old Hydra satellite with the capability of detonating every nuke on Earth. As soon as Hulk locks horns with the sentient machine, he finds out Fury hasn’t been completely honest with him, but he doesn’t know the half of it yet.

The name of this arc, when originally released, was "Peace In Our Time." In fact, before Marvel officially announced the creative team of Way and Cha, the trade was listed as Incredible Hulk: Peace In Our Timeat Amazon. While the decision to change the sub-title to Prelude to Planet Hulk likely had more to do with the buzz "Planet Hulk" was getting than any kind of admission of guilt, it still reflected an unintentional and surprising bit of critical honesty on Marvel’s part.

In other words, Prelude to Planet Hulk is perfectly named. It’s a prelude to something else, and that’s all it is. It’s a story that could easily have been squeezed into one or two issues, and it leaves the reader feeling that the editorial direction Way received amounted to little more than "Please fill space." The only noteworthy thing about it is that at the end the Hulk gets kicked out of the classroom, Major-Tom-Style.

Way has leaned towards so-called "decompressed" storytelling in the past, and in some cases it’s worked well. Unfortunately, Prelude isn’t the right story for this particular style. In series like Venom and Sabretooth, which both featured predator-and-prey stories with strong sci-fi thriller flavor, the pacing helped to build suspense. In Prelude, Way keeps the same pace but the suspense just isn’t there. Much like Bruce Jones's first issue of Hulk, the first chapter of Prelude does nothing but let us know Banner has isolated himself from society, while giving us a brief tussle between Hulk and some unimpressive thugs. The art from both Cha and Santacruz seems stiff and ill-suited to action sequences.

There really isn't much left to say. It's boring and slow and really not worth your money. The trade also collects Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Hulk 2004, and I've never enjoyed handbooks, so I didn't even bother to read it. I am intending on picking up the Planet Hulk Gladiator Guidebook, though that does seem to do something the other handbooks don't. It offers info that you couldn't get otherwise and that isn't essential to understanding the story, while most of Marvel's guidebooks just compile info that any reader could know had they read the issues. No disrespect meant to the folks who put the handbook together, it's just not my cup o' tea.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Review- The Incredible Hulk #96

The Incredible Hulk #96
By Greg Pak and Aaron Lopresti
Published by Marvel; $2.99 US

The first installment of "Planet Hulk: Anarchy" brings with it the opening shots of the military conflict between the Red King’s forces and those of Hulk and his warbound gladiators, a revelation about Miek’s past, and new penciler Aaron Lopresti.

Right up front I’ve got to give props to Lopresti for maintaining a stylistic unity between his work and Pagulayan’s (who, unless I’m mistaken, will be returning for the third arc). There are visible differences, obviously. For example, the Hulk looks just a little less rugged than he did during "Exile." But for the most part Lopresti has given us a seamless transition, something I imagine could give a kick to the ego for someone working in any kind of visual medium.

The supporting cast takes the starring role in "Anarchy, Part 1." Hulk, in fact, only has about a half-dozen lines of dialogue. Though his presence is still felt and we do get some cool Hulk-smashage. Miek, in particular, takes center stage as he leads the warbound gladiators to the land where he was born (hatched?). Hiroim takes on a more prominent role as the strategic adviser of the group, and the Brood Sister is becoming one of my favorite of Hulk’s allies. Pak makes her both surprisingly empathic and utterly creepy.

I’m not going to get into the particulars of Miek’s story, because Pak handles it so well I feel like relating even the basic, non-spoiler facts could take away from a reader’s enjoyment. Suffice to say, Miek’s past leads to a conflict, and Pak fools you into thinking he’s going to give it your average "shiny happy people" Hollywood ending. Then he pulls the rug out from under you and shows why this chapter of "Planet Hulk" is called "Anarchy."

Finally, kudos for the hilarious letters page that features the Red King answering reader questions, and also what may or may not have been another light-hearted jab at Hulk’s Ultimate counterpart (hint: It’s on the first page and it has to do with Hulk’s diet).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Anyone for a little audience participation? Choose a new name for Incredible Hulk

I posted a thread like this over on CBR's Marvel Universe Board and Alvaro's Hulk Board, but I'm bored, and disappointed with no Incredible Hulk #96 to review (I forgot about the holiday, well, I didn't forget about the HOLIDAY, I forgot it would delay this week's funnybook shipment), so I thought I'd see if anyone stopping by Green Days would want to throw in their two cents about the following hypothetical.

It seems like, with their new series, rebooted series, and in some cases continuing series, DC has been either slapping sub-titles on their comic books' names or just making the names relatively long. For example:

All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder
All-New Atom
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis
Firestorm: The Nuclear Man
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive
Justice League of America
(instead of JLA)
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters

Now I've always preferred The Incredible Hulk. But if you had to choose a new, longer, different title for Hulk, what would it be?

P.S. My girlfriend is the best girlfriend a comic book geek could ask for. As I mentioned earlier, I forgot there wouldn't be any comics shipping on Wednesday. My girlfriend knew I wanted to go to my local comic shop after she got home from work. But, she wanted to spend some time with me, so she decided to surprise me. She went to the comic shop on her way back from work and bought Hulk #95, thinking it was the new issue. She looked so crushed when I (gently, and after thanking her profusely, I'm not a complete jerk) told her I already had it. My girlfriend has the warmest heart this side of the Lava Men. I'd burn all my comics for her. Yes, even Hulk.

P.P.S. I just realized it may seem confusing that I keep talking about not getting Hulk #96 even though the date of this post is Thursday. Explanation: I work an overnight shift and write 99% of my posts while I'm at my job. Yes, it is Thursday, but it's about 4:30 am. The fine employees of Earthworld would likely frown upon me trying to get into the shop for new comics right now.

Monday, July 03, 2006

News- Quesada says "Planet Hulk" will only be part of Pak's run on Hulk

According to Newsarama, during an "All Things Marvel" panel at Heroes Con, Joe Quesada said Marvel's planning on Greg Pak writing 2-3 years worth of Hulk stories, bringing his tenure well beyond the conclusion of "Planet Hulk."

That's good news for Hulk fans, like myself, who haven't been this excited to get their monthly Hulk-fix since Peter David's original run.

It also seems safe to assume that the unnamed Loeb/McGuinness Hulk project (referred to here and here) will NOT be the character's main title.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Links that make Hulk Angry- MSN Movies rate Hulk as one of the 5 worst super-hero movies

MSN movies has posted a "Best 10" and "Worst 5" list for super-hero movies. Ang Lee's Hulk is at the bottom of their "Worst 5" list.

Their detailed and insightful review of the film reads as follows:

Hulk no like Ang Lee's Freudian analysis of Hulk's rage. Make Hulk want to smash!

Using Hulk-speak to dodge actual commentary about something Hulk-related is new and original. It has not been done a thousand times before and still makes me laugh very hard every time I see it. Yes. The laughter came.

They listed X-men as the best, called Daredevil a "cult hero" (he's not David Koresh or Dr. Frank-N-Furter; so I really think a few folks at MSN Movies need to crack open a dictionary); chose Batman Returns over Batman Begins in the "Best 10" list; likewise chose Spider-Man with its Power Ranger goodness over the superior sequel; peppered its "Best 10" list with Hellboy, Spy Kids, and some damn thing called Inframan; and, while many of the "Worst 5" deserved to be on the list, they completely ignored The Return of Captain Invincible.

And with Zoom still waiting to be released, I don't think you can really claim to have any kind of comprehensive "Worst 5" super-hero movie list anyway.


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