The next time we see the Incredible Hulk in the MCU will be Thor: Ragnarok, a story he didn’t really have any part in before but is now being kinda-sorta mashed up with Planet Hulk (if the rumors are to be believed).
Planet Hulk is a particularly famous story in which the Illuminati – a collection of the Marvel Universe’s greatest eggheads – decides that the Hulk is too much of a liability to have knocking about on Earth, smashing buildings and draining Tony Stark’s bank account, so they blast him off into space.
It was supposed to be a one-way trip, landing Hulk gently on a peaceful planet where he couldn’t do any harm. Obviously watching Hulk building a campfire and raging at the sky for twelve issues wouldn’t make for a thrilling, memorable bit of hand-drawn storytelling, so he instead got pulled off-course and landed on Sakaar, a planet of gladiatorial combat, corrupt governments and super-strong alien woman in suspiciously scanty armor.
Needless to say, Hulk got up to some weird stuff during that time. Here are the 15 Craziest Things The Hulk Did in Space.
15. Becomes Best Buds with a Bug Man
Immediately upon smashing his ship in the planet Sakaar, the Hulk finds himself fighting for his life in a gladiatorial area (and one conveniently laid out exactly the same as the arenas on Earth). More on that later, but tagging along with Hulk is a merry band of misfits who are fully expected to die for the amusement of the watching Emperor and the crowd.
These individuals manage to survive due to Hulk’s incredible skill in punching things, and one of them sort of…adopts Earth’s strongest hero as his super-duper-best-buddy. That would be Miek, a member of Sakaar’s native bug race and not the strongest fighter by himself -hence why he’s seeking the protection of the big green guy with the power punches.
Not that Miek is a coward; despite being the weakest of the group, he throws himself into one conflict after another, developing a strong loyalty to Hulk and his friends while being their adorable, bug-eyed mascot. Miek is later one of Hulk’s strongest supporters in his campaign against the Red King, despite a few more bloodthirsty traits and a personal quest for revenge that sees him metamorphosing into a larger, more-heavily armoured ‘king’ version of his race (or ‘Super Miek’, if you will).
14. Almost got Turned into a Zombie
Oh, you didn’t think this was a zombie apocalypse story? Well, the ‘apocalypse’ part didn’t actually happen, but you probably shouldn’t ask the poor villagers of Sakaar who fell victim to the ‘spikes’.
Just imagine the Flood from Halo took a bite out of one of the spore-infect folks from The Last of Us, and that’s pretty much what you get: tiny, crab-like veggie-critters who burrow inside their victim and turn them into a shambling monstrosity. Thought to be an uncontrollable plague, we learn partway through Planet Hulk that the Red King controls a bunch of them that he uses to dump right on top of his enemies…and even the strongest fighters can’t last for long when their own bodies turn against them.
This very nearly happens to Hulk as he fights to defend a village against a spike invasion, though he’s powerful enough to rip out the infecting spikes before they can completely take over his body, despite everyone thinking he was totally doomed. It would seem that fire is the only way to normally remove spikes from a person, which is particularly nefarious; basically, a choice between becoming a mindless tentacle zombie, or dying to a friend blasting a flamethrower at some vital part of your body.
13. Fought Alongside a Brood
The Brood have been a consistent nuisance to a number of Marvel heroes, though they’re perhaps best known as enemies to the X-Men, whenever the X-Men go on their jaunts into space.
Because this is a comic book and thus the same seven or so alien races have to keep showing up everywhere in the universe, Hulk is forced to fight alongside a lone Brood in the arena, and they later grow to become allies and even friends.
This particular Brood tips the conception of the race on its head, despite being as generally cantankerous and keen to eat people as the rest of its race. ‘No-Name’, as she’s called by her allies, is forced to work as part of Hulk’s Warbound to survive the gladiator matches. No-Name later participates in Hulk’s revolution, becoming a trusted ally and one of Hulk’s top lieutenants. It was an alternate view of the Brood, made all the more interesting in that No-Name was initially forced to work together with the rest of the group, but later chose its own path and became a staunch follower of Hulk.
12. Became a Major Tourist Attraction
As we’ve mentioned, gladiator arenas on Sakaar work more or less the same way they do on Earth, except they have advanced technology and just force slaves to fight with swords for the lol-factor. Also, the fearsome beasts are even more fearsome, with the Emperor himself taking the stage if a particular gladiator needs to be turned into an example.
A combination of being eye-catching, stomping every single one of his challengers and managing to get away with harming the emperor eventually turn Hulk into the planet’s premier attraction. Catapulted into Maximum levels of fame, Hulk becomes known as the ‘Green Scar’, with his matches broadcast across the entire planet and weapons companies clamoring to have him represent their brand on live TV.
Hulk’s fame only grows after he survives multiple blatant attempts at assassination, such as a full-on village-destroying laser cannon being lowered into the arena to annihilate everything that lives (it does not do this). Now hailed as indestructible, it’s this fame that eventually leads people to believe that Hulk is the one to lead the revolution to overthrow the Red King. And all because the Red King himself kept trying and failing to kill the Green Scar. That’s how you play yourself.
11. Pummeled the Silver Surfer
You just can’t have a Marvel story set in deep space without the Silver Surfer knocking about somewhere, and in Planet Hulk, he’s a slave on Sakaar.
Having fallen through a wormhole that greatly diminished his cosmic powers, the Surfer was found and stuck with an obedience disk, being turned into the Red King’s secret weapon to be sicced on upstarts in the arena.
The Hulk definitely fit that description, and so the Silver Surfer is sent out to face Hulk and his Warbound, to put an end to them once and for all. It sorta works, for a few minutes, as even in a weakened state the Surfer is still a phenomenally powerful cosmic being. However, with a bit of help from his Warbound, Hulk is able to turn to tables and lay the smackdown on the Silver Surfer, smashing his obedience disk.
Not noticing that the Surfer was free, Hulk continued the beating until his former friend used his cosmic powers to shatter obedience disks all around the arena, starting the uprising and freeing Hulk and friends from being controlled. And then, as superheroes do after they’ve been punching each other, Hulk and Surfer went right back to being friends.
10. Refused a Ride Home
As previously mentioned, this was the incident that freed Hulk and company from the arena and started off his one-monster reign of terror and general alien guerrilla warfare. Having escaped into the wilderness, the group made camp and Hulk and the Silver Surfer had a chat about their future plans.
You’d think Hulk would be primed to return home so he can check his mail, fill up the electricity meter and tear out the ribcages of those who’d condemned him to space exile. The Illuminati weren’t exactly nice about blasting Hulk into space, not to mention it was their terrible spaceship that had screwed up and dumped Hulk on an unforgiving planet of tyranny and spike zombies.
And yet, Hulk chooses to stay, not even wanting to go to some other planet, preferably one with fewer spike zombies. It’s not completely clear why he turns down the ride, since he hasn’t fully committed to the idea of leading a revolution at this point, so we’re forced to draw a conclusion: Hulk has found a planet full of conflict, where he can prove once and for all that he’s the strongest there is.
9. Became a Master Strategist
The Incredible Hulk is known for a few things, among then being:
-his exquisite shade of green
-poor impulse control
-clapping so hard it creates a sonic boom
-not being all that smart
That last one is of note, since it creates a perfect contrast between the weak-yet-intelligent Bruce Banner (who we only catch the briefest glimpse of during Hulk’s foray into space) and the strong-yet-uncontrollable Hulk.
By the time of this particular storyline, however, we see a Hulk who’s perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation- not that the concept really interests him all that much- and can think ahead in a fight beyond ‘SMASH’. The incident that led to him being exiled was sort of a once-off by this point, and by the time Hulk leaves the arena and starts his revolution, we see that he’s finally giving some thought to tactics.
The Red King tries all kinds of strategies, and some of them can’t be beaten by brute force. Here we see Hulk avoiding traps, keeping his followers safe and even becoming something of a diplomat (more on that later), which just goes to show that he’s advanced into a much more dangerous character. This is still the Incredible Hulk, able to fell a skyscraper with a rogue sneeze; now he has smarts.
8. Becomes the Leader of a Revolution
Hulk’s motivations throughout the entire storyline of Planet Hulk are ambiguous, at least at first. It starts with him and the Warbound being forced to fight in the arena, progresses to Hulk being tossed to the forefront of a revolution and zig-zags until the whole thing is done and he’s ready to go back to Earth and take his revenge (for something completely different, but still).
Still, he never signed up to become an intergalactic conqueror- that takes a while to grow on him- so for at least half the story Hulk is just being swept up in the glory and power without ever really getting into it much himself. The Hulk has always been a lonely creatures who just happens to be shoved with people constantly because comics are more interesting that way, so he was never exactly cut out to be a triumphant, inspiring leader. Still, he gets handed the position and just sort of goes with it for the fun and fights (and there are plenty of both).
It’s only after a spike attack from the Red King wipes out an innocent village that Hulk actually starts taking his job as revolutionary seriously. So this story does have a hero; it just took a while for us to get to his moral center.
7. Has an Even Fight with A Woman Half His Size
Caiera is introduced as the Red King’s lieutenant, right-hand woman and one of the strongest fighters on Sakaar. She’s also just strong in general, which is why she was sent to fight the personally during his revolutionary phase. Failing to bait him out through tactics, Caiera eventually just steps right in front of Hulk, tells him her entire tragic backstory (because he’s totally the type of guy who cares, right?) and challenges him to sanctioned one-on-one combat.
Tall though she may be, Caiera is still a couple of heads shorter than the Hulk and about a quarter of his weight, so you have to admire her resolve. Possessing the ‘Old Power’, she’s able to harden her skin to make it nearly impenetrable, and on top of her strength is a peerless warrior and weapons user.
The battle tears up the surrounding area, leaving both exhausted and causing earthquakes that are felt by everyone for miles around. Unfortunately, while Caiera sells herself as paragon of nobility and justice (we’ve already seen the tragic origins, which pretty much guarantees that a character is going to end up on the right side), her boss was the complete opposite; their battle is interrupted by a tactical strike that unleashes hordes of spikes.
6. …and then Marries Her
Having learned that the Red King controls the spikes that destroyed her village, and being understandably ticked off at this reveal, Caiera turns against her former master and joins the Hulk on his crusade all the way to the capital.
After this, the former enemies eventually manage to get close. Really close. Super close. Close enough to have babies. The closest, you might say.
So yeah, they do that. Right after the Red King is toppled (i.e. punched really far away), Caiera is all set to continue her role as lieutenant to the new, Green King. The Green King has other plans, resulting in the two of them getting married and Caiera becoming the queen of Sakaar. Soon afterwards she reveals that she’s pregnant with the Hulk’s child, and the two live happily as king and queen for the rest of their lives, except of course they don’t.
Marvel wasn’t about to strand one of their premier heroes in space with a big happy family. They needed a way to get Hulk back to Earth, and after what we’re sure was a fun brainstorming session, they decided that blowing up Caiera and Hulk’s unborn child with the Illuminati spacecraft was the best way to do it.
5. Becomes the Subject of an Ancient Prophecy
Speaking of morals and diverging paths, there’s a particular prophecy existing on Sakaar at the time Hulk crashed there, stating that the ‘Sakaarson’ would one day save the planet from…something. Who made the prophecy, and what does it mean? Jury’s out on that one, but like all good prophecies it designates a hallowed chosen one, and is also up to a bit of interpretation.
It also describes the ‘World Breaker’, who’d come to destroy instead of save. Initially thought to be the Red King (he ‘saved’ his people from the spikes), popular attention pretty quickly shifts to Hulk after he becomes a planet-wide celebrity and manages to defy the local tyrannical empire.
And sure, Hulk goes through with the first part of the prophecy, toppling the Red King and generally making things a whole lot better. And then the Illuminati ship’s warp core explodes, killing millions of people and wiping out the capital city. This leads to the planet being in a weakened state, and a chain of events results in it being destroyed by Galactus, that old chestnut.
So, was Hulk the Sakaarson? Saviour or World Breaker? The prophecy is vague enough that it could go either way. However, it could be said that Hulk was both, saving the world and then dooming it soon afterwards, even if it wasn’t exactly his fault.
4. Waters Some Plants
This may sound like a minor note- and it probably is- but there was another factor to Hulk becoming enormously, planet-wide popular, and that was his alien biology.
On Hulk’s end, this served him pretty well; he was able to absorb the ambient radiation (or good ol’ gamma rays) of Sakaar, making him far stronger than he was previously. It happened over time, but by the point at which he decided to return home on his intergalactic revenge tour, he was far more powerful, and it would definitely show. Bear in mind that the Incredible Hulk could already pick up a skyscraper and use it as a pool cue if he was sufficiently enraged, so him becoming even stronger was a terrifying concept to his enemies.
As a side effect, his blood was also of interest to the people pf Sakaar. Formerly a barren world with a harsh climate, those tending to the arena after the gladiator battles were quick to realize that the Hulk’s spilled blood caused plants to sprout from the ground. This only solidified his reputation as the Sakaarson, as it’s pretty hard to look at a person literally bringing life back into your planet and not see him as the prophesied chosen one.
3. Overthrows a Corrupt Government
Planet Hulk has its climax as Hulk leads a raid on the Red King’s capital, alongside his Warbound bro-squad, Caiera and the forces of revolution.
Previously, Hulk faced of against the Red King in the arena and managed to scar his face before the fight was brought to a halt. Once the group manage to fight their way to the centre, Hulk faces the Red King once more, decked out in his bulky power armour and armed with a flaming sword. It’s a pretty impressive ensemble that includes missiles and flamethrowers, and it did the job just fine last time.
Unfortunately for him, Hulk has spent a good few weeks or so absorbing the planet’s radiation, and is now far stronger. The Red King proves himself to be the sorest of losers when he tries to trigger massive earthquakes and kill everyone on the planet (that is, his own planet) rather than lose the fight, but even this plan fails, and he gets smacked right into a bunch of angry, mechanical wild animals that his administration really should’ve sorted out a long time ago.
2. Actually Does a Pretty Good Job as King
He becomes king, obviously. Despite having some mixed feelings about whether he wants to save Sakaar or reduce it to rubble, Hulk chooses the first option and is crowned the new king, with Caiera as his wife as queen.
It’s an odd step up for a character mostly know for punching and getting extremely angry, but you know what? He does a pretty good job of things, for a time at least. We see pretty clearly from the Red King’s rule that he was cataclysmically awful at his job, not giving two stuffs about his citizens, letting Sakaar rot, leaving outlying villages and towns to die to the harsh wilderness and caring a lot more about amusing himself with gory arena deaths than…well, doing literally any part of his job.
Once Hulk and Caiera take the reins, they immediately set about bringing Sakaar together once more, quelling conflicts and generally fixing a world that had been long broken and ruled by a royal jerk. Sounds like the perfect recipe for Hulk settling down for a while, having a family, finally getting a bit of peace from all the fighting. He even erects the spaceship that brought him to Sakaar as a monument in the middle of the capital city. And we all know how THAT turned out…
1. Led an Ironic Invasion of Earth
Yep, a very big explosion.
The warp core of the ship explodes for reasons unknown, utterly annihilating the capital city, killing Caiera despite Hulk’s attempts to shield her, and claiming the lives of millions of people. Hulk quickly comes to the conclusion that the Avengers, and more specifically the Illuminati, need to pay for their mistake, both in tricking him into an unplanned space voyage and blowing up the love of his life. And so, Warbound in tow, he departs to invade Earth, beginning the World War Hulk storyline.
Now far stronger due to all that delicious extra-terrestrial radiation, Hulk has a few other things on his side as he invades his former home planet: he’s just missed the Civil War, which left the superhero community divided and fragmented. Also just passed was M-day, which removed a significant portion of the world’s mutants and left panic and confusion in its wake. After this, Hulk doesn’t have too much trouble pummelling most of his enemies into submission, going on a rampaging quest for revenge that has him committing extreme actions such as trying to destroy New York (y’know, like most common criminals).
Hulk does eventually make it back to space, where his son has been having his own angsty adventures back on Sakaar. That, however… is another story.