Sing It With Me, Kids: "I've Got You...Under My Skin..." (Incredible Hulks #624, Reviewed)

When last we left our intrepid Green Goliath, he was accompanying his Warbound on a trip to the Savage Land, where the races of Sakaar had petitioned its leader, Ka-Zar, for asylum. Someone's been killing the remaining Imperials, hence the jungle king's request for the Hulk and his companions. Only problem is, ever since the Hulk had a run-in with the Olympian Skyfather, he hasn't quite been himself, and so now he finds himself kidnapped, apart from his Warbound brethren, and held captive by the Warbound member who betrayed them all: Miek, the Unhived!

The Incredible Hulks #624
"Planet Savage," Chapter Two

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Dale Eaglesham & Drew Hennessy
Colorist: Dean White
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Production: Irene Lee
Assistant Editor: John Denning
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It occurred to me the other day as I was reading the preview pages to this issue that, for as long as writer Greg Pak has been chronicling the Hulk's adventures, he's never been alone. From that first moment he set foot on Sakaar, the Hulk always had someone to fight beside--first, the fighting unit that has come to be known as the Warbound, up through the end of World War Hulk; then, the de-powered Banner palled around with Skaar, A-Bomb, and the Warbound; and finally, the Hulk joined up with his extended family in an iteration where Marvel saw fit to re-title the book. Even Skaar wasn't alone in his own title, having Old Sam, Princess Omaka, and Hiro-Kala hanging around. This persistent new status quo flies in the face of years of adventures where the Hulk was a solo act who'd only occasionally team up with other superbeings. Perhaps it's ironic I discover this fact as we wind down the plural phase of this title (which, let's face it, is kind of off-putting; after all, there should only be one Hulk).

This storyline marks the long-awaited return of Miek to the title as antagonist, after his development in "Planet Hulk" and his downfall in World War Hulk, plus tales of his subsequent incarceration by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Warbound limited series. Freed by the Chaos King in Chaos War #4, he escaped to find the remaining aliens who traveled with the Hulk to Earth, following up on many a loose plot thread from the crossover event of some four (!) years past. Make no mistake, Miek has been developed, since early in the "Planet Hulk" story, to assume the role of the Hulk's dark opposite, from his metamorphosis to "King Miek" to his twisting the Hulk's maxim to "never stop making them pay," to standing by and letting Imperials plant a bomb on the ship that brought Hulk to Sakaar and ensuring the brute would mistakenly blame the murder of millions on those who exiled him. Miek was so hung up on the death of his race's last queen, striking up a fatalist point of view, Machiavellian in execution, that everything must die in order for the next great thing to exist. Justifiably, the Hulk blames Miek for the murder of his wife, Caiera, as he must absolve himself of his own guilt in (mis)guiding the little bug to seek vengeance against his oppressors. He couldn't know Miek was more screwed up than he himself could ever hope to be.

In this issue, readers discover a bit more of the "big plan"--and by big plan, I mean Pak's as well as Miek's. "Planet Savage" is clearly the reason that Zeus kicked the living crud out of the Hulk two issues back, as without the Hulk at reduced physical and recuperative powers, Miek's plan would never, ever work. I'm not sure what to make of the plan--after all, given a certain context, it's about as oddly homoerotic as it is...well, just plain odd. (It doesn't get any clearer than the fades between a hallucinated bedroom encounter between Hulk and Red She-Hulk, and the reality of Miek whispering not-so-sweet nothings in the Hulk's ear.) True, certain answers are left ambiguous, but the bottom line is that Miek is raising a legion of monstrous insects using Imperials as hosts, calling this legion his "New Sakaar." The question, posed by No-Name of the Brood in the issue, becomes "Can the Hulk's healing power come back quickly enough to prevent the unthinkable?" And, although I'm sure it will, I'll admit a measure of disgust with the storyline as it's developed in this issue. The fact that Ka-Zar and the rest of the Warbound are perpetually in a "find the Hulk" mode this issue, chasing after their weakened friend, underscores that this arc represents the Hulk at his lowest point--having failed Miek, failed the Imperials who needed a home in the wake of his war, failed his family during the "God Smash" storyline, and failed himself. I guess the best part about this issue is, there's only one way to go from here, and that's up.

I don't mean to sound so cynical, so I'll interject some thoughts about the issue's actual strengths. Just as in the last issue, Dale Eaglesham and Drew Hennessy come on strong as the art team, with the only real misstep being Miek's hideous simplified redesign. It's obvious the character's new look came after Eaglesham drew this issue's cover, which still features the sinister-as-ever original look for King Miek. Otherwise, the monsters are appropriately disgusting, the battle scenes intense, the softer moments sensual, and the emotional moments sufficiently powerful. Dean White's colors amplify the gravity of the storyline all around. If I can say one truly good thing about this arc, it's that it sure looks pretty.

For the second issue of a three-part storyline, this section of "Planet Savage" really is a soft middle, with the Hulk left in a similar position at this issue's end to the last. We know a little more about Miek's plans, but it's not too far removed from what I would've guessed from the end of issue #623 after seeing the Imperials' corpses. I'm a bit flummoxed by the last two pages--I think we're dealing with a Hulk who's operating under hallucinated delusions--but next issue should make all clear. As it is, I've gone from hopeful in part one, two distressed with this second part to the storyline. Believe me when I say, I really hope there's a hell of a finish in two weeks. (And, yeah, having the Hulk operate solo for a while in the future, that wouldn't be a bad thing, either...)



  1. You know what song would really fit this issue of Incredible Hulks? Crawling by Linkin Park! Seriously, these bugs would make anyone's skin crawl. Even now I shudder at the mere thought of giant insects crawling over my flesh! Scary!!!

    Anyways, the story is good. It's very interesting to see that Miek has some sinister plans, but I can only hope we get a last impressive issue for Planet Savage. As in the previous issue, Dale Eaglesham gives us some really good art.

    Be aware, I'm still upset with Pak regarding Incredible Hulks #622. It just doesn't sit well with me that Hulk intentionally didn't fight back, sacrificed himself to the gods by surpressing his anger and allowing Zeus to beat him to a pulp, and then get his request denied and then chained to a rock to be eaten by buzzards for 3 days! I can only hope when Hulk does confront Zeus again, that Hulk will beat him within an inch of his immortal life, for the Sky-Father is too arrogant for his own good.

    Which I think a showdown with Zeus will happen, for I truly believe that these events will make Hulk stronger and more powerful. Because if you recall Planet Hulk, he was weakened, but when he came back to Earth for revenge, Hulk was more powerful than ever! I only hope that Planet Savage is the first step, for I want Hulk to take Zeus and the other gods down!

    Anyways, great review, Gary!

  2. Hi Gary,

    Another bang up job as always. The points that you have made do mirror my own. In one of the blurbs I have read it mentions that Miek is woking with another villain. I think that it could be a returning Gremlin.

    What do you think?

    Also, what do you think of the new upcoming Skaar in the Savage Land mini series that is due?

    Kindest regards!

    PS Has Jeff Parker or Joe Ward contacted you at all?

  3. PS I will be seeing the very beautiful and talented former Bond girl Britt Ekland in two weeks time.

    Any message for the young lady?

  4. Britt Ekland? Wow! I do remember her as Mary Goodnight from "The Man With the Golden Gun" and of course also from the cult horror film "The Wicker Man." Apparently she also provided the whispers in French at the end of Rod Stewart's song "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)." And she was Lara in the 1980s syndicated Superboy TV show!

    Thanks for the kind words on my review. I'm calling 'em as I see 'em, and though I still regard Greg Pak very highly among Hulk writers, well, this wasn't one of his finest moments. Or maybe it's all part of the plan. What I do know is I would give my eyeteeth for a good SOLO Hulk story today!


  5. I wouldn't say it wasn't true Gary,

    Regarding Britt, I will be going to the memorabilia event on the Saturday 26th March. See link :-


    We also have Dirk Benedict (the original Face from the A-Team) has well as a slew of other famous faces (No pun intended!). See link :-


    PS Yours truly will be celebrating my B'day in afew days time. I will be a little bit older and I hope a little bit wiser!

    I hope I survive it!

    Kindest regards!


  6. Great review Gary!!! Love your Blog,altough I must admit I only read your Hulk comics reviews...loll.
    I agree with everything you said about the book.When I first started to read your column,couple months ago, I thought you couldnt say a bad thing about Greg Pak's stories... But like you say, you call them llike you see them and I too, have notice some Weakness in Pak's recent storytelling.He is still my favorite writer at the moment but I think he must get out of his comfort Zone as far as the Hulk character is concern.

    Also on a personal note, I'd like to read stories of the Hulk where he is more angry at the world than he presently seems to be ( I think Hulk ATM is too accepting of his role
    of ""Monster").Also, the Hulk/Banner visceral hate of each
    other needs to come back.

    On a positive note, I did enjoy, even if it was an hallucination, the tender scenes with Red She-Hulk and think this relation could be explore further... Gravage Hulk IMO will always need a love interest, it is what keep in check his Dark Side...

    Again Gary, fantastic blog and articles,I visit your site everyday in hope of reading new Hulk stuff...Long Live Delusional honesty!!!

  7. Gary, your idea that the events with Zeus in the last storyline are tied in these last two issues is interesting. Did Pak himself say this somewhere? Or this speculation?

    By the way, great review.

  8. Zeno, great seeing you around as always. Greg Pak hasn't said anything about any connection, but I think it's obvious that Miek is underestimating the Hulk's healing abilities on any other day--probably more used to how he saw him react to the Spikes on Sakaar. Of course, his plan would only seem to work if the Hulk were operating in a diminished capacity, and his return being in the wake of one of the most catastrophic defeats the Hulk has ever had certainly qualifies as such.

    Pure speculation, your honor!


  9. Gary,did you read my earlier post and look at the link about El Dorado? This device does look like the Sacred Flame. Those chains in this current issue also look like the metal objects Tyrannus used on the men in 241. He may also be Betty's new boyfriend. The solicts say it is one of the Hulk's "oldest foes". And he's shown interest in his first appearance and she was angry at Bruce's treatment of him in a Peter David annual. It was in annual 17 or 18.


I can never tell if two comments from "Anonymous" are really by the same person, so please, especially if I know you from other websites, leave a name or alias or something! Thanks!