by Sam Humphries, Marc Laming and Jordan Boyd with Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa and Rachelle Rosenberg
Okay, so Secret Wars is cranking it up and Battleworld is in full swing, what do we do next? What’s that? You want to make Captain America a brutal, efficient, killing machine in the form of a Gladiator, so to speak, and give him Devil Dinosaur as a pal? Are you out of your freaking mind?! That might be the coolest idea you’ve ever come up with! Wait… you want to… what? You want to then take these two and toss them into a waste land of gamma monsters and Hulks? I might kiss you. In all seriousness, how cool does that idea sound? Exactly, it sounds like one of the best things you’ve ever heard of and your expectations would be high, right? Well, good, because it’s absolutely safe to say that this completely pays off and works on so many amazing levels it might not be possible to list them all here.
If that came off as sarcasm, sorry, that might just be force of habit. Writer Sam Humphries, who killed on Avengers A.I., is back with another fantastic idea and, yes, it really does work on multiple, awesome levels. Whoever gave this the green light (that’s right) really deserves a pat on the back. It’s true that this reviewer was completely wrong about Secret Wars and this is just another example of that. Devil Dinosaur has been almost forgotten in recent years, so putting him into a story like this with this kind of backdrop is absolutely brilliant. Not only will it introduce new fans to this fantastic character but it also gives Marvel fans 100% more badass T-Rex’s in their comic diet. Humphries really lets loose with this premise for issue one and gives us an action packed, witty, powerful first taste to the world within a world that he’s creating.
In truth, Planet Hulk was a no brainer for the simple fact that penciler Marc Laming was, well, penciling the book. Being a fan of his for a few years now, it’s great to see this amazing artist getting big chances like this one. Right off the bat, you need to take a look at Laming’s facial work because it’s some of the absolute best in the business today. His expression, the shape, and just the overall look of them is stunningly beautiful and accurate and considering that, really, one of the most important things with comic art you can’t help but appreciate and applaud his dedication and skill. Aside from being the Master of Faces, Laming slays this book with a double-edged axe when it comes to the action. His movement and choreography is spot on and absolutely brilliant to experience, plus he draws one helluva Devil Dinosaur. Not to be outdone, of course, is the work of Jordan Boyd who has teamed up with Laming in the past on other projects so, naturally, he works well with what Laming is doing on the page. Boyd is another one of those guys who’s worked extremely hard to get where he is and as a fan it’s damn great to see his name on a book of this caliber. Both Laming and Boyd, really, have produced one of the best looking comics in recent memory and if you’re on the fence for whatever reason you need to hop right off and pick up this book–even if it’s just for the art.
As a side note, because frankly backup stories tend to come off as such, the Origin of Planet Hulk was okay. Greg Pak is awesome and he was the man behind the first Planet Hulk, but it feels like this was sort of unnecessary. Sure, we’re getting more pages for the same price and this look at the origin will likely lead to other places down the line, but it might have been summed down in another issue with a few panels instead of this format. Sure, Takeshi Miyazawa’s Manga-style looks great, and it’s refreshing when you consider all the American-style comic art we get from Marvel, and Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are spot on (as always), but it’s hard not to feel like this space might have been better served with more of the main story or, again, with flashbacks within Humphries narrative as the story progresses.
Yes, Planet Hulk is another win for Marvel. Yes, Humphries, Laming and Boyd are amazing creators and should be given all due praise and adoration. Yes, Captain America is absolutely f***king badass as a Gladiator that rides Devil Dinosaur and seems to have some sort of crazy, almost telepathic connection with the beast. All this, and more, is true. If you’re tentative on Secret Wars and/or Planet Hulk for any reason, seriously, you have nothing to fear. You’re in great hands here and undoubtedly anybody can enjoy this book. And, hey, who wouldn’t want to visit the Killiseum? Sounds like a lovely place. Snoorxxx.