Friday, March 5, 2010

Spotlight: World War Hulk

"World War Hulk" is a comic book crossover storyline that ran through a self titled limited series and various other titles published by Marvel Comics in 2007, featuring the Hulk.[1]

The series consists of five main issues titled World War Hulk, with Greg Pak as writer and John Romita, Jr. as penciller, and three other limited series: World War Hulk: Frontline, World War Hulk: Gamma Corps, and World War Hulk: X-Men. It also ran through several extant Marvel comics series.

The plot is the culmination of a series of events that began with the Hulk being tricked into space by the Illuminati and a life model decoy of Nick Fury, the Hulk's subsequent exile seen in Planet Hulk and his imminent return to Earth to seek revenge on the Illuminati.

Blaming The Illuminati for the explosion of a space vessel they had constructed, leading to the deaths of his wife, his unborn child and millions of inhabitants of the planet Sakaar, the Hulk and his allies, the Warbound, come to Earth intent on revenge. First stopping at the moon, the Hulk defeats Illuminatus Black Bolt (later revealed as a Skrull impostor[6]). The Hulk proceeds to Manhattan, New York City, where he demands the presence of the Illuminati and that the city be evacuated.

He travels to the nearby X-Mansion, home of the X-Men, where Illuminati member Professor X, absent from the decision to send the Hulk off-planet, admits he would have agreed to that but not to permanent exile. He offers to turn himself in to the Hulk, but the rest of the X-Men won't allow it. The Hulk defeats several teams of X-Men,[7] and battles the Juggernaut, but leaves after learning of the mutant population's heavy losses during M-Day, believing that Xavier has suffered enough.

When the Hulk returns to Manhattan, the superhuman-operative team Gamma Corps battles him, but the Hulk convinces them they follow a false cause.[8]

As the time limit for the evacuation has passed, the Hulk defeats Iron Man, destroying Stark Tower in the process,[9] and fights Ghost Rider, who after realizing the Illuminati do not deserve vengeance, rides away.[10] The Hulk and his Warbound next defeat the Avengers, Doc Samson and the Fantastic Four, including temporary members Black Panther and Storm. Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards' plan to simulate the Sentry's presence in order to calm the Hulk also fails, while Sue Storm and the U.S. President vainly attempt to have the real Sentry intervene. The Hulk attaches "obedience disks" to the defeated, imprisoned superheroes, preventing them from using their powers.[11]

After a brief battle involving Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Namora, and Angel, the Hulk defeats General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross and a U.S. Army force.[11] The Hulk then encounters Doctor Strange, breaking the sorcerer's hands in an attempt to prevent him from invoking spells. At Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Warbound members Hiroim and Elloe defeat Iron Fist, Ronin, and Echo. Strange mystically merges with a powerful old enemy, Zom, replacing his shattered hands with spiked maces, and defeats Hiroim.[12]

An imprisoned Tony Stark (Iron Man) communicates with Dum Dum Dugan, acting director of the international espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in Stark's absence. Stark reveals an emergency plan to engulf Manhattan in the Negative Zone, thereby annihilating all positive matter on the island, including the Hulk, should the heroes fail.[13]

The Hulk and the Warbound transform Madison Square Garden into a gladiatorial arena.[12] Meanwhile, he repels an assassination attempt from Scorpion,[14] and a confrontation with the Initiative,[15] He also defeats the Zom-possessed Dr. Strange and the demonic entity flees Strange to seek a new host, but after controlling Stark's Hulkbuster Armor it is defeated by the Renegades.[16] Following speeches from supporters in the arena (including Tom Foster about how Iron Man was partially responsible for the death of his uncle at the hands of the Cyborg Thor clone) and the Hulk feeding a lion to a Demon Shrike (an alien creature), the Hulk arranges for Illuminati Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Black Bolt, and Mister Fantastic to fight a tentacled alien and later each other to the death, as a cheering audience watches.[17] When the Hulk orders Mr. Fantastic to kill Iron Man, the Sentry, in response, leaves his mountainside retreat and speeds toward the arena.

The Hulk spares Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man, declaring his intention was for "justice and not murder", that nobody had to or would die,[18] and declares that he plans to destroy New York City and leave the Illuminati to their shame. The Sentry arrives and attacks the Hulk, leading to a prolonged battle that leaves them spent and in their normal human forms when Hulk delivering the final punch, thus defeating Sentry.. Warbound member Miek impales the Hulk's longtime friend Rick Jones, and reveals he intentionally allowed the mass deaths on Sakaar, knowing that they were caused by former followers of the Red King. The Hulk reverts from his Bruce Banner alter ego, and he and the Brood No-Name batter Miek in retaliation. The Hulk, overwhelmed with rage from Miek's betrayal, unwillingly begins to release energy that threatens Earth. Illuminati member Reed Richards tells the Hulk that they will try to help him this time. The Hulk responds, "I will never forgive you and will hate you forever. Almost as much as I hate myself." The Hulk asks Tony Stark to stop him before he destroys the world, and the latter activates a series of satellite devices that opens fire and eventually leaves the Hulk in his Bruce Banner form, unconscious.

S.H.I.E.L.D. later imprisons Banner in a facility three miles underground, with the other Warbound members having been taken into U.S. military custody. Meanwhile, on Sakaar, the Hulk's presumed-dead son, Skaar, arises. His story is chronicled in the sequel Skaar: Son of Hulk.

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