The Hulk had one of my favourite story arcs of the past 10 years in Planet Hulk. The principle wasn’t complicated, the heroes of Earth decided that the Hulk could no longer be trusted therefore the best solution was sending him against his will on a peaceful planet where he could no longer harm Earth. Of course, something went wrong and Hulk’s ship instead landed on the barbarian planet known as Sakaar. What we got as a result was an entertaining “gladiator” style adventure with a love story at the end. When the Hulk finally found peace, it lasted all of 10 minutes before his ship exploded killing most of the planet’s population including his new wife Caeira. To make a long story short, this is what caused the events of World War Hulk to happen. A few months after that, the Hulk’s son Skaar also came to Earth to kill his father.
Now I really liked Skaar’s character, his own series was pretty well done. The problem I had with this was that I never saw a reason why Skaar would be mad at his father. For me, it was just some non-sense excuse to put these characters into a fight. I’m not here to talk about those comics however. What I want to do is give my thoughts on the more recent Dark Son storyline which spawned in the pages of The Incredible Hulk(s) 612-617. This time, Hulk’s other son Hiro-Kala plans to destroy Earth because it is apparently the last planet in the universe to contain some Old Power. I will talk a bit more about this later on, first I want to concentrate on the positives of these books.
Like I said before, I never bought that Skaar would have a grudge against his father. It’s nice to finally see the father-son relationship in these books. Although the Hulk still has issues, Bruce Banner and Skaar are getting along fine now and it’s nice to see Skaar finally having a father. For the majority of the book, Skaar reverts to his “human” form and acts like a kid. That’s exactly what he should have been doing in the earlier books. Skaar is probably not even 2 years old in marvel time by now, he should be fooling around and learning. In these issues he is doing just that. We finally get more out of Skaar then a mindless Hulk smashing everything in sight for no reason whatsoever.
After that, it gets ugly. I did enjoy the relationship between Bruce Banner and the recently revived Betty Ross. But there were parts of it that I wasn’t buying. It seems like they would take their time to catch up and talk. Instead, Bruce rushes Betty into putting her ring back which pushes Betty away and turns her back into the red She-Hulk for most of the books. Also, the Hulk was madly in love with Caeira during Planet Hulk. Since then, these feelings have been completely ignored. I would normally blame that on different writers, but here, Pak has been writing these books since. I don’t know what the deal is, he should still be heart broken. We know that Bruce loved her too as he showed himself to Caeira for a brief time on Sakaar.
There’s also a brief moment in the book where the Hulk meets the Axe-Man. This part completely ignored continuity. The Axe-Man was the main protagonist during Planet Hulk. He was killed by the Hulk at the end. We then learn during the Skaar books that he was revived. None the less, the Hulk doesn’t know that! Not only that, but in this book, he doesn’t even acknowledge his presence. He clearly sees him yet doesn’t even mention anything. If there’s one guy he should be angry at, it’s that guy! He’s the one that captured the Hulk and slaved him when he first landed on Skaar. He’s the one who forced him to fight in the arena. Heck, he even enslaved Hulk’s former wife Caeira and even killed her parents when she was younger. It was one of the biggest let-downs. Pak, who has been writing these books all along, either completely forgot about this well known fact, or just brushed it aside.
Another thing that I hate with this storyline is the Hiro-Kala character as a whole. I’ve been a huge fan of magic for one simple reason. Magic allows the writer to be as lazy as he wants. He doesn’t have to explain nothing, he doesn’t have to try and make sense. Hey, it’s magic! You can write any thing you want when you use mystical powers. What makes comics interesting is the fact that often, the science (with an exception here and there) and physics are plausible. That’s what makes these stories fun. That’s why we love science-fiction. With magic, you can throw that all out of the window. That;s why I’ve been a huge fan of the Old Power. That power seems to be able to do anything now. That kid is now a god.
Which brings me to my other point. Hiro-Kala is not a nice person. He makes Hitler look like Jesus. In his short career, his death ratio is already well over 6 billion victims. I understand that his still the Hulk’s son but honestly, I really doubt anyone would feel much empathy towards someone like that. I know that the Hulk wasn’t aware of his existance. Still, the first time he sees Hiro-Kala, Hiro proceeds to killing innocent children to provoke him. Yet, the Hulk spends the majority of the fight trying to “save” Hiro. I know this is comics, and murderers often become heroes in short spams. People forget easily in comics. Still, do you think possible that someone who killed billions of people could change? I don’t. Skaar didn’t. Yet the Hulk was willing to risk Earth’s destruction in order to “save” a son he didn’t know existed hours ago. I call BS on this one.
There is also one other case of classic comic stupidity. Like I mention to most of my non-comic book friends, when superheroes meet, they fight. They don’t talk or get a beer, instead, they opt for fist fights. The scenario is simple here. The Hulk clan want to do this mission alone because they believe it would be too dangerous for the other heroes. There are a few other reasons (The Hulk fears for Hiro’s safety) but it’s more or less why they want to go alone. Instead of simply explaining this to the Avengers, they proceed to kick there asses. I’m tired of this. This happens all the time. Stop this. Thank You.
To conclude, Dark Son was not necessarily a waste of time as it had its moments. But for the most part, what we got here was bad writing mixed with some old outdated storytelling. This is the 3rd time a Hulk tries to invade Earth in the last 5 years. We get it. Plus for such a powerful character, in the end, Hiro-Kala barely scratched the Hulk and Skaar. Hopefully, this series can get back to the same level of quality found in Planet Hulk soon. Right now, it’s nothing more then mindless fighting with tons of non-sense added in for good measure.