Planet Hulk, Art by Alex Ross
The story is a simple one that even those not into comics know. Dr. Bruce Banner, brilliant military scientist, is accidentally irradiated with Gamma Rays. Now, whenever Bruce gets mad, and he gets mad, a lot, he becomes a 7 foot tall, 7 foot wide, green hued, muscle bound monster, who wants nothing more than to be left alone. When Hulk isn't, Hulk gets angry, and when Hulk gets angry, HULK SMASH! Back in 2006, starting in The Illuminati one shot, the smartest, most powerful minds in the Marvel Universe set out to finally give the Hulk his wish. A shadowy group consisting of Tony "Iron Man" Stark, Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards, Doctor Stephen Strange, and Black Bolt King of the Inhumans, concoct a plan to shoot the afflicted and ultimately far too dangerous Banner into space (the Illuminati's final two members Professor Charles Xavier and Namor the Submariner objecting to this plan), and in doing so, set the wheels turning for Planet Hulk, a eight part miniseries that ran through the pages of Marvel's The Incredible Hulk, issues 88 through 95, written by Daniel Way and Greg Pak, chronicling the tale of the Hulk's crash landing on a planet in the middle of a civil war, and his rise from enslavement, to uniting the planet beneath his banner, as the Sakaarson! I'm not going to tell you how it ends, but considering that the events of these books lead the Hulk eventually back to Earth to kill the Illuminati in 2007's World War Hulk, you can guess the Hulk doesn't get the happy ending he deserves.
Tonight in Beverly Hills, the Paley Center for Media, in conjunction with Marvel Animation Studios and Lionsgate Entertainment, and sponsored in part by Newsarama and New York Comic Con, premiered for a lucky few, the Direct to DVD video based on this epic story. Written by Greg Johnson, based on the books, the 76 minute video tells a condensed version of the story, described by Ethan Alter of Giant Magazine as "Intergalactic action of Hulk sized proportions."
Jeph Loeb signs this Examiner's poster. I'm such a geek.
The DVD, set to drop in February of this year, will also be available in Blu-Ray, is a two-disc set chockful of all the extras we expect-- audio commentary by Johnson and supervising producer Josh Fine, a making of featurette for both the movie and the comic, music videos, an episode of Wolverine and the X-Men, and motion comics for Spider-Woman and Astonishing X-Men, plus much much more for the low low price of $19.99 for the single movie disc, $24.99 for the deluxe edition, and $29.99 for the Blu- Ray. Ok, that's the commercial. Look for it in February.
Now, for the event. The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills was originally founded in 1976 by CBS creator William S. Paley to collect, preserve, and interpret television and radio programming and to make these programs available to the public. The Paley Center is filled with friendly and knowledgeable staff who seemed a little bemused to be dealing with a throng of geeks, who could rattle off which episode Beta Ray Bill first appeared in during the Q & A, but they handled it with efficiency and class. After the viewing of the movie, the Q & A with Producer Fine, Director Frank Paur, Writer Johnson, Rick D. Wasserman the Voice Actor who played the Hulk, and Marvel Publishing superstar Jeph Loeb moderated by Blair Butler of G4's Attack of the Show, was an in depth look at the creative process as well as an interesting mix of questions from the audience spanning the gamut from the rambling (a five minute long non-question about the apparent youth of the villain) to the pseudo-intellectual (pointing out the repeated themes of betrayal) to the monetary (my own question about merchandising, I do like my toys), which the panel fielded expertly. We were given hints of what was to come for the Hulk, for animation, and for Marvel in general, and for a couple hours, we were geeks together. Even those who were dragged along with others, like my Silent Bob and Host of Stickam's World Domination Party, Steve, who said, "Even as a non-Marvel Zombie, I thought the movie was exciting and surprisingly adult. I liked when the bug's eye squished out."
And, after all, isn't that what we all want to see in a Hulk Movie?