The next monumental comic event has been turned into a prose novel. Joining the other long line of Marvel prose novels, Greg Pak is releasing his adaptation of Planet Hulk this week. Is it good?
Comic adapted prose novels are becoming more and more popular these days and while some comic fans can’t make the transition, other readers are celebrating their favorite stories within a new literary medium. These prose adaptations have also been bringing in new readers to the genre, acting as a gateway to superhero literature. The first time I experienced Batman’s Knightfall story was through Dennis O’Neil’s novelization. Similarly, this Planet Hulk prose was my first time reading the story, but to see how closely they stuck to the source, I also checked out the graphic novel to compare the two.
I don’t think I have to preface this infamous storyline, but it wouldn’t be an adequate review if I didn’t cover my bases. Planet Hulk is one of the most notable Hulk storylines in the character’s recent history, written by Greg Pak in 2006. The story surrounds the decision by the other notable heroes to send Bruce Banner to a different planet for Earth’s safety. Unfortunately for Hulk, he lands on a planet in which he is subjected to a gladiatorial combat. The story depicts Hulk’s quest to survive the arena, ascend to power, and exact his revenge on Earth’s greatest heroes that scorned him. This story is particularly important right now because it will play a major role within Marvel’s next film, Thor: Ragnarok.
The prose novel works out to be 304 pages, but the book dimensions are smaller than average (6.7 x 8.5 inches). Every issue from the original graphic novel is structured as a chapter within the prose novel and is roughly the same amount of pages as the original graphic novel. However the main, and obvious, difference between the two works is that the prose novel is able to incorporate vastly more details into the story than the graphic novel. Now granted, many of those additional details are dedicated to painting the picture of the scenes and emotions of the characters which already portrayed in the comics by the artist. However, Pak goes above and beyond by including supplementary, but necessary descriptions and internal character monologues that enhance the story.
Without the restriction of panels and page counts, Pak can paint a better image with words than he did within the visual medium of comics. While the novel doesn’t deviate from the original storyline, Pak is able to depict much more than what’s featured in the comic. The first obvious example I observed was when the Governor, who had brought the Hulk to the arena, began debating internally how to confront the emperor after being cut in combat. Pak dedicates half a page to the Governor thoughtfully playing out potential comments and how they’d be interpreted, terrified of saying the wrong thing which would end in his execution. I was actually disappointed to find that the graphic novel only depicted the Governor stating his opinion and then quickly moving on. There are various other scenes in the comic that, after reading the prose, frankly seemed bland in comparison.
However, there are times when the story reads a little too scripted which is understandable considering Pak is converting a previously established work. The novel sometimes reads as a list of developments rather than naturally occurring events, but Pak is usually quick to correct this and it doesn’t last that long. While it’s packed with extra content, you just don’t receive the same thrill from a book than when you turn the page of a comic and see a two page splash of Hulk demolishing enemies within an arena.
Is It Good?
Within this upcoming line of Marvel prose, Planet Hulk stands to be one of the most anticipated novels, especially in light of the storyline’s inclusion in Thor: Ragnarok. Even though you don’t get some of the amazing visuals in the original work, Pak is able to overcome the lack of artwork and create a detailed and entertaining story that can be enjoyed by new readers and fans of the original graphic novel.