PLANET SKAAR: Pak talks "Savage World of Sakaar"

It's been said that death and taxes are the only certainties in life, but on the planet Sakaar, life's only certainties are death and chaos. The epic "Planet Hulk" detailed how the Hulk, having been exiled from Earth, crash landed on Sakaar and deposed it's vicious ruler, the Red King. Under the Hulk's rule, it seemed like peace might be possible on the violent planet, but when the warp core of the ship that brought the Hulk to Sakaar detonated, a massive nuclear explosion resulted, devastating the planet and killing many of its people. After the explosion, the Hulk left Sakaar to pursue his "World War Hulk" against those he thought were responsible for the destruction on Sakaar, but unbeknownst to him, the Green Goliath left something behind. During his time on Sakaar. the Hulk meant a warrior woman called Caiera the Oldstrong who became pregnant with his child. The Hulk believed his unborn son died in the same warp core explosion that claimed Caiera's life.

The Hulk's child survived and his angry adventures are depicted in "Skaar: Son of Hulk," a Marvel Comics ongoing series written by Greg Pak. One of the big mysteries in "Skaar" is whether the title character is someone who can finally liberate Sakaar's people from its vicious cycle of death and anarchy, or is he someone who will make things even worse? On September 24, Greg Pak and a host of illustrators including Carlo Pagulayan, "Gabriel Hardman, Tim Truman, and Tim Green II provide some clues to that mystery in the one-shot special, "Skaar: Son of Hulk Presents - Savage World of Sakaar." CBR News spoke with Pak about the book and some of the revelations in "Skaar" #3, in stores now.

One of the big surprises in "Skaar" #3 was that the title character is a lot more intelligent than he first appeared to be. In the Ron Garney/Butch Guice-illustrated issue, the barbaric and animalistic Skaar surprised everyone by actually speaking, something he had previously not done, and doing so in full and complete sentences. "Skaar's apparently been capable of speech for some time -- maybe up 'til now, he just never found anyone worth talking to," Greg Pak told CBR News. "This actually reminds me of something I realized about the Hulk while writing 'Planet Hulk' and 'World War Hulk.' Most normally socialized people make at least some effort to help a conversation along. We'll nod when people are talking, say 'I know just what you're talking about!' or 'Yeah, I can see that.' But the Hulk doesn't care about making anyone comfortable. He might save your life. You might even be his best friend. But he's never going to make small talk with you.

"And Skaar's been raised by monsters -- his interest in verbal communication is presumably even lower than his father's. But as time goes on, we'll reveal exactly how Skaar learned to speak and just how smart he really is. And be ready for some surprises, sports fans!"

Being raised by monsters on a savage planet like Sakaar has made the teenage Skaar more than your typical rebellious adolescent. "Imagine a lion cub that's been locked in a cage and kicked and tortured and burned and scarred since the day he was ripped from his dying mother's womb," Pak remarked. "Now imagine that lion cub grown to full size. And the door to the cage is open. And all the people who stood by while he was tortured are right there on the other side. That lion cub is Skaar. And the people on the other side of the door? Everyone on the whole stinking planet."

"Savage World of Sakaar" begins just seconds after the end of "Skaar" #3. "The Son of Hulk, Princess Omaka, and the refugees are on their way to Prophet Rock, where the mysterious stranger known as Old Sam says he'll help Skaar achieve the true power his heritage promises," Pak said. "But just what the heck is everyone thinking, trying to make this insanely savage man-child even stronger? That's the big question every character will struggle with during the course of this issue."

Princess Omaka and Old Sam are the newest cast members of "Skaar" and much about them remains shrouded in mystery. "Princess Omaka is the self-proclaimed Hero Protector and true claimant to the throne of Sakaar," Pak explained. "As we learned in 'Skaar' #3, her arms were burned off as a child when the Red King slaughtered all of his heirs in the effort to protect himself from any challenge. Now equipped with robot arms that terminate in deadly blades, she's sworn to defend the people of Sakaar from the ravages of Axeman Bone and his barbarian horde. Of course, her own anger management issues don't make her the safest person to spend time around-- 'Savage World of Sakaar' will reveal even more about Omaka's past in a story that features Skaar's woman warrior mother, Caiera the Oldstrong herself!

"Old Sam is a mysterious, gray skinned Shadow person who appears to have sought out Skaar some time ago in the radioactive swamps where Crown City once stood. Old Sam has promised to help Skaar achieve his true potential for massive power. Exactly what Old Sam's motivations and origins are have yet to be revealed. But we'll get some key nuggets of information about him along with a tale from Skaar's early days in the 'Savage World of Sakaar' one-shot -- so don't you dare miss it!"

"Savage World of Sakaar" is both an anthology and a single story that ties into the larger mythology of Sakaar. "There's an overall story that fits right into the continuity between 'Skaar' #3 and #4. And there are a number of other stories throughout the book that reveal critical bits of history from the lives of several of our key characters." Pak stated. "I'm pretty darn proud of the book -- it might just be the best Skaar script I've written thus far. And it's absolutely chock full of key character moments for our principals and little nuggets and hints about what's to come."

The stories in "Savage World of Sakaar" take place at various points in the planet's history and unfold at some of its more famous and infamous locales. Settings include the Twisted Wood, the imperial hunting grounds of Upper Vandro, the monument valley of Kama Va'al, and the caves beneath the radioactive swamps where Crown City once stood. "And your local comic book store, where you're adding the book to your pull list even as we speak, right?" Pak laughed.

In terms of tone, the stories in "Savage World of Sakaar" are both grim and full of action. "And we'll begin to provide some answers to some mysteries, while deepening others," Pak said. "There might even be a couple of laughs in there. Or grim, action-packed chuckles, anyway."

A variety of artists helped bring to life the stories in "Savage World of Sakaar," including Pak's "Planet Hulk" collaborator Carlo Pagulayan. "I'm thrilled to be working with Carlo on the book," Pak said. "He's a brilliant artist -- without the amazing work he and Aaron Lopresti did bringing 'Planet Hulk' and the savage world of Sakaar to life, I doubt we'd be talking today.

"It's also been a kick in the pants to see a slew of new artists take on the characters and environs of this world," Pak continued. "Gabriel Hardman, Tim Truman, and Tim Green II are all doing knockout work here. Hardman's young Skaar, Truman's scary baby, and Green's Caiera the Oldstrong are all a sight to behold."

"Skaar: Son of Hulk Presents-Savage World of Sakaar" came about after Pak's editor informed him there was room in their publishing schedule to produce a Skaar based one-shot, something Pak was eager to do. " I love these one shots -- we did similar things with the 'Giant-Size Hulk' during 'Planet Hulk' and the 'Hulk Vs. Hercules' one-shot that tied into 'Incredible Hercules' a few months back," Pak said. "They're a blast for a few reasons. First, they let us tell quirky but critical stories that delve into pockets of history and key character moments that add a whole new dimension to our heroes and beautifully enrich the main storylines of the ongoing series. Second, they give me the chance to collaborate with amazing artists whom I might not have otherwise had a chance to meet. And third, they let me stretch my wings a bit as writer and play with structure and storytelling in a different way from the ongoing series. Big win all 'round!"

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