Fearing that the Hulk would always remain a threat to the human race, the members of the Illuminati (Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, and Black Bolt) tricked the Hulk aboard a pre-programmed spacecraft that was intended to take him to an uninhabited planet with suitable atmosphere and vegetation to allow him to live out the rest of his life in peace. Ah, the best laid plans.
The Hulk knocked the craft off-course and entered a worm-hole, dumping him on the planet Sakaar, a planet that can be best described as Earth during the Roman empire, but with highly advanced technology. Weakened by the trip through the worm-hole, Hulk was captured and sold as a slave to fight for the amusement of ruler of Sakaar, the Red King. Surviving the gladiatorial fights – and invoking the wrath of the Red King when he tried to kill him – the Red King tried repeatedly to kill the Hulk. This didn't work.
During this time, he became warbound with similar creatures that survived the arena battles. Together they helped to overthrow the Red King, with the aid of his former bodyguard Caiera . Hulk was chosen by the people to replace the Red King , taking Caiera as his queen. Caiera revealed that she was carrying his child. Soon after this revelation, the ship that brought the Hulk to Sakaar exploded, killing everyone – Caiera included – within range.
Filled with unprecedented rage, the Hulk and his Warbound returned to Earth to seek revenge against the Illuminati for killing his wife and unborn child. It was ultimately revealed that Miek – one of Warbound – had caused the ship to detonate. His misguided attempt to remind the Hulk that he is a savage creature, not a peace-loving ruler has caused more deaths than anyone expected. With equal parts rage and shame at being manipulated, he forced Tony Stark to either stop him or he'll destroy everything in sight. Focusing all available satellite weapons on him, an intense red beam stopped the Hulk in his tracks and he reverted to Banner. He was then taken into Federal custody.
Now the cleanup of New York City has begun.
A news report shows the city of New York in virtual ruins after the Hulk's last rampage. During the cleanup proceedings, Tom Foster finds a corked test tube of liquid that he keeps to himself.
Elsewhere S.H.I.E.L.D is coordinating the various crews to restore some order to the city. Misty Knight is ordered by a S.H.I.E.L.D. officer a to report to Muster Area A42 to assist in the clean-up operation. Misty has begun to reevaluate her life. She tells him that she's not a hero for hire, she considers herself simply a killer. The S.H.I.E.L.D officer is unaffected by her statements and tells her to report to her assigned area.
The Hulk's warbound – Hiroim, Elloe, Korg, and Brood – follow Hiroim's lead and allow themselves to be placed in S.H.I.E.L.D prison shuttle, much to Elloe's protests. Elloe insists that they forgo this in favor of looking for the hivelings that came with them. Hiroim refuses telling her that they must determine if there are any more traitors among them. He uses his powers to bind the shuttle to the ground for the time being.
In a medical bay, Tony Stark (current director of S.H.I.E.L.D) is coordinating the clean-up efforts while recovering from his injuries. He receives a message from Amadeus Cho and Hercules wanted for aiding the Hulk during his rampage. In the case of Hercules, violating the Superhuman Registration Act. Cho warns Stark that a chasm the Hulk created on Broadway is expanding at an alarming rate. Something needs to be done quickly to prevent Manhattan from literally splitting in half. It seems that the Hulk's quasi-sentient robotic guards are intent on carrying out the last command by their leader: destroy New York. Hercules tries valiantly to hold Manhattan together with the help of Damage Control. Stark armors up and heads for the city.
Tom Foster arrives at the old Avenger's mansion along with another division of Damage Control. They have been ordered by Stark's to set up a secondary headquarters here. After running the contents of the test tube through a third generation nano-particle acceleration unit, he ingests the liquid.
Stark rescues Misty Knight from violent hivelings accusing her of killing their brother. He explains that Humbug killed the hiveling in question and Shang-Chi killed Humbug; it wasn't her fault. She states that since Shang-Chi was a member of Heroes For Hire and she was in charge, the blame falls on her.
Tom Foster appears. He has managed to duplicate his uncle's growth formula and is intent on obtaining revenge on Iron Man for his uncle's death. The hivelings cheer him on. Not willing to waste time explaining himself yet again, he brushes him aside, picks up Misty, and continues to the chasm, much to the dismay of Foster.
At this point the Sakaarans that were brought to Earth attack the hivelings in retaliation for Miek's deception which destroyed their world. The hivelings claim innocence but the attacks continue. This blind vengeance plays out in front of Tom Foster.
Thing, Spider-Man, and Luke Cage have been recruited to pry the prison shuttle loose. They watch as the chasm grows wider, prompting Spider-Man to suggest they help out. Thing reminds him that they have their orders. As if on cue the Warbound break out of the prison shuttle after proving to each other that there are no more secret agendas. They are met by Thing, Cage, and Spider-Man. They state that they do not want to fight but Cage wants payback for what they did to him at Madison Square Garden.
Iron Man and Misty Knight confront the Hulk's robotic guards. Stark explains that he was previously able to use his Extremis-based powers to take over three of these guards. Since then they have reconfigured to prevent that from working a second time. He's relying on Misty's bionic arm, running an older version of his Iron Man operating system, to tap into the robots' A.I. and take control with the programs he has uploaded to it. Misty reluctantly agrees to do this while Stark disables the bombs the robots planted to destroy Manhattan.. Her initial attempts to make direct contact with the sentient robots end up destroying them, despite her best efforts. Stark encourages her to keep trying.
The Warbound square off against Cage, Thing, and Spider-Man. Spidey realizes that one of them is missing: Elloe. She searches for the hivelings and finds them fighting with the Sakaarans. She is impaled when she tries to stop them.
Misty finally gains access to the Death's Head guards and begins to assume control over them. Iron Man deactivates all the bombs that were planted. Unfortunately a tremor causes one of the robots to topple over and fall toward into the chasm. Unable to shut down the power core, it explodes causing a massive upheaval that threatens to sink the island. Hiroim takes it upon himself to use his stone-based "old power" and begin to reform the bedrock. Korg – a stone warrior from Saturn – instructs Hiroim to draw power from him to repairs the foundation. When they begin to falter, Thing steps in and helps them complete the process. This is not without an intense pain that leaves all three momentarily stunned. Ben examines the ground and sees a faint crack with three distinct colorings that mark where the chasm was.
Some time passes and Iron Man arrives to check on the repairs. Damage Control indicates that the repairs are 100% complete, thanks to the Warbound. Stark asks if anyone knows where the Warbound, Hercules, or Amadeus Cho are; nobody seems to know. Tom Foster arrives to deliver the deceased Sakaarans and let Stark know that he's no longer interested in revenge. He begins assisting with the clean-up.
I read and enjoyed "World War Hulk" but didn't get every issue of the crossover. It is because of this that many of the elements in this story are foreign to me.
For example: I know that Luke Cage and Spider-Man, both anti-registration, were present during the WWH limited series, but why would they continue to work with Iron Man afterwards? Did they get a special one-day pass?
The only reason this bothers me is because Spider-Man was in his black costume during this issue. Wasn't he supposed to be in the hospital with his dying Aunt May and soon-to-be not-wife Mary Jane? Even if you place this right after World War Hulk #5 there's still a few logistic problems with other events in the spider-books. (Ah, continuity, I miss you.)
The sub-plot with Misty Knight is another vague and confusing element. "Heroes For Hire" isn't on my reading list, so that aspect is a mystery as well.
3 webs. The sequence involving Hiroim, Korg, and Thing resealing Manhattan is extremely impressive. When the book focuses on story elements that are either unique to it or are general plot elements from the larger storyline, it's entertaining. However this contains many aspects that took place in other magazines. Without some sort of editorial footnote or general exposition, the reader can only guess as to what happened.