When Hulk was jettisoned away from Earth on a S.H.I.E.L.D. commissioned space ship, his intended landing place was a lush green planet devoid of any intelligent lifeforms. Unfortunately, the ship was sucked into a wormhole, and Hulk found himself on a planet where a corrupt empire oppressed barbarian tribes. Because the planet, Planet Sakaar, was situated so near the wormhole, there was a wide array of technology, and many different alien species. Captured by the empire, and implanted with a control slug should he decide to disobey, Hulk was thrown into the Imperial Arena to fight as a gladiator.
After surviving his first battle, one of the natives told Hulk that the Red King watching over the arena was the Emperor of the planet. Hulk engaged the Emperor in a duel. Though the Emperor began with the upper hand, the Hulk turned the fight around and cut his cheek. The Emperor sent the Hulk to the Maw, the most lethal gladiator school on the planet. The Hulk survived the initiation tests and was placed in a group with fellow gladiators Miek, Korg, Lavin Skee, Brood, Elloe and an unbound Shadow Warrior known as Hiroim the Shamed. Together, they defeated various challenges, and killed the Wildebot pack the Empire had been hunting down for months.