When the inhabitants of the Marvel Universe talk about the destructive power of anger they’re not being metaphorical. That’s because in the Marvel U rage has a physical embodiment. It’s big, green, and when it’s at its angriest worlds are in danger of cracking.
That form is of course the Incredible Hulk, the super strong, angry, emerald alter ego of brilliant scientist Bruce Banner. Even though they occupy the same body, Hulk and Banner have had an uneasy relationship ever since Banner was first transformed into the Jade Juggernaut after becoming irradiated by the detonation of one of his own gamma bombs. At times the duo work together reluctantly and other times are out to destroy one another, which is the case in Jason Aaron’s current “Incredible Hulk” storyline.
Just what would happen if Banner and the Hulk formed a willing partnership? Would anyone in the Marvel Universe be able to stop this awesome combination of brains and brawn? This November, writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Yu will begin to answer those questions and more when they expand the Marvel NOW! initiative with their all-new ongoing series “Indestructible Hulk.” CBR News spoke with both creators about their plans for the series.
CBR News: Mark, if my research is correct you’ve only written the Hulk in stories where he’s been part of a larger cast of characters like the “Onslaught Marvel Universe” book end to the “Onslaught” event. How does it feel to be given the chance to dive in and explore Bruce Banner and his emerald alter ego in a big way? Which aspects of Banner and the Hulk are you most interested in exploring?
Mark Waid: It feels amazing. Honestly, it’s a lot like my experience with “Fantastic Four” — I never thought I’d want to write this book until it was offered and I began thinking about it. So many great writers, so many landmark moments — it was intimidating, still is. But the more I began to think about the relationship between Bruce and Hulk, the more I began fantasizing about what it would be like to take the core concept a little more “back to center” like we did with Daredevil, the more intrigued I became.
The reception to our approach on “Daredevil” had a lot to do with how I’m coming at Hulk — assuming that everything we know about Hulk is still true, everything he’s been through — but, as we did with Daredevil, having Banner turn a corner and deciding to take a whole new, less “woe is me” view of his condition.
In 1962, Hulk was one of the most unique characters ever in comics because he viewed his powers as a curse, not a blessing. But that point of view is no longer unique — heck, that’s practically the emotional keynote of half the superhero books currently running. So Marvel gave their blessing to morph that attitude into something a little more heroic.
Leinil, you have some familiarity with the Hulk from your work on “Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine,” but that was the Ultimate Universe version of the Hulk. What’s it like diving into “Indestructible Hulk” and how would you compare and contrast the Ultimate and 616 iterations of Hulk? Beyond their obvious color and size differences, in what ways do you feel the two characters are similar and what ways are they different?
Leinil Yu:In all honestly, I drew both the Ultimate Hulk and Ultimate Wolverine the exact same way I would’ve drawn my regular universe versions. The only change would be the pot belly as specified by Damon Lindelof in the script, a result of his change of lifestyle gorging himself with food in the company of pretty women.
Remember Banner’s line from the “Avengers” movie? His secret is that he’s “always angry.” Well, I was always drawing the regular Wolverine and Hulk in the Ultimate Universe. I was very relieved that I didn’t have to draw the young Wolverine with a goatee.
The only thing I have to watch for is his height and size. I realize he’s only supposed to be at most 8 feet tall.
I imagine working on the Hulk was just one of the draws of this book for each of you, and the other was working with each other. You last worked together on the highly acclaimed Superman origin story “Superman: Birthright” for DC Comics. What’s it like reuniting several years later for a project like “Indestructible Hulk?”
Yu: “Superman: Birthright” and working with Mark is one of the highlights of my career and I’m about to get a chance to make another mark in the industry with “Indestructible Hulk.” I’m almost certain that this will be at the top of my resume, like “Birthright” is. Like all the great writers I’ve worked with, he knows how to being out the best in me.
Mark is the main draw for me although the Hulk is also one of my favorite characters to draw. His starring role in the “Avengers” movie just made everything all the sweeter.
Waid: Man, what a dream come true. Leinil knows that I’ve always been a fan — the first time I ever saw his work, years before “Birthright,” I called him on the spot from the Marvel offices just to tell him that we had to work together someday. He brings out the very best in what I do.
We’ve talked about the appeal of the book and a little bit about the character, so let’s move on to story. Writer Jason Aaron is currently telling a story in “Incredible Hulk” that has redefined the relationship between Bruce Banner and the Hulk. I know you’re wary of spoilers, but can you guys talk about the hand off from Jason’s story to your story in “Indestructible Hulk?” Does Jason wrap things up? Or does he leave you with a cliffhanger to resolve in “Indestructible Hulk” #1?
Waid: Jason wraps things up, elegantly and brilliantly. (I’m forever jealous of the ideas he based his whole run around.) “Indestructible Hulk” #1 picks up a few weeks after the events of “Avengers vs. X-Men.” No one’s seen Banner or
the Hulk for a while, and that makes the whole world very nervous.
The end of Jason’s story will wrap up the latest volume of “Incredible Hulk” and then you take over with “Indestructible Hulk” #1. Are you able to talk about the significance of the title change at all? Indestructible is definitely an adjective you can use to describe the Hulk, but what’s the thematic significance of the title?
Waid: There’s a very good reason we chose the word “Indestructible,” it’s actually a subtle story point. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that it ties in with Banner’s whole new attitude.
What types of stories are you interested in telling in “Indestructible Hulk?” What types of stories do you feel the character and his circumstances in this story lend themselves to?
Waid:Again, take the concept back to center. Hulk is about what happens to us when we lose control — or when we try to exercise too much control. The stories we’ll be telling treat the Hulk less like a time bomb and more like a targeted WMD — and he’ll be moving throughout the Marvel Universe, exploring (on Banner’s behalf, for reasons you’ll see in issue #1) certain corners of the universe — Jotunheim, The Negative Zone, Lemuria. Hulk and Banner have a mission — and it will take them far and wide.
Who are some of the supporting players in this series? The information we received suggested S.H.I.E.L.D. might play a recurring role.
Waid:Maria Hill and Bruce Banner are the main players in the series, and their Byzantine relationship is both funny and dark and they’re a blast to write as a quasi-partnership. And Banner will be in a lab again and will have a band of assistants who all have two things in common: they’re all brilliant in their fields, and they have nothing to lose should they suddenly find they’re sharing close quarters with an angry jade behemoth.
While we’re on the topic of supporting players, the Hulk is no longer the only one of his kind. There are several Hulks including his ex-wife Betty, his son Skaar, and even his old friend Rick Jones now has a monstrous alter ego. Initially are you interested in playing with some of the members of the extended Hulk family? Or will the emphasis start out strictly on Bruce/Hulk?
Waid: At first, the emphasis lies strictly with Bruce and his alter-ego, but [“Hulk” writer] Jeff Parker and I have already been sharing scripts, and I do want Bruce to have to come to grips with what he’s wrought.
We’ve discussed friends, but what about enemies? What’s your opinion on the Hulk’s rogues gallery? Are there any characters you find especially interesting? Do you have a desire to add to it?
Waid:As with “Daredevil,” I want to stay away from the usual suspects for a while and shop around outside the established franchise — Frost Giants, Psycho-Man, Kang the Conqueror, Attuma. All those and more are on tap.
Let’s shift a little bit toward the art. Leinil, I noticed the Hulk is wearing what looks like armor in the image that debuted with the Marvel NOW! announcement. Is that accurate? What’s it like drawing the character armored up?
Yu: They asked me to hand in designs for the armor, which I thought was refreshing and could open up new story lines and possibilities. An armor to me implies an inherent vulnerability and that in itself is interesting, especially with the title “Indestructible” Hulk.
I’m also a huge fan of Sci-Fi and video games so this is definitely right up my alley. I just love drawing technology.
One thing you guys missed out on are the various radical hairstyles the Hulk could’ve worn. We tried on a lot of variations, most prominent of which was the Mohawk. I am very happy with the final design we eventually went with. A new look. Almost sexy, something that is not usually associated with the Hulk.
Waid:Again, there are story reasons for the new look. I mean, it’s not like anyone looked at Hulk, the strongest and toughest character on Earth, and said, “Y’know what he needs? He needs armor. Maybe a Nehru collar.” Trust me, we’re smarter than that.
What can you tell us about the look of “Indestructible Hulk” overall? How does it compare to some of your other recent work? What types of mood and tones are you hoping to convey with your initial issues?
Yu: I realize that the style I used in “Avenging Spider-Man” and “Supercrooks” really struck a chord with fans and I intend to use it in this series. It seemed to appeal universally and is a happy medium between those who like my gritty stuff and those who prefer the cleaner style. It’s a bit cleaner than my older stuff and very refined and detailed, but since its me, it’s still gonna be gritty and mean in a lot places. An undertone of distress is always in the background. [Inker] Gerry Alanguilan and [colorist] Sunny Gho will back me up on this one, the two best people I want to work with when it comes to inking and coloring.
Finally, overall what’s it like creating the Hulk’s adventures in the post-“AvX”/Marvel NOW! world? What can fans expect from “Indestructible Hulk?”
Waid:I’m really eager to see fans’ response to the all-new Bruce Banner — consistent with what’s gone before, but a new man.
Yu:“Indestructible Hulk?” Just read issue #1 and it’s AMAAAAZING! So happy to be doing this. Make mine Waid!
“Indestructible Hulk” debuts in November.