Bruce Banner is one of most brilliant minds of the Marvel Universe, but for years he’s been battling an opponent he just can’t seem to beat: his alter ego, the Incredible Hulk. Banner has tried to cure or rid himself of his monstrous persona in innumerable ways, but the Hulk simply refuses to die. And to make matters worse, these attempts to do away with the Hulk have had the unfortunate side-effect of preventing Banner from focusing on other, more fruitful scientific endeavors.
In “Indestructible Hulk” #1, writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Yu asked what would happen if Banner decided to stop viewing the Hulk as part of the problem and started viewing him as a force that could help further his goals? The creative duo quickly began to illustrate the answer to that question as Bruce Banner approached none other than S.H.I.E.L.D. with a very unique offer: Help him utilize the Hulk as a force for good and provide him with the means to invent things which can have a positive impact on mankind’s existence. We spoke with Waid about the events of the issue, which kicked off the new Marvel NOW! era for the titular character.
CBR News: So Mark, we now know that one of the reasons Bruce Banner has decided to accept and try to manage the Hulk rather than cure himself is because he wants to focus on utilizing his intellect to help the world. In issue #1, when Maria Hill mentions other people who have done that, like Tony Stark, Bruce gets a little upset. I’m curious as to Bruce’s current feelings towards people like Stark and Reed Richards? Is there a bit of a jealousy or rivalry there?
Mark Waid: Definitely. Not an ugly one, just one that’s overdue to bubble up. Much more on this in issue two, as Tony and Bruce go ego-to-ego.
In order to use his intellect to help the world, Bruce needs funding, which he approaches Maria Hill and S.H.I.EL.D. for. From my understanding of that scene and the devices Bruce talks about, like the water purifier, he’s not interested in making weapons for S.H.I.E.L.D. or the government, correct? And if they try to force him, that’s partly what his mysterious “insurance” is for.
That’s exactly right. Bruce isn’t the least bit interested in weapons manufacturing; he wants to create devices that will be used for peaceful, utopian goals. Again, his new motto is, “Hulk smashes, Banner builds.” That said, he should keep close watch on just exactly what S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing with these devices…
You’ve also already introduced the books first mystery in the identity of the character instructed to deliver Bruce’s “insurance.” Can you hint or tease at who — or what — this is? And will this character’s identity remain a mystery for a while? Or will you get to that fairly soon?
The character’s identity will be revealed fairly soon — and, BTW, probably but not necessarily in “Indestructible Hulk” — but the contents of the dossier Maria referred to as “blackmail,” that’s a longer-termed mystery. Still, astute readers will be able to put the clues together in short order.
In the beginning of the issue, Bruce outlines his plans, and at the end, Hulk basically goes into action for S.H.I.E.L.D. against the Mad Thinker. We don’t really get the Hulk’s point of view on things, so can you talk about his perspective on what’s going on and what his ultimate goals are? Bruce seems to have accepted the Hulk, but has the Hulk accepted him?
HA! Good question, and one that plays heavily into the back half of the year. I’ll be brutally honest — I’m still having a hard time pinning down an exact ‘voice’ for Hulk. Not Cookie Monster, but not erudite, either. I don’t believe Hulk has much opinion about the deal Banner’s cut with S.H.I.E.L.D., but we’ll see.
I’m also curious as to how Bruce and the Hulk view the tactical nature of the Hulk. Are there some missions that Bruce wouldn’t want the Hulk used for? And will the Hulk have any feelings on what types of missions he will and won’t do for S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Hulk won’t — he just wants to smash — but Bruce will have his opinions. Unfortunately, because he’s not signing the checks, he may not always get his way. And some of the fun of the writing comes in how Maria will sometimes deliberately withhold information from Bruce before sending him into the field so she can time the transformation to her liking. You’ll see more of that in issue four.
In this issue, Maria Hill, and to a lesser degree agent Phil Coulson, become part of the Hulk’s supporting cast. How big a role will these two characters play in the series going forward? What do you find most interesting about Maria and Phil?
Phil, we’re still fussing with — honestly, I wrote the first issue before the High Sheriffs elected to inject Phil into the Marvel Universe, so we added that in editing — but I’d love to do more with Coulson. It just depends on who has dibs, series-wise.
What I find most interesting about Maria is that she’s a control freak, so there is just absolutely nothing about having Hulk at her disposal that she finds the least bit attractive, But it’s a necessary evil (see: blackmail dossier). Worse for her, in order to maximize her influence over Hulk, she has to be nice to Banner, and he milks that just to mess with her head. He’s always bumming a twenty off of her, or asking her to pick him up at the airport, or whatever, and she fantasizes hourly about just poisoning his breakfast once and for all.
Maria, Phil and the Hulk are all part of Nick Spencer’s upcoming “Secret Avengers” series, and I understand you and Nick have been talking about ways to coordinate your books. Will readers of both titles see some interplay between the books? And is there a chance the Hulk’s “Secret Avengers” teammates will show up in “Indestructible Hulk?”
I would love that. Nick’s terrific. The coordination? We leave that up to editor par excellence, Mark Pannicia, without whom I’d be lost. The entire Hulk editorial office is a wonder of organization, efficiency and support. Seriously, we’d be helpless without them.
We’ve talked about story and how “Indestructible Hulk” might connect with other books, so let’s start to wrap things up by talking about the work of Leinil Yu and Sunny Gho. Which of their strengths did you want to play to in this opening issue? What can readers expect from them going forward?
Here’s why I knew Leinil was the perfect choice right off: His work conveys power and brutality. I think, thanks to 30 years of Hulk TV reruns, we tend to think of Hulk as a lumbering brute, but anyone who can jump two miles has serious leg muscles and should be able to move like lightning. Leinil conveys that. He gets that Hulk is a force of nature, an unpredictable hurricane of rage. And Sunny — wow. He can flat-out tell a story just through color, and that’s the highest compliment I can pay.
Finally, the first issue ended by firmly establishing Bruce Banner and the Hulk’s working relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D., but there’s plenty more plot left to unfold. Can you give us a sort of “This season on ‘Indestructible Hulk'” teaser about some of your upcoming issues?
Sure! This season on “Indestructible Hulk”: Frost Giants, the Sandman, Attuma and the lost magicks of Lemuria, the undersea equivalent of the Helicarrier and a nifty, unexpected bit of time travel that allows a guest-star in issues six through eight that will, no kidding, have fans cheering with his (or her!) surprise appearance!