It should come as no surprise to readers of Marvel Comics that the company’s superhero universe has seen some gamma-powered growth in the Hulk department over the last few years. Aside from the now ubiquitous Red Hulk, the life of Bruce Banner is full of sons, wives and best friends, all busting out of their previous roles into new lives as unstoppable goliaths.
But on the other side of the family, the original “plus one” to the Hulk’s world is alive and kicking as Jen “She-Hulk” Walters is on the cusp of spinning out into her latest ongoing series along with Lyra – the alternate future daughter of Bruce Banner stuck in the present. Together, the green-skinned gals of the Marvel U will hunt after the escaped members of The Intelligencia -Â the cabal of super genius villains behind the recent “World War Hulks” event -Â in the November 3-debuting “She-Hulks” by Harrison Wilcox and Ryan Stegman.
Already known to Hulk fans for their back-up features during the last big Hulk event, Wilcox and Stegman made a name for themselves for supposedly killing Walters before it came to light that the victim was in fact a Life Model Decoy. Talking with CBR News about this new series, the writer explained that he’s ready to show fans how strong both She-Hulks can be, how their teacher-student relationship will come with some wrinkles and how this new series and story will mesh with the ongoing events of “Incredible Hulks.”
CBR News: Everyone knows you and Ryan got to put together a run of shorts featuring Red She-Hulk during the “World War Hulks” event. How did that role morph into an ongoing gig?
Harrison Wilcox: Ryan and I had a lot of fun working together on that story. We wanted to keep working together and after he drew “She-Hulk” in the first part of that run, I knew we could do a great She-Hulk book together. I had a pitch for a and talked a lot with Loeb, who was a huge help. From there it went to [editors] Mark [Paniccia] and Jordan [White] who helped develop it, and eventually it got to Pak. It seemed to work with his plans and acted as a nice post-World War Hulks piece, so the project was approved.
The series seems to have a sort of built-in launching pad with the escaped members of the Intelligencia on the prowl. To catch readers up, where were those villains last seen and where do we pick up on them as “She-Hulks” opens?
After “Fall Of The Hulks” and “World War Hulks,” the remaining villains have gone to ground. The Intelligenica was sort of their grand plan, their chance to combine all their strengths and assets and powers into one unified force. This was bigger than just The Frightful Four. It was really their best chance for success. In the end they failed miserably, and some more than others suffered serious losses. So really, at this point, the villains are just trying to stay off the radar, lick their wounds and rebuild their lives.
Bringing the ladies into the picture, how do the She-Hulks get tapped as bounty hunters on this particular mission?
If you read “She-Hulks” and “Incredible Hulks,” you’ll get a better idea of what brought all the players to the table.
You’ve got two characters here, each with their own unique abilities and histories. Taking each in their own turn, let’s start with Jen. When you “killed” She-Hulk in your first run of Hulk stories, you took a little heat from concerned fans. How do you view this gig and this character in light of all that?
I view this as redemption! Seriously, though, from what I saw, most of the fans took it in stride. They knew there was going to be an explanation down the road and appreciated the ride. And technically, I didn’t get to interact with She-Hulk at all in that arc. She was either a LMD or in a stasis tube the whole time.
That said, Jen has had a few different ongoing series over the years that have each had their own feel and flavor, from John Byrne’s “Sensational” to Dan Slott’s eponymous series. With both of those in mind, there’s been a lot of tongue-in-cheek, self-referential Shulkie stories over the years. How does “She-Hulks” fit into that tradition?
All those runs really shaped a strong character and make my job a lot easier. Going into this book, I wanted to make sure we could tell different types of stories every arc. High adventure one arc, tongue-in cheek the next. I think Jen is one of the most versatile characters at Marvel. She can jump into a team book like the Fantastic Four or The Avengers, or go off on some street level adventure, or end up in all sorts of wild places all on her own.
In a more character-specific sense, Jen’s been through an awful lot the past few years, from her capture and confinement during the last event to a few changes in job title. Where is she at emotionally as this series begins?
She’s been through the wringer, and some of those feelings definitely help motivate her actions. But at the end of the day, she’s a strong woman and a strong hero. She’s going to fight through what’s happened and be able to stand on her own emotionally.
Speaking of ladies who have seen some changes in their lives, we’ve got Lyra kicking it in this series as well. For such a new character, the younger She-Hulk has had a lot of tumultuous times and character development already. What’s her personal outlook and goals for her life in the Marvel U as she steps into the book?
Lyra’s being thrust not only into Marvel U but also into “normal” teenage life. School, classes, boys, clothing. It’s all very different from where she came from, so she’s going to spend a lot of time making mistakes and playing catch up. But she’s a warrior at the same time and understands the mission. Being in battle is her comfort zone.
Jen has always been a more light-hearted take on the Hulk idea and that Lyra literally has to keep her anger in check to remain powerful. How do these two get along, and how easy is the transition to a teacher-student relationship?
Reluctant parenting and indignant ignorance is how I would describe their relationship when we start in issue #1.
Back to the villains, we’re looking at Klaw, Mad Thinker, Red Ghost, Trapster and Wizard -Â a kind of hilariously awesome group of old school villains if there ever was one. Has any one of those guys grown into a favorite for you to write?
I don’t know if I have a favorite. Once you start understanding their motivations, understanding how they’re still real people beneath the wacky names and costumes, you end up really having fun getting them into trouble.
We know that the villain hunt will encompass the first arc of the book. With the chase ’em down thread developing, what’s been your favorite sequence or scene to write so far?
Honestly, every time I think I have a favorite sequence, Ryan Stegman sends me a new page and that then becomes my new favorite. Sometimes I’m really looking forward to one page, and he’ll send me another that I wasn’t as excited for but he’ll have done something really special with it.
As you noted, the series also marks the continued collaboration of you and Ryan Stegman. How has having the same artist through your Hulk work helped you as a writer on “She-Hulks”?
I love working with Ryan and I’m so grateful that we had the chance to work together before “She-Hulks.” It gave us the chance to get to know each other creatively so that when Panic gave us “She-Hulks,” I knew I could trust Ryan to do a great job telling our story. He really cares about the product and wants to get things just perfect. Even before I started writing, Ryan and I talked a lot about character concepts and designs. We had a lot of great ideas, some of which you’ll get to see in this first arc. Even If the She-Hulk fans don’t like the words, I know they’ll love the art.
“She-Hulks” #1 goes on sale November 3 from Marvel Comics.