Cohen & Parsons talk "Marvel Comics Presents"

In Marvel Comics' "Hulk" #4 by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness, the fight between the mysterious new red Hulk and the classic Jade Giant, Bruce Banner, finally begins. Hulk fans eagerly awaiting the big June 25 bout should check out "Marvel Comics Presents" #9, in stores this week, for another Hulk tale featuring art by Ed McGuinness. CBR News spoke with writers Mark Parsons and Tom Cohen about the story.

Cohen and Parsons' "Marvel Comics Presents" story came about after a number of pitches to former editor Andy Schmidt. "Andy had been working on 'MCP' for months, so when we pitched, Hulk was one of the few characters who wasn't assigned," Mark Parsons told CBR News. "We had been hoping to pitch oddballs, like Wrecking Crew, The Headmen, Stingray or Woodgod, but most of them were taken, except, alas, poor Woodgod, the oft-mocked red-haired stepchild of the Marvel Universe. So we pitched some Hulk yarns. Andy had to remind us that these were eight page tales as many of our pitches were too ambitious (i.e. manic and over-stuffed) for the short story format. We settled on one concept and went from there.

"One of the reasons Hulk is compelling is the character's natural adaptability: Savage Hulk, Bambi-loving Gerber Hulk, Microverse pagan-dude Hulk, Rick Jones Mullet Hulk, Peter David's Joe Fixit/Grey Hulk, Professor Hulk, Gladiator Hulk, the brand-spanking new RED HULK: there are many personas to choose from and many more that can be developed," Parsons added. "Hulk's mutability makes him a walking 'What If?' character: he can be adapted to all kinds of situations and genres without upending the basic concept."

"Hulk's just a heckuva fun character with a rich history," Tom Cohen said. "Check out his 'Essentials' volumes: there's tons of great stuff there. Some obscure yet cool elements, some that are still resonating today."

Parsons and Cohen had to remain cryptic about which version of the Hulk would appear in their story. "We think it can be interpreted in different ways," Cohen remarked. "Without getting too specific, it's a version that's both familiar yet unique."

Since their Hulk story is only eight pages long, Cohen and Parsons couldn't give away to many plot details. "The Hulk is up against his most challenging adversaries **EVER**. They are Legion," Parsons said. "Hulkatudinous superhyperultraviolence is unleashed as you have never seen before, oh True Believers. All brought to you in thundering, rip-roaring Ed McGuiness-O-Vision. Hang on to your fillings, gird your loins (over eighteens only, please) and be sure to pack a spare set of socks."

Cohen added, "In terms of story, it's about the price of war, and how it can unleash powerful, dangerous consequences even amongst the 'good guys.'"

The tone of Cohen and Parson's Hulk tale reflects their protagonist's penchant for getting into anger fueled colossal slugfests. "This is a Mighty Marvel Smashup/Smackdown and just wait till you see Ed's epic double page splash battle scene," Parsons explained The story title is 'Gammaragnarok.'"

"We were trying to skate a line -- a story can have a fair amount of grit and edginess and still be fun," Cohen stated. "Hopefully we succeeded."

If Cohen and Parsons seem like unfamiliar names it's because they are. "Marvel Comics Presents" #9 is the duo's first comic book project. The two met while working at James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainmen, and their mutual love of movies and comics lead to a friendship that endured through later career changes. Parsons currently writes non-fiction books and Cohen works as a development executive at Marvel Studios.

Cohen and Parsons were extremely happy to have landed their "Marvel Comics Presents" assignment, but when they found out their eight-page story was going to be drawn by Ed McGuinness, the duo were ecstatic. "We never thought we'd see the story interpreted by someone of Ed's stature and popularity," Parsons said. "It's like getting Johnny Depp to be in your movie: big news. Ed brings a sense of sleek yet brawny energy and power pop to everything he does. And this is the first time you'll get to see his pencils taken straight to the printed page. They would have burned off the ink (or depixilated digital inks). So this story features Ed McGuiness unfettered, unbound and, in a few panels, unhinged."

If their Hulk story is well received, Parsons and Cohen would be more than happy to bring readers more tales of the Gamma Powered Goliath. "We have another persona in mind and would love to tell more short tales set in the world Ed has co-created with us (there's a whole universe to explore)," Parsons explained. "In the meantime, we'll have to content ourselves with reading Jeph and Ed's book, which is frakking awesome."

For Cohen and Parsons, having a story published in a comic like "Marvel Comics Presents" has been a lifelong dream and they're immensely grateful to those who have helped them realize it. "We'd like to give a shout-out to editors John Barber and Michael Horwitz for all their hard work, to Fabian Nicieza and C.B. Cebulski for helping us get in the door and especially to Andy Schmidt for giving us a shot," Cohen stated. "And to everyone reading this -- buy 'Marvel Comics Presents!' Every month! Not only for our story (which you'll dig!) but for all the new writers and artists the book gives exposure to. It's a great outlet and more fans should get behind it. 'Nuff said!"

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