Marvel Comics' Hulk is known for boasting about being "The strongest there is." And while the Jade Giant certainly has the physical prowess to back up that claim, he and alter ego Bruce Banner possess numerous traits that make them strong as well, chief among them their versatility. In 50-plus years of existence Banner and the Hulk have been heroes, villains, geniuses, monsters, gangsters, gladiators, kings and conquerors.
Change is something that comes naturally to the characters, and with a number of talented creators have been able to tell a variety of unique and interesting stories with the Incredible Hulk. This August, writer Gerry Duggan becomes the latest writer to take charge of the Gamma Powered Goliath's adventures as he teams up with series artist Mark Bagley to take over Marvel's "Hulk" series from Mark Waid beginning with Issue #5 of the All-New Marvel NOW! series. CBR News spoke with Duggan about his take on the title character, taking over the book from an industry legend like Waid, collaborating with Bagley and his plans for the series which include a storyline titled "The Î© Hulk."
CBR News: Gerry, you've been writing some high profile titles for Marvel with "Deadpool" and "Nova," but "Hulk" is your first shot at a character Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created, correct? How does it feel to be taking over the adventures of such a marquee Marvel character?
Gerry Duggan: I have so much love for the Hulk that it almost hurts. It's been a lot of fun to plan this story, I haven't worked with [series editor] Mark Paniccia yet, and it's been a great experience. I'm very lucky to have these kinds of opportunities.
As a writer, what do you find most interesting about Bruce Banner and the Hulk? What is it about them that you think has captured the imagination of fans over the years and made them some of pop culture's most enduring characters?
Banner is such a tragic figure, he's so compelling. I believe in science. I love "science gone wrong" stories. The Jekyll & Hyde of it all is such a classic. I think it was [Raymond] Chandler that wrote "when in doubt, have a man walk in with a gun" well, the Hulk is the gun. That kind of tension is so much fun. I grew up reading the comics, and I was also a big fan of the TV show starring [Bill] Bixby and [Lou] Ferrigno. There are those classic images and moments. [Jim] Steranko's Hulk struggling to hold up his logo, the moment in "Secret Wars" when the Hulk holds up a mountain -- just long enough for everyone to survive. I think I have one of those moments in the finale of this story. I hope I do. If I aim for those moments and miss, I think the comics will still be fun.
You're taking over the Hulk from Mark Waid with issue #5 of the current series. How does it feel to be following up on what he's done with this new series and the previous volume, "Indestructible Hulk?" Mark? I would imagine you can't say much about how your approach to the character will compare to his since Mark's story is still unfolding, but as a reader and Hulk fan, which elements of Mark's run did you especially enjoy?
I don't even want to follow Mark in a supermarket checkout line, let alone on the "Hulk," but it turns out that both he and I had a similar idea for the Hulk, and when Panic told me that I thought, "Maybe I can make a go of this." Mark's been one of my favorite writers for many years, and I'm thrilled to be working with him, in any capacity. There is so much fun stuff in his run. From the very premise that brought Banner to S.H.I.E.L.D. to that last page in Asgard where the Hulk seemingly hefts Mjolnir.
Mark Waid is leaving the book, but current "Hulk" artist Mark Bagley will be sticking around to work with you on the series. How does it feel to be working with him? What do you feel he brings to the series and the characters?
Bags is one of those special artists that hits you with the action and the emotional beats. He's a guy that, when we look back, will have classic runs on the biggest characters. It's a thrill that he's going to be the one to draw my "Hulk" run.
Let's move into your take on the book. The fact that you're continuing the current volume of "Hulk" suggests to me that some elements from Mark Waid's current story will continue or at least inform your initial stories. Is that correct? How new reader friendly is your initial "Hulk" story? Can you hint at any of the plot or themes from your initial arc?
Yes, most of Mark's supporting cast will be sticking around, and I'll be resolving the mystery of who shot Banner. Then things take a very dramatic turn. After "Original Sin," the Hulk and Banner are changed. The story I begin in issue 5 is called "The Î© Hulk." The elevator pitch is that it's an "Armor Wars" for the Gamma-irradiated crowd" It will be a nasty bit of business, and one that will upend lives.
The nature of Banner and the Hulk means the characters can become embroiled in all types of stories and it also means they can be both outsiders and major players in the Marvel Universe, sometimes both at the same time. How large a role will the larger Marvel U will play in your initial arc? Will the Hulk and Banner's associations with groups like the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Illuminati come into play?
No comment for now, sorry.
Fair enough. What can you tell us about the supporting cast of your initial "Hulk" story? Will we primarily see current cast members or can we expect the return of some classic supporting characters or those that haven't been part of the book for a while?
By the end of my first year, you'll have seen characters recently created by Mark, and a bunch that go all the way back to the beginning.
Speaking of supporting characters, what's your sense of the Hulk's Rogues gallery? Who are some of your favorite Hulk villains, and why?
My favorite Hulk villain is probably Banner, and my favorite Banner villain is the Hulk. I love me some Abomination too.
Finally, the Hulk is a character that some writers have spent a short time with, while others like Peter David and Greg Pak have chronicled his adventures for years. If fans embrace your run do you see yourself sticking with this book for years to come, or is the story you're telling more finite in nature?
My big Hulk idea got me in the door; I hope I get to be around for a while, but the truth is -- I'd rather tell one, big, great, fun Hulk story and leave the stage than try to be Peter David or Greg Pak and then fail. I have other Hulk stories I'd be excited to tell. Whether or not I get to do that is really up to his fans.
Gerry Duggan takes control of "Hulk" with issue #5 in August.