The intergalactic mass murderer Thanos is known for his cunning, iron will and raw physical power. It’s a combination of traits that make him one of the most fearsome foes in the Marvel Universe. Few heroes are strong enough — or brave enough — to face the Mad Titan on their own, but Thanos will soon cross paths with a lone hero strong enough to crush him and the latest scheme he’s cooked up, the Incredible Hulk.
Starlin’s “Savage Hulk” Arc Becomes “Thanos Vs. Hulk” Limited Series
That confrontation kicks off this December in the four-issue “Thanos Vs. Hulk” miniseries by writer/artist Jim Starlin, the man who first introduced Thanos to the Marvel U. CBR News spoke with Starlin about his affinity for the Hulk, the big role another one of his cosmic creations plays in the titular conflict, and how Thanos and Hulk’s intergalactic and interdimensional throw down will set the stage for Starlin’s next Marvel project.
CBR News: Jim, you’ve written the Hulk a number of times during your career, usually in guest spots but occasionally in bigger roles like the hilarious original graphic novel you did with Bernie Wrightson, “The Incredible Hulk and the Thing: The Big Change.” How does it feel to return to the character? What do you enjoy most about writing the Hulk?
Jim Starlin: I was a kid when Kirby and Lee first introduced the Hulk. That book didn’t last long but ol’ Greenie soon came back in the first issues of the “Avengers” and later “Tales to Astonish” (if I remember correctly). He was easily my favorite comic character back then. I loved the rage that erupted from the Hulk almost as much as I feared and hated the rage bubbling around in my own teenage self. He was a great psychic vent and I immensely enjoy revisiting him occasionally.
Since “Thanos Vs. Hulk” was originally slated to be an arc of “Savage Hulk,” we know this story takes place somewhere in the Hulk’s past. Which version of the Hulk will readers see in your story? Is this the classic savage version of the character? And will Bruce Banner play a role in this tale?
I based this tale’s Hulk on Mark Waid’s current “Indestructible Hulk,” but with a bit longer hair. I liked Waid’s take on the character because the level of the Hulk’s smarts changes with each transition. So I was able to write my favorite, the thick-as-brick Hulk in a modern setting, with a few extra frills tossed in.
What can you tell us about your visual interpretation of the Hulk? Which of the Green Goliath’s character traits do you really want to capture and bring forward in your depictions of him?
I don’t tend to think that way. Telling an interesting and entertaining story is my goal. The plot determines how you represent a character. So this Hulk is your familiar lumbering brute but with some softer edges, brought on by the more humorous aspects of the story.
Hulk is just one of the title characters in this miniseries. Let’s talk a little bit about the other, Thanos. What made you want to pit the Hulk against the Mad Titan? And what sets off the conflict they engage in?
Well, anyone who has followed my career at Marvel will know that when I come back to do work with them, though it might look like I’m doing a Captain Marvel, Warlock or Silver Surfer series, in reality I’ve returned to do another Thanos story.
In this case, Annihilus and Blastaar have something Pip the Troll dearly wants and they’ll only trade it for Bruce Banner. The troll goes for the deal but then suffers buyer’s remorse. But Pip doesn’t have the muscle to take on Blastaar and Annihilus so he decides to call upon someone who does.
How do your title characters regard each other when this story starts? Does Thanos truly understand what the Hulk is capable of? Or does he sort of look down on the character because of his intellect?
On Thanos’ side I imagine it’s a mix of respect and distain. He would somewhat respect Banner for being one of Earth’s premier minds. But on the other hand the Hulk’s lack of intellectual curiosity would quickly bore the Titan. But he’d be wary of the brute because of that infinite rage thing he has going. Banner would think of the Titan as nothing but a menace, to be defeated or escaped from.
Earlier you talked about Pip the Troll setting this story in motion and Pip, like Thanos, is a character you created. How does it feel to return to Pip? What can you tell us about his larger role in the story?
Actually, this is as much a Pip the Troll story as it is a Hulk or Thanos tale. In fact I think he appears in the series more often than the Titan does. The entire yarn sort of revolves around our lovable cretin. He’s always been one of my favorite characters to play with. His immorality never fails to amuse.
Pip brings the Hulk to space, but where does the conflict go from there? What else can you tell us about the settings of “Thanos Vs. Hulk?”
Seeing that Blastaar and Annihilus are in the story, you should expect to spend a little time in the Negative Zone. The tale starts off on Earth, stops by Starlin’s Bar (What a surprise!) and visits what may or may not be Bruce Banner’s psyche.
Let’s talk a little more about the look of this miniseries. You recently wrote and drew Thanos in the surreal graphic novel, “The Infinity Revelation.” How will the visuals of this miniseries compare to that? I assume they’ll be less psychedelic…
Yes, this story is set more in material existence, except for the Banner psyche sequence. Most of the tale will take place in the Negative Zone, which I imagine to be one of the last places in the universe one would choose to holiday at.
Finally, “Thanos Vs. Hulk” is part of the larger Thanos story you’ve been telling in the “Thanos Annual” and the “Thanos: The Infinity Revelation” graphic novel, correct? How new reader friendly is this miniseries?
All you have to do is know who the Hulk and Thanos are in order to get into this series. As with the “Thanos Annual” and “TTIR,” the “Thanos Vs. Hulk” series is a self-contained unit. You can read it without having read the previous tales but it’s, nevertheless, still part of the same grand tale I’m telling this stay at Marvel.
With the completion of “Thanos Vs. Hulk,” I have the Titan, Warlock, Pip, Blastaar and Annihilus positioned exactly where I want them to be for my next Marvel tale, which I am currently working on. But it’s too early to talk about it, So it’ll just have to wait until our next interview, Dave.
“Thanos Vs. Hulk” debuts in December from Marvel Comics.
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