Marvel Comics’ Avengers are collectively known as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” but some of their members could lay claim to the title of “Earth’s Mightiest” all on their own. The two biggest challengers for that crown would, of course, be founding Avengers the Hulk and Thor. The Jade Giant and the Asgardian Thunder God have squared off a number of times over the years, but this week they face off in a competition designed to prove which hero is mightier. The prize? The chance to save the Earth and battle the cosmic being known as the Champion of the Universe.
It all happens in the latest ComiXology Originals miniseries Thor Vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe, by writer Jeremy Whitley and artists Simone Buonfantino and Alti Firmansyah, the first issue of which is available now for free to ComiXology Unlimited subscribers. CBR spoke with Whitley about the series, the joy of pitting his two title characters against each other, the new character helping to orchestrate the competition between Thor and the Hulk, and how the series is meant to be accessible to both long time Marvel fans and new readers
CBR: Jeremy, with Thor Vs Hulk: Champions of the Universe you're telling a tale featuring two of the strongest heroes of the Marvel Universe. How does that feel?
Jeremy Whitley: It feels great, because we have a lot of leeway to tell a big and crazy story with classic versions of two of the most classic characters. I mean, Hulk and Thor are original Avengers. Lee, Kirby, and Lieber created them. You don't get much more Marvel Universe than that. And with two characters that are larger than life, we get a chance to tell a story that is larger than life. Basically, we start off with an epic space adventure and then get bigger from there.
ComiXology's exclusive miniseries are meant to be accessible to just about everyone. So what can you tell us about your sort of approach to the Marvel Universe in this series?
My goal was to make something that's recognizable both to people reading comics now, and to people who only know the basics about Hulk and Thor. We want this to be an evergreen story that anyone can approach. It doesn't really fit neatly into any particular point in continuity, but uses fairly classic versions of Hulk and Thor that are recognizable both as the characters from the comics and the characters from the movies. People who are fans of Hulk and Thor's ongoing titles will certainly recognize characters that appear in the pages, but even more so we wanted to use this as a chance to pull in villains and challenges from all around the Marvel Universe. Also, we'll be introducing a couple of new characters all our own.
The title of the series, Thor Vs Hulk, suggests the bulk of the action will pit your two title characters against each other. How will their rivalry play out?
In the beginning of the series, we'll get a bit of a feeling for the (usually) friendly rivalry between the two heroes. But when The Champion of the Universe appears, he'll be pitting them against each other to see who is worthy to face him as the Champion of Earth. Neither of them wants to concede and they're both convinced they will do a better job of defending the Earth than the other, so our heroes will be clashing pretty hard at times.
What made you want to include the Elder of the Universe known as the Champion in this series?
For people who have been watching the Marvel movies, they've already introduced The Collector, and Thor: Ragnarok will be introducing The Grandmaster. Keeping in line with that, we thought it would be fun to bring in one of the other Elders. The Champion is a lot of fun, because all he wants is to prove he's the best. There's no talking him down from fighting, that's what he's here for.
The Champion views Hulk and Thor as the only real possible competition for him on Earth. Rather than wear himself out fighting a lesser foe, he's making them face off to prove who's superior. But, I mean, this is a guy who calls himself The Champion of the Universe -- he knows he's going to mop the floor with whoever faces him.
I understand helping direct the Champion's contest between Thor and Hulk is one of the new characters you referred to earlier. What can you tell us about her? What inspired her creation?