Marvel Comics fans are eagerly awaiting the Hulk's return to Earth in the pages of "World War Hulk," and when the Green King lands this June, you can bet that massive amounts of damage will be the result. One man has been tasked with depicting all the drama and destruction of "World War: Hulk," artist John Romita Jr. CBR News spoke with him about the series.
Romita was offered "World War Hulk" while he was working on his last project, the "Eternals" mini-series with Neil Gaiman. "[Marvel] approached me and said, 'We need to discuss what you're doing next.' And it pretty much came out of nowhere," Romita told CBR News. "They said, 'We think we'd like to see you on the Hulk.' They explained it to me and it was simple as that."
Bringing to life the story of the Hulk's retribution on the heroes who exiled him appealed to Romita. "The way they explained it to me was very attractive," Romita said. "It was something as all out and clean as Hulk's revenge. I hate to say I was looking for something as simplistic but I think that was a big attraction after the 'Sentry' series, which was all psychological, and the 'Eternals,' which was so 'heavenly' so to speak, with the origin of man and such. Yet, Greg Pak's writing is not so simplistic. It's a brilliant storyline. It's all out mayhem and it's a large event both literally and figuratively
Romita is aware that the mayhem of which he speaks will be seen from a number of different perspectives. "I think the Hulk's having a normal reaction," Romita said. "He's pretty pissed off and I don't know if there's anybody who can't understand what the character is going through. I don't think anybody denies him what he's going to do. However, in fairness you have to look upon it as he was a danger to society. So there's an attempt in the story to show both sides of the coin. However, if you stand in the Hulk's shoes you can understand his point of view. I don't know if that's the point for me though. I don't know if I need to agree with the Hulk in this but if I had to pick a side I would say the Hulk deserves to get his shots in and hopefully nobody dies."
Scripting that tale of the Hulk getting those shots in on those who wronged him is Greg Pak, and its Romita's first time collaborating with the writer. "I don't know what his scripts we're like before this, but to me his scripts are enormous," Romita explained. "They're large in sheet numbers and scope. I think he's a man of the film medium and there's a feeling of that in the scripts. Some of the things he asks for aren't always possible (laughs). It's hard to describe. Sometimes multiple action panels are nearly impossible to do. So that's where I come in to play. I contract -- or expand, should they be too simple. But his ideas are brilliant. This is just an amazing story and when combined with 'Planet Hulk' and the other 'World War Hulk" stories it's an amazing coordination of things."
For Romita, some of the most intriguing elements of Pak's scripts are the conflicts between the characters. "One of the first elements was the clash between the Hulk and Iron Man," he said. "That's an interesting situation and the reaction of the other heroes is much to the effect of 'Oops!'"
The titanic struggles between the various super powered characters of "World War Hulk" create a good deal of fallout, which provided Romita with one of his greatest storytelling challenges. "The most challenging aspect is showing the evacuation of Manhattan in a way that makes the reader believe that it's happening." Romita explained. "It's not an easy thing for the writer, the artist, the inker and the colorist to do."
"World War Hulk" is an event storyline and one of the most difficult things of event stories for artists is the enormous number of characters they have to draw. "I knew going into the assignment that it was going to be something to that effect," Romita said. "It was supposed to be that way when I did the 'Eternals' and it didn't happen quite as severely as I expected, as far as drawing a million different supporting characters. I painted myself into a corner this time. There's a cast of millions in this one."
Of course, Romita is very happy to depict certain members of that huge cast. "Drawing the Hulk again is a lot of fun," he confessed. "It took a couple of panels to get used to it. I also had to get used to him having a little bit of a costume. Drawing Black Bolt was a lot of fun too, albeit brief." There were also a few characters in "World War Hulk" that Romita wasn't very fond of; one in particular. "I actually dislike drawing Iron Man," Romita laughed. "Only because it's physically difficult to justify him doing any kind of stretching or anatomical movement because the costume makes no sense! So I have a problem suspending disbelief on that. I'm saying this all tongue and cheek but Iron Man is a difficult character to draw because of the costume and we've created a 'Hulkbuster' costume which makes even less sense! So it's my own fault!"
"World War Hulk" may involve depictions of mass evacuations and difficult characters to draw, but the story involves loads of one thing that Romita loves to draw. "I think this story is going back to basics and allowing me to draw all out action ," Romita said. "There's a lot of back story but Greg writes so well that the back story almost seems innocuous but yet it's there -- which is his playing to my strengths, I guess. So the most enjoyable part of this is the action and the Hulk is that action and it's really a lot of fun to draw him.
"I do think there is a danger to get too carried away with the Hulk to the point where he becomes repetitive," Romita continued. "So, the trick is to make sure you do some things differently and Greg has got some great ideas along those lines. Ultimately I was given the option of altering the choreography but that's the whole point. A writer has to give you ideas that you can bounce off of both in terms of storytelling and visually. So it's the all out ferocity and the actual depiction of the Hulk that is the attraction here."
Romita is aware that "World War Hulk" is a hugely anticipated event and he hopes that fans feel he's done the story justice. "To short sheet this would be to really do it an injustice," he stated. "I think one of the reasons I was asked to do this was that I tend to be a large scale artist storytelling-wise. It's tough to get something on this kind of scale. The 'Planet Hulk' story was the same kind of thing and that was handled very well. This is tough because we have Manhattan and need accurate depictions of the city and shots from all different angles and then there are all these different characters coming in. To cheat on any backgrounds or any scene would be noticeable. So, hopefully at the end of the day people will say something like, 'I give it a B+ for ambition.' If that's the case, where they didn't notice that there's been a lack of anything maybe that's my accomplishment."
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