In 1974’s “Incredible Hulk” #181, Len Wein and Herb Trimpe introduced the Hulk to Marvel Comics' newest soon-to-be superstar: the short, scrappy and superhumanly resilient Canadian mutant known as Wolverine. The character’s ability to both dish out and take almost any punishment quickly made him a fan favorite, as well as the perfect foil for the Hulk. Over the years, the two heroes have come to blows almost as much as they’ve teamed up, but come June, their rivalry will rise to new heights as future versions of both characters collide in the present day.
It all begins in “Old Man Logan” #25, where the serie's new creative team of writer Ed Brisson and artist Mike Deodato kick off their run with a story that brings the Maestro, the scheming and villainous version of the Hulk from a dystopian future, to the present day. Making matters worse is the fact that the Maestro has not come alone; he’s recruited an army of Hulks from the Wasteland, the apocalyptic future Old Man Logan hails from. Thus, the stage is set for a bloody, brutal battle between new versions of old rivals.
CBR: It looks like a major part of your “Old Man Logan” run will involve adversarial relationship between your title character and the Hulk. It's a natural element to continue, given how Wolverine is tied to the Hulk and the role the Hulk played in the initial “Old Man Logan story,” but what made you want to add to that rivalry? And why do you think Hulk versus Logan has been such an enduring match up over the years?
Ed Brisson: What makes it interesting is that you’ve got two versions of characters who’ve fought several times in the past, so have a history and then you add on the extra layer that both are from alternate futures where the world has gone to pot. One, Logan, carries the weight of his future around with him -- and it’s heavy. It’s a future he fears and is doing everything he can to prevent. While he’s come to realize that the current timeline is different from his own, there’s still that hanging threat that somehow, someway, that his future -- wherein all his friends die -- will still somehow come to be.
Maestro, on the other hand, wants his apocalyptic future to become a reality in this timeline. In his future, he was a king. He ran things, and there’s nothing that he wants more than to regain that position. So, while Logan is fighting against a dystopian future, Maestro is instead fighting for it.
The stakes have never been higher in a Hulk/Wolverine showdown.
What can you tell us about Logan's state of mind in Issue #25? Has he found any sort of peace in his new surroundings and relationships with the X-Men? Do you think he's the type to really ever be at peace given what he's endured?
When we find him, he’s sort of settling into feeling some peace with his current life. There’s enough indication that his future will not come to be, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. He’s got the X-Men back in his life, and there’s a sense of undoing the wrong that he’d done in the original “Old Man Logan” series. He’s free from one burden, but it comes with another. Because he’s now in the past and in this timeline, he’ll never be with his wife Maureen, and his two children, Scotty and Jade, will never be born. He’ll have to carry that loss with him forever.
The Maestro’s penchant for time traveling and reality hopping allows him to be new-reader friendly while still maintaining what’s great about the character. That said, which aspects of his personality are you especially interested in exploring?
What if the Wasteland Banner had set a higher bar for himself? What if instead of hiding in a cave, pumping out Hulk babies and acting like a slumlord, he’d instead set his sights on ruling all of America? The world? He certainly had the muscle to make it a very real possibility.
So, now Maestro is here, and he’s got his very own army of Hulks. This is a chance to see how Maestro would utilize that. How he’d lead a legion of gamma radiated gladiators toward their own ideal of paradise -- a world run by Hulks, and free of humans. We’ve been positioning him so that he’s almost like a cult leader, with a cadre of Hulks as his followers.
Approximately how many followers does the Maestro have?
There are roughly twenty Hulks following Maestro. They’re from the Wasteland and didn’t necessarily have the best relationship with Banner. There’s a reason they weren’t there when Logan came and slaughtered the Hulk Gang in “Old Man Logan.”
They’re looking for a father-figure in Maestro, someone to step in in and lead them in ways that the Wasteland Hulk/Banner just wasn’t able to. They’re looking to be more than they were, and Maestro is more than happy to push them to be better.
Unfortunately for everyone else, that means they’re meaner and deadlier. Their violence is more focused and less random. They’re going to be coming at Logan smarter than they have in the past, knowing that he’s deadly and isn’t to be underestimated.
Who are some of the other supporting players Old Man Logan will interact with in your initial issues?
There will be some familiar faces popping up throughout, but I want to leave those as a surprise for readers. Let’s just say that Logan’s got friends who’re willing to lend a hand if he’ll just reach out (not something he’s usually particularly very good about).
There will be some new characters as well, especially within the Hulk Gang. I really wanted to delve into that and explore what it would be like for individuals within the Hulk Gang to grow up under someone as sick and twisted as the Wasteland Bruce Banner/Hulk.
I was excited to hear that Mike Deodato is working on this with you on this -- he's got a knack for both Hulk and Wolverine, and his style really meshes super hero action with the brutal and gritty feel of the beat downs that usually happen in Hulk versus Wolverine clashes.
We’re trying to tell a big story here, and I think that Mike Deodato is the perfect artist for something on this scale. The Hulk vs. Logan fight pages have been just incredible, and I think that a lot of people are going to be blown away.
And, as much as Mike slays on the bigger pages -- Hulks smashing the hell out of everything -- he’s also got a great sense of acting and storytelling and nails the quieter moments in the story, making them incredibly poignant and emotional.
This is a story that will unfold almost entirely in the 616 universe. It’s a battle for the 616 universe. Though, throughout, we will have flashbacks to Logan’s life as it was in the Wasteland to inform some of what’s to come.
"Old Man Logan" #25, by Ed Brisson and Mike Deodato, arrives in stores June 14, 2017.