Teen genius — and fan-favorite character — Amadeus Cho debuted as a friend to the Hulk, and then as a comrade to the Olympian demigod Hercules. Recently, however, the “eighth smartest man in the world” took action to eliminate his need for a super strong partner, opting to take Bruce Banner’s curse as his own. And so, he became the title character of Marvel Comics‘ “Totally Awesome Hulk.”
In the series opening arc, writer (and Cho co-creator) Greg Pak and artist Frank Cho saw Amadeus try to have some fun with his new alter ego, as he and his younger sister, Maddy, embarked upon a career as monster hunters. There were also some hints that Amadeus might soon discover that being the Hulk may not be as great an experience as he initially believed. CBR News spoke with Pak about the book’s initial arc, the series’ ties to Cho’s “Incredible Hercules” adventures, and his upcoming plans for the book which include an arc involving Thor and the Enchantress, and a “Civil War II” tie-in focusing on Bruce Banner.
CBR News: Long time fans of the character have noticed that since his transformation, Amadeus has become a lot like another one of his friends and heroes, especially since he’s cast himself in the role of monster hunter. Was it a conscious or subconscious choice for him to follow in Hercules’s footsteps?
Greg Pak: It’s funny — I hadn’t really thought about that, but there certainly are similarities between our Totally Awesome Hulk and Hercules. I have no idea why that never occurred to me before.
That love of life and readiness with a quip is as much Amadeus as it is Hercules. That’s something that Amadeus had and has always done. And yeah, now, like his buddy Herc, he’s big and strong and has a bit of an accelerated libido. Those are fun parallels. At some point I’d love to write Amadeus and Hercules meeting up again. I hope to get to that in the future.
The inaugural arc also introduced readers to another character you hinted before: Amadeus’ sister, Maddy Cho. This story was the first time we met her though, correct?
Yes, she’s a character I’ve wanted to do stuff with for forever, basically. It’s a big thrill having a chance to do it here.
Her presence in the book provides you with a fun and interesting counterpoint to her brother.
Absolutely. When you’ve got a character as big as Amadeus, you need a good foil, especially in this case. As the Hulk, Amadeus has even less impulse control than before, so having somebody around to check him a little bit makes a lot of sense. Also having that be his sister, specifically, somebody he shares history with and who’s a family member, really gives us a chance to have a lot of great emotional moments in the book.
It also gives us a chance to have a lot of funny moments, because there’s something about the way siblings interact that’s really fun. Plus, the two of them share experiences that nobody else on the planet does. They know each other very well, so when they hit crisis moments, it gives us the chance to tap into some really great emotional stuff.
Issues #5-6 are big Maddy issues. Issue #6 in particular.
How does Maddy’s intellect compare to her brother’s?
That’s to be revealed. She’s super smart, but how does that compare to what Amadeus can do? There’s a story to be told there.
New readers may wonder where Maddy and Amadeus’ parents are, but readers of “Incredible Hercules” know their tragic fate. Is that something you’re going to address or pick up on here?
We’re going to explore more of that in the opening pages of “Totally Awesome Hulk” #5, our next issue.
Another element that’s carried over from Amadeus’ previous adventures is the wealth he acquired as the head of the Olympus Group, which appears to be financing and outfitting the new Hulk’s exploits.
We haven’t expressly delved into that yet, but here and there in some of the captions we refer to some of their tech as Olympus Tech. So presumably that’s still kicking around.
Amadeus is super smart, and when we last saw him before this in “Incredible Hercules,” he had a lot of money. So that’s not an issue for him.
You seem to be hinting at is that Amadeus is playing with fire and doesn’t really understand the dark aspects of his alter ego yet.
Yes, we’ve certainly hinted that. We’ve used this fun dream sequence/metaphor of Amadeus driving this giant, green monster car. Then, first in the trunk, and now in the back seat, he’s got a big, green monster. He thinks he’s in control, but how long until that monster takes the wheel? You’ll have to wait and see.
We saw a little bit of what happens when Amadeus gets out of control in #4, where it looked like his punches could “break worlds.”
[Laughs] He’s the strongest one there is! He is the Hulk. We don’t yet know what his limits are. We know that with Banner, the angrier he got, the stronger he got. We don’t quite yet know how those rules work with Amadeus. That’s yet to be fully revealed. So there’s definitely stuff to explore there.
You hinted that your next arc would touch upon the fate of Amadeus and Maddy’s parents, but the covers and preview pages indicate the bulk of the action will feature some of the villainous and heroic women of Asgard.
The Enchantress has a plan, and that plan involves the Hulk. Whether it involves Amadeus remains to be seen. We’ll delve into that in issues #5-6.
The Enchantress is a ton of fun to write, and we’ll have another incredible woman from Asgard as well. Yes — It’s Thor! I’m just going to say it. Amadeus and Maddie also have some particularly big moments together in these two issues. So don’t miss out!
Mike Choi, who’s been doing some pretty fantastic cover work for Marvel including several of their Hip-hop variants, is illustrating that story.
Yes, Mike is drawing these next two issues, and it’s incredible stuff. It’s some of my favorite stuff I’ve ever seen of Mike’s. Of course, frankly, I’m biased. [Laughs]
Mike’s work is always gorgeous, but he’s bringing out so much character and so much subtle humor. There’s big action, and all that great texture. You don’t want to miss this. It’s great stuff.
“Totally Awesome Hulk” #7 ties into “Civil War II,” where it looks like Bruce Banner moves to the series’ front and center. What’s it like returning to Banner for a larger tale?
It’s been great! I spent — what? Five and a half years writing Banner. I love that guy, so this was a great chance to do more with him. We’ve got two issues here that are pretty Banner centric, #7-8. They’re pretty emotional. Spoiler alert! In issue #4 you see Banner’s reaction to Amadeus becoming the Hulk, and it’s not all roses. [Laughs] And in these two issues, you get to see the flip side; Banner’s reaction to losing his curse, and all the different stages in that emotional process for him.
I had a lot of fun writing these issues. It’s great to be back writing Banner, and my editors encouraged me to go deep. I hope readers dig it.
â€¨I imagine another incredibly appealing aspect of this story was the chance to have it brought to life by the legendary Alan Davis.
It’s amazing. As you said, he’s a legend! It’s always a kick when you get to work with somebody with that kind of history and that kind of caliber of work. It’s tremendous.
Will we see some more of what Banner was up to in the eight month post “Secret Wars” gap? And will we see what he’s up to now?
Yes to both. If you want answers you’ve got to read those issues.
I imagine the ideological conflict in “Civil War II” will turn comrades against each other, but what about siblings? Will Amadeus and Maddy be on the same side in “Civil War II,” and will they have a big role to play in the event’s overall story?
You’ll have to read the book to find out, but I’m working on issue #9 as we speak, and there’s a big story to be told there. I seriously can’t say any more for fear of spoilers. The story is important, and it’s big. You definitely don’t want to miss it.
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