When a family member is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, filling in for him isn't going to be a cakewalk. Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk discovers this in an upcoming storyline of her ongoing series as she steps up to combat the rampaging foes of her vanished cousin Bruce Banner AKA the Incredible Hulk. CBR News spoke with "She-Hulk" writer Dan Slott and artist Rick Burchett about the storyline and the other exciting development they have planned for the Jade Giantess.
"She-Hulk" isn't the first time Slott and Burchett worked together. The two had previously collaborated on DC's "Batman Adventures" and enjoyed the experience so much that they were eager to work together again. "Whenever a hole would open up for 'She-Hulk,' Rick was on my short list," Dan Slott told CBR News. "They would say, 'Who do you want?' and one of the first names out of my mouth would be, 'Rick Burchett!'"
"Dan called me last summer and said that 'She Hulk' was behind schedule and they needed someone to come in for a couple of issues and help them catch up," Rick Burchett explained to CBR News. "So, I sent samples to Editor Tom Brevoort. He said, 'All I can promise you is two issues, but we appreciate the help.' I did the two issues and they offered me a third one. I did that and then they called and offered me the book."
There are many reasons why Slott is overjoyed to be reunited with his Eisner winning collaborator. One of the biggest reasons is Burchett's genuine affection for the characters and concepts the he gets to bring to life in 'She Hulk." "For years, Rick has been over at DC in the Batman corner of the universe. He's also worked on a number of DC properties like Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Blackhawk," Slott said. "He's somebody that clearly loves comics, but 'She-Hulk' is really his first foray into the Marvel Universe. One of the coolest things to me is how much fun he's having playing with all the different Marvel U toys. Like in issue #10, Rick was the happiest guy in the world drawing Willie Lumpkin. And that's cool! 'Cause I'm the happiest guy in the world writing about guys like Willie Lumpkin."
"I had been with DC for fifteen years," Burchett added. "I had really never thought about working for Marvel. I was happy at DC and the chance to go to Marvel came up unexpectedly. Then once I started drawing all these characters that I had grown up with, the Marvel fanboy in me came out and I started having a great time.
"On the 'She Hulk' book I'm purposely keeping the art as clean as I can," Burchett continued. "Mainly because that's what Juan Bobillo had done on the book and I like the way that had looked with the color. Also it was kind of a transition thing for the readers; that's what they were used to so I wanted to give them some of the same thing. Juan's work is a lot more fun, fanciful and whimsical than mine, but I thought if we could retain that kind of clean look with the characters it might be a nice fit for the readers."
Burchett took the "She Hulk" assignment because it meant regular work and a chance to work with his friend Slott, whose writing he enjoys both as a reader and as an artist. "Dan tells good stories," Burchett said. "He tells stories with interesting characters. He surprises readers and thank god he has a sense of humor about the whole thing. So often comics take themselves too seriously and it becomes hard to latch onto something because it's kind of the same tone all the time. Dan hits a lot of emotional buttons in his stories; there's humor, there's pathos, there's action, there's mystery all of this is inherent in his work and as an artist it's fun to play with these things."
It's been an emotionally tumultuous time for Jennifer Walters. She's learned and endured a lot and in "She-Hulk" #14 (in stores on December 20 th ) readers will see how this impacts one of her most important relationships. "You're going to find out what's happening with She-Hulk and her husband, John Jameson [the son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson]," Slott stated. "We ended our last story arc on a cliff hanger. Jen and her husband have suddenly realized that they might've gotten married because of a super-powered-love-zap. And when we last left them, they were looking at each other saying, 'Now what?' The first thing we do at the top of issue #14 is we answer that question."
Issue #14 of "She-Hulk" will also address a lot questions about another important character in the book, the android Awesome Andy (who began life as the Mad Thinker's Awesome Android). "It's everything you've always wanted to know about Awesome Andy, but were afraid to ask," Slott explained. "That poor giant grey robot has just had some severe heartache. And in this outing, while he's pondering his next step, we're going to see what made Awesome Andy into the android he is today. I don't know if people are going to like where it goes.
"Even though the logo reads 'She-Hulk'," Slott continued. "She's really only in the bridging sequences. This one's really all about Andy. Though readers should expect some cameos, like the Mighty Thor. He plays an important role in a key moment from Awesome Andy's life. What? I can't tell you. You're just going to have to check it out."
Slott recommends both issues #14 and #15 of "She-Hulk" as good jumping on points for new readers. "If you're a Marvel fan and have been hearing buzz about 'She-Hulk,' these are good issues to jump on. Especially January's #15 which starts our new 'Planet Without A Hulk' arc," Slott explained.
"It's got a pretty good hook," Slott continued. "When the Illuminati shot the Hulk into space, they never asked, 'Who's gonna take care of all of his bad guys?' Enter She-Hulk, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.! It's four issues of globetrotting, hulkbusting fun as Jen Walters is pitted against all of Ol' Jade Jaw's biggest baddies.
"In issue #15 'She-Hulk' butts heads with the Abomination. In #16, she'll go toe-to-toe with the Wendigo – and you know if you're a Hulk and you're fighting Wendigo… well, c'mon, that means you've got</i> to have Wolverine drop in and help, right? Other issues will showcase guys like Zzzax and maybe, just maybe, a certain super smart giant headed green person. Seriously, this is big league Hulk stuff! And it should be a lot of fun!"
As she tackles the big league Hulk stuff, She-Hulk will get her marching orders from a familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Clay Quartermain. "This is Clay Quartermain starting up a whole new Hulkbuster unit to deal with Hulkish problems and She-Hulk is going to be their Hulk of choice; their Hulk du jour."
As "Planet Without a Hulk" progresses, readers will meet some of the new faces that comprise Quatermain's Hulkbuster unit and see what life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent means for She-Hulk. "She's built a rich, full life for herself as Jen Walters with a fun supporting cast at the law firm, and dealing with all kinds of strange legal cases," Slott stated. "And while that's great for Jen, that's not really She-Hulk's world. She-Hulk likes to have adventures and run off with the Avengers and punch things. So this new S.H.I.E.L.D. life is right up her alley."
Fans of "She-Hulk's" regular supporting cast shouldn't worry though. "We'll see what's going on at the law firm," Slott said. "Expect some interesting developments for both Two-Gun and Mallory Book."
When asked about the long-suffering character Pug, Slott replied, "Pug? You mean the guy who drank a potion so he wouldn't be in love with She-Hulk anymore? The Pug who because he drank that potion is going to have to pay a horrible price? That Pug? I don't know. We'll have to see. Poor Pug. He's Charlie Brown, fate is Lucy and She-Hulk's love is that football."
Pug and She-Hulk's life can be full of drama, but readers should expect loads more action and fun in upcoming issues of "She-Hulk," especially during "Planet Without a Hulk." "We've just spent a good eight issues dealing with space operas, soap operas and 'Civil War,' Slott said. "'Planet Without a Hulk' is a break from that and I mean break with an exclamation point! It's punching, hitting, smashing and slashing. It's two-fisted action in the mighty Marvel manner. You're going to get something that you haven't seen in 'She-Hulk for awhile, which is the splash page."
Rick Burchett is especially excited to depict Slott's action-stuffed scripts for "Planet Without a Hulk." "In 'Planet Without a Hulk,' there's a lot of action going on and you'd think that kind of stuff would be easy to do, but you don't want to give the reader the same thing over and over again," Burchett said. "So, I tried to put a different spin on it. Sometimes you're successful and sometimes you're not. I've never had the opportunity to do big action set pieces like this and in issue #15, She-Hulk and the Abomination have a big dust up. So this is great fun and its stretching muscles that I've never stretched before."
"Planet Without a Hulk," also gave Burchett an opportunity to draw some characters and concepts he'd been longing to depict. "I've wanted to do Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. for years, ever since the Streranko days," Burchett explained. "We've got She-Hulk as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. So I get to draw the Hellicarrier and the S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms and all that kind of stuff. So that's been a hoot."
"Planet Without a Hulk" deals with the absence of She-Hulk's cousin from Earth and, as regular readers know, in 2007 a big event storyline known as "World War Hulk" kicks off that may or may not have to do with Bruce Banner's return to Earth. Readers can expect this storyline to have a large impact on She-Hulk's world. "I've been talking with 'Hulk' writer Greg Pak on the phone," Slott said. "And we've been working out some Shulkie/Hulkie secrets."
Slott couldn't give much detail on She-Hulk's involvement in "World War Hulk," but could confirm that Jen Walters will play a role in the storyline. "If I were a magic eight ball I would say, 'All signs point to yes," he stated.
He may not be able to say much about She-Hulk's role in "World War Hulk," but Slott did reveal that he and Burchett do have long term plans for "She-Hulk" and readers have already been given glimpses of these plans. "Anyone who's been reading 'She-Hulk' knows that when we hit issue #3 of the second season we gave you a sort of flash forward to something called the 'Reckoning War,'" Slott explained. "I think fans can tell that we have things pretty planned out and that the seeds of the Reckoning War were planted in 'She-Hulk' season one. There are all kinds of turns and twists we're definitely going places."
Burchett hopes readers will love their trips to the various places he and Slott have planned for them in "She-Hulk" because he's having a blast taking them there. "I hope readers are enjoying the book because I'm really enjoying myself," he stated. "Anytime you can enjoy your job you're ahead of the game."
Slott also is enjoying working on "She-Hulk" and is immensely grateful for all his collaborators on the book. "On top of Rick and everybody else who is doing such a great job we've got Cliff Rathburn from 'The Walking Dead,' who is doing an amazing job inking over Rick's pencils," Slott said. "And we've got these gorgeous Greg Horn covers that keep coming at you every single month. Greg has just been knocking them out of the park."
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