Wizard World Philly: "World War Hulk" Panel Report

The World War Hulk panel smashed its way into Wizard World Philly on Saturday, and was accompanied by panelists Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Frank Tieri, Greg Pak, Jim McCann, and CB Cebulski, with Bill Rosemann showing up as a late arrival. The requisite slideshow presentation went first, with covers for tie-in issues of "World War Hulk," "The Incredible Hulk," "World War Hulk Frontline," "Irredeemable Ant Man," "Avengers Initiative," "Ghost Rider," "Heroes for Hire," "Iron Man," "Marvel Spotlight," "World War Hulk X-Men," and "World War Hulk Gamma Corps."

Greg Pak led off the panel with a brief recap of the events leading up to World War Hulk, most notably the members of the secret group known as the Illuminati conspiring to exile the Hulk into space. Now the Hulk is back, and he wants revenge. As Pak explained, this simple premise paves the way for a story that will stand in contrast to the more political "Civil War;" this event will be all about the fights. The legendary John Romita Jr, as Pak called him, will be pencilling the series.

Next up, Tom Brevoort discussed the "World War Hulk Frontline" miniseries, which he said will play a similar role as "Civil War Frontline" did with "Civil War." Specifically, "Frontline" will be an opportunity for readers to see the ground-level perspective of the Hulk's return to Earth, through the eyes of the intrepid Daily Bugle reporters. Paul Jenkins will be writing the series, and Ramon Bachs and Shawn Martinbrough will be on art.

Greg Pak also discussed issues #106-110 of "Incredible Hulk "which will be tying into World War Hulk. Amadeus Cho, the teenage genius Pak created in the recent "Amazing Fantasy" series, has appointed himself defender of the Hulk, and recruits several heroes including She-Hulk, Doc Samson, Angel, Hercules, and Namor to aid him. Pak promised there would be major ramifications for She-Hulk during the event, particularly in "World War Hulk" #2. Also appearing will be longtime Hulk sidekick Rick Jones, who encounters the Hulk's new alien sidekick Miek. One notable absence will be Bruce Banner's wife Betty, who is not currently slated to appear in the event.

Frank Tieri was on hand to discuss his "World War Hulk: Gamma Corps" series, which will feature the return of a Hulk nemesis from Paul Jenkins' run, the nefarious General Ryker. As Tieri explained it in his imitable Brooklyn accent, Ryker sees the Hulk's latest assault on Earth as an opportunity to redeem himself after past failures in going up against the Hulk. Consequently, Ryker masterminds the creation of a series of new gamma-irradiated beings, each derived from the DNA of known gamma beings in the Marvel Universe; the Abomination, the Leader, the Harpy, Doc Samson, and of course, the Hulk. Tieri explained that a She-Hulk template was not used because, in his words, "She's just the Hulk with boobs." And as Tieri hinted, this sort of mad science rarely comes to a good end.

The "World War Hulk: X-Men" miniseries was discussed next, with the Hulk coming to the mansion looking for Professor Charles Xavier, wanting to know what role the former Illuminati member played in the Hulk's exile. Christos Gage will be writing and Andrea DiVito will be handling art chores, with covers by Ed McGuinness. A Hulk vs. Juggernaut fight was promised.

Also mentioned was the "Avengers: The Initiative" tie-in which Brevoort described as the young Initiative members first major challenge. The Iron Man WWH tie-in will feature the fight between Hulk and Iron Man as shown in the main "WWH" miniseries, this time from Iron Man's perspective, and will also show the fallout for Iron Man, with Brevoort questioning whether Iron Man would even be able to walk again after the fight.

With the cover of "The Irredeemable Ant-Man" on screen, featuring Ant-Man crawling out of the Hulk's nose, Brevoort quipped that readers would discover Ant-Man hiding in some unusual places during the war. One fan asked why Ghost Rider would be tying into World War Hulk, given the character's very different milieu, and Jim McCann quoted Frank Tieri as pointing out that the Ghost Rider is the Spirit of Vengeance, and World War Hulk is all about vengeance. "Heroes for Hire" was also shown, and McCann explained that the series would feature the group confronting the Hulk's warbound allies, the Brood. Lastly, the cover to the World War Hulk issue of "Marvel Spotlight" was shown, with McCann describing it as a behind the scenes look at the event.

With that, the panel turned it over to the audience for questions. Asked about the absence of Banner throughout most of "Planet Hulk", Pak explained that it was primarily the Hulk's story, and quipped that Banner likely would have been crushed instantly on the savage alien planet that served as the backdrop for "Planet Hulk." When asked if Banner would play a role in World War Hulk, Pak's only comment was "Read the book."

The last major issue raised at the panel was the question of the Hulk's mental state going into the war. Pak pointed out that this incarnation of the Hulk combines both raw power and strategy, making him a much more dangerous enemy. There is also indication, as Pak explained, that the Hulk is not without conscience, as evidenced by his demand for New York City to be evacuated before launching his attack. But as Pak reiterated, concern for the safety innocents will not extend to those who the Hulk feels wronged him.

Tony Stark beware…

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