World War Hulk: Tale of the Tape Round 1: Hulk vs. Black Bolt

This June, some of the biggest fights the Marvel Universe has ever seen will ensue when the Hulk comes back to Earth in the pages of "World War Hulk" #1. As Marvel fans know, the Hulk comes back to Earth on a mission of vengeance against the members of Marvel's Illuminati, who exiled him into space. Over the next few weeks, CBR News will play "fight doctor" and check in with "World War Hulk" writer Greg Pak for his pre-fight commentary on the match-ups between the Hulk and the various Illuminati members. Today, we bring you round one, where the Hulk is pitted against that golden throated Monarch of the Inhumans, Black Bolt. Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

The Hulk may not have as big a personal relationship with Black Bolt as he does with the other Illuminati members, but the two have had some memorable run-ins with each other. "The Hulk had a pretty fascinating encounter with Black Bolt and the Inhumans back in the very first 'Incredible Hulk" annual,' Pak told CBR News. "He fought the Inhumans -- then Black Bolt himself. But Black Bolt realized it was all a big mistake and actually offered the Hulk a home in Attilan. Hulk rejected the offer -- he mused to himself that Black Bolt may have been genuine, but the rest of the Inhumans -- like puny humans everywhere -- still hated him. The scene tells me that there might have been a chance for real friendship between Black Bolt and the Hulk -- it remains to be seen if that matters at all given the current circumstances.

"The Hulk is astronomically and incalculably angry at all four of the Illuminati who shot him into space," Pak continued "But I'd guess he feels more personally betrayed by Iron Man, Reed Richards, and Dr. Strange than by Black Bolt -- he knew the first three much better. At the same time, sometimes we have a better sense of our close friends' capacities for disappointing us -- sometimes it's the friends we didn't know quite as well whose betrayals surprise and hurt us the most."

Since the other members knew and occasionally fought along side the Hulk and Bruce Banner, it can be expected that they might feel some remorse over their decision to shoot him into space, but Black Bolt views the decision differently. "Black Bolt is a monarch, a leader of a fierce and frequently attacked people who has to make life-and-death decisions all the time," Pak explained. "If he believed that exiling the Hulk was the only way to protect his people, he's unlikely to allow himself to feel much remorse -- in his worldview, sometimes a king simply must do what a king must do. At the same time, Black Bolt has no idea what the Hulk has gone through since he was exiled. The Hulk himself has become a king -- and has suffered enormous tragedy. In many ways, the Hulk and Black Bolt share much more in common now than they did before -- if they have any opportunity to talk, it should be interesting to see if Black Bolt's assessment of the Hulk might change."

Words will more than likely be exchanged between the Hulk and Black Bolt in their confrontation, but since it takes place in a story called "World War Hulk" it's safe to say the two will be exchanging punches, kicks, or other forms of attack as well. "Some would argue that Black Bolt has the best chance of any superhero with the exception of Thor or the Sentry to match Hulk in a one-on-one physical battle," Pak said. "Black Bolt doesn't just possess incredible personal strength; he can level mountains with the sound of his voice. During their first encounter, Black Bolt actually staggered Hulk with his master blow -- and then stunned him with a whisper. Then again, no one has ever seen the Hulk this angry -- and hence, this strong..."

Any real estate agent will tell you the most important thing is "Location, location, location" and in any battle between the Hulk and Black Bolt location will also be a key factor. "The biggest problem for Black Bolt is that the full power of his voice could potentially crack open a planet," Pak stated. "If the Hulk and Black Bolt fight close to Atillan -- or any other group of innocents -- Black Bolt may not be able to unleash his full power."

That's it for the first round of "Tale of the Tape" but check back soon because we'll bring you future match ups between the Hulk and individual Illuminati members in the weeks ahead, all the way up to June 13 th , when the opening bell rings and "World War Hulk" begins.

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