In the blockbuster smash hit Marvel’s The Avengers, viewers loved the friendship and rivalry that debuted on screen between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. The interaction between the two was so well-received that it became the focus of Iron Man 3’s after-credits scene.
In Indestructible Hulk #2, Mark Waid took things a step further, bringing the two geniuses together and establishing the rivalry aspect a little more strongly than the friendship. Now in the Indestructible Hulk Annual in December 2013, Jeff Parker and Mahmud Asrar will team to show more about how Banner and Stark – not to mention Hulk and Iron Man – interact in the Marvel Universe. They’ll also be revealing a surprising connection between the two human sides of their past, which will require the superheroes and the supergeniuses to work together.
We talked with the writer and artist about working on the annual, what makes these two characters so appealing together and separately, and for Asrar, what it’s like coming into the Marvel Universe.
Newsarama: Jeff, What is appealing to you about the Banner and Stark friendship/rivalry?
Jeff Parker: They're in competition with each other, they often battle each other, but they're among this small elite group of minds who can understand and appreciate each other. I love that the Avengers movie had the moment acknowledging that- 'hey, we're the smart guys.'
Nrama: Why is it important to tie these two geniuses closer together?
Parker: As Iron Man and Hulk they make a perfect contrast of visuals and types. The high-tech robotic man and the giant brute savage. Really they should come together more often. In-story, they complement each other well. Bruce knows he'll go green and not be able to use his mind in a situation that requires it, and he has to admit Tony Stark will fill the bill.
Nrama: A "deadly villain" is usually involved, and is teased here – what can you tell us about the villain?
Parker: The danger all comes from a scientist they both admired as young up and coming students. He disappeared years ago, and they've found an island where all of his military applied experimentation has been focused since.
Nrama: What is it like coming in to write an annual for a series you're not working on? Is there any kind of catch-up or extra coordination that has to be done with the editors or with Mark Waid and Kieron Gillen?
Parker: I was already reading their series, so I just had to have some material earlier than it would see print. Waid and Gillen are both writing very new-reader friendly runs on the characters, which makes it easy on me. I don't have to establish much more than "Banner works with S.H.I.E.L.D. right now," really. Both books are a good time and this will connect them more.
Nrama: You seem to have an affinity for Hulks – what draws you to those characters in particular in the Marvel Universe?
Parker: I like the sci-fi of it all and the fact that there are very primal themes in Hulk- dealing with a monster within, self-control. It's simply an enduring concept and perfect for big action.
Nrama: Tony Stark is very busy these days, discovering more about his past, traversing the galaxy with the Guardians – where does this story fit in with his other goings on?
Parker: It fits theme-wise, because it's all about the motivations of these guys who have brought such destructive power into the world. It's after he gets back to Earth.
Nrama: Mahmud, you've spent some time over in that other universe and the Ultimate Marvel world, is there anything inherently different with your approach when jumping from one world to the next?
Mahmud Asrar: This challenge is the main attraction for me doing this book. It is so different than what I've been doing in recent years that it'll allow me to stretch my abilities in many different ways. It's an opportunity for me to grow as an artist while showing the readers that I can adapt to different subject matter. In that sense it's kind of a test for me. I'll try to mold my style to fit the tone of the story.
Nrama: Drawing two of the most iconic and popular characters in the Marvel Universe in your first go must be exciting. What visual flairs are you excited to hit with each of these guys?
Asrar: That's right. I don't recall ever drawing either character on a single published panel before. Banner and Stark being great minds have some common character traits among themselves but Hulk and Iron Man are utterly different. Such a difference always leads to interesting storytelling. You can't get any more technical than Iron Man in terms of visuals and Hulk is just the opposite, a huge organic being comprised entirely of rage and muscle. One uses weapons and the other uses brute force. These aspects combined will lead interesting scenes to draw. Being a long time fan of the Hulk I'm looking forward to drawing scenes where he sets loose.
Nrama: How closely are the two of you working to create this new villain? What goes into that process between a writer and artist?
Parker: We just email back and forth like normal. Mahmud is so easy to work with, and such a brilliant designer. I'm really fortunate to get to work with him.