Marvel’s Hulk is a character that prides himself on his indestructability. His current series has it built into the title: Indestructible Hulk. But in 2014, series writer Mark Waid is showing that’s not the case as someone strikes a lethal blow at the Green Goliath’s vulnerable side: Bruce Banner.
It all starts in March’s finale of the “Inhumanity Bomb” arc of Indestructible Hulk which will now know will serve as the series finale, which will see the scientific super-genius shot in the head by an assassin’s bullet. As Waid tells Newsarama, Banner is left “at death’s door” and Hulk, as you might assume, isn’t happy. It all begins to come into focus come April when Waid and incoming artist Mark Bagley unite for Hulk #1, a new ongoing series that will explore the fallout from this violent act and how the titular character deals with it. The events themselves will remain under wraps until Indestructible Hulk concludes with #20 in March, but Newsarama talked to Waid about these events and the “Banner D.O.A.” arc and how it propels the Jade Juggernaut forward – with or without Banner.
Newsarama: First question’s an obvious one, Mark – what’s happened to Bruce Banner and what’s the Hulk have to say about it?
Mark Waid: Banner's at death's door for a very surprising reason, lying on an operating table with little chance of being saved. And, boy, Hulk isn't happy about this. In fact, provided Hulk survives, he'll emerge very different from the Hulk we've been seeing.
Nrama: I know you can’t say too much about Hulk #1 as we still have issues of Indestructible Hulk yet to come, but if Hulk and Banner share the same body and Banner is shot – how does this injury effect Banner in the Hulk form?
Waid: That depends on whether Banner lives.
Nrama: Follow me on a bit of a conjecture here – we know Banner has been shot, and in the Jerome Opena cover he’s holding his head – and the cover to Indestructible Hulk #20 shows multiple shots to the head. There are few things Bruce Banner prizes more than his whip smart brain and intellect – could something have happened to his brain?
Waid: That would be a tragedy, wouldn't it? Crippling, unspeakably profound brain damage to one of the greatest minds of our era? Forget how that might affect the Hulk--how would that impact the world? What measures might be taken to save that mind, and at what cost?
Nrama: Joining you on this book is Mark Bagley. Mark has a real identifiable and expressive style, and from the cover Marvel’s shown me he’s really pushing it to its limits. Knowing he’s on the receiving end of your scripts, are their specific things you’re writing to take advantage of the guy with the pencil in his hand?
Waid: Yes. A little more emphasis on smashing. Bagley does terrific soap opera and human storytelling, but he's also terrific at huge action. How can I ignore that?
Nrama: What makes Mark Bagley an ideal artist to draw the Hulk, especially for this arc?
Waid: Because he's a smart man who will be able to read between the lines pretty quickly and know exactly what to emphasize about the Hulk's dilemma. Also, he's astounding. Also, we've been wanting to work together for years, and I'm not blowing this chance!