During Marvel’s first big 2014 event series Original Sin, superheroes will learn secrets of their past that the publisher promises will have profound effects on their present and futures, and in a June debuting off-shoot four-issue limited series Original Sin: Iron Man vs. Hulk (or Original Sin #3.1 to #3.4), readers will learn if Tony Stark is responsible for creating the Hulk.
Co-written appropriately by the Hulk’s Mark Waid and Iron Man’s Kieron Gillen (with art by Mark Bagley, Luke Ross and covers by J.G. Jones according to Marvel's June 2014 soliciations ), "Original Sin reveals a deeply buried secret shared by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner that dates back to the fateful gamma-bomb explosion that created the Hulk," Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso revealed to USA Today. "After this, all bets are off between Iron Man and the Hulk. There is no going back. There's only manning up and facing the consequences."
According to the national newspaper, “the possible connection between Stark and the day that changed Bruce Banner's life is one that comes to light, and both men team up for an investigation to explore the truth as they dig into what Stark was up to at the time as well as both men's pasts and presents.”
Waid says the ultimate answer is "quite surprising," but adds, “it's not what not you would expect but neither is it a cheat."
According to Gillen, the series dips into the prehistory, friendship and rivalry of the two guys, and will be a “proverbial emotional roller coaster.”
“These are not unemotional men."
Seizing on a zeitgeist reference, Waid compares their “really screwed-up emotional journey” to HBO’s True Detective, “with two partners unearthing a lot of creepy, dark secrets they're unprepared for when it comes to the consequences,” writes USA Today.
A potential third investigator adds to the tension, which is always a complication when Bruce Banner is involved.
"It's safe to say that a lot of this story is Tony trying to dive deep into this investigation and yet be careful about what he shares with Bruce," Waid said. "You never know with Bruce what's going to set him off."
Gillen goes on to illustrate how he feels the series highlights the differences between Marvel and DC heroes. At DC, the writer feels like "the world is the problem in many ways. They're trying to make sure paradise returns. Batman was fine until his parents were killed.”
Whereas with Marvel characters, he argues the characters themselves and their failings are a big part of the problem, failings they have to overcome during the course of the story.
Finally, Waid told USA Today recent developments in Iron Man – i.e. Tony learning he was adopted and has a brother – informs the story, and the duo wanted to be sure they didn’t make Tony a victim.
"Even given the question on the table, there is sill something very heroic about the decisions he makes in this story," Waid said.
"It's easy to write a cynical story where you find out that there's an original sin and somebody's done something wrong. It's easy to reveal something dark about a character, but the hard part — and to me the most rewarding part — is to try to figure out a way in which that helps define them as a hero rather than just tarnishes them."