Original Sin #3 opened the eyes of some of Marvel’s biggest heroes to some secrets from their past, and one secret shared by two of the company’s top heroes could prove to be the most incendiary of the lot, and is best summed up by three words: “Hulk… Smash… Stark!”
Those words uttered by Hulk are spinning out into its own miniseries dubbed Original Sin #3.1 through #3.4, with the unofficial subtitle “Hulk vs. Iron Man,” and as co-writers Mark Waid tell us, it pushes the green goliath into a whole new realm of anger – even more so than “Planet Hulk.” Waid and co-writer Kieron Gillen, the writers of the Hulk and Iron Man ongoing series respectively, are uniting together to tell the story of their two characters facing off, with artists Mark Bagley and Luke Ross providing the visuals. And as they put it, it’s all about the revelation that Stark, the former weapons designer, had a role in the gamma bomb testing that cursed Bruce Banner with the onus of being the Hulk.
Newsarama talked with the two writers about this super-sized showdown, how it spins out of Original Sin, as well as the fact that this miniseries will be the finale for both of the writers on their respective characters.
Newsarama: In Original Sin #3 readers saw some knowledge being dropped on Hulk that made him immediately think to go after Tony Stark. In previews we were told that Stark may have designed the gamma bomb that turned Banner into Hulk. Is Tony aware of his complicity in Hulk’s origin?
Kieron Gillen: The way we basically see it is that there's secret-leakage. Bruce gets bits of what Tony did. Tony gets bits of what Bruce did. And who knows what the Hulk gets? And even if Tony did something, the question becomes what he actually remembers of it. Tony's got holes in his memory that are solely occupied by his old friend whiskey. The story's very much about them both taking these initial flickers and then digging into the past to discover the truth... and when they do, what they do with that knowledge.
Nrama: Mark, what’s going through Hulk’s mind right now?
Mark Waid: Hulk confused. Hulk's head hurt. Hulk keep getting memories that aren't Hulk's own! Hulk "remembers" things puny Banner never did! Things that Not-Hulk and Not-Puny-Banner did! Who did those things that make Hulk's head hurt? Stark? Is it Stark? Hulk hate Stark!
Nrama: Whoa, Hulking out there Mark. We’ll give you a bit to compose yourself. Kieron, how do you feel Tony Stark views Bruce Banner and the Hulk?
Gillen: Before the story starts? Bruce is an enormously talented guy, but too much of an idealist. He's not a guy who's ever really been able to bring an idea to market. Tony thinks he's a better Engineer than Bruce. If you got him in an honest mode, he'd probably admit to being not as much as a pure theorist as Bruce, but those moods are rare.
The Hulk is the Hulk is the Hulk. Writing the flashes of knowledge of what the Hulk can do has been one of the best bits of the book. Looked at through a certain filter, the Hulk is the Earth's greatest weapon. For someone who spent so many years as a weapon-designer, you wonder how Tony thinks about that. Can he take him down? Really?
Nrama: Mark, how do you feel Bruce views Tony in general in comics, before he learns of this Original Sin?
Waid: It's spelled out nicely in Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man #3.1, in a never-before-seen flashback to the day before the Gamma Bomb test, when Tony is courted by Thunderbolt Ross to "check Banner's math," if you will. The scene gave us a real taste, for the first time, of how both men really view one another, and while they respect one another's genius and have a rivalry, deep down Bruce regards Tony as a cynical war profiteer (which, at that time in Tony's life, wasn't inaccurate).
Nrama: Last time Iron Man pissed off the Hulk, it was for being part of the group that shot Hulk into outer space and begat “Planet Hulk” and then World War Hulk. In terms of a “Hulk angry” meter, where would you place it right now leading into this miniseries?
Waid: If Hulk's anger level during “Planet Hulk” was 10, let's call this 11...because Banner ain't exactly pleased, either.
Nrama: That begs the question – what exactly can people expect in Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man?
Waid: The biggest, deadliest, most catastrophic battle the two have ever had--and it's against one another. And it's different than any Hulk/Iron Man throwdown we've seen before because Banner has secretly [redacted by Marvel] [redacted by Marvel] [redacted by Marvel!]
Nrama: Gillen, can you give us something a bit more revealing?
Gillen: It's a detective story of two geniuses hunting down the truth. It's a brawl between two of the Marvel Universe's greatest titans. It's a heartbreaking relationship between two of the most important humans in the Marvel Universe. It's very much a classic Marvel story in the set-up, that it looks at the phrase "superhuman" and underlines the human.
The fights are really nifty though.
Nrama: Thinking big picture here, Hulk and Iron Man have become quick friends in the Marvel movie franchise, but not so in comics – not ever if this comes true. How would you take measure of Hulk and Iron Man’s interactions in comics?
Waid: ?I think we've done a really good job in the last few years following the lead of the Avengers movie--not because it was an edict, but because Robert Downey, Jr. and Mark Ruffalo really nailed the whole "Science Bros" dynamic and now I can't think of them otherwise. Too bad about Original Sin...
Gillen: One of my favorite things about this is that we get to delve into this early period of the Marvel Universe, and get to explore what their relationship that was like. That's just fun. They're both geniuses, but, as said above, very different geniuses. How much of friends they were actually is right at the core of the book.
Nrama: Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man will serve as the finale for both of you runs on these respective characters. Was that by design, or something that came up during the formulation of it?
Gillen: It came up in the formulation. One of those agreeable coincidences.
Waid: For me, it felt like a good, bombastic finish to a ?26-issue run. I still have Hulk stories I could tell, but right now, I want to concentrate on Daredevil and my own Thrillbent.com comics. Still, I can't imagine my path won't cross with Banner's again someday....
Nrama: Last question is for you, Kieron: Marvel has already announced who is taking Mark’s place on Hulk, but there’s no word on a follow-up Iron Man writer – or even that there’s new issues after Iron Man #28 this month. Can you say anything about the future of Tony Stark and Iron Man after Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man ends?
Gillen: Well, I can say something cheerily and annoyingly vacuous like "It's all very exciting" but that'll just be annoying, yeah?