Next Wednesday, Marvel’s Hulk series – and the Hulk himself – will undergo a dramatic shift as the green goliath gets a new mindset and a new series writer. Deadpool co-writer Gerry Duggan is joining series artist Mark Bagley in Hulk #5 to kick off an all-new, extra-sized story-arc titled “The Omega Hulk,” which will see the Hulk out to put a stop to the green menace of gamma-irradiated people – including friends and relatives like She-Hulk.
This is all coming about thanks to a new persona adopted by the Hulk, ‘Doc Green,’ after being injected with a derivative of Tony Stark’s Extremis to save him from brain damaged suffered by an assassination attempt earlier this year. The Hulk has taken on different personas over the years, and this Doc Green has all the strength of your classic Hulk but with a more calculating mind at work – which could be a good thing, or a bad thing says Duggan. It’s the first salvo in the recently announced “Avengers NOW!” according to Marvel Senior VP Tom Brevoort, weeks before the finale of Steve Rogers as Captain America and Thor as, well, Thor.
Newsarama: Gerry, we spoke when your run on Hulk was first announced but now we’re a week away and some more has been revealed. What can you say now about what’s starting in Hulk #5 and this “Omega Hulk” arc?
Gerry Duggan: Strap in. I have my pedal down like this is a rental, and when I got the keys I checked the boxes for the extra insurance. Issue 5 introduces you to quite a bit, and then… so. Much. Conflict. Some of it physical, some of that conflict go back to the 1960s. I’m really having the time of my life in front of my computer.
Nrama: Hulk has had many personas in the past, and you’re adding a new one – Doc Green. What can you say about Doc Green?
Duggan: Doc Green makes a strong first impression. When we meet him, we are without Banner. It’s clear that Doc Green is dominating the other side of him, the way that Bruce Banner has bottled in the Hulk for so many years. That means we’re seeing a lot of the Hulk, but...it might have unintended consequences. You’re going to get to know Doc Green along the ride. By the end of Hulk #9 you might have questions about his alignment...
Nrama: When we first spoke you compared this to Iron Man’s “Armor Wars” but with the Hulk and gamma-irradiated characters. What prompts Hulk’s decision to wipe out those like him?
Duggan: Well, that’s a complicated question. On the surface, curing Hulks is a good idea. Fewer Hulks means fewer mistakes, fights, rages, and fewer insurance claims. It’s something the world should want. Whether Doc Green’s motives are purely altruistic is not for me to say. Let’s see what happens. Keep reading.
Nrama: And what absolves Hulk from thinking he himself should not be around since he too is gamma-irradiated, and he’s arguably caused more damage than all of the others with gamma rays in them combined?
Duggan: Again, a good question. The cure Doc Green developed is from his own blood, and it won’t work for him. That’s one. There is no easy fix for him, but believe this question comes up throughout “The Omega Hulk:” What gives Doc Green the right?
Nrama: In the upcoming solicits for Hulk it’s mentioned that the Gamma Corps will be returning – can you tell us how they fit in with “The Omega Hulk”?
Duggan: Yes, that story slid from Hulk #7, but they will have a role to play in an upcoming issue. I needed more pages for their story, so we’re all going to have to be patient and wait. The simple answer is: they might share an ideology with Doc Green, but they’re using gamma weapons to accomplish it, so...they’re on his list.
Nrama: You mention Bruce to me, but only sparingly. Where is Bruce Banner in all of this?
Duggan: Our one glimpse of Banner in Hulk #5 is all you need to tell you what’s happening now. Mark Bagley just did an amazing job with that page. Let’s just say -- the shoe is on the other foot now in the Hulk/Banner relationship. You’ll see him again, I promise, and it will be worth the wait.
Nrama: And what do the other heroes in the Marvel U outside of just She-Hulk and Red Hulk, thing of Doc Green’s new crusade?
Duggan: Feelings are irrelevant to Doc Green.
Nrama: This is joining with Marvel’s other main heroes books as part of “Avengers NOW!” showing a big shift for its major characters. Can you talk about your work here on Hulk in the broader tapestry of “Avengers NOW!”?
Duggan: Jason Aaron and Rick Remender have discussed their roadmaps with me, I know where their stories are going, and these are huge, exciting stories that sparked alongside one another. Life is change. These stories are big fun adventures that are using the toys from the toybox in new ways. I’m grateful for the kinds of work that these writers, artists and editors are daring to create. It’d be pretty easy to “play the hits” but this is a group that isn’t content to do that. I want to be clear about something too: nobody asked us to write any of it. That’s where their stories have gone. Thor becomes unworthy of lifting the hammer? That’s one of the greatest single ideas in Marvel’s Thor mythos. Who is he without the hammer, and who is the new hero that picks it up? Similarly when Rogers loses the super soldier serum, who else but his friend and fellow soldier would he ask to carry his shield? What becomes of Steve’s life? How does Sam change?
I’m proud to be telling stories alongside writers these creators that I greatly admire. It’s been wonderful to collaborate with Mark Paniccia. He’s shown a lot of faith in me, and helped assemble the perfect team with Mark Bagley to tell this Hulk story, and I think it’s going to surprise readers. That’s one of the things I value the most in this business. I hope you enjoy the comics, but I also hope we’re doing things you don’t expect. Hulk has changed. Banner has changed. A lot of the other Hulks will change. I hope we’re orchestrating the story in such a way that you won’t always be able to tell what’s on the next page. Not everyone gets a shot to write Hulk. I never thought I would, but now that I’m here - I promise The Omega Hulk is going to hit like a ton of bricks. Bagley has been creating his masterpiece, and I know how many other masterpieces he has. Thanks for reading this book, and all the new “Avengers NOW!” books. You’re in for a ride.