Incredible Hulk #601Doesn’t that picture to the right just make you want to start singing, “People let me tell you 'bout my best friend…”?
As Marvel’s August solicitations revealed, Incredible Hulk is back to stay as a Marvel title. The series saw a return in July with Incredible Hulk #600 (which will feature a story by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness), and then continues in August with Incredible Hulk #601 by Greg Pak and Ariel Olivetti.
So what’s going on in the venerable, and now-returned series?
Well, the solicitation for the issue reads:
Gamma fans rejoice -- the rumors are true! The INCREDIBLE HULK book returns as an ongoing series written by acclaimed PLANET HULK and WORLD WAR HULK scribe Greg Pak! Get ready for Bruce Banner as you've never seen him, the Son of Hulk in a whole new world of smash, and an insane new adventure that changes everything for everyone's favorite Green Goliath! With art by Ariel Olivetti (CABLE) and introducing a new, regular bonus backup SAVAGE SHE-HULK story written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Michael Ryan!
And to add to the interesting-ness of it all, Incredible Hercules (which was Incredible Hulk until after World War Hulk when Hercules took over the title) will continue, as will the Loeb & McGuiness Hulk series. While we’re not even going to attempt to try and figure out the math and the numbering, what we can say pretty confidently is that the Hulk books got one more title added to the lineup.
For some clarification on all of this, we spoke with Greg Pak.
Newsarama: Greg - first off, can you kind of map out things in regards to the Hulk and his cast? July sees Incredible Hulk #600, Incredible Herc #131 and Son of Hulk #13. You're moving off of Skaar, and staying on Herc, and this is all after Skaar's visit to earth - do we have that much right?
Greg Pak: You got it. My last Skaar issue is #12, which features the long awaited showdown between Skaar and the Hulk right here on planet Earth -- and Central Ohio will never be the same! Sorry, Buckeyes! Then writer Paul Jenkins and penciller Andres Guinaldo take over the book, which is retitled Son of Hulk with issue #13 and launches a tremendous new storyline that no one's gonna see coming. Meanwhile, Fred Van Lente and I are continuing to cowrite Incredible Hercules. Issue #131 finishes up our "Underworld" storyline and reintroduces a major player to the Herc Universe. And with issues #132 and #133, we plunge into a whole new status quo for Hercules and Amadeus (did someone say "Thorcules"?).
NRAMA: Okay, and then – in August, you're on Incredible Hulk #601. The solicitation for July’s Incredible Hulk #600 states that it's by the regular Hulk team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness. What story are you going to be telling in that series, then?
GP: Incredible Hulk #601 springs out of Jeph and Ed's mind-blowing Incredible Hulk #600 and the momentous events of Skaar #12 and launches a brand new Hulk series written by yours truly with art by the brilliant Ariel Olivetti! Those same insane events will reverberate thunderously through Jeph and Ed's "Hulk" book starting with issue #13. That's right, Marvel fans -- the Hulk's story has become so huge he's taking over two big books!
This is the first giant climax of the insane plans Jeph and I have been cooking up from the beginning. We're about to pay off some huge mysteries and emotional storylines in some of the biggest ways you can imagine -- so dontcha dare miss a single issue!
NRAMA: So let’s get to your cast – Skaar and Bruce Banner. What's their relationship like? It would seem that Skaar would believe that his father could be the Hulk, but how does he see "puny" Banner? Should we be hearing a punk-rock version of the theme son to The Courtship of Eddie's Father now?
GP: Skaar was literally born in fire in the explosion that killed his mother at the end of Planet Hulk. He blames his father -- who never knew he survived -- for all of the horrors he suffered in the barbaric, war-torn world that Planet Sakaar became after the Hulk left to wreak his vengeance upon Earth in World War Hulk. But it remains to be seen exactly whom Skaar considers to be his father. Banner and Skaar might have a very different relationship from the Hulk and Skaar. And Skaar may have very different reactions to each of the different Hulk incarnations. There's a wealth of material to work with here, all of it fraught with emotional resonance and, conveniently enough, ample opportunities for massive amounts of smashing!
NRAMA: To tease a little bit, what effect will Planet Skaar have on Bruce? Does he, or his Hulk side, even have an inkling that he has a son?
GP: My lips are sealed! All I can say is that Incredible Hulk #600 and Skaar #12 change the dynamic of all the Hulk characters who have been running around since Planet Hulk. But hang on one minute... is that Jumpin' Jeph Loeb I see?
Jeph Loeb: What we can say is that Incredible Hulk #600 starts with the end of World War Hulk! So for those of you wondering just what happened between the end of Greg's run on Incredible Hulk and my start of Hulk all will be revealed. Or some will be. Or... well, I can't really say or the Red Hulk will smash me! But then it will all slingshot back around on into Incredible Hulk #601 and Hulk #13. Tricky bastards, ain't we?!
NRAMA: Back to you Greg - where will Incredible Hulk be set from #601 on? Will Bruce and Skaar be the only familiar Marvel characters in it, or will we see guests?
GP: We're smack dab in the middle of the Marvel Universe here, so be prepared for anything and anyone to make an appearance. In the first story arc, we're bringing a number of big, big characters back to the forefront who should bring a smile to any True Believer's face.
NRAMA: And as you said, you've got Ariel on art...do you find yourself writing for him, writing to his strengths?
GP: I've had my eye on Ariel since I first saw his stuff in Punisher War Journal and was thrilled when editor Mark Paniccia told me we had him on board. Ariel clearly knows how to draw huge dudes and massive destruction. But he's also got an eye for the little details and is going to bring out the emotional elements and wry humor of the story brilliantly.
NRAMA: One last try to wring a tease out of you - what kicks things off in issue #601?
GP: The insane cliffhanger endings of Incredible Hulk #600 and Skaar #12, natch! Add 'em to your pull lists today!
NRAMA: Greg, there's a lot of talk about the malleability of super heroes of late, and while people will debate the notion for ages when it comes to some characters, with the Hulk it's certainly demonstrated. If you'd look at the book a year ago, or three years ago, or seven or ten - each snapshot would show a title that basically casts the character in a fundamentally different light. Why do you think the Hulk, in particular, responds to well to this type of storytelling?
GP: From the very beginning, the Hulk has been an incredibly malleable character. As Peter David has astutely observed, the character went through four or five different incarnations in just the first few issues of the very first Hulk series. Even non-comics fans are pretty familiar with and totally accepting of at least two different incarnations of the Hulk -- the classic "Hulk smash" Hulk and the wordless, roaring Hulk from the Bixby/Ferrigno television series. I think the Hulk lends himself to different incarnations partly because the premise of the character is based on transformation, and the trigger for that transformation is anger. On a basic, emotional, intuitive level, we understand there are a million different ways in which anger can manifest itself -- so a variety of incarnations of the Hulk makes complete emotional sense.
NRAMA: And one last question, concerning the long-view...waaay back, and this all started prior to Civil War...was this all part of the plan? A buddy book with Bruce and his son, or is your Hulk plan now growing and evolving, along with the character?
GP: This is the culmination of Stage One of the master plan that Jeph and I have been working on for a couple of years now. And at last week's Marvel Creative Summit, we got the blessing for our next year of hijinks. So we're primed to grab all the coolest toys in the sandbox and tell the kind of big, emotional, action packed stories I love, love and love some more. I'm exactly where I want to be with this book and I can't stop grinning.
For more on Pak, check out his website