The Inhumans have released a bomb onto Earth’s population - a bomb full of Terrigen Mists intended to transform latent Inhumans. But in the past the Mists have proven fatal to humans. So who do the authorities go to for help? Bruce Banner, resident expert on monstrous transformations. But with a track record like Banner as both the Hulk and his own dark self in Jason Aaron’s Incredible Hulk series, can he be trust? And did we mention Banner’s plan to fix the effects of the Terrigen Bomb is something called a Humanity Bomb.
It all starts this month in Indestructible Hulk #16, which series writer Mark Waid calls a prelude to next month’s “Humanity Bomb” arc. In the past year Waid has shepherded Banner down a path of redemption, but he hasn't gotten to the end of the path. So tasked with the job of saving the world from the Terrigen Bomb, Banner finds unlikely adversaries in his scientific colleagues Iron Man, the Beast and Ant-Man. The track record for questioning Bruce Banner isn’t quite a good one given the fact he has Hulk on his side -- literally -- so expect big things to happen when it all kicks off this month.
Newsarama: Mark, a lot has happened in the last arc of Indestructible Hulk, but you’re already barreling towards a new one -- and a tie-in to Inhumanity -- with this month’s Indestructible Hulk #16. What can you tell us about it?
Mark Waid: Banner has something to prove. He's already frustrated that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s sending Hulk on so many missions that it's severely cut down on Banner's lab time, but now he's got a focus for that energy -- the release of the Terrigen Mists all over Earth. As the world's leading scientific expert on "monstrous change through radiation," Banner vows to be the one to find a solution. Not Richards, not Stark, not McCoy -- him.
Nrama: We all saw the Inhumans unleash their Terrigen Mists bomb in Infinity earlier this year, so what does Bruce Banner thing about it?
Waid: He has a plan, much of which hinges on some of the various artifacts we've seen Banner sneak away with during his various adventures in the past year. But it's a plan that, to Iron Man, sounds absolutely insane -- and must be stopped.
Nrama: So what exactly is the plan Bruce has?
Waid: Banner's very good at planning, not as careful about explaining. And when they see what Banner's got cooked up -- a "Humanity Bomb" -- they lose their minds and assume Banner's gone insane. They may not be incorrect.
Nrama: They –- it’s more than just Tony Stark?
Waid: It’s not just Tony, but Hank Pym and Hank McCoy as well. Even though they’re some of his closest scientific allies Tony and the Hanks are working off years of distrust in Bruce's abilities -- which may be well-founded!
Nrama: Although Bruce’s trust-worthiness may be suspect, in this series you’ve really built up an great ensemble cast with Bruce’s lab assistants and especially R.O.B. How do they factor into this arc?
Waid: The lab assistants are the key to this arc, particularly Jessup, who harbors a big secret and will have to make a huge sacrifice. He will be missed.
Nrama: As this series has unfolded, it’s been a new spin on the Banner/Hulk dynamic but also an attempt for Banner to shake off the misconceptions about the Hulk and change the way people think about him. How far do you think Bruce has come on this path towards redemption?
Waid: Further than he thinks he has. Bruce, particularly given how out-of-the-lab he's been thanks to Hulk's duties in Infinity, feels very behind the curve and still harbors an inferiority complex. “Humanity Bomb” is the story of how he deals with it.
Nrama: Joining you for this arc starting in #17 is Clay Mann. Clay’s a real hot prospect in comics but up until now has been almost exclusively known for his X-Men work. You’re a great measure of character and of talent – what do you think he brings to the table for Hulk, both on the cerebral and the HULK SMASH! side of things?
Waid: Oh, man, what a joy, this guy's work. He can do "acting" with small expressions and gestures and huge fight scenes with Hulk versus Giant-Pym? His pages are phenomenal!