Marvel’s the Hulk is all about change, and this August the green goliath’s Hulk comic series is getting some change – in the writing department. Series writer Mark Waid is stepping aside and the series will be piloted by Nova and Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan, with series artist Mark Bagley staying on board for what the new scribe says will have “big, big action.”
This August’s Hulk #5 begins Duggan and Bagley’s first arc together, titled “The Omega Hulk.” This arc will see Banner/Hulk hunting down the other men and women in the Marvel U who, like him, have special powers as a result of gamma radiation. Duggan promises that every character with Hulk in their name will play a role in his expansive arc, and will result in a new status quo for the Hulk and his associated characters.
In an exclusive first interview, Newsarama spoke with Duggan by phone about Hulk, transitioning from Mark Waid’s current run, as well as the big science ideas he has planned for the green goliath.
Newsarama: Gerry, what do you have planned to kick off your run on Hulk?
Gerry Duggan: The events of Original Sin with Hulk versus Iron Man and the murder mystery of ‘who shot Banner?’ will leave both Hulk and Bruce very changed. In Hulk #5 I’m starting a storyline called ‘The Omega Hulk,’ which will see a great bit of action between the Hulk and everyone who shares his name. I like to describe it as the ‘Armor Wars’ for gamma-irradiated people in the Marvel Universe.
It’s going to run eight to ten issues, and at the end of it there will be a new status quo for many of the characters.
Nrama: She-Hulk, Red Hulk, the list goes on. Who exactly can readers look forward to seeing in this arc?
Duggan: I promise by the end of ‘The Omega Hulk,’ you will have seen not only everyone who has the word ‘hulk’ in their name but also their alter egos. Part of this is going right back to the beginning; I think the thing that always concerned Banner, and a lot of other people in the Marvel Universe, is the proliferation of gamma-irradiated powers to people and gamma weapons. Hulk’s aim in ‘The Omega Hulk’ is to take some of them off the board; we will see if he’s successful.
This story is going to be really fun, and it’s one Mark Waid supported and actually one he had a similar pitch for. So I felt I was on the right track there, even though when Mark was mulling his story over he felt it wasn’t the right time. I’m thrilled to be doing this.
Nrama: There’s already another –Hulk title out there, She-Hulk with Charles Soule and Javier Pulido. How will this affect what Charles is doing there, and did you talk with him about this?
Duggan: I promise you will see both She-Hulk and Jennifer in ‘The Omega Hulk’ run, but I also want to be careful not to step on Charles’ toes. He can keep his own counsel when he’s writing She-Hulk. You’ll see there will be a lot of big, big action in ‘The Omega Hulk’ but some of the battles will be about wits. I don’t want to spoil it, but I think people will be pleased at how She-Hulk fits into the story.
Nrama: Recently the Hulk/Bruce Banner has become a bigger part of the Avengers family, and less a black sheep of the group. Will that play a part in your story?
Duggan: Yes. I have to be careful how I answer this question because there are some upcoming stories and events in motion that I’m not writing, but it is fair to assume that the events of ‘The Omega Hulk’ will impact every corner of the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: For this you’re picking up where writer Mark Waid left off with the first four issues, and the previous Indestructible Hulk. For people who are reading that, can you pinpoint the takeaways you have from Waid’s run you might be capitalizing on in particular for your vision of the book?
Duggan: I’m going to be inheriting a real fun murder mystery. I’m very excited about Hulk because I have some fun plans. I had some chats with Mark, and I thought what he’s done with Hulk and Banner are brilliant. It’s very grounded, and logical; of course Bruce would make that kind of deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. for the lab with infinite funding in exchange for letting the monster loose. I’m also going to be keeping Banner’s assistants, but also bringing some old friends and new faces.
That being said, it’s very intimidating to follow Mark on a book I love so much. And he’s not done yet – I know what’s coming in Original Sin with Hulk and Iron Man, and Mark has some very big things for readers coming up.
Nrama: Opening up your inspiration to larger influences, what else is fueling your Hulk run?
Duggan: You know, I’ve always been a fan of fantasy; I’ve read all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, and I even played Dungeons & Dragons on and off for many years. But the real answer is that I love science, and I love science fiction. So in my Hulk run you’re going to see big science ideas. But Hulk’s also always been an emotional investment, and I want to take advantage of that. How could you not pity Banner and the Hulk. Banner is destroyed by what he loves: science.
In terms of inspiration, it’s almost too much. I watch a lot of westerns and noir films. But my Hulk run is a war story, but it’s also a science story, and a story of redemption and relationships. You’ll see Betty, you’ll see She-Hulk; practically anyone with Hulk in their name – even Thunderbolt Ross, Red Hulk. It’s going to be fun to make my mark on the Hulk universe.
But at its core, Hulk needs to be a fun book. With all my talk about war and redemption, people might think it’s a dirge – but it’s quite the opposite. I’ve scripted ahead a bunch, and found some moments to add a little humor in. The story has characters you care about, a laugh or two, and some heart – all in the Marvel tradition.
Nrama: And as you take over Hulk with issue #5, you’re joining with regular series artist Mark Bagley – perhaps the most iconic and popular artist I remember you ever working with, even outpacing Tony Moore – no offense to Tony or your other collaborators, of course. Can you talk about working with Mark here?
Duggan: This is a chance to work with a guy who is a legend, and rightly so. By the end of his career, Mark will hopefully have a great important run on most all of the Marvel characters. And I can’t think of another guy who has been consistently as good as Mark has. I’m thrilled that he’s going to stay around for ‘The Omega Hulk’ story, because it needs someone like him who can go from devastation action of Hulks and just a page later go to a potentially even more devastating conversation between two human characters. Mark has all of those gears.
Nrama: This will be your third ongoing, after Nova and Deadpool – that’s in addition to your work outside of comics. Will you be juggling up some of your other work to fit in all of this?
Duggan: I’m staying on those two books. Actually I’m going to be scaling back my non-comics work to focus more on comics. Also, the year’s not over yet and there are still a few more surprises. But Hulk is a dream job, and I consider myself very lucky.