JIM STARLIN: 'Marvel Basically Has Three Thanoses'

Thanos Vs. Hulk
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Thanos has faced down heroes, villains, gods and monsters, but has he ever faced someone like the Hulk one-on-one? The Mad Titan’s creator Jim Starlin is begging to find out, and he’ll show you when Thanos vs. Hulk launches in December.

Continuing in a spate of work for Marvel recently including several OGNs, one-shots and other stories, Starlin’s Thanos Vs. Hulk sees the creator writing and drawing this story of the Mad Titan versus the green-skinned superhero who gets stronger the madder he gets. Starlin tells Newsarama that the Hulk’s strength lie in his tenacity – the “never say die” mentality that sees the hero only become stronger the worse he’s beaten – and Thanos is just the one to give him that kind of battle.

Starlin says that this miniseries will see Thanos and the Hulk joined by several other Marvel characters of cosmic origin, from another Starlin creation in Pip the Troll, as well as cosmic villains such as Annihilus and Blastaar. Newsarama talked with the long-time Marvel creator to find out more.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Newsarama: Jim, how’d this idea come about for you to do a Hulk vs. Thanos story?

Jim Starlin: Originally, this tale was to be a four-issue story arc in The Savage Hulk continuity. I had time between Thanos: The Infinity Revelation and the up-coming Thanos: The Infinity Relativity and was asked if I'd like to try my hand at ol' Greenie again. So I came up with this plot, involving Pip the Troll, Annihilus, Blastaar and Thanos. It was only after the tale was both penciled and inked that it was decided it would become a Thanos vs The Hulk miniseries. Came as a complete surprise to me.

Nrama: Hulk isn’t a surprise to you, as you’ve worked with him before: both in a one-off issue with Len Wein and a great short in Rampaging Hulk – I especially remember that painted cover. What are your thoughts on Hulk as a character?

Starlin: Back in my high school years, the Hulk was my favorite Marvel character and I always enjoy drawing him. Jack Kirby pretty much summed up my feelings about the whole when he said, "The Hulk’s strength is his stupidity. The harder you beat on him, the stronger he becomes." What more need be said about him?

Nrama: One character I’d like you to say more about is Pip the Troll. He’s a real enjoyable character, but hard to handle by some writers it seems. What do you enjoy about him and what led you to use him in this story?

Starlin: Well, he's one of my favorite characters I created back in the 70s. Pip's also great for adding humor to any story he's in, to take the edge off to grimness of the main tale. He's partially inspired by Jack Kirby, himself. For me, coming back to Marvel has been about revisiting old friends. Hadn't seen for a while, so...

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: The story I’m told has Pip kidnapping the Hulk. With that size difference, how can the little guy kidnap the big green guy?

Starlin: To get an answer to that question you're going to have to buy the damn comics! Why he kidnaps the Hulk is really the more interesting and humorous aspects of the story.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: This also features the big bad of Annihilus. What does he want with the Hulk?

Starlin: Again, you're asking a question which is a spoiler. Both Pip and Annihilus play major roles in the graphic novels I have planned. Thanos vs The Hulk is basically a set up for those upcoming stories. But it is also a self-contained story in itself.

Annihilus is a really insane and frightening character. But I wanted him to be even more of a bad ass for what I have planned down the line. You'll see.

Nrama: How does Thanos get involved in all of this?

Starlin: Well, Pip was a member of a group that was called the Infinity Watch. Thanos was also. Pip comes up a little short in the muscle department, so he has this habit of pulling other, more powerful characters into his little misadventures. Guess who he decides to exploit this time around?

Nrama: In the course of this four-issue series you will touch down on a number of places, including Starlin’s Bar on Nowhere. What brought you to use this creation, Starlin’s Bar, in your story?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Starlin: Sheer Ego. How can I not write about a gin joint that has been named after me?

Nrama: Since you’ve returned to Marvel you’ve been synonymous with Thanos. I’m not complaining, but do you have any want to do stories at Marvel outside of Thanos?

Starlin: Are you kidding? If you look back on my career with Marvel, you will see that I don't really return to the House of Ideas to do Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and Silver Surfer stories. I always come back to the fold to tell further adventures of everyone's favorite Mad Titan. Nevertheless, you will be seeing many of Marvel's more cosmic characters showing up in the graphic novels I have planned.

If you look closely, you'll see that Marvel basically has three Thanoses. There is the 1970s Thanos appearing in the movies. This is before he got the Infinity Gauntlet. Then there are the Thanos stories I'm telling. And finally, there is the Thanos that appears in the mainstream Marvel stories. All three seem to coexist easily enough, so...

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