"Thor vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe" preview
Credit: Dan Mora (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Dan Mora (Marvel Comics)

Thor vs. the Hulk ... who'd win?

It's a question fans and comic creators have posed for decades, and this week a newly-minted Elder of the Universe uses their power to find out the answer in Thor vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe.

The digital-first six-issue miniseries by Jeremy Whitley and artists Simone Buonfantino and Alti Firmansyah debuted this week, with the mysterious Promoter picking the two to fight - and sending the winner on to vie for the right to be the champion of the universe by fighting... well, the Champion (another Elder of the Universe).

Thor vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe #1 just debuted Wednesday and while Newsarama is holding back on spoiling the book just yet, we spoke to Whitley about this unique match-up, the new Elder, and the big-fight feel he's going for with this miniseries.

Newsarama: Thor & Hulk have a bit of a classic rivalry – what makes this fight so exciting?

Credit: Simone Buonfantino (Marvel Comics)

Jeremy Whitley: These are two characters of god-like proportions, two of the original Avengers, two people whose names are usually preceded by words like "Mighty" and "Incredible."  You have the superhero who is a giant rage monster and the superhero who is a god who made his reputation by fighting actual giant monsters. They're usually on the same side, but they can't help but see one another as rivals. Essentially Hulk and Thor fill the same role on the Avengers, being two of the biggest heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe. However, if you're Thor, you have to believe that the power you wield is greater than Hulk's - that yours is based on your worth, your honor, your training. When Hulk isn't Hulk, he's a scientist with no experience in warfare and no physical prowess to speak of.  If that guy's a better warrior than you, then what good are you?

Nrama: The Champion is pitting Thor and Hulk against each other to find a worthy adversary. How do Thor and Hulk wind up in his sights here and now?

Credit: Simone Buonfantino (Marvel Comics)

Whitley: Well, the Champion values physical strength and prowess and in the Marvel Universe there are very few who could give Hulk and Thor a run for their money. However, it's actually the Champion's new assistant the Promoter who chooses them. As she says, not only are they the strongest, but there's a lot of buzz around them and the Champion is looking to have his conquests noticed. What use is being the greatest warrior in all of the universe if no one knows?

Nrama: Who did Thor and Hulk have to smash to make it to Champion’s contest?

Whitley: Mostly, a lot of rocks. That part you'll see in the story. The fact is, though they didn't realize it was happening at the time, Hulk and Thor were hand-picked by the Promoter as the ideal candidates to go one-on-one to determine who would fight the Champion.

Nrama: Will we see any other Asgardians or even Avengers show up for this clash?

Whitley: Well, Hulk and Thor will be running the show but we will certainly have a few guest starts. By the time this is all done, we will have seen several members of Thor's royal family, some figures from Hulk's past, an array of villains from every corner of the Marvel Universe, and maybe even a Thunderbolt.

Credit: Simone Buonfantino (Marvel Comics)

Nrama: What are the differences in producing work that is digital first versus print media? Did publishing via comiXology change your approach to the story?

Whitley: Well, I think the biggest change is the accelerated schedule. Usually between the time I start writing a comic to the time it comes out, we might be talking about the better part of a year. In this case I was approached about this book in June and here we are with the first issue coming out in the first week of September. The second issue comes out on the 20th of September and the third issue is the first week in October. I think to some people it would be nerve wracking, but I love it. Aside from that it's all about making pages that work on the screen, so you just have a few no-nos like double page spreads.

Nrama: Jeremy, how do you get inside the heads of two opposing forces and ensure that they are equally represented on the page?

Whitley: I think that might be the hardest part of writing this story. Hulk and Thor are both such strong personalities that you find yourself wanting to just keep writing about them once you've started. I think what ended up most effective was to show what they're like together and then isolate them. You start to get an idea of what's driving them to keep going in this competition, because it's not the same for both of them.

Credit: Dan Mora (Marvel Comics)

Nrama: OK, the big question – who’s stronger? Thor or Hulk?

Whitley: From a raw strength perspective? I think it has to be Hulk. If this comic were about two guys standing in place and punching each other, Hulk would win. But mercifully that's not what it's about. Once you start bringing in tactics, goals, and outside forces - things start to bend a little more in Thor's direction. If you want to save the world... ahem sorry, Midgard... Thor would be your guy. Now, if you just want someone who can punch the moon in half, then you probably want Hulk.

Nrama: And of course, the obvious follow up – what can challenge the winner after defeating the Marvel Universe’s greatest warrior?

Whitley: Well, it's always the things you can't punch that get you in the end, right? Or Galactus, there's always Galactus.

Thor vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe #2 is scheduled to be released September 20.

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