What happens when the other Son of Hulk hits Earth? We find out who truly is the strongest one there is.
Beginning in September, the Incredible Hulk goes plural, as Greg Pak teams up with Scott Reed to take on the biweekly story Incredible Hulks: Dark Son. Following hot on the heels of "World War Hulks" -- in which Bruce Banner and his gamma-powered son Skaar team up against Hulkified versions of Earth's mightiest heroes -- the return of Hiro-Kala to take on his long-absent father will rock the Marvel Universe with rage.
We caught up with Pak to discuss just who Hiro-Kala is, what kind of father-son smashing Bruce and Skaar will be up to, and just what happens when Marvel cosmic hits the gamma green giants.
Newsarama: So -- Incredible Hulk"s." Seems like the plurals are catching on in this series! Just to start, is there anything you can tell us about the updated titling?
Greg Pak: Funny title for a book about a hero who's spent most of his existence saying he just wants to be left alone, huh? I'll just say that this is a natural culmination of themes and plots we've been building from "Planet Hulk" through "World War Hulks." The Hulk is all about anger. And if you look into Banner's past, you find that writers like Bill Mantlo and Peter David have laid incredible groundwork basing that anger in Banner's unbearably tragic family history. We're about to take that theme of family to the next big step.
Nrama: What led you guys to team up on this biweekly adventure?
Pak: Scott picked up the storyline of Hiro-Kala, the Hulk's other son (yeah, get used to it) with the "Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk" mini and with the backup stories in "Incredible Hulk" #609 to #611. Scott's been building the character in awesome ways, so it just made sense for us to co-write the Hiro-Kala-centric parts of "Incredible Hulk" #612 and #613.
Nrama: For those who don't know about Hiro-Kala -- the other son of the Hulk -- what can you tell readers to get them caught up with the character? It seems as though while Bruce Banner and Skaar are all about the smashing, Hiro has a whole different level of power on his side...
Pak: Everything you need to know about Hiro-Kala will be revealed in "Incredible Hulks" #612 and #613 in the stories co-written by Scott and me and illustrated by the insanely great Brian Ching. The short and sweet version is that Hiro-Kala is the long-lost twin brother of Skaar who was left behind when Skaar unleashed his Old Power and goaded Galactus into eating Planet Sakaar. So Hiro-Kala might have a bone to pick with Skaar. Hiro-Kala's also become convinced that the Old Power, if left unchecked, will ultimately destroy the universe. And Skaar just happens to be the highest profile wielder of the Old Power around at the moment...
Nrama: Touching upon that last question a bit -- what makes now the time for Hiro to strike back at his father? What does he want? There's mention in the solicits about revealing his secret origin ... without giving too much away, what will this story bring to the character that he doesn't already have?
Pak: We're probing into his past and showing bits of the story that haven't been revealed before. The hope is to give new readers everything they need to know while deepening the story and working in some genuine surprises for folks who have been following Hiro-Kala from the beginning.
Nrama: Now, Hiro-Kala's touchdown on Earth probably couldn't have come at a worse time than after World War Hulks. Obviously the people who have any sort of connection to Hiro are Bruce Banner and Skaar, the Son of Hulk. Without giving too much away, where are their heads at, following the machinations of the Intelligencia?
Pak: I don't want to spoil too much here. Let's just say that Banner's slipped back into a very familiar skin, while Skaar's in an entirely new mindset. Each character's incarnation will provide brand new ways for him to address the coming of Hiro-Kala.
Nrama: Something that's been long teased through current issues of the Hulk series is Bruce Banner's eventual return to his alter ego as the not-so-jolly green giant. As Dark Son rises, how is Bruce coping with his gamma-related issues? What are the current stakes for this battle of self-control?
Pak: The stakes are sky high. We all know the potential consequences when Banner loses control. And now Banner may be faced with an impossible choice, torn between his two sons -- and possibly his beloved Betty.
I'll also go ahead and confirm that yes, we will see a distinct Banner and a distinct Hulk. I spent most of "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" developing the Hulk. And I spent most of my run since then focussing on Banner. Now we're going to explore both sides at once, with all the tension and drama that brings.
Nrama: One of the characters that I think has interested a lot of people is Skaar, just in terms of his progression as a character -- both as his growth as a hero (or antihero), and with his relationship with his father's alter egos. How's he going to react to his brother showing up, wanting to kill his father? Will he be angry someone's trying to poach his "turf"? Or will he take this as an opportunity to get what he's always wanted?
Pak: Banner and Skaar will have a titanic showdown at the end of "World War Hulks" in "Incredible Hulk" #611 that will set the stage for everything that follows.
Nrama: Greg, you've already been known for writing some of the most epic smashing that Bruce Banner has seen in many years, with "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" really standing out as "big" storytelling. Where do you feel Dark Son stands in terms of that intensity? How do you raise the bar?
Pak: In terms of emotion, things can't get much more high stakes when family's involved in a life-and-death story like this. In terms of smashtasticness, we're dealing with planetary scale action. Can't reveal too much for fear of spoilers, but Hulks will indeed smash.
Nrama: The character of Hiro-Kala has also been wedded to Marvel's space books, with him recently being seen in Realm of Kings. How far out does this conflict with Dark Son go? Will any of Marvel's spacefarers be taking any part of this conflict? Or is it all-gamma, all the time?
Pak: We're going way back into Marvel history for some of the cosmic connections in the storyline. I'll just remind everyone that Bill Mantlo is one of my all-time favorite Marvel writers and leave it at that.
Nrama: Just to give you guys a chance to talk about the process a bit -- what has the back-and-forth been between you guys? What strengths do you feel each of you bring to the table?
Pak: Scott is constantly blowing my mind with big ideas and amazing visual details that build on the classic Marvel stories he tapped into to write his Hiro-Kala mini and backup stories. He's also an artist as well as a writer and did phenomenal character designs for some key antagonists whom we'll see a lot of in the next few months.
Nrama: Finally, for those who are still on the fence about Incredible Hulk: Dark Son, what would you tell them to get them on board? Are there any moments you can tease that you're particularly excited about?
Pak: There a scene in #612 involving Bruce and Betty that might be one of the best things I've written all year. I've been hungry to delve into that relationship for years and now we're really cutting loose. There are also some massive scenes involving Steve Rogers and some of his new pals that might blow a mind or two.
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