Bringing INCREDIBLE HULKS Down To Size

Gamma radiation certainly doesn’t affect Bruce Banner’s paternal ability. Not only does the Incredible Hulk now have a sword-wielding rapidly-grown son named Skaar acting out, but there’s the matter of Hiro-Kala, the long-lost-also-fully-grown twin of Skaar, who happens to have the cosmic-shaking Old Power, took down the planet-eater Galactus, and recently wreaked havoc in the subatomic Microverse.

While Hiro-Kala is poised to deal with his daddy issues in the new Dark Son miniseries, a number of people from the Microverse are out to, er, set some boundaries for the other Son of Hulk. And a few of them might be familiar to fans of Marvel’s old Micronauts series — Commander Rann, Marionette, Bug and more have formed the Enigma Force, and they’re ready to throw down on Hiro-Kala big time.

Scott Reed (The Overman) chronicled Hiro-Kala’s conquest of the Microverse earlier this year, and now he’s back with Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force to tell how Rann and company are poised to take revenge on Hiro-Kala. And there’s some exclusive art from the upcoming second issue to whet your appetite for a Son of Hulk-spankin’.

Interior pages from Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force #1.

Newsarama: Scott — for those who hadn't read Hiro-Kala's last solo series, what is the Enigma Force?

Scott Reed: Two things. First, The Enigma Force is a benevolent but all-encompassing energy that exists throughout the Microverse, but it’s still largely a mystery--hence its name. But it’s been linked to the Microverse for eons, and has manifested itself in a number of surprising ways over the years. So there’s a rich history behind the Enigma Force in the Microverse, and in the Marvel Universe in general.

Our hero, Commander Arcturus Rann, encountered the Enigma Force during his thousand-year mission to explore the Microverse. It gave him cosmic insight, power and guidance through the years, and he’s deeply connected with that power in an indefinable way. And the second aspect is the team itself, which is named in honor of that power.

Nrama: Role call! Name the members, what they do, and where we've seen them before.

Reed: Commander Rann is our stalwart leader. He’s a no-nonsense guy, a scientist and pilot, and a natural leader. During this story, we learn that he’s come to rely too heavily upon the wisdom and strength of the Enigma Force energy. And that’s going to cause him some serious problems, which you’ll find out about in the first issue.

Another original member is Princess Marionette, who was part of the royal family of Homeworld, which is sort of the hub of the Microverse. Her family was usurped years ago and she became a rebel and freedom fighter. She has a broadsword and knows exactly how to use it. Tough, beautiful…and divorced from Arcturus Rann.

These two are still working together on the same team, but they are now literally at war with each other.

Bug is the third original member of the team, and Rann has no other choice but to temporarily draft him away from the Guardians of The Galaxy, and back into service with the Enigma Force. Rann alone understands the true danger ahead of them, and he needs people he can trust now more than ever.

The new members are Carl, a quirky Death’s Head 3.0 unit. He’s not your run-of-the-mill killing machine, though. You’ll see.

Jentorra is a young, beautiful sorceress-in-training, who barely escaped from Hiro-Kala when he stole her planet K’ai away from the Microverse. She has a thing for Rann. Well, more than that. She’s totally infatuated with him, which could jeopardize their mission, but more importantly, could really piss off Princess Mari, who still has feelings for her ex.

The last new member is an evil alien known as the Psyklop. This is a species originating from the classic Hulk/Jarella story by Harlan Ellison and Roy Thomas. But he’s not technically a member of the team, because there’s a small issue to deal with first. The Psyklop wants to kill all of them. And they desperately need his help to survive. Kind of a problem, I know.  

Even though this is a new version of the Enigma Force, I think in some ways it’s more old school than new, because the new characters all have intersecting backgrounds with the Microverse, and connections to classic Marvel characters.

They also have a similar link to the planet K‘ai, which is where the story itself is staged. Added to that, Arcturus and Mari are definitely fully modernized, in the sense that we’ll get a deeper understanding of who they are and what they are capable of. We’re hopeful that this treatment can transcend them into 2010 in a way that still honors their rich history.

Nrama: How does this tie into all that other mess the Hulks got going on? Their lives are so dysfunctional Spider-Man's probably feeling better about himself right now.

Reed: That’s funny, because the Enigma Force are dealing with a huge interpersonal crisis of their own. At its center is the question of trust, and that’s a theme that explodes through these three issues amid all the crazy action.

Beyond that, Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force acts as an additional layer to Incredible Hulks: Dark Son. It serves that larger story, but I think this mini-series stands strong on its own, because there is a threat on planet K’ai that only the Enigma Force can face.

Nrama: What does Miguel bring to the table?

Reed: Just about everything imaginable, but mostly a subtle humanity of expression and a very large view of the world behind the characters. Miguel knows these characters like they are his best friends, and you can see that in the lines on their faces.

In the script, I tried to emphasize a vastness to many of the scenes, and Miguel was able to convey that quite well. He also has a real draftsman-like approach to the ships and technology and buildings. He has to end up a comics super-star, because he just keeps getting better at it with each page.  

Nrama: The series promises to deal with Commander Rann's dark past. How dark we talkin'?

Reed: It’s a really horrible, horrible revelation. Part of me wanted to pull back from that a bit, but as I went further into the plot, I realized that Arcturus’ secret had to have huge implications for his future. It had to be something really bad.

We’re going to see his defining moment in this mini-series, where he learns what it really takes to be the hero of the Microverse. Vague enough?

Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force #2 cover.

Nrama: What's fun about getting to write these characters? Feel free to reveal Micronauts nerdity here. It's Newsarma, we're all friends.

Reed: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyway, it’s fun and a hell of a lot of work, but mostly just a hell of a lot of work.

I kid. It’s actually surreal and awesome to be writing these classic characters and playing in the worlds that were created by Bill Mantlo.

Nrama: Who would you say is a badder dude, Hiro-Kala or Baron Karza? Why?

Reed: Baron Karza was the sort of evil that was always clearly defined and we understood the extent of it, I think. He was a classic villain in pretty much every sense.

With Hiro-Kala, all bets are off, really. In the past, Hiro-Kala murdered millions to save billions, so he’s capable of playing with the kind of cosmic morality that few other people can relate to or even stomach. He’s the guy that can make those kind of decisions, and follow through on them when no one else can.

But he’s also like Karza in that he’s obsessed and power hungry on a cosmic scale.

Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force #3 cover.

Nrama: Okay, sell this to our readers hard as you can. Go!

Reed: This story picks up from where Conquest left off; the crew is in hot pursuit of planet K’ai, which Hiro-Kala ripped from the Microverse and plans to use as a weapon against the Hulks.

In order for the Enigma Force to succeed, they have to put their trust into an evil alien Psyklop. This calls into question all sorts of trust issues amongst the team, as well as a volatile love triangle between Arcturus, Mari and Jentorra. None of them realize that Arcturus has a dark secret waiting to unfold on K‘ai, which could destroy his reputation as the hero of the Microverse, and quite likely the planet K’ai itself.

He’ll either be vindicated, or they’ll all have hell to pay for what he’s done.  And there’s some laughs along the way.

Nrama: What's next for you?

Reed: I’ll be at the New York Comic Convention October 8-10. Look me up, I’ll probably still be yakking about Enigma Force, since I think the 2nd issue will be hitting stands at around the same time. I may have some other things brewing by then, as well.

Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force#1 is on stands now.

Happy to (tik) see Bug (tik) and company starring in a new (tik) series? 

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