CHAOS WAR: From The Field - PAK & VAN LENTE on #5 (And HERC)

CHAOS WAR: From The Field

The final issue of Chaos War, #5, hit last week, bringing an end to not only that god-clashing story, but also the eight-volume Incredible Hercules saga that co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente have been building over the past three years.

But, closed door, open windows and all that — there’s a new series starting in April called Herc, also co-written by Pak and Van Lente, moving a de-powered Hercules to Brooklyn, still game to fight the forces of evil.

For the final installment of our Chaos War: From the Field Q&A column with the writers, we took your Twitter questions on both the end of Chaos War and the start of Herc, and uncovered the really important stuff — like Alpha Flight’s resurrection, whether or not Herc plays a role in Fear Itself, and the status of Hebe’s Beanie Baby collection.


Newsarama: Greg, Fred, we got a lot of questions via Twitter on the final issue Chaos War, but before we got to that I wanted to talk a little bit about the new series, Herc. Chaos War was dubbed “the final chapter of the Incredible Hercules saga,” and it even said such on the last page of #5 — but with the news that both of you are working on a new series starring Hercules, I’m curious what makes the books two discrete elements?

Fred Van Lente: To me Incredible Hercules was always the story of Amadeus Cho and Hercules, and their friendship. Their friendship isn’t over, but the comic book about it is. So Herc is really, even though both comics star Hercules, a completely new beginning for the character, that we were able to springboard off of from where he’s left at the end of Chaos War.

Greg Pak: It’s a genuinely fresh start, that will certainly bear a lot of the hallmarks of Incredible Hercules, because both Fred and I are writing, and a lot of the sensibilities will remain, but it is a totally new storyline, totally new status quo, and as Fred said, it’s the beginning of the next thing. It’s not the direct continuation of the giant, emotional story arc that we were working on for the past three years. It’s a new thing.

Van Lente: And the preview pages from Neil Edwards — which all look frickin’ spectacular — are coming in, and the minute people see these preview pages, they will go, “A-ha, this looks nothing like Incredible Hercules.”


Nrama: One thing that was stressed in the article was that Hercules would be based in Brooklyn, and I’m wondering how that came about. Obviously most of the Marvel heroes are based in Manhattan, so I’m wondering the significance of placing Herc in Brooklyn — will he be hanging out with hipsters in Williamsburg?

Van Lente: He will be all over. I live in Brooklyn, and not too far from my house is a Greek orthodox church, and they were having a big festival out front, and it just occurred to me, why not have Herc go to Brooklyn and be among the people? You’ve got immigrants here, you’ve got hipsters, you’ve got old-timers, you’ve got every single sort of range of person here, it just seemed a great way to get across the grittiness of the new series, the fact that he’s a normal guy now, he’s fighting more street-level crime, and all that.

Nrama: And I like that the new Hobgoblin from Amazing Spider-Man will be showing up in Herc, it’s nice to see that kind of quick turnaround for him appearing in another book.

Van Lente: He’s a neat character. I had read all of the Amazing Spider-Man issues before they came out because I’m co-writing the next couple of issues with Dan Slott, and so when we were sort of fishing around for who Herc should battle first, the Hobgoblin immediately popped into my head, just because I think Herc’s constantly known for fighting monsters, and the Hobgoblin is such a great, demonic villain. And he has a sword, too. Herc has a sword, Hobgoblin has a sword — it works out nicely.

Nrama: Moving to some of the Twitter questions, a lot of people asked some version of this, as posed by @gammaduck, “Why did Marvel reject Swordsman and Yellowjacket's resurrections? As it stands, it feels like their stories had no resolution.”

Van Lente: As the writer of Dead Avengers, I kind of feel that last moment with Yellowjacket was the final redemptive moment, and so to me their story does have an ending, in the sense that Dead Avengers ended without you necessarily having to read Chaos War. The only people who were really resurrected at the end of Chaos War were the four Alpha Flight members.


Nrama: And on that exact note, we got a couple of Twitter questions on Alpha Flight, including multiple ones along this line, as asked by @DrHiphop85, “What made you choose to bring back the Alpha Flight out of all the characters?”

Pak: Because they’re awesome. I think it’s time to have Alpha Flight available and kicking around. It’s nice to have a very concrete and real consequence come out of the end of Chaos War.

Nrama: Following right up on that, @Bronn1 asks, “Can we hope to see more of Alpha Flight post-Chaos War?” I would assume they were brought back for a reason, right?

Pak: Who knows what’s going to happen? I just suggest reading every Marvel book that comes out from now on.

Van Lente: Yeah, exactly. “Oh look, there’s Vindicator in the background. She’s flowing overhead.”

Nrama: “Where’s Vindicator.” Here’s one from frequent question-asker @Hutchimus, “Any planned resurrections that were vetoed?”

Pak: I did not have any vetoes. I knew I wanted to give the Hulk and Hulk’s team a chance to interact with certain characters. Any vetoing was done by myself. I never seriously considered bringing any of them back from the dead, just because their stories really were done. It was a chance to get a little bit more opportunity for certain characters to react to their passing. For example, I love Jarella, but I wasn’t going to bring her back into the land of the living through these stories. Most of those characters who came back in the Incredible Hulks book had spectacular deaths that were well-earned and well-played out. It was great to have a chance to have these characters interact with them for a moment, but bringing them back would have goofed up more stories than it would have created new opportunities.

Van Lente: It probably bears mentioning that at no point was Chaos War ever considered to be a vehicle for bringing back dead characters. This ended up being sort of an accidental side effect of some of the plotlines that we came up with. Chaos King destroying Hell was always something that was in the original outline, and we took that to its logical extension, which was “Where are some of these dead people going to go?” Obviously because Marvel wanted tie-ins and so forth, we thought, “Oh, we can have Dead Avengers, and that’ll be our Avengers tie-in!” And someone else said, “Why don’t we bring back Alpha Flight?” “OK, great!” For a lot of cases, particularly folks like Swordsman and Yellowjacket, those were characters I didn’t have any specific plans for, so for that reason I think folks at Marvel thought it wasn’t appropriate necessarily to undo their deaths and bring them back. It wasn’t that things were vetoed so much as unless you had reason to do it, better leave well enough alone.


Nrama: As always, we’ve got a couple of questions from @TDSpidey616, asking, “Any plans to tie-in with Fear Itself in the new Herc ongoing? Herc vs. God of Fear!” Well, in the article on Herc, you certainly strongly hinted that there would be a tie-in.

Pak: The answer, of course is, yes, Herc will be a Fear Itself tie-in.

Van Lente: Will he play a major part in Fear Itself, Greg?

Pak: I think the entire Marvel Universe will pivot on these issues of Herc. I think. That’s what I’m told, so you probably want to buy them. [Laughs.]

Van Lente: They’re all going to come bagged.

Pak: When there’s a chance to play with these big events, we’ve been very fortunate in that the big events have often had really nice little spaces for us to play in. Incredible Hercules kind of got started that way. It came out of World War Hulk, and its second story arc was a tie-in to Secret Invasion. In both those cases, we found storylines that totally served the story we were telling, while at the same time fitting-in in a nice way with the big event, and I think we’re shooting for that same sweet spot with this Fear Itself tie-in.

Van Lente: Why just today we were chatting online with Mr. Christos Gage and Mr. Jeff Parker about Herc’s interactions with Fear Itself.

Nrama: Another question from Spidey616: “Don't suppose Maddy Cho escaped the Continuum Universe before Chaos King took over or if we'll ever see her again?”

Van Lente: That’s a reference to a never-published storyline, and since it was never published, Spidey, safe to assume that Maddy Cho was probably never in the Continuum in the first place.

Pak: Maddy Cho, for those of you who don’t know, is the much-discussed but never-seen sister of Amadeus Cho who has disappeared. Amadeus thought that she was killed in the same attack that killed his parents during his origin story, but subsequently learned that she was not killed, but has not yet managed to find her. Amadeus will be showing up in Incredible Hulks starting with issue #626 in April. I would highly recommend picking up those books for any possible dangling threads with Amadeus.

Van Lente: And just because Herc is a whole new series doesn’t in itself preclude Amadeus popping up later on down the line. But since it’s not Incredible Hercules, we want it to stand on its own two legs first.

Nrama: A couple of people also asked about the role of Athena going forward, like @SpiderMitchell asking succinctly, “What is the fallout going to be with Athena?”

Pak: We definitely have plans. We’ve discussed Athena a lot, but exactly where she reappears — if and when she reappears — has yet to be announced.

Van Lente: As many eagle-eyed readers have pointed out, Delphyne is still a Gorgon at the end of Chaos War #5, which means, ergo, Athena is alive and out there somewhere.

Nrama: Here’s another one from @Hutchimus, and it’s the perfect note to end this column on: “Did Herc recreate Hebe's beanie baby collection w/the rest of creation? It's what a good husband would do.”

Pak: Of course he did. 

Van Lente: He’s not that crappy a husband.

Pak: Those are clearly the fulcrum upon which all reality rest, so without those, we’d be in big trouble.

Van Lente: Screw Yellowjacket, we need those Beanie Babies!

Nrama: Before we go, now that Chaos War is in the rearview mirror, do you guys had any final thoughts or reflections on how it went, especially given how it went from an arc of Incredible Hercules to a bigger “event”-type affair with lots of tie-ins?

Van Lente: One person we haven’t praised enough, and deserves endless praise, is Khoi Pham, who brought the love, and the pain, and everything in between on his pages. It was really terrific since he was the first artist on Incredible Hercules, that he would also be the last one. I just can’t thank him enough for the effort he put into that book — him and his collaborators Thomas Palmer and Sunny Gho.

Pak: Khoi had the unenviable task of drawing a lot of abstract concepts during the course of this storyline. As much as possible, we were trying to create visuals to express the coming of this nothingness, but that’s a tough thing to throw at an artist, and Khoi just did an amazing job. With every panel, he found a new way to render this mind-blowing, world-altering energy and action. Every new page that came in just sort of blew my mind in a new way. He’s always finding new angles and new ways to look at scenes that just feel just right. I just feel really grateful that we had him.

Van Lente: I would like to thank all the readers for their incredible enthusiasm over the end of the story, and the enthusiasm for Herc, which is coming in April. It’s really meant a lot to us, and we hope to — and plan on — meeting and exceeding your expectations.


Pak: We were kind of blown away by all of the honey on our Twitter feeds. It was extremely gratifying, and we really appreciate all the folks who have stuck with the storyline all the way through, and invested so much in these characters. We had a total blast, which would not have been possible if not for your support, and we’ll see you in April.

And if you want to see some of the fallout of Chaos War , definitely pick up Incredible Hulks #621 and #622. We’re getting up and close with the all-new, all-awesome Zeus, who has returned, and the Hulk is foolish enough to take him on for the Hulk’s own reasons, so you definitely don’t want to mess that. Herc also appears in both of those issues, and you’ll get a glimpse of what’s up with the new Herc.


Nrama: And hey, Silver Surfer starts in February, too.

Pak: Yeah, exactly! Silver Surfer, which also has elements that have been set up by Chaos War , starts on February 16.

Van Lente: And Power Man and Iron Fist also starts in February, which has nothing to do with Chaos War whatsoever.

Nrama: Well, they both take place in the Marvel Universe.

Van Lente: It takes place in New York City. [Laughs.] Shockingly, for a Marvel book.

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