"Circle of Four" covers by Stefano Caselli.February brings Marvel's six-part "Circle of Four" storyline, beginning in Venom #13 and following in weekly installments numbered Venom #13.1, #13.2, #13.3 and #13.4; before wrapping in early March with Venom #14.
The story stars Venom (naturally) and also Red Hulk, X-23 and the current Ghost Rider, Alejandra — serving as sort of a modern version of the early '90s "New Fantastic Four" of Spider-Man, the grey Hulk, Wolverine, and the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. Continuing the current trend of Marvel's America being explored in earnest beyond New York City, "Circle of Four" takes place in Las Vegas, with Mephisto and Blackheart both involved, according to advance solicitations.
Venom's Rick Remender is writing the bulk of the story, with Hulk writer Jeff Parker and Ghost Rider scribe Rob Williams contributing the story's middle segments. Newsarama chatted with Parker via email about working on "Circle of Four," how the Red Hulk relates to the rest of the cast, and a few teases on what he's got coming up, in Hulk and beyond. Courtesy of Marvel, we're also exclusively debuting several interior pages from Venom #13.1 by Lee Garbett.
Newsarama: Jeff, let's start things out with clarifying how the division of labor works between you and the other writers in "Circle of Four." From what I understand, you're writing Venom #13.3, but it's really a collaborative effort throughout between you, Rob Williams and Rick Remender, correct?
Jeff Parker: Since it falls under Venom, Rick is the ringleader. And one of his mandates is that Rob and I wear jumpsuits and bright boots while we work on this. I don't quite follow his reasoning, but I feel Rick wouldn't request that kind of thing lightly, so I just go with it.
And yes, it felt like we chipped in pretty evenly in this story! A lot of phone conferencing, a lot of give and take and no egos in the way.
Nrama: On that same note, what was it like working with Rick and Rob on "Circle of Four"? In what ways do you think your individual styles complement each other well in a story like this?
Parker: We all moved towards a common tone where our writing voices synched up, and that was the key, I think. I was a little surprised how well it all comes together; it doesn't feel like multiple writers when you read it.
interior art.Nrama: You're coming into "Circle of Four" as the writer of Hulk, so what can you tell us about the role Red Hulk plays in the story? It looks like he's sort of the catalyst of the whole thing, with the story picking up with Captain America sending Red Hulk to hunt down Venom.
Parker: Yes, and on some level this is all about an AWOL soldier to him, which particularly sets him off.
Nrama: How do you characterize Red Hulk's dynamic with the rest of the three main characters? They're all characters we haven't really seen him interact with yet, and the group isn't exactly starting out as friends (and very possibly not leaving that way, either).
Parker: They're maybe the last people in the world he would choose to be part of a team with. And he thinks he knows better — in some cases, he certainly does, but what makes a team is how they can work together. In this case it's more what they bring out in each other — the worst of themselves.
interior art.Nrama: Obviously you're deeply familiar with writing Red Hulk, but how did you like writing the other main characters of the story — X-23, Ghost Rider and Venom? Did you take a particular liking to any of the three?
Parker: Yes, they're all interesting to voice. I credit the other writers though with that, everyone had nice solid character development to work from.
Nrama: The artist on your issue is Julian Totino Tedesco, who's done a lot of covers for Marvels as of late. What's he bringing to the issue, visually?
Parker: That guy is incredible. He brings very solid storytelling with one of those styles that make you want to sit down and draw, it looks so fun. He's a real natural; I lucked out on this.
interior art.Nrama: Let's take a quick look in the near future of Hulk proper. Looks like coming up we've got an appearance from Red She-Hulk and then — the Eternals. How big of an impact will the father/daughter reunion have on the series? And what brings the Eternals to Red Hulk's world?
Parker: It's been a while now since the Ross family have gotten together, and as you might expect, it happens with explosive results. But this core of family have been at the heart of the Hulk books for forty years, and you'll see why.Venom #13.1
interior art.As for the Eternals, it looks like they're tired of watching the world almost end every year. For millennia they've felt they know what's best for the world and have watched these "modern gods" start to multiply. They've tolerated that, but now that more Hulks are showing up, they've become a lot more concerned.
Nrama: Beyond that, Thunderbolts is approaching the big "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts" arc that we talked about a couple of months back, and Bucko, your webcomic with Erika Moen, is still going strong — anything else Jeff Parker-related that readers should know about?
Parker: Arghhh... there is a surprising new thing on the horizon that it's just a bit too early to talk about! But yes, please read the soon-to-conclude Bucko at www.buckocomic.com and get ready for the violent return of the original Thunderbolts as our time-travel arc builds to its big conclusion!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!