We've all heard by now that the end of a 5,125-year-long cycle on the Mayan calendar — happening on Dec. 21, 2012 — could mean the end of the world as we know it. There was even a John Cusack movie about it a couple of years back, as sure a sign of legitimacy as any.In the Marvel Universe, the 2012 phenomenon is very real, and one being dealt with in the pages of Hulk with the story arc "Mayan Rule," starting in June's issue #53. To combat the return of the Mayan Gods, the Red Hulks allies himself with heroes including A-Bomb, the She-Hulks, Alpha Flight and Machine Man. And speaking of Alpha Flight — Dale Eaglesham, former artist on that series, is joining Hulk series writer Jeff Parker at the start of "Mayan Rule." Newsarama has the first interview with both creators on the upcoming story. Newsarama: Jeff, you've worked with quite a few artists at this point on Hulk, all with their own different strengths, but what's unique about what Dale brings to the series?
Jeff Parker: Dale has a world-sized imagination, and that's what you need in a story about the return of ancient gods. Also it's mostly set in a lush jungle environment, which he kills at with his classic adventure sensibilities. He makes wild sci-fi look utterly believable. And the characters are gorgeous! We get pretty excited when Dale pages roll into the inbox.
Nrama: Dale, what are you looking forward to in coming aboard Hulk? For an artist, how exciting is the type of visual possibilities inherent in a series like what Jeff's been doing and a title character like Red Hulk?
Eaglesham: It’s very exciting for sure – not only do I love Mayan history, imagery and culture, but drawing any version of the Hulk is a blast as well. I’m like a kid in a candy store with this arc!
Nrama: I'm not sure if you two have ever worked in the past, but instinctually it seems like a natural pairing. What have you liked about collaborating with Jeff thus far?
Eaglesham: I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to work with Jeff for a while now, so that made the project even more appealing. Jeff is a treat to work with — he asked me right off the bat what I like to draw and incorporated it into the story. He gives me lots of room and that’s allowed me to actually add storytelling panels, which I’ve very rarely had room to do over the course of my career. He even gave me a few pages as plot only so I could choreograph a fight scene.
What I really love about his writing is that no matter what is happening, he finds that emotional undercurrent in every scene and and it feels genuine. When emotional content isn’t driving the scene it makes an impact at character level. A-bomb, a scary looking monster, comes off as caring and sensitive. That’s real story craft.
Nrama: The plot of the Mayan calendar meaning the end of the world in 2012 seems like practically a no-brainer to incorporate into a comic book, but I haven't seen anyone else do it. Jeff, what can you say about the inspiration behind bringing that to Hulk?
Parker: I felt like if any industry had to address the Mayan calendar issue, it was comics, and especially Marvel Comics. And for the aggressors in this story, it's not the end of the world, it's the end of our world and the return of theirs!
Nrama: The story incorporates a lot of interesting characters, mainly ones that are a little lower on the radar, like Machine Man and Alpha Flight. How did you go about picking the characters for this story? And between this and the many characters you've worked on in Thunderbolts, do you find that you have a natural fondness towards the less-featured Marvel characters?
Parker: I thought it would be cool to have Dale transition over with the characters he was just drawing, and that readers might appreciate it too. We also want to show you can have a big blow-up event without the usual cast.
Nrama: Dale, do you enjoy that challenge of handling multiple characters at once and having it all "make sense" on the page?
Eaglesham: I do, actually. I love team books. Large casts can get exhausting but a large palette of characters to choose from is the penciler’s delight. I especially like it when I get to work with a team book for a while, on a monthly rather than just an arc. I like to have the time to develop each character to their fullest potential, and I mean to a point where you begin to discover all their little quirks that make them unique. Alpha Flight was such a joy to work on — fun, varied characters. I really wish it had become a monthly and that I could have stayed on it!
Nrama: And to focus on the title character, there have been a lot of different artists who have put their own spin on Red Hulk in the past four years or so. I'm sure you're looking to bring your own distinct take on the character, but is there any interpretation that has influenced you more than others as you work on the book?
Eaglesham: Not really, no; I’ve been doing my own thing. Bernie Wrightson’s Captain Sternn story from Heavy Metal magazine. It’s an amazing short story, and if anything’s influenced the approach I take for Hulk and Red Hulk, it’s that.
Nrama: Hulk is now very close to its 50th issue, and clearly continuing on beyond that — Jeff, as you approach your two-year mark on the title, how proud are you to see the character continuing to last and endure as an important part of the Marvel Universe?
Parker: Very proud. I want to thank our readers for pushing the book as they have. I think we've pulled off some great tales in Hulk!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!