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Inside Look: Incredible Hulk #100

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Greg Pak walks you through the key moments of Incredible Hulk #100, continuing Planet Hulk and planting the seeds for next summer's blockbuster: World War Hulk. Readers who hate spoilers as much as Justin Timberlake better leave right now.

Thus far in the “Planet Hulk” epic, the Hulk has been exiled to the savage alien planet of Sakaar, where he’s been a slave, a gladiator, and now a rebel leading a revolution against the wicked Red King.  Accompanying the Hulk on his rampage across the planet are his warbound gladiator allies, fellow monsters and rejects who have sworn to fight side-by-side to the very end. 

As Issue #100 begins, the Hulk and his posse face the Spikes, horrific aliens released by the Emperor to destroy the Hulk — and any other person in their way.  As the Hulk unleashes his rage, will he prove himself to be a monster or a hero?  The fabled Sakaarson, the savior of the planet?  Or the dreaded Worldbreaker, the destroyer of everything?

PAGE 1

We knew we’d get a large number of new readers for this special oversized Issue #100, so it was critical to find a way to bring people up to speed in an efficient, entertaining way.  The solution was to open the issue with one of the Hulk’s warbound allies putting on a puppet show for the children in the Hulk’s camp of refugees.  By showing the Hulk fighting monsters in the Great Arena and recapping his subsequent deeds, the puppet show let us get the essential exposition across in four fun panels.  And as an added twist, the character putting on the puppet show is a Brood Creature — of the monstrous species best known as classic X-Men opponents — which helps set up the topsy-turvey world and themes of “Planet Hulk,” where the monsters may well be the heroes. 

Artwise, I love the way penciller Carlo Pagulayan put the page together — he did a great job with the puppets (I want that Hulk doll!) and, as usual, beautifully laid out the detailed central image.  One of Carlo’s trademarks is his amazing attention to detail — every corner of the image is filled with great little moments, mini-scenes with background characters that make the whole world of “Planet Hulk” come to life.

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PAGES 6-7

Here’s a typically glorious Pagulayan double-page spread.  Again, Carlo does a tremendous job with fore-, middle-, and background, making for a punchy, dynamic image that jumps out at us with the kind of Mighty Marvel power we want and need from our comic books. 

Dialogue-wise, we always knew the Hulk would have some Hulk-o-riffic one-liner on this spread.  But the original script left the space blank.  One of the great things about writing comics is that you get several chances to tweak dialogue, so I was able to wait until Carlo’s art came in to be inspired.  Once I saw the actual page, the “Spikes don’t surf” line became inevitable.

PAGES 20 and 21

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge My head nearly popped off when the pencils for page 20 came in.  The second panel here shows Carlo’s real genius as a storyteller.  The script specifies that the vision of the Sakaarson is a fantasy image from Hiroim’s imagination.  But Carlo came up with the idea of the parchment border on his own. 

It’s a brilliant detail — subtly but clearly conveying the notion that this is an image inspired by the book in the previous panel.  And again, that Sakaarson image has all the Mighty Marvel punch you can want.  Colorist Chris Sotomayor, who’s done a tremendous job throughout “Planet Hulk,” deserves a special nod here for the fantastic backlighting effect, which simultaneously brings out the Sakaarson’s mystery and heroism.

As usual, Carlo did a great job of filling in tiny character details on these pages — I love the specific way he has the young Hiroim folding his pinkies together while praying in the fourth panel on page 20.  And I love the way he has Hiroim holding the brazier of acid while his face is being tattooed in the second panel of Page 21.  Those details aren’t in the script, but they make the character specific and real and fully dramatize his stoicism and discipline. It’s a huge pleasure working with artists like Carlo and Aaron Lopresti and Gary Frank who have brought this kind of understanding and detail to their work on the book.

“PLANET CHO” backup story, PAGE 6

Click to enlargeGary Frank, who had a legendary Hulk run with Peter David a few years back, penciled the “Planet Cho” backup story in Incredible Hulk #100 , in which Amadeus Cho, aka Mastermind Excello, discovers what’s happened to the Hulk and goes head-to-head with Reed Richards.  I love what Gary did with these pages — his wide interior of Banner’s desert cave hideout here on page 6 is particularly gorgeous. 

I tend to want to cram tons of detail into every frame — the script features 169 words describing just this one panel — and Gary did a tremendous job of finding the perfect angle and layout for making every detail in that description come to life — down to the stalactites overhead, the wet jacket in the background, and funky, ‘50s style gamma machine off to the left.  And at the same time, Gary picked an angle that complements and calls back to the angle of Reed in his lab on the previous page, visually setting up the parallels and conflicts between Amadeus and Reed.  Good, clean, visual storytelling.

“PLANET CHO” backup story, PAGES 9 to 11

One of the fun elements of “Planet Cho” was finally having the chance to show a Marvel character present the Hulk’s side of the story in his conflict with the Illuminati.  These three pages were critical for making that argument work — and they show how continuity can be a gift rather than a curse.  Sometimes it can be tough to work with a comic book character’s decades of history — stories can contradict each other or get head-achingly complicated.  But the beautiful thing is when continuity provides the perfect details to make a story or character moment come together.  I’m pretty pleased with how the continuity details work in pages 9 to 11 — both Reed and Amadeus call on moments from the Hulk’s past to make their arguments, which deepens our understanding of the Hulk’s capacity for destruction — and heroism.

And of course, Gary Frank knocking these pages out of the ballpark always helps.

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As we move on from Incredible Hulk #100, we enter the last five issues of the “Planet Hulk” epic — essential reading as we set up the earth-shattering events of “World War Hulk,” the massive miniseries hitting the Marvel Universe starting in May, 2007.  Incredible Hulk #101-105 will bring huge developments, surprises, and payoffs — keep on reading for the ultimate showdown between the Hulk and the Red King, the final confrontations with the Spikes and the Shadow People, the revelations about the Sakaarson and the Worldbreaker, and the mind-blowing next step in the relationship between Hulk and Caiera the Oldstrong.  The action will be through the roof — and the emotional story as epic as any the Hulk has ever experienced.  Dontcha dare miss it!

For more on Greg Pak and his work, visit http://www.pakbuzz.com.

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