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Inside Look: World War Hulk: X-Men #1

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Christos Gage’s first time writing the X-Men couldn’t have come at a better time—or a worse one, depending on which side of the fence you’re standing. For Gage, it’s all good, because, come on, who wouldn’t want to write a mini series centering on Marvel’s über franchise at the time of a big crossover? For the X-Men themselves, though, things don’t look good because the Hulk is coming by and he doesn’t have any good news in store (does he ever?).

The solicitation for the issue reads:

When the Illuminati voted to shoot the Hulk into space, Professor X wasn't there...but the Hulk just found out he was supposed to be. So he shows up at the Xavier Institute to ask a few pointed questions, Hulk style. With the other teams away, only Beast and the New X-Men stand between the massive rage of the Hulk and the Professor...not to mention the younger students who'd be caught in the crossfire. Can the X-Men-in-training survive the wrath of the Jade Giant until the other X-teams get back? Or will the young mutants become casualties of the World War Hulk?

The basic premise of World War Hulk is that a group of elite Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange and Professor X, formed a group that would meet to discuss pressing issues facing the Marvel Universe.  At one such meeting, they decided the Hulk was an uncontrollable menace and should be shot into space.  He ended up on a planet where he rose from gladiator to Emperor, took a wife, and had a baby on the way…whereupon the ship he'd arrived in exploded, killing his wife, his child and most of his citizens.  Now he's back for revenge.

Professor X wasn't at that particular meeting, but the Hulk has learned that he was supposed to be.  So he shows up at the X-Mansion to ask some pointed questions.  This creates a volatile situation because (unbeknownst to the Hulk) ever since M-Day there are only 198 mutants remaining in the world, about a quarter of which are young students living in the mansion.  So having an angry Hulk on the premises could be disastrous.  And of the senior instructors, only the Beast is home…

PAGE 1

Here we see Xavier briefing Iron Man on his recent space adventures (as seen un Uncanny X-Men).  This is the first Xavier has heard of the Hulk being shot into space.  And he gets asked a question that's going to be on the Hulk's mind as well…you'll notice we don't see him answer!

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PAGE 3

This page shows the Beast supervising the training of the New X-Men, who are basically older students training to be full fledged team members.  What's so great about our artist, Andrea DiVito, is that (as anyone who's read ANNIHILATION knows) he can pack so many characters onto a page while still keeping all of them individuals; you can see who each one is, what they're doing, what they're thinking.  That's a crucial storytelling skill for a book like this where you've got lots of characters and you have to assume you're going to have readers who aren't familiar with all of them. 

So, hopefully this page establishes what you need to know about the New X-Men.  I love writing Rockslide… he's a fun character!  I also should mention the amazing coloring job by Laura Villari (who is married to Andrea)…if you look closely you'll see that she put a picture of a cat as Beast's computer desktop, which was funny to me because my desktop is a picture of one of my cats.

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PAGE 6

Here's our first glimpse of the Hulk.  I love the way Andrea portrayed him here; he looks scary as hell.  You don't even really need dialogue on this page.

Looking at the credits, this was the first time I've indulged in the time-honored Marvel tradition of assigning nicknames.  I decided to apply titles or subtitles of various X-books, past and present, to the creative team.  I'm not sure if Joe "Strangest Teen Of All" Quesada and Dan "At The State Fair of Texas" Buckley will find it amusing or not…if you never see me work for Marvel again, the answer is probably "not." 

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PAGE 7

I really wanted to bring home the danger of the situation here.  Rockslide is excited about the impending battle, but as Beast says, this is not the same Hulk you may have seen in the past.  He's full of more rage than ever before, meaning he's both stronger and more ruthless than ever before.  He is a deadly threat to everyone on Earth, and especially, at this moment, to every young student in the Mansion.  We're really trying to ratchet up the level of tension; like a hurricane is about to hit.

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PAGE 8

Here we reinforce what's at stake for the X-Men.  If the Hulk stomps his foot too hard and the mansion collapses, that's one quarter of all the mutants on earth gone in the blink of an eye.  They are fighting for the survival of their species, which is really the only reason the Beast even considers letting the New X-Men battle the Hulk.  And as Mercury notes in her caption, they've already seen many of their friends fall, so they know exactly what could happen.  Yet they step up.  Brave kids.

Speaking of bravery, you have to give the Beast some serious credit for opening that door.  I'd be running the other way, if I wasn't curled up in a fetal position on the floor!

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PAGES 19-20

This is the money shot.  The battle everyone wants to see: the Astonishing X-Men against the Hulk.  Of course Wolverine is the first to strike… he and the Hulk have a history going back to Wolverine's first appearance in Incredible Hulk #181.  I just love the way this spread is composed.  So cool, so ominous…like a High Noon showdown.

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Coming up, we'll see that battle… as well as a number of other characters from the X-Men family, including the Juggernaut!  Will Xavier or Emma Frost be able to use their telepathy against the enraged Hulk?  Will Xavier answer the Hulk's questions, and how will the Hulk react?  Can anyone stop the Jade Giant? 

You know how it works by now… pick up the book to find out!  If readers have half as much fun reading it as I had writing it, they'll be glad they did!

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