Puny War Cries – Part 1

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The last couple of days were big for Marvel. There was the busy convention weekend, and of course, the release of World War Hulk #1. A little later than anticipated, BF had a chance to get down to business with World War Hulk editorial architect Mark Paniccia to pick his thoughts on the smashing and puny name-calling that went on in the big crossover’s first issue.

Planet Earth beware… the Hulk has landed.

BROKEN FRONTIER: The top two panels on Page 2 show the Illuminati, first the way they are—making a difficult decision—and secondly the way the Hulk sees them: hostile and mischievous. How much of a balance will the series offer showing the Hulk’s vision of the Illuminati vs. the more realistic way of looking at their actions?

MARK PANICCIA: That particular sequence is done for the very specific reason of showing the perspective of not just Hulk, but of the narrator.

Beyond that, we open the field of vision to the readers and let them see everyone for who they are in this moment of dire consequence.

BF: The first stop on the Hulk’s return to Earth is the Moon, where he encounters Black Bolt and Medusa. I was under the impression that they were waiting for him, standing right there as he made impact… true?

MP: They weren’t given significant warning. I imagine the Inhumans were quite caught off guard by the Stone Ship’s sudden arrival.

BF: Upon learning of the threat, Dr. Strange and Iron Man put (astral) heads together, and Tony vows to pardon all unregistered combatants who want to help out. Will World War Hulk bring the two factions closer to each other?

MP: Time will tell.

BF: In Civil War, public perception was of crucial importance, affecting everyone from Spider-Man to Captain America. How much of a factor will it be in this series?

MP: This event takes place over the course of about 4 days give or take a few hours. There’s not much time to worry about anything else besides getting flattened by a slab of concrete. There’s only time to duck and cover…and then get smashed!

BF: Tony will ultimately be the one judged the hardest by the public, since he takes full responsibility for shooting the Hulk into space. Will the world continue to see him as a hero, or as the one to blame?

MP: I thought the first issue was a fascinating look into the kind of responsibility that character has taken on. Whether you agree with him or not, he really is doing everything because he wants to protect the people with the tremendous abilities he’s got at hand.

For now, I think he’s stepped up to the plate and taken it on the chin (multiple times) like a man.

BF: Now, Civil War was a truly universe-changing event with the unmasking of Spider-Man, the death of Captain America, the Initiative programme, etc. Will we see any lasting changes in the pages of World War Hulk over the course of the series? Or should we look at this summer event more in terms of the ‘blockbuster popcorn epic’?

MP: I think people are expecting something big happening to Hulk’s status quo and they might be right, but there are ripple effects to other characters that will be felt past this series. I just can’t say who or what because I don’t want to spoil it, but you can count on some pretty significant stuff.

BF: Is that Rick Jones sitting at the bar on Page 33? What can you tell us about his role in WWH?

MP: Rick was just being Rick, doing Rick things when the "fist" hit the fan. As for his role, he’s always been an important part of Hulk’s life so expect that to be the case here as well. Also, we have a more Rick-centric story in issue #108 of Incredible Hulk, giving readers continued insight to his reaction of recent events.

BF: Before flying towards the Hulk again, Iron Man mentions that taking the Hulk down in order to save the world is what Bruce Banner would have wanted. Now, we haven’t seen Banner for a long time—except for one brief moment at the emperor’s palace towards the end of Planet Hulk. Does he have a role somewhere in World War Hulk?

MP: No can say. (editor’s note: asked the same question in his column, Greg Pak answered Banner will indeed have a big role in the issues to come )

BF: The scenes where the Sentry’s home crashes down through the Avengers’ tower reminded me of 9/11, especially those two adjacent panels on Page 39. Was that resemblance worked into the plot to have WWH make a bigger emotional impact, or am I riding a personal impression here?

MP: Symbolically, the destruction of Avengers Tower by the battle with Iron Man shows how Tony’s actions have jeopardized his vision and how everything he’s built might come tumbling down around him. But there’s no denying that it’s a powerful image beyond that and it was not an easy scene for anyone to do.

BF: My favorite moment of the issue was Hulk going at Black Bolt saying "I didn’t come here for a whisper. I wanna hear you scream." Instant classic. What was yours?

MP: There are so many of them and, you know, I’ve lived so close to this story for a looooooong time, but one of the scenes that always gets a smirk from me whenever I see it is the last panel of page 44 where we close in on Iron Man (the reflection of Hulk coming towards him) and he says, "Oh, hell…"

BF: If you had to pick one tie-in issue people can’t afford to miss out on this month, which one do you suggest they pick up?

MP: The one I’m closest to is Heroes for Hire. It’s hitting this thing from a different perspective. With Humbug’s enhanced powers, he’s caught wind of an alternative threat, one dealing with the insectiods (Brood, Miek and the Hivelings) on Hulk’s ship. And it’s got some moments where you’re just like, "what the …?!"

But I can’t stress enough the quality of all the tie-ins. The creators who participated knocked their books out of the park and it’s all great stuff!

BF: Rounding things out, I’d like to continue the small tradition I had established with Tom Brevoort on the Civil War interview series: let’s end this conversation with one of your finest cryptic teases on how the war will unfold from here on out…

MP: You’ll see someone take a desperate step that will lead to a darkness that may never be lit. You’ll see something big get taken apart like a sardine can. And you’ll see green against green.

Hulk continues to smash like there’s no tomorrow on July 11. BF will be there…

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