The Hulk's New Status Quo

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This January, Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness launch a new series following the exploits of the Hulk after the explosive events of World War Hulk. With that in mind, we sat down with series writer Loeb for the details.

Broken Frontier: First off, why the name change from Incredible Hulk to just plain Hulk? Is this change permanent?

Jeph Loeb: Well, it's as permanent as anything in the Marvel U which hopefully is the most unpredictable place on Earth! We wanted a story that would invite the readership -- both new and old -- to have a place to jump on. After almost two years of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, it seemed like the right thing to do -- tell a story that was simply called HULK. The fact that it has something to do with the Red Hulk makes me smile and I’m a fan of the Hulk so hopefully that's not a bad thing.

BF: Is this a good jumping on point for new fans or will the series draw heavily from the fallout of World War Hulk and Planet Hulk?

JL: It draws heavily in that it's the next story to follow those and relies on and respects that continuity. But, no, hopefully, if you've never read the Hulk -- and we know there are still TWO of you -- you can start here and enjoy the magic that is Ed "Ed" McGuinness, Dexter Vines, Jason Keith and my good luck charm Richard Starkings.

BF: Can you tease us about the general storyline for the first few issues? When we last left Bruce Banner at the end of WWH, he was trapped inside a S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility...

JL: I don't know that he was trapped as much as that was where he was being held and after the mess he made he's lucky to be alive. Where Bruce is and what role he plays in this first arc will be revealed over the course of the first issue. And that's not to say he will be playing a role -- only that it will be revealed. I'm being vague because it's important in a murder mystery to leave clues and Bruce's status is pretty key to all of this.

BF: What supporting cast can we expect to see? Iron Man? General Ross?

JL: Keep going -- those are two great guesses! She-Hulk. Leonard Samson. Maria Hill. And some surprises that are yet to be revealed. One of those might be Bruce. See there I go, being vague again.

BF: All the teaser images for the new ongoing prominently feature this new Red Hulk. And, as mentioned, at the end of World War Hulk earlier this month, we saw Banner trapped in a S.H.I.E.L.D. containment unit where the colors inside transitioned from green to red. Is this a coincidence or will it have a concrete effect on your opening storyline?

JL: Is that a little like "We've heard there's a murder, can you tell us who the victim is and who the killer is too?" <laughs> Let's just say that Mark Panic, Greg Pak (Gek) and I have worked very closely on the end of WWH, on the start of Red Hulk and the song that is Skaar, Son of Hulk. All good things, methinks.

BF: How long has this new Hulk series been planned? Did you pitch this project or did Marvel offer it to you?

JL: Ed McGuinness and I have wanted to tell THIS story since we got to Marvel two years ago and the timing worked cleanly for us to begin it here. So far, from what Ed has turned in, my guess is people will see and be delighted by his desire to draw the Hulk since he could pick up a pencil.

BF: How long do you expect to stay with the new and improved Hulk? Are you writing just the initial few issues or is this a more permanent position?

JL: Ed and I wanted to tell this first arc. Then, he and I realized we had about 25 stories we wanted to tell with this cast and so this is the first real commitment to a monthly comic I've made since restarting at Marvel. I've got a lot of expanding of ideas over in the Ultimate Universe, but up until now, it's been short arcs, Wolverine and Fallen Son, and now, Hulk has given Ed and I a place to rest for a while. It’s a lot of fun and Mark Panic and Nate "Norm" Crosby have made it a blast.

BF: What's it been like teaming up with Ed McGuinness again?

JL: Too much fun for words which is a challenge as a writer. This is a book he's been aching to draw, so almost anything I come up with, he's just knocking out of the park. The first issue sets up the mystery, lays out a lot of the clues and the second issue is more of a tear. From there on, it’s a madhouse of Hulkery and a lot of that is due to Ed's passion for the character and the strength of his artwork as a BIG GIANT thing that speaks to him.

BF: With this new Hulk series launching just two months before the outbreak of the Bendis penned Secret Invasion, will we see any interaction with that title or will the first few issues of Hulk be more or less self-contained?

JL: What I like about the Marvel U is that something as huge as Secret Invasion can be going on and at the same time, a story like Red Hulk can be told and co-exist. In the same way that World War Hulk went on during, before and after, a Civil War Marvel U -- it's all neatly coordinated by the Powers That Be. I get to have the fun of threading the needle, but the tapestry is carefully woven by the collective.

BF: Since you signed your exclusive deal with Marvel, you've been handling some of their biggest properties: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, the Ultimates and now the Hulk. Who haven't you written that you'd like to take a shot at?

JL: I've been very lucky in that regard, but in fairness, it’s why Joe Q brought me to Marvel. I'd had some luck with Batman and Superman and so it's difficult to leave the adult table across the street and not play with the big toys here. As with any situation that I've been involved in, I try and tell the best stories I can to the widest audience.

Because the Marvel marketing machinery is really the best in the business, the weight falls to me to come up with things that are compelling for the reader and the retailer. It's not lost on me that so many of the stories I get to tell wind up in the Top 5, and often in the top one or two slots -- and that's a big responsibility.

I love these characters and while my take on them might stir the nest, I'm hoping that no one sees it as anything other than an opportunity to see this artist or that artist bring their spectacular brand of storytelling to that franchise. In the case of McGuinness, he's married Jack Kirby with Arthur Adams and had a child all his own that is big and green and has something to do with Red that will hopefully shock and awe the reader.

Hulk #1 is available January 9th from Marvel Comics priced $2.99.




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