|Marvel NOW! teaser by Joe Quesada|
By Carla Hoffman
What happened to Bruce Banner that changed his life forever? How did S.H.I.E.L.D. convince a traditionally reclusive loner join up with an organization that has previously tried to capture and contain his destructive alter-ego?
It might seem at first glance like madness, but these questions and more actually represent a carefully crafted plan by Eisner award winning writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Yu, who have been tasked to show the Marvel Universe a whole new side of the Green Goliath in INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK beginning in November. With a character that has 50 years of history, that’s no easy task, but together this team has found a way to turn a new page on The Hulk as well as Bruce Banner.
We spoke with both creators to tease some tantalizing details about this smashing new era!
Marvel.com: Is this your first time writing The Hulk? What got you on board?
Mark Waid: Other than an occasional cameo, this is my first time writing Hulk—and it’s intimidating. When it was first offered, I said I’d do it only if I could find some way to thematically replicate some of the positive energy that’s been so well-received with DAREDEVIL, but that was a stumper. I mean, the characters couldn’t be more different. One’s witty, one’s brutish. One’s upbeat, one’s tortured. How do you find the heart and the warmth and the occasional humor with a behemoth who’s laid waste to entire cities? That gave me fits, but I finally realized it was because I was focusing on the wrong aspect of the character. My work didn’t need to be with Hulk. It needed to be with Banner. Once I came to that conclusion, everything clicked.
|Indestructible Hulk #1 cover by Leinil Yu|
Marvel.com: Mr. Yu, what drew you to the book?
Leinil Yu: I always enjoyed drawing The Hulk ever since WOLVERINE, and later on ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK. The size, the look and the grittiness of the character is just perfect for my style.
I was really thrilled when Marvel offered the book to me and was floored when I learned Mark Waid was already tagged as writer. That is just too amazing to pass up. Despite my hands being full at the time, I had to say yes!
Marvel.com: So Mark, Leinil Yu: great artist or greatest artist?
Mark Waid: Phenomenal artist. Can draw anything. Can bring power to the page like no one else. Do you know how difficult it is to find an artist who can draw a bombastic shot of a character punching a freight train and, with equal skill and effect, the almost-imperceptible moment of a human heart breaking in two? I am in awe of his talent, always have been.
Leinil Yu: Mark Waid is definitely one of the greats!
Marvel.com: One of the most fascinating parts to me about The Hulk is this incredible idea of man and monster; this is an unimposing man who transforms into this massive engine of destruction in moments of rage and frustration. What are some of the amazing feats of strength or displays of power you’ve really loved putting onto the page?
Leinil Yu: Visually, one of the most interesting [things] to draw is devastation. The very simple act of Hulk running around the city would be no different from bombs going off at the base of the buildings. This could be as large a scale as “Akira.” I doubt we will go that far since The Hulk is a hero and we wouldn’t want him being responsible for so much carnage.
I’d also love to see him fight huge mechs and robots as it is right up my alley. I love drawing sci-fi/concept art stuff and I think they are the only things that are more visually imposing than The Hulk.
|The Hulk by Leinil Yu|
Marvel.com: Let’s get some people settled into the name: INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK! I’ll fully admit that I was partial to “Incredible,” but it’s really grown on me. Did you suggest the heading?
Mark Waid: I didn’t suggest the adjective, but I wish I had, ’cause it fits in ways that won’t become apparent until after you read the first issue. It’s more than just an adjective change; it also heralds a whole new worldview and mindset on the part of Bruce Banner.
Marvel.com: Jason Aaron is currently wrapping INCREDIBLE HULK with a story that pits a mad Bruce Banner against a wiser and singularly focused Hulk. From the conclusion of that story, where do we pick up?
Mark Waid: No one’s seen Hulk or Banner for a few weeks, which has the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. really nervous. S.H.I.E.L.D., in particular, has gone to great lengths in recent years to make absolutely certain that it’s impossible for Banner to stay off the grid for any length of time—and yet, he’s vanished. And this literally affects the entire planet. Every country is on the equivalent of orange alert. Airport security is a nightmare. World leaders are ready to bunker down at a moment’s notice. Surveillance cameras are selling faster than they can be manufactured. Everyone’s tense. Maria Hill, in particular, has taken “Finding Banner” as her own personal mission, and when our story opens, she’s finally taking her first break in weeks. And as it happens, her timing sucks.
Marvel.com: My biggest question is about the relationship between Bruce Banner and The Hulk. We’ve seen them as bitter enemies, we’ve seen Bruce carry the burden of the monster within, we’ve seen The Hulk hide his punier side, we’ve seen them come to an understanding of sorts, and we’ve even seen a Savage Banner. Where are these two at by the start of INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK?
|The Hulk and Bruce Banner by Leinil Yu|
Mark Waid: Different than we’ve seen in a long time, maybe ever. Again, we don’t want to give away too much, but our Bruce Banner is…evolved. Enlightened. He’s had an epiphany about his condition, and it affects everything. All I can say is that once upon a time, The Hulk was unique in comics because he viewed his condition as a curse, not a blessing; but now, 50 years later, a lot of super heroes feel that way. When I was most recently at DC that was the whole philosophy handed down editorially: that heroes should carry a great burden. Now, personally, I feel like if you can fly, then I don’t want to hear you whine about your problems, but I get it—that’s the “New Mindset.” So with Marvel’s permission, we’re taking The Hulk down a road that’s as unique for him as his persecution complex was in 1962.
Marvel.com: With Bruce’s new outlook on the monster within and the goal he’s set for himself to return to the grand stage of scientific discovery, do you feel The Hulk is simply a tool of Banner’s genius or is the alter ego still more of a distinct personality change?
Mark Waid: Oh, it’s definitely a personality shift; not a change, just a metamorphosis, but Banner will have learned a few new things about “programming” it, if you will.
Marvel.com: Kind of a more philosophical idea, but are there any features of Bruce Banner that can be seen in drawing the Hulk? Is there something of the Hulk present in his punier alter-ego?
Leinil Yu: Our take on the new book is a bit different. Hulk doesn’t look as monstrous as his earlier portrayals. I think we can see more of Bruce now, [in my opinion]. Visually, he looks more like man than a freak. His new haircut makes him look more “normal” and intelligent.
Marvel.com: Putting themselves back together after a disastrous year or so, what’s the new status quo over at S.H.I.E.L.D. H.Q.?
Mark Waid: A certain Agent Coulson does, in fact, get the nod on page one. Maria Hill’s our point agent with S.H.I.E.L.D., and she’s come to realize that if she wants any say whatsoever over The Hulk, she has to be nice to Banner—and it’s killing her. Killing her.
Marvel.com: On Twitter, Mr. Waid, you said that “…there’ll be a sense of humor to it here and there…mixed with some startling peril and danger. And Frost Giants.” Frost Giants? And a sense of humor? What kind of humor can we expect from a character that comes with his own sad piano theme song?
Mark Waid: Banner’s a changed man. No more stooping under the weight of “woe is me,” no longer bespectacled, no longer a fashion victim in purple. I want to see him have a little bit of fun with the fact that those around him treat him, understandably, like a soap bubble. If he’s working with S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s not above pretending to stub his toe just to watch people clutch at their chests and mutter a quick prayer. For decades, Banner’s felt like he’s no more than the Hulk’s helpless puppet. Now Banner’s using Hulk to his own mysterious ends.
Marvel.com: For a guy who demands solitude, Banner always winds up with a cast of characters, lovers and arch-enemies. Does The Hulk ever really want to be left alone anymore?
Mark Waid: Hulk wants to be left alone, yes! But Banner knows he needs help to accomplish the things he wants accomplished in order to remind the world that he’s every bit the visionary scientist that Reed Richards and Tony Stark are. To that end, he’s surrounded himself with a support staff of exemplary minds all of whom have this in common: their lives have brought them to a point where they feel they have nothing to lose. Which, coincidentally, is just exactly the only kind of guy who’s gonna want to share a small, enclosed laboratory with Bruce Banner.
Marvel.com: Speaking of his supporting cast, will we be seeing any of them, or perhaps some guest stars? Hulk’s also got two kids still on Earth and an estranged wife who’s getting her own title [RED SHE-HULK] with Jeff Parker and Carlo Pagulayan…
Mark Waid: Oh, Jeff and I have already been swapping scripts and hatching schemes. Stay tuned. There may also be a crossover at some point with a certain Man Without Fear. And if you dug the Avengers movie, you’ll love the Iron Man/Hulk interplay in issue #2.
Marvel.com: On that note, would you say that any of the millions of people who enjoyed “Marvel’s The Avengers” might be able to pick up INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #1 and feel right at home with this new status quo?
Mark Waid: Absolutely. In fact, while my Hulk pitch was made before I saw the movie, it helped move it along into series that I’d inadvertently hit some of the same character beats. But, yes, positively—I’ve always said that if I write a first issue that can’t be read and enjoyed and understood by every prospective reader, then I’ve failed. Trust me, it’s all there.
|Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk by Leinil Yu|
Marvel.com: Okay, last question for Mr. Waid: what is one thing, that you think everyone should know about the Indestructible Hulk?
Mark Waid: He doesn’t always have to talk like the Cookie Monster.
Marvel.com: And the very last question for Mr. Yu: if the Hulk could fight anyone, from Doctor Doom to Galactus to the guy who cuts you off in traffic right before your exit, what would you like to show the Hulk smashing on the printed page?
Yu: I would like him to smash Wolverine and win for a change. I doubt it. [Laughs]
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