The Incredible Hulk might be the strongest there is in the Marvel Universe, but his other half, Bruce Banner, paid a terrible price to attain that strength. Banner must constantly keep his emotions in check for fear of losing control, transforming into his green alter ego and potentially putting innocent lives at risk. Since his first transformation, much of his life has been spent on the run from the various forces that want to capture or destroy the Hulk.
While Banner’s time has not exactly been a wonderful experience, does it mean everyone who becomes the Hulk is destined for misery and tragedy? Is it possible being the Hulk is something that could be enjoyed and relished — perhaps a life that is actually totally awesome?
This winter, acclaimed Hulk scribe Greg Pak returns to the Gamma Powered Goliath during “All-New, All-Different Marvel” to answer those questions and more in “The Totally Awesome Hulk”, a new ongoing series featuring art by Frank Cho. They will introduce readers to a mysterious new title character who has a very different view point on what it means to be the Hulk. CBR New spoke with Pak about what made him want to return to the Hulk, the mystery surrounding his title character and some of the established Marvel characters the new “Totally Awesome Hulk” will initially encounter in his earliest adventures.
CBR News: Greg, it’s been about four years since you said goodbye to the world of Marvel’s Gamma Powered Goliath. Have you missed the Hulk? I imagine writing the adventures of the phenomenally strong Superman in “Action Comics” allows you scratch some of that itch, but they’re also very different characters.
I’ve been writing work-for-hire comics for eleven years now, so I’ve said goodbye to a bunch of characters over the years. And that’s the way it should be — these legacy characters thrive when different creators come on board to breathe new life into them every few years, and we creators thrive when we stretch our wings and try new things all the time.
So I said goodbye to the Hulk without regrets a few years back, particularly since my editors at Marvel gave me so much room and so many years to tell a genuinely epic series of stories that let me fully explore our huge themes of anger and family. When we were done, we were done, and it was pretty glorious and tremendously satisfying. Sure, I had other Hulk stories in the back of my head that I thought would be fun to explore someday. But it was time for me to work on other things.
And then a few months ago, Hulk Editor Mark Paniccia called me up, said three words, and I was back in. I can’t reveal what those three words were just yet. But they instantly opened up a whole new world of possibilities in my brain, a whole new frontier of Hulk stories that would totally be in keeping with the great traditions of the character while going places no Hulk stories had ever gone before. So I’m not coming back to try to relive old glories; I’m jumping in at the deep end with an entirely new challenge and adventure, which feels like the very best way to come back to a character that I’ve loved so much for so long.
We already know the identity of the title character in your new Hulk series “The Totally Awesome Hulk” will remain a mystery until issue #1, but the “Totally Awesome” portion of the title suggests you’re dealing with a protagonist that has a whole new way of viewing the Hulk. Does he views the transformation they go through the same way Jen Walters does? Does he enjoy being a Hulk?
Yep, this new Hulk absolutely loves being the Hulk — and plans to be the best Hulk ever. And that just might create massive problems for everyone else in the Marvel Universe. To give you a sense of how far this new Hulk goes, he actually drives She-Hulk crazy. It’s a huge amount of fun to write, but the stakes are sky high. Big fun, big action, big emotion and big drama. All my favorite stuff.
When your series picks up eight months after “Secret Wars” does the rest of the Marvel Universe view the Hulk in the same light? Will they know what to make of this new Hulk?
We’ll delve into that as the series progresses — and keep your eyes out for some special guest appearances by the new Hulk in some other key books that will shed more light on this question.
We’ll also reveal bit by bit exactly how the new Hulk became the Hulk, which will help explain the attitude of some of the other heroes toward him.
While we’re on the topic of the rest of the Marvel Universe, you mentioned She-Hulk, but do you have immediate plans for Bruce Banner and some of the other traditional Hulk characters in “Totally Awesome Hulk?” Or are you more focused in creating a new supporting cast and world for your protagonist?
Yes and yes! I can’t reveal too much, but She-Hulk plays a big role in the first two issues. And we have a bunch of new characters — both new villains and new heroes — who will be of critical importance as the story plays out.
I’m hugely excited about one supporting character in particular — the new Hulk’s main ally. She’s awesome and I hope y’all love her as much as we already do.
What can you tell us about the villains that will inhabit the new Hulk’s world? I understand you’re introducing some new creations with your collaborator, Frank Cho, correct? What can you tell us about these characters and what has it been like creating characters with Frank?
When Frank and I first started talking about the story, he mentioned some big, fun villains he’d been thinking about, and we realized they’d be a perfect fit for the story. So we’ve got a brand new villainess and a few more bad guys who are hugely fun Frank Cho originals. If you poke around a bit, you might find a few sneak images he’s teased on the internets…
Frank, has drawn a variety of Marvel characters, but he’s most famous
for his depictions of women. I believe he even thought he was originally being asked to draw She-Hulk. So what it’s like bringing to life this new Hulk with him?
Working with Frank is a blast. I’ve loved his clean, dynamic line work for years. It’s an unbelievable pleasure working with someone who can deliver so much bombastic action and genuine, human-level humor with every panel and page.
Frank’s tremendous at human anatomy and organic, living things of all kinds. So we’ve got lots of big, muscled heroes and heroines and villains and villainesses as well as tons and tons of spectacular monsters. I’m also pleased to report that Frank draws beefcake very well, as you’ll see in one scene in particular in issue #1.
The great Sonia Oback is coloring, and she’s absolutely tremendous. And I’m thrilled to be working with editor Mark Paniccia again, with whom I worked on “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” and all my other Hulk stories back in the day. Mark’s one of my favorite people in general, and it’s a blast getting into new trouble with him.
What can you tell us about the types of stories we’ll see in “Totally Awesome Hulk?” Will he be a traditional vigilante who goes on patrol and fights crime or can we expect to see elements of some other genres?
We’re starting out with a monster hunt and a mystery. We’ll see how it goes from there!
Finally, and more specifically, what can you tell us about the events of the first arc? Because of the eight month time jump, will “The Totally Awesome Hulk” jump right into the action and wait for readers to catch up as the mystery unfolds?
Yep, we’ll start with the new Hulk in the middle of everything, and we’ll gradually reveal how he got here. For fear of spoilers, I can’t get more specific than that, other than the fact that the monster hunt might get bigger than you ever imagined, and the mystery will be very mysterious!
Also, the whole thing will be totally awesome, natch.