Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Jeph Loeb

The superstar writer talks about bringing about the end of the gamma brigade in Fall of the Hulks



By Kevin Mahadeo

The bigger they are, they harder they fall. And in the Marvel Universe, it doesn't get much bigger than the multi-colored colossuses of the Hulk family, who all fall especially hard with the Fall of the Hulks, which has already begun and will rage throughout the early part of 2010.

"This is the story Greg Pak and I have been working on all the way back to Planet Hulk," exclaims HULK writer Jeph Loeb. "It will answer all the questions building up for nearly two years-ever since World War Hulk. Who is the Red Hulk? Will Bruce Banner ever become the Hulk again? Will Skaar kill the Hulk? Where is Jen Walters' green She-Hulk? Who is Red She-Hulk? Whew!"

The event began last week in FALL OF THE HULKS ALPHA by Jeff Parker

HULK #18 cover by Whilce Portacio
and Paul Pelletier and continues on December 16 in HULK #18 by Loeb and guest artist Whilce Portacio. The upcoming issue focuses on the recent curiously-misaligned behavior of Doc Samson and earns a description from Loeb as "a chilling dark expose on a character who hasn't had a lot of background done on him." Loeb also pens the third part of the story with FALL OF THE HULKS GAMMA on December 23, which features art by John Romita Jr. and drops a figurative gamma bomb with the shocking murder of a class Hulk character. The shockwaves spread out from there into HULK, INCREDIBLE HULK and the upcoming RED HULK and SAVAGE SHE-HULKS limited series.

Despite being one of the busiest there is orchestrating the Hulk event set to cause major smashage across the line, Loeb took some time to talk about planning Fall of the Hulks, finally revealing the secrets behind Red Hulk and his thoughts on the less obvious differences between the various gamma-powered goliaths.


Marvel.com: This storyline brings to culmination a lot of the threads and plots you've been laying down in the pages of HULK. What's it like to finally bring it all together and make those reveals fans have been waiting for?

Jeph Loeb: It's super exciting. Greg and I hope the readers will be having as much fun as we've been having. There are massive battles with all parts of the Marvel U: the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. It's all connected. Even with all that action, the best Hulk stories are tied to the heart. This is Banner's chance for redemption. He can no longer be the Hulk after INCREDIBLE HULK #600, and between Skaar and Red Hulk he can see two [other figures who] are as powerful or more than he ever was. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility-only this

FALLS OF THE HULKS GAMMA cover by Ed McGuinness
time, Banner is responsible for other Hulks' power.

Marvel.com: How did the idea of Fall of the Hulks first come about? Did you and Greg and editor Mark Paniccia hash out all the details together or did one of you come in with the basic plan?

Jeph Loeb: They were like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. Greg was working on the right side of the board with Banner and Skaar and the aftermath of Planet Hulk. While I was on the left side with the fallout of World War Hulk and the introduction of the Red Hulk. In the middle, Mark "Panic" Paniccia was juggling gamma bombs. Then we all got together last summer for a Hulk Summit along with Jeff Parker, Fred Van Lente and [assistant] editors Nate Cosby and Jordan White and crushed it all together.

Marvel.com: Fall of the Hulks plays out across both HULK and INCREDIBLE, with HULK following events from Red Hulk's perspective. Can you talk a little about what will be happening on your side of the story?

Jeph Loeb: Everything that [has] happened since HULK #1, the first appearance of the Red Hulk, has been building toward this. It's not just his identity that's been a mystery; it's more about why he is here and what he wants. On the surface, it's been "Destroy the Green Hulk" and in INCREDIBLE HULK #600 he completed that task. But as we've seen, it came with consequences. Red has been allied with M.O.D.O.K. from the start. It's quite a gang they've got: [General] Ross, M.O.D.O.K., Samson and now [as revealed in FALL OF THE HULKS ALPHA], it gets even darker

FALLS OF THE HULKS GAMMA cover by John Romita Jr.
with the Intelligencia by bringing in the Leader, Doctor Doom, Wizard, Thinker and Red Ghost. The conspiracy is moving forward and the question is whose side is Red on?

Marvel.com: What can you say about the Intelligencia? What sort of role will they be playing in the upcoming storyline?

Jeph Loeb: They are the core of the story. The Intelligencia has been moving behind the scenes for years. This isn't a story that hinges on who is the strongest there is but who is the smartest? That puts Banner front and center. But when he's going up against minds like M.O.D.O.K. and Leader, who are allied in all this, it will have to come at a cost. What makes The Intelligencia so formidable, and Jeff Parker really nailed in ALPHA, is that these are a group of men who do not see themselves as "mad scientists" or "monsters," even though at face value they are horrific. They are more like Hannibal Lecter times five. Imagine being that smart and yet continually facing defeat. Their next move takes all their past lessons and finds a solution that makes them the most dangerous men in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: How did you all go about deciding who should be on the Intelligencia? There are often debates among fans about who is smarter than who in comics. Were there any fun discussions between you and the other writers about who is the smartest there is?

Jeph Loeb: It's kind of a classic villain question. Strongest is something you can prove on any given day. But smartest? In some ways, it has to be

FALL OF THE HULKS: RED HULK #1 cover by Ed McGuinness
a matter of who is making that decision. As we put the Intelligencia together, or as they put themselves together, these men certainly had proved to be extremely dangerous and had crossed paths at one time or another. We wanted a group who could move past the simplicity of wanting to kill their enemies and reach for a better world in their eyes. Its why this story could only take place now. The chain of events-Civil War, World War Hulk, Cap's assassination, the rise of Norman Osborn-the Marvel Universe is going to hell. These men see a chance to rescue the world and make it a better place. The scary part is that because they are so smart, they might not be wrong.

Marvel.com: You're also working on FALL OF THE HULKS GAMMA. What has it been like working with John Romita Jr.? You've mentioned before that you like to write your stories with the artist in mind. Knowing Romita was the artist on this title, how did you cater the story to his style?

Jeph Loeb: It's such a pleasure. Johnny has such amazing skills as an illustrator. There isn't anything he can't draw, so in many ways I just let my imagination run loose. At the same time, GAMMA is a very emotional, character-driven story. It is about the murder of a classic Hulk character who is the key to all of this. So the story needed someone who can drive a compelling drama and Johnny does that with such care and power. He's joined with Klaus Janson's superb inking and Dean White's incredible color. It's gorgeous. As a writer, I don't get to talk about this a lot, but one of my challenges in writing a script is that I don't draw. So everything

HULK #19 cover by Ed McGuinness
I describe is in my head, put on the page and then has to be interpreted by the artist. I'm super lucky to have worked with the best.  With Johnny-and I just wrote to him about this-the storytelling isn't just about the cool shots, it's also knowing how the dialogue is going to layout on the page, how your eye is taken from panel to panel. I was doing my final polish and balloon placement and was just so amazed by how effortlessly he makes it all look from the scripted page to the illustrated page. I'm still awestruck as I'm doing this interview.

Marvel.com: There are a lot of obviously noticeable differences between the various Hulk characters in this title, but what do you think are the core differences between characters like Red Hulk, Bruce Banner, Skaar, She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk?

Jeph Loeb: Its a very complicated question, but I'll try and focus on only one aspect of them, and that's their motivations for their actions. Greg and I talk a great deal about why the Hulk cast makes their choices and less so about how. For example, Red believes that the world is falling apart and he can save it. Banner is driven by guilt. He carries with him all the destruction the Hulk has caused both physically and to his own life and now, without a Hulk, there's hope for redemption. Skaar is on the path of revenge-to kill his father for abandoning him and [his] homeworld.

FALL OF THE HULKS: RED HULK #2 cover by Ed McGuinness
She-Hulk has the heart of the hero-Jen Walters fights for good-being a lawyer she has a very clear picture of what is right and wrong and what makes her so wonderful is she's not wrong often. What makes this equally tragic however, is we haven't seen Jen since INCREDIBLE HULK  #600. That can't be a good thing. Red She-Hulk we haven't given up very much [about]. She is clearly treacherous and has shown in HULK #16 and #17 that she's capable of getting to Red, but how or if they are connected will be revealed during Fall of the Hulks. But, yes, once that's uncovered, every action she's taken will be very clearly motivated by her life as it was before becoming Red She-Hulk. There are a few more clues in GAMMA.

Marvel.com: As a last question, you mentioned before there's no chance of bringing in the Blue Hulk from the Marvel Minis. That being said though, if you could make up a whole new Hulk, who and what would it be?

Jeph Loeb: I'm going to dodge that one and plug my favorite part of the Hulk line up and that's Audrey Loeb's Marvel Mini Hulk adventures that appear at the end of every issue. There will be two of them in GAMMA. It's

HULK #20 cover by Ed McGuinness
the only place you'll not only find Blue Hulk but Momma Hulk, too, as Blue, Green and Red continue to get into all kinds of mischief and hilarity.


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:hulk: I know alot of you guys are slating Jeff for his writing on Hulk but reading this has made it obvious that he's been building up the whole plot for quite awhile, everyone seems to want answers straight away these days(a good story needs a strong build up and you can't get better than the strongest one there is!)Ok so everyone wants to know who the red hulk is then, well i could be wrong but i've been reading the Hulk for over 20 years and been a fan ever since i saw him and my moneys on Glenn Talbot! I think its quite clear really, he hates banner, he's references alot about Ross and the army, he knows where all the files and secrets are within S.H.I.E.L.D. and now A.I.M. and most importantly he killed Abomination not because he hates him or hulk but the fact that Blonsky killed Betty Banner, the woman he always wanted and loved but could'nt have!! I know he's been gone awhile but MODOK and the Leader are resurrecting Betty so why can't they do that with Talbot?! At the end of WWH Ross was taking rick and banner away knowing full well that all they wanna do is capatilise on his raw power. So does that all make sense now?As with she-hulk(walters), she's been missing since being kidnapped by MODOK, quite obvious here that with all the other wanna-be she-hulks running about that she's been changed into the red she-hulk. Sides she was acting up abit strange in 600 as if she was a droid or something?!Back to the Hulk himself he will return, he got tricked by Osborn and his gama cells are building back up again. With the hulk locked away for so long he's only gonna come back meaner, madder and a hell of alot more stronger. Worldbreaker, Maestro even?! He's gonna kick some seroius ass this time round!Last and not least Galactus! He destroyed Sakaar, now Skaars pretty pissed about it and Galactus said himself he will consume every planet in the Universe so when will the hulk n son give him payback?! I mean the hulk's the strongest there is and Skaar has the old power, let Glactus have another go at Earth and lets see father n son dish out some real damage ay! I dunno maybe Thor can chip in with Sentry, Blackbolt? What a smackdown that would be!!!Well untill the Blue Hulk pops up with moma hulk to smell whats cooking make mine Marvel!!


No one cares about Jeph Loeb's hulk run anymore!!!!!