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|
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|
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.|
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|
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|
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|
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|
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