By Kevin Mahadeo
Bringing order to chaos takes a lot of work. Bringing order to CHAOS WAR, well, that takes a level of skill found only in the typing hands of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente.
In the upcoming five-issue limited series, the two scribes pit the recently returned Incredible Hercules and the new Prince of Power, Amadeus Cho, against the Chaos King Mikaboshi and his army of enslaved deities. To help combat the incoming threat, Herc uses his new godly gifts to empower various heroes of the Marvel Universe and forms an all-new God Squad consisting of Thor, The Silver Surfer, Galactus, Sersi and Venus. A number of upcoming one-shots and limited series also tie into the event, some written by the bringers of the Chaos themselves.
While in the midst of planning a war of the gods, Pak and Vente took some time to talk about the upcoming series, their tie-in titles and how a new life and new powers have affected the Incredible Hercules.
Marvel.com: Greg, you've been building toward this story for some time. This is a big extravaganza involving tons of characters and major events. What's it been like working to this crossover and finally reaching this point with the characters of Hercules and Amadeus Cho?
Greg Pak: It's awesome. We came up with this crazy plan very early in the game, while we were working on our second INCREDIBLE HERCULES story arc back in 2008. We had no idea if we'd get this far. But fans and reviewers and retailers and a slew of awesome people at Marvel have been enormously supportive and here we are. It's also been a blast pumping things up to Mighty Marvel event scale proportions with Chaos War. We've worked hard to make it entirely new-reader-friendly, which is also another way for us to fall in love with the characters and story all over again. So you're catching us at a pretty sweet moment in time.
Marvel.com: Ever since you and Fred Van Lente have been working on these characters, Herc and Amadeus' popularity has skyrocketed. Did you ever think they would reach this point? What it like for you to see your own creation in Amadeus become such a major Marvel player?
Greg Pak: It's a dream come true. From the beginning, I loved the idea of this kid interacting in the Marvel Universe and thought there was just a fantastic niche for him. So it was been enormously gratifying to see fans respond so positively, which gave us the window to include him in World War Hulk. And then when we paired him with Herc and the lovely and talented Fred Van Lente came on board as co-writer, everything took off. There was something magic about the Herc and Amadeus friendship that rubbed off on all of us who worked on the book. The special vibe that runs through the stories, the art, the colors-and heck, the infamously awesome lettering and recap pages-isn't something that any one of us could have come up with ourselves. Which in a funny way makes me even prouder of little ol' Amadeus; he's grown up beyond me, headed out and plays well with others.
Marvel.com: What's it like writing and managing all these characters in CHAOS WAR? Who are the biggest players readers should pay attention to and why?
Greg Pak: I had a blast working with dozens of Marvel's biggest characters in WORLD WAR HULK. It's the same kind of kick with CHAOS WAR, with many thanks to editors like Tom Brevoort and Ralph Macchio for their insights about some key players. Thor, Herc and Amadeus are giant in the book. Zeus will be a revelation. Whoops, was that a spoiler? I'll say no
Marvel.com: Herc seems a lot more serious after his recent return and is stepping up into a leader role. Has death changed him a little or will he still have those moments of classic Herc silliness during CHAOS WAR?
Greg Pak: Herc's mind is on the verge of exploding; it ain't easy dealing with the insane power-up he received at the end of HEROIC AGE: PRINCE OF POWER #4. The stakes have never been higher for him, on both a cosmic and personal level. But have no fear, Herc remains Herc and a certain level of Herc-iness will still apply.
Marvel.com: Along with the main CHAOS WAR title, you're also writing a tie-in arc in INCREDIBLE HULKS. What can you say about what goes on in that title and how the Green Goliath and his family fit into events?
Greg Pak: The [INCREDIBLE HULKS tie-in] is probably the creepiest, most shocking thing I've written for Marvel; super hero horror action coming your way. I can't say too much for fear of spoilers, but the Hulks will fight the critical second front in the Chaos War, tackling villains only they could handle. It's a great companion to CHAOS WAR, but also a key story in the continuing theme of family that's been powering the Hulks book.
Fred Van Lente
Marvel.com: Fred, you and Greg have been building toward this story for some time now. What's it like reaching this point and working on such a major event in the Marvel Universe?
Fred Van Lente: Very exciting. Early on, Greg and I conceived of the INCREDIBLE HERCULES saga as roughly eight story lines, and this is the eighth one; it's even more thrilling that it has, as we always intended, to be such a huge event that affects all the Marvel Universe and has all these great tie-ins across a wide variety of titles and franchises. So it's completely accessible for a non-Herc reader, but those who have been following the storyline from the very beginning will find the climax of all our storylines pretty damn satisfying.
Marvel.com: There is a huge cast of characters in this book. What's it like writing and managing all these characters? Who are some of your favorites and why?
CHAOS WAR #2 cover by Brandon Peterson
Fred Van Lente: Oh, I enjoy writing all of them. Since Herc's "death," he's been separated from Amadeus Cho, his kid genius sidekick. They're back together again, but with a completely different dynamic, as Cho is the Prince of Power, a hero in his own right, and Herc is the all-powerful God of Heroes. Now Cho has a relationship with Thor, Herc's right-hand man, that's totally different, more combative, than his one with Herc, thanks to the events of the PRINCE OF POWER [book]. Seeing all these different characters who've been on different parts of the Marvel Universe for so long interact with each other is a great A-Team "I love it when a plan comes together" moment.
Marvel.com: Are there any character you're getting to take a crack at in this title that you never really got a chance to before and are really excited about? Was there a moment when planning this story with Greg that you were like, "Oh! We have to include this character because I love them"?
Fred Van Lente: It's been fun dealing with Galactus and The Silver Surfer, but the real standout for me is Sersi. She was always my favorite Eternals character, and Herc and she were Avengers teammates for much of the 1990's. She is such a fun person, and so vastly powerful, that it makes her a killer combo as a character. And I love her John Romita Jr.-designed costume.
Marvel.com: How have recent events changed Hercules?
Fred Van Lente: Hercules is immensely powerful [and] able to summon all of the heroes of the Marvel Universe to his side and let them fly with him after Chaos King. So that's definitely led to a more serious frame of mind. But he's still our boozing, womanizing Herc, which may lead to some disastrous results when combined with that much cosmic force.
Marvel.com: What about Amadeus? Of course he's happy to have his buddy Herc back, but what's his role going to be in this event? Is he going to be the big plan guy? Organizing attacks behind the scenes?
Fred Van Lente: Athena predicted Amadeus would be the greatest champion of the Heroic Age, that he would save the world in its darkest hour. And hours don't get much darker than this. But the gulf between him and Herc has grown wide in their time apart, and that may prevent Amadeus from reaching his full potential-and doom all of reality to destruction.
Marvel.com: To end up here, big picture, what can you say about what's to come in CHAOS WAR and what kind of action readers can expect to see?
Fred Van Lente: Rereading the final proof of CHAOS WAR #1 the other day, even I was blown away at just how epic it is. I don't care how huge you think it is, CHAOS WAR is huger. In fact, it redefines "huge." It goes down to the beach to kick sand in other event comics' faces. I hope you all enjoy having your minds thoroughly blown.
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