5 Ronin

5 Days of 5 Ronin: The Hulk

Peter Milligan transforms a monster into a Ronin

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By Ben Morse

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the 5 RONIN series—go out and buy the book before you read it!

For the past five weeks, we’ve been witness to a unique and remarkable new take on familiar Marvel icons in 5 RONIN, conceived and executed by writer Peter Milligan, editor Sebastian Girner and a quintet of tremendously talented artists.

With the release of the fifth and final issue this Wednesday, March 30, as well as the coming hardcover collection on May 25, we spoke at length with Milligan and Girner about each installment of this epic tale and will be presenting these exclusive commentaries all week long. Additionally, each artist to work on 5 RONIN has provided a wealth of sketch materials to illustrate how they created this vivid world set in 17th century Japan.

Yesterday, we talked Wolverine, but today we move onto The Hulk, a peaceful monk attempting to escape a lifetime of violence.

5 Ronin Hulk sketches by Dalibor Talajic

Marvel.com: The Hulk's story seems a bit more removed from the loose central plotline of the series than the others—would you agree with this?

Peter Milligan: On the surface he might seem more removed, but this doesn’t make The Hulk less important to the series. His effect on the plot is perhaps a bit more subtle. The Hulk is important partly because he illustrates a different side of the culture we’re trying to show, and a different way of dealing with and seeing  the frightening, cataclysmic changes happening in that country. 

Marvel.com: Obviously The Hulk had the powers most difficult to replicate sensibly in this world, so why use him and then how did you approach the challenge of keeping intrinsic elements of the character intact?

Peter Milligan Agreed, and I think we probably took a few liberties with The Hulk in the final big battle scene, though I believe that was justified and I liked the tension between what was “really” happening and the metaphorical.

The Hulk is the perfect character to examine the character of the monk who’s taken himself away from the world to wrestle with his inner demon, someone seeking peace and tranquility. In the regular Marvel world The Hulk is often about anger and self-control. Self-control—or self-forgetting—is at the heart of what our Hulk character in 5 RONIN is about.

Marvel.com: What deeper themes were you exploring with The Hulk's struggle to attain inner peace as a monk?

Peter Milligan: The theme of self annihilation. A way of coping with the shocking changes and violence of the country that doesn’t involve more shocking violence—though Hulk certainly seems to fail in this quest. I suppose the big theme, then, is one of being all too human. Which is what Hulk is ultimately about, being human; never more so than when he’s a monster.

5 Ronin Hulk sketches by Dalibor Talajic

Marvel.com: Why did the supporting cast in this chapter get a bit more fleshed out than in others?

Peter Milligan: I think it’s because of the very nature of The Hulk as we have him here.  He’s someone who has stepped back from the world and in a sense stepped back from the story, which allows and demands that the other characters in the story come into sharper focus. In other words, someone like The Hulk is largely defined by how others are seeing him because he no longer wishes to define himself. 

Marvel.com: Why was having Dalibor Talajic as the artist of this chapter essential?

Peter Milligan: It took an artist of the highest quality to pull off the scene where our Hulk-priest transforms into the raging Hulk-monster, and Dalibor is such an artist. Also, this was an episode where there were many important supporting characters and Dalibor managed to nail them down perfectly.

Tomorrow, we’re back with Peter and Sebastian to take a look at the third Ronin: The Punisher!

Remember to get 5 RONIN #5 this Wednesday, March 30, and get your retailer to pre-order the hardcover collection!

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