By Tim Stevens
This month marks five decades of gamma bombs, science gone awry and, of course, plenty of smashing as The Hulk celebrates his 50th anniversary!
For 50 years, nothing in the Marvel Universe has succeeded in disproving the notion that the Incredible Hulk owns the title “The Strongest There Is.” For many of those years, General Thunderbolt Ross stood as one of the chief antagonists for the gamma powered behemoth and like all others, he proved unable to best The Hulk. Finally, Ross embraced the axiom “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and became the Red Hulk.
Currently, writer Jeff Parker, together with artist Dale Eaglesham, has Ross battling a prophecy that seems to promise the end of the world this year in “Mayan Rule,” part two of which hits stores on June 20 with HULK #54.
Parker sat down with us to reminisce about his favorite Hulk, what spot Ross occupies in Hulk’s world, and what’s going on with Ross now.
|Hulk #53 art by Dale Eaglesham|
Marvel.com: The Hulk is celebrating his 50th birthday this year. Can you recall your first exposure to the character?
Jeff Parker: Hulk just seemed to be always there. Kids can relate to him easily, that wanting to lash out and affect everything around them. I think that's still how we relate to him years later.
Marvel.com: Looking back over the years, do you have a favorite era or incarnation of the Hulk?
Jeff Parker: I like early Hulk, when he's a bit sinister and you don't get the idea he's dumb, he's just being quiet deliberately.
Marvel.com: Do you draw on any depiction or characterization of The Hulk and General Ross for your work?
Jeff Parker: Yes, that early Hulk I just mentioned. That seems a good intersection point for the two men. Thinking and angry!
Marvel.com: How do you view Ross's place in the Hulk's history?
Jeff Parker: Ross still doesn't like Banner; they just aren't the kind of people who would ever be friends. But he definitely understands him as The Hulk now that he's been living through the situation. He always thought that incredible power would be the key to control, but it's very far from it.
Marvel.com: Looking specifically at your book, you are in the midst of the "Mayan Rule" arc. What does anyone looking to pick up the book right now need to know to be able to jump right in?
Jeff Parker: You need to know that longtime Hulk pal Rick Jones was turned into A-Bomb, the next incarnation of The Abomination, and that these Mayan figures tricked him into releasing them from an underground prison. You also might want to know that Alpha Flight are Canadian [heroes], but you don't need much more background than that.
|Hulk #53 art by Dale Eaglesham|
Marvel.com: How do you see this arc, and your run to date, changing Ross? What kind of personal evolution, if any, is he going through?
Jeff Parker: He always saw himself as the front line for humanity, keeping back the freaks and super weirdoes. And now he's starting to see himself as one of them, even if he can't get along with many of his fellow powered folk.
Marvel.com: If, somehow, the Red Hulk survives "Mayan Rule" where are you hoping to take him next?
Jeff Parker: Classified!
Hulk Week continues tomorrow as we chat with HULK: SEASON ONE writer Fred Van Lente!