Fall of the Hulks: Greatest There Is?

Hulk masterminds Jeph Loeb, Greg Pak and Jeff Parker weigh in on which Gamma Gladiator will prove the supreme smasher

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By Marc Strom

You know that old chestnut about "the bigger they are?" Pretty soon readers will see whether or not it applies to the Green Goliath and his various namesakes in Fall of the Hulks.

The action begins with FALL OF THE HULKS: ALPHA #1, courtesy of writer Jeff Parker and artist Paul Pelletier on December 2, before segueing into the game-changing FALL OF THE HULKS: GAMMA #1 by writer Jeph Loeb and artist John Romita, Jr. on December 23.

FALL OF THE HULKS ALPHA #1 cover by Ed McGuinness
Before the various Hulks butt heads in the biggest storyline to ever hit our favorite irradiated heroes, though, writers Loeb, Greg Pak and Parker weighed in on just which Hulk they think holds the title of "Greatest There Is"-and their choices may surprise fans of the scribes' regular series.

Which Hulk is the greatest there is?

Jeph Loeb: It's ironic, but it's Banner who makes the Green Hulk the greatest. The idea of a man who was at the top of his field, had people who listened to him, was respected, and lost it all by sacrificing himself for another-Rick Jones-makes the monster all that more tragic. He lost everything. His job. The woman he loved. His family.

While the Hulk has had many different personalities, they are all really different voices in Banner's head. The child, the angry teenager, the concerned adult-all of them. It makes him complex, even though sometimes he talks like he isn't and just smashes things. And sometimes complex is the most dangerous Hulk of all.

Jeff Parker: I call Skaar! And Skaar is easily the most metal of all Hulks. He slays dragons, he has an axe, and whenever faced with a dilemma, he will always make the most metal decision possible, like throwing Juggernaut off the planet or dooming billions to Galactus. He's like a UniMind composed of Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy, and all of Judas Priest.

Greg Pak: Look, I know Jeph and Jeff are whispering sweet nothings into your ear about the mightiness of the Green Hulk and his savage son Skaar. And I can appreciate their wishful dreamings-after all, the Hulk's my favorite comic book character of all time and I've spent the last couple of years lovingly chronicling the insane adventures of his bouncing barbarian boy. But let's face facts: the contest is already over. And the

FALL OF THE HULKS GAMMA #1 variant cover by John Romita Jr.
Red Hulk won. In INCREDIBLE HULK #600, he took down the Green Hulk-took down the "Strongest One There Is!"-by touching him. Okay? He grabbed the guy and drained him of all his insane gamma-fueled power.

Red wins.

How ready is each of your choices for what they'll have to face in Fall of the Hulks?

Jeph Loeb: At the moment, the Green Hulk is no more. The Red Hulk pulled all the gamma energy out of Banner in INCREDIBLE HULK #600, but it's made Banner all that more resourceful-and totally unpredictable.

His alliance with Skaar makes him a combination of brain and brawn. But, it seems like with what's to come, the return of the Green Hulk would be inevitable. If the Green Hulk returns, will it be Banner? And if isn't Banner, there's always that chance that another Green Hulk is far more dangerous than Banner's Hulk.

Greg Pak: The Red Hulk was ready for Iron Man and Thor and everyone else he's ever fought. Heck, he was ready for the Watcher himself with a five-finger smackdown for the ages. Of course, he hasn't had to face down a super-genius just yet, much less a half dozen unreservedly evil super-geniuses. But the Red Hulk's no slouch in the brains department, either. And while you're unlikely to see him unleashing a spontaneous series of quantum calculations to bend reality itself, he's crafty and devious enough to constantly surprise.

FALL OF THE HULKS GAMMA #1 cover by Ed McGuinness
It's also worth noting that the Red Hulk has one more major advantage: mystery! We know he's lethal and unrelenting, and maybe the most dangerous mortal on the planet, but we can only guess who he really is, where he came from, or exactly what he wants. The biggest fear his opponents might have is that if they delve too deeply into that mystery, they might awaken an even greater enemy than they already face.

Jeff Parker: Skaar was quite literally, born ready. Like all sons, he wants to kill his father*, and he knows in his bones that the time is coming. Bruce is trying mightily to get him ready, but no matter what he says, Skaar is sure he is ready for anything in his path. And maybe he is-maybe that's the attitude that's going to win the day.

*Jeff Parker's comments do not reflect the Freudian underpinnings of, well, anyone.

If your Hulk had to face the Intelligencia-the insane collection of Dr. Doom, M.O.D.O.K., Egghead and more-on their own, how do you think they'd fare?

Jeph Loeb: He could smash his way through a lot of it, and the Hulk has defeated each of them individually, but now they are working together, each learning from their mistakes.

The only way Banner could survive this is by depending on, at the very least, Skaar.

If he had to go to Red Hulk how would that work? They'd probably kill each other!

Greg Pak: That depends on whether the Red Hulk's absorbing ability works on brains as well as brawn. Heck, as far as we know, Red Hulk's

FALL OF THE HULKS: RED HULK #1 cover by Ed McGuinness
fondest dream is to face down these guys all by his lonesome so he can get his mitts on those big, big brains...

Jeff Parker: The Intelligencia are formidable, but they're used to fighting good guys who really don't want to kill them. That's not who Skaar is, he is totally cool with all of them dying. That said, they have really gotten their act together and are going for the gold this time. They will outthink him. He needs to listen to Banner. But I don't know, he didn't really listen to his mother last time she handed out advice. I bet he wouldn't listen to Red Hulk either, even though Red is often right.

If you had to pinpoint one Achilles heel your Hulk might have, what would it be?

Jeph Loeb: Well, I'd say Betty, but she's dead. But, his [weakness] is his heart. The Green Hulk needs to be loved-as Banner does-and whoever cares for him makes the Hulk stronger.

But it also puts that person in constant jeopardy, as Betty learned. I wonder who will be that person in Hulk/Banner's life next?

Greg Pak: Hmm...all his enemies wearing long sleeves?

But seriously, I'd say the Red Hulk's biggest Achilles heel might be what I previously touted as one of his big strengths: the mystery about his origins, identity, and motivations. Maybe he's so insanely powerful and

HULK #19 cover by Ed McGuinness
confident that he's keeping his past a mystery just to mess with the rest of us. Or maybe he's hiding things because he has things to hide! Okay, I'm just gonna spill it-he has a sweet, old auntie living in Queens who might keel over dead if she found out who he really is. Tugs at the heartstrings, don't it?

Okay, really seriously? We're going to reveal every secret about all of our Hulks during the course of the Fall of the Hulks. And the result will be more shocking, terrifying, and thrilling than you ever imagined.

Jeff Parker: Well, [Skaar] is all piss and vinegar and fire of youth. But the fire that burns twice as bright burns quick, you know? He is clever, but he doesn't have wisdom. And someone who has all the wisdom-again-is his dad, Bruce Banner. The question is: will Skaar really pay attention to what he'll need to know? He seems to only listen in terms of Bruce selectively. But really, he could stand to embrace his puny side.

Incidentally, I have a theory that I haven't discussed with Pak. Even though we've seen puny Skaar, who hates his other half, I think in truth, Skaar is really the Hulk version of Greg's other big creation at Marvel, Amadeus Cho.

INCREDIBLE HULK #606 cover by John Romita Jr.
Any last Fall of the Hulks teases you'd like to share?

Jeph Loeb: Greg and I have been working on this since World War Hulk. Everything is in place. All the questions will be answered. Who is the Red Hulk? Who is Red She-Hulk? What is The Intelligencia's plan? Who gets murdered in FALL OF THE HULKS: GAMMA #1 and how does that start the Fall of the Hulks?! Did I say murdered? Um...I gotta go now...

Greg Pak: [INCREDIBLE HULK artist] Paul Pelletier is going to blow everyone's mind. He's tearing into this story like nobody's business and I couldn't be happier. Paul smash!

Jeff Parker: Something awesome happens to Dr. Doom!

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