By Kevin Mahadeo
Things get especially smash-tacular this week when writer Paul Jenkins triumphantly returns full-time to the Marvel Universe as the ongoing writer on SON OF HULK, bringing to the title not only his signature psychological style, but a planet-sized bag of action, adventure and ass-kicking.
After taking a break from the comic writing world, Jenkins resurfaces as the newest member of the Hulk family with tomorrow's SON OF HULK issue #13, which takes the title in a brand new direction after the cataclysmic events following the world-devouring Galactus' visit to Sakaar. The title shifts its focus from the savage world itself to the few remaining survivors desperately trying to start anew and a new central character that looks to seek vengeance on the mighty Galactus himself. Jenkins took some time away from tearing apart the cosmos to talk about the new direction of the series, his future work in the Marvel U and his potential return to the Inhumans.
Marvel.com: This isn't the first time you've done a book with a Hulk in the title. Coming onto this title, how do you compare it to when you first took over INCREDIBLE HULK?
SON OF HULK #13 preview art by Andres Guinaldo
Paul Jenkins: Well, I haven't done the Hulk in something like eight or nine years, but when I took over the Hulk it was at a certain point in Marvel history where things were transitioning and I felt that the Hulk didn't necessarily need stories in which you would write about anger and the core themes the Hulk represents. At the time, my run on the Hulk was a bit more of a fixing endeavor in the sense that while you get those core themes, you help to tie up a little bit of the continuity. It was a bit of restoring the character to the platform in which he could be used. Now, with SON OF HULK, I'm getting to do these stories I want to do about anger and revenge that fit the profile of the Hulk.
Marvel.com: What can readers expect to see?
Paul Jenkins: When I take over the title, Sakaar has gone under this massive devastation because of Galactus. So, here we are with the Son of Hulk, who is this incredibly dangerous entity and having had his planet destroyed is full of anger and a need for revenge for the people responsible for doing this. And as the Son of Hulk, he is capable of some incredible things. In some ways, we basically get to see [what] is in some ways a revenge mission. But in other ways, the Son of Hulk seems to lose his mind and wants to become a god-to push his powers and push his abilities to a point where he gets people to bow down to him and become subservient to him and say, "I am more than you will ever be. Bow down to me and do my bidding." It's a really interesting story about power in that regard.
Marvel.com: So, it's not so much a hero story, but an anti-hero story?
Paul Jenkins: Yeah. We're really going to explore that concept. The main concept, apart from revenge, is actually the same that appealed to people about the Hulk over the years. Is he hero or anti-hero? What do the Hulk
|SON OF HULK #13 preview art by Andres Guinaldo|
Marvel.com: From what you're saying it really sounds like your exploring these roots of these concepts. You're sort of known for delving into characters psychologically and picking them apart, and this seems to follow that idea. What appeals to you about this approach to storytelling?
Paul Jenkins: It's just always been the way I have written. We, the audience, look at something and recognize a portion of ourselves in that character. So, before you begin to break down how many giant robots they're going to attack on which planet, the first thing you better work at is what is the point of telling this story? Why is this character interesting? What am I saying about people or the audience or myself that is compelling enough for people to want to come back and recognize themselves in it? The basic forms of storytelling come from Greek drama, and they learned that if you experience characters undergoing certain things-like if you see a character crying, you begin to remember that you have once cried-you yourself revisit those emotions. That's why we get entertained by these things; because it reminds us of things that we know. So, that's my shtick. Now, one thing that's cool about SON OF HULK, more than any comic I have ever done, I get to blow things up. Literally editor Mark Paniccia said to me, "Paul, we really want you to go off and do some amazing visuals here and just really describe some incredible scenes and massive events." So, it's five issues of balls-to-the-wall action, which is actually not really what I'm known for, but is an interesting challenge for me and is a lot of fun.
Paul Jenkins: It was one of those things that when Mark said "SON OF HULK" to me, I said, "Well, I love what [former writer] Greg [Pak] has done, but I'm not sure that's me." But then we talked about what the concepts might be around it-the concepts of becoming somebody really big and the idea of hero and anti-hero. Once we did that, then I [was] completely sold. It was the perfect type of story for me. Then he offered me the challenge of also having to do massive visual effects and to show some really big things. And with the artist we've brought in, he's perfect for capturing that sort of things.
Marvel.com: You mentioned artist Andres Guinaldo. What do you like about his style and how it compliments this type of story?
Paul Jenkins: When I saw his art for the first time, I realized that he had the capability to do all the types of bells and whistles that I'm aiming and planning really, really well. At first glance, you see he has the big fights and massive explosions and all of that material. He does amazing looking stuff. The second part though, I contacted him and said, "If we're going to do this project, can we concentrate on the focal character, which is the Son of Hulk, and really delve into his expressions and body language." And he just nailed it. The character really carries himself like an arrogant god.
Marvel.com: Taking a step back, this is the first time you've done a big run on a book at Marvel in a while. What's it like coming back to the Marvel Universe?
Paul Jenkins: It's amazing for me. I also work in film and television and video games as well, and I needed to take some time aside to prepare my business, which is my production company. So, it was good for me just to recharge myself to come back to comics. At the moment I'm doing SON OF HULK, but in fact, following on from this I have two major series and another kind of odd series of single issues, which I'm really known for, too. So, I actually have three new series lined up for Marvel right after this one. That was the thing, I was always going to take a little bit of a hiatus and then come dodging back.
SON OF HULK #13 preview art by Andres Guinaldo
Marvel.com: Can you possible tease what those other series will entail?
Paul Jenkins: The first of those series is something that I brought to Marvel this last year. It's a very large, self-contained project that's been in the works for seven or eight months. The second series follows on the heels of the Captain America books that I worked on: the THEATER OF WAR books. We have something in that vein that's a kind of war project. The third is something where because I'm known for single issue stories-THEATER OF WAR was four single-issue stories that said everything I wanted to say about Cap-I'm going to go around the Marvel Universe and do that to almost all of the characters.
Marvel.com: You mention all these upcoming projects, and as a fan, I have to ask: would you ever consider going back to the Inhumans? Your INHUMANS run is considered by many to be the definitive title for those characters.
Paul Jenkins: For a very long time I said, "No." I remember talking once with Alan [Moore] and him saying that he would never try to go back to something like Watchmen 2. There is a problem with trying to do something that you've already done. They always say, "Never go back." People's memory and impression of what INHUMANS is, in my opinion, is actually better than it was. People look at it with rose-colored glasses. INHUMANS is considered a seminal run in comic history and I'm grateful to be seen as doing something like that and to be a part of it. Going back to the Inhumans, it would be a disappointment to everybody. It wouldn't matter what I did or what I wrote, it wouldn't be as good as people's memory of what I did the first time. Having said that, I actually have a concept of something that we might do, but it isn't really an Inhumans story, but it's a story where the Inhumans would be very prominent. It would take place in Attilan and be three or four issues and it's a comedy. [Laughs] So, the answer is: a specific Inhumans story, probably not.
Marvel.com: As a last question, you mention the one-shots you're working on exploring different characters in the Marvel Universe. What's one character you personally want to explore really badly?
Paul Jenkins: It changes from time to time to be honest, but at the moment, I really, really want to explore the character of Loki. I feel that the shtick of Loki is that he's a liar, he's a bad guy, [and] he's a pain in the ass. To me, one thing that people seem to forget is that there are such things as benign lies. For example, if you're a married man and your
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