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Open the Indestructible Hulk Sketchbook

Artist Mukesh Singh shares and comments on exclusive designs for Hulk, Agent of T.I.M.E.!

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Indestructible Hulk design art by Mukesh Singh

By Paul Montgomery

Bruce Banner shreds through pants like they’re going out of style. Of course, no matter how often he’s forced to borrow from hampers, clotheslines and Laundromats, the garment rending always proves worthwhile.

Hulk’s style may be timeless, but can it stand up to time travel?

The Age of Ultron has clocked the Marvel Universe right in the kisser, and only an “Agent of T.I.M.E.” can hold it together. As Bruce Banner plunges through a temporal rift in the pages of Mark Waid and Matteo Scalera’s INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #11—coming July 31—he dons a newly upgraded outfit. Tasked with designing quantum armor fit for a world-class scientist and the beast within, cover artist Mukesh Singh embarked on a journey of his own.

Today we take a look at the evolution of Hulk’s new look, from concept experiments to finished cover. Singh and series editor Mark Paniccia guide us down the catwalk.

Marvel.com: What was the objective for this particular armor design? 

Mukesh Singh: The aim was to come up with a version of the existing armor for Bruce Banner tweaked for time travel. 

Indestructible Hulk design art by Mukesh Singh

Mark Paniccia: I had seen a piece that Mukesh had done online and loved the energy and imagination that had gone into it. He had been recommended to me by editor Sana Amanat. I reached out and asked him if he’d be interested in doing a cover and to design a new armor for time travel—a modification of the current suit. He came back with some really great designs.  

Mukesh Singh: The brief was no jet packs, no WMD system—you don't need WMD when you have a Hulk—no shark repellants and no lunch boxes. Kidding.

Mark Paniccia: I especially liked these thick, short glowing tubes and rods that protruded from the armor. I imagined them as energy rods that helped stabilize reality during time travel. Maybe they were gamma powered, storing ambient radiation from Hulk.

Mukesh Singh: The central power gear on his chest was something I felt was a helpful visual bridge between the old and the new armor. Mark suggested having those energy rods as well that would be exposed whenever he turned into the Hulk, then withdraw into silos when he is not. The color scheme reflects the traditional Hulk colors, hints of purple and green. 

Indestructible Hulk design art by Mukesh Singh

Marvel.com: It’s probably worth noting that helmets never came into play.

Mukesh Singh: Head gear was considered when I sat down to tweak the design, but it is one of those taken-for-granted things in super hero fiction where we do not focus on the trivial details unless those trivial details are a fundamental feature of our fictitious world. Here it is fine sans-headgear as long as the basic concept comes across: protecting Banner from accidents when he turns back into his normal self—except normal doesn't quite sound right here. Hulk is “normal” too. There is an unwritten mutual contract between fiction and fiction readers. We get on with the program. Too much logic and the whole concept of superheroes falls apart. Where do we stop? I stopped at the head gear

Besides it could potentially confuse a new reader if they couldn't see Banner's face when he is in armor. It would require unnecessary panel wasting setups every time he put on

the gear or removed it. There's no Stark in there. It’s Banner.

Indestructible Hulk design art by Mukesh Singh

Marvel.com: You mentioned the purple and green color scheme. Hulk's unique as an iconic character in that he doesn't have a formal costume. It's mostly about the garments he's ruined in the process of transforming. Still, we always think of the purple and green.

Mukesh Singh: Over time [those colors] have come to be synonymous with the character even though, as you say, he doesn't have a formal costume. Since we barely see his skin when he is in the suit, the armor's green and purple colors combined with his ponderous hulking frame create a solid, instant recall value. In light of this superbly useful utility, maintaining his traditional color scheme makes sense. They are classic. They are the Hulk.

Marvel.com: Is the character's transformation from Banner to Hulk and back again a consideration in the construction of the armor? Whether it looks a certain way in either of his forms or how it might expand or contract to compensate for the dramatic changes in body mass? 

Mukesh Singh: Definitely.

Indestructible Hulk design art by Mukesh Singh

The armor is designed as an evolved iteration of the Indestructible Hulk armor. It had to look modular to fit both the Hulk and Bruce Banner. I replaced the underlying strips—as cool as it was—with a full-body, stretchable, nano tech, bullet proof layer of fabric to hold the various parts of the armor in place as Banner transforms into his Hulk avatar and back again into his human self. The fabric can still protect Banner even if the armor parts get destroyed.

Marvel.com: We've talked about the armor itself and its utility geared more towards Banner, but do you see it affecting Hulk's posture or movement? Do you pose him differently because he's encumbered by a suit of armor? 

Mukesh Singh: Not really. Except for the ankle area the other parts do not cover any ball or hinge joints. The ankle plates themselves slide over each other to aid maximum motion. The armor is an inch or two deep at maximum thickness and its shapes follow his muscular contours. Perhaps I will look into any technical issues when the Hulk comes back from his chronos yatra. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: Were you influenced by any real-world armor types, whether historical or modern, or do you consider this pure fantasy? 

Mukesh Singh: Pure fantasy but with a Marvel approach to design. Iron Man's various suits have become the defining Marvel technology look that seems to permeate throughout the Marvel universe. I wanted to retain that feel. 

Indestructible Hulk design art by Mukesh Singh

Marvel.com: All said and done, what do you suppose is the most significant difference between your first attempt at the design and the final version? Did any individual elements or ideas survive the process from start to finish? 

Mukesh Singh: The final version with a few tweaks was based on the first one I designed. I explored a bit with the later sketches but the original version worked out best in the end. The modular approach, the power rods and the chest energy pieces remain the calling card of the design. The other designs might work on their own but they were not in sync with the established ideas of the Hulk nor in continuity with his existing armor. To borrow a quote from Sophie's World: "When the day's catch is laid on the table we must not forget to be selective."

Marvel.com: In doing design trials like this, experimenting with various options, do you find that it's often the case that the first design—and not the sixth or eighth—turns out to be the closest to the ideal image? Or was this a fluke? 

Mukesh Singh: I think it's a 50-50 chance I get it right the first time. I often end up deviating far from safe paths just to see where it leads even if the first ones get it right. Sometimes it could be the 10th one that nails it. But usually the better ones have that it-just-feels right factor. 

Indestructible Hulk #11 cover by Mukesh Singh

Marvel.com: How did you find the Hulk as a model? Would you be willing to work with him again? 

Mukesh Singh: [Laughs] The Hulk is a surprisingly willing model. He is an anatomist's dream come true, all invulnerable muscle and sinew. George Bridgman would have loved to draw him.

Of course I would love to work with the Hulk again. Here's the trick: Don't, just don't bring up Banner in the conversation. Ever. I learned that the hard way.

Purchase issues of INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK on the Marvel Digital Comics Shop!

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