World-class minds enjoy a fragile fellowship, friendly and affable as they hobnob at galas, volatility tempered by bubbly and baubles. Professional courtesy only extends so far, ego always simmering on the burner. It’s only heightened for Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, the respective celebrated playboy and haunted Dr. Jekyll of Marvel’s science elite.
That tenuous friendship unravels in ORIGINAL SIN #3.1-3.4 from writers Kieron Gillen and Mark Waid along with artists Luke Ross and Mark Bagley. Of the many untoward revelations of Original Sin, this might be the mother of all doozies, and it’s about to make the Hulk very, very mad.
So don’t mothball that Hulkbuster frame just yet, though even that might not be enough to curb this particular temper tantrum. See, Tony did a bad, bad thing.
“It's pretty simple and straightforward,” Waid explains. “Did Tony Stark create the Hulk? Everything about what both Hulk and Iron Man learn during Original Sin begs this question and related ones like ‘How?’ and ‘What was Tony Stark's unrevealed connection to the Gamma Bomb experiment?’”
“And the question of specific naughtiness is the question of the story,” notes Gillen. “There [are] all kinds of sins. We'll see which Tony is guilty of.”
“Oh, and, ‘How badly does Hulk take this news?’” Waid adds. “The answer to that last one should surprise no one.”
Not content to seethe in the background of business as usual, it’s the type of interpersonal conflict that barrels right for center stage. Iron Man puts everything on hold, and must cross his clanking fingers that everyone else behaves themselves until he can make things right.
“When you make the Hulk angry that's all the threat any story needs,” says Gillen.
Tony’s involvement in the birth of the Hulk may come as a surprise, but the writers prepared the way for months, not to alleviate the potential damage, but to maximize it.
“All praise Google Docs,” Waid laughs. “Kieron Gillen and [editor] Mark Paniccia and I have been collaborating on an outline document for, literally, months because we want this to land perfectly. We all know we're skating on very thin ice by dealing with such an outrageously game-changing secret—but we think we've nailed it.”
Such revelations only add to a tumultuous friendship fraught with professional rivalry and betrayal. Remember, though the pair is often depicted as fast friends, Stark once banished Banner to a far-flung region of space, ultimately leading to World War Hulk. This is hardly strike one.
“That's the appeal,” Gillen says. “Both have been friends. Both have been enemies. Both are not unpassionate men. Both are not unambitious men. Seeing the revelations of the story pull them one way or another is entirely the point.”
Waid agrees: “They have a long relationship as frenemies, as rivals, that predates each man's super hero career. Because they're not jerks and because we need readers to actually like both of them, they've tried hard to stay friendly with one another because that makes the world better, but we're going to learn of old, forgotten crimes and betrayals and blowouts as this story unfolds. The best way to describe them in this story is that you're reading an episode of ‘True Science Detective’.”
So, how many chances does Tony have left? Will this one sin be too far?
“Ask me that in four issues and we'll decide together,” says Gillen.
Then, atonement is a dance. It takes two. What if your partner happens to be primal rage incarnate? How forgiving is a Hulk?
Waid considers for a moment.
“How forgiving is a tornado?”
Original Sin envelops the Hulk and Iron Man this June!