|The Black Panther|
By Brett White
The world lies in ruins, crushed beneath the adamantium heel of Ultron. Every city has become a warzone with robotic sentries destroying every living thing that comes across their dispassionate gaze.
And what about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? They’ve already been defeated. With their ranks thinned a distressing amount, the heroic stragglers have banded together to plan one, final assault to end the Age of Ultron.
It's hard to think of three more unlikely allies than Red Hulk, Black Panther and Taskmaster, but the dire situation in AGE OF ULTRON threw this random trio together in the remains of Chicago. But how exactly did the irascible and irradiated general, the king of Wakanda and the villainous combat master end up together?
Writer Brian Michael Bendis sheds some light on this trio's history before going into detail about Black Panther's story arc.
Marvel.com: Of the three characters stationed in Chicago, Red Hulk is the only one who remains alive as of issue #6. What brought him together with Black Panther and Taskmaster?
Brian Michael Bendis: In Chicago, I imagine that the Red Hulk and Black Panther were doing something like chasing Taskmaster around or catching him. [They were] doing something. They were in the middle of a big fight when the world came to an end. [Now the] fight's over, and now it's the three of them trying to survive.
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You know, I think that's something we saw with horrible tragedies. You observe how everything is one-way and then as soon as a tragedy hits, oh, none of that matters. Not comparing a horrible life tragedy to a fake thing, but I think a lot of people can relate to what I'm talking about, even if it's just the smallest version. Let's say you are in your house, you are having an argument, and a fire starts in the house. [The] argument's over. It's over. We got to do this now.
Marvel.com: Was there ever a choice between red or green Hulk with this story?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, I'd had a lot invested in the Red Hulk. I was writing this around the same time I was writing the Walt Simonson Red Hulk issue [of AVENGERS] and I just like the Red Hulk a lot. And there's some flavor there that I like. I just like that a character like Taskmaster thinks he's dealing with the Hulk, and then goes "okay, here's a mindless brute, I can deal with that" and then goes "oh wait, I got a Hulk who can think? Uh-oh." That's a scarier proposition.
Some complaints that I got about that issue was Black Panther's demise, as if he had fallen down the stairs and killed himself. And somehow all of the hell that we clearly show that he went through prior to that fall didn't count. He just survived the holocaust and he's in a battle. The robots are attacking him. And yeah, and then he died. It's not just that one thing; it's the 50 things beforehand. You know I told someone online, it's like watching a prize fight and then you get to the end where the guy gets punched and falls down. "Oh my god! One punch and he fell down!" Well, what about the 50 other punches that preceded that one punch? It's the whole thing that did it. I have a lot of faith in Black Panther and his abilities. He died heroically and he died after quite a beating.
Marvel.com: Yeah, imagine that beating.
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it's funny because we use a lot of space showing a horror of a city. The city's burning. Imagine you are in that. A lot happened.
Marvel.com: Red Hulk, being a soldier first, has always maintained an outsider point of view when it comes to heroes. How does he feel about being so wrapped up in a big superhero battle that's gone this horribly?
Brian Michael Bendis: He's just waiting for the moment to let them have it. But yeah it's exactly [that]. He doesn't want any of this.