By Josh Wigler
You wanted it, so you're getting it: Bruce Banner and Tony Stark will reunite in the upcoming INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK ANNUAL, out this December.
Inspired by the huge fan reaction to Tony and Bruce's team-up in INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #2, the special issue sees the two super hero geniuses interacting "much the same way they did [there], but with a lot less agenda this time," says writer Jeff Parker. "It almost seems like Bruce is trying to make up for the way he behaved there, showing a lot of pent-up resentment and jealousy at Stark's status versus his own."
Even with Banner's infamous temper somewhat cooled, the two Marvel powerhouses will pack plenty of heat. The story puts Bruce and Tony on the hunt for a brilliant professor who helped shape their scientific views—a man who disappeared many years ago—with deadly and destructive results.
"A guy in the most advanced suit of defensive armor on the planet and 'the strongest one there is' could be turned into a pretty destructive duo," editor Mark Paniccia warns. "Just saying."
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK ANNUAL builds on recent plot points and themes explored in both Mark Waid's run on the ongoing series and Kieron Gillen's IRON MAN, but Paniccia says the issue will be new-reader-friendly.
"It's got a ton of cool action and is a great place for new and long-time readers to jump on," he says. "It's standalone and introduces a new character that adds to the characters' mythos. It also gives you more insight to what makes both of these geniuses tick; what makes them alike and what makes them different."
The story also very much honors the INDESTRUCTIBLE motto: "Hulk breaks, Banner builds." It's very much an action-oriented story, but Parker says to expect a heavy emphasis on the science side of the book: "With these two leads, that was clearly the way to go."
"Jeff's a great character writer, he thinks out of the box," notes Paniccia. "I've always loved his dialogue and his ability to get inside the heads of characters and make them sound different. [He] and I have had countless discussions about both Bruce and Tony, what drives them, how they would handle the same situation, why they love the women they do, what kind of cars they like to drive. That's always the first topic of our discussion, actually!"
Parker brings a unique voice to INDESTRUCTIBLE, but plans to honor Waid's work on the series.
"Mark made an excellent choice in the way he has Banner assert himself more and stop letting himself be a victim, a shadow of the Hulk," explains the writer. "I'm definitely drawing on that directly as much as possible."
Mahmud Asrar joins Parker for the issue, and Paniccia can't say enough kind words for the artist's work:
"I could talk about Mahmud for hours. He is the kind of artist who pushes himself to grow and experiment and strives to get better with each page. It's really cool to see his style mature and watch him try different things."
"It made my day when Mark told me Mahmud would be drawing this," adds Parker. "Not surprisingly, Mahmud draws a formidable Hulk and a cool-looking Iron Man."
|Indestructible Hulk Annual #1 cover by Mahmud Asrar|
For his part, Asrar says the gamma-radiated Hulk "couldn't be any further from what I've worked on in the past few years." Adding Iron Man into the mix only increases the challenge.
"There are big differences [between Bruce and Tony] not only in character but also in visuals," he elaborates. "You can't get any more technological than Iron Man, and you can't get much more primal and organic than the Hulk. When opposites such as these are combined, things get instantly interesting."
Parker agrees with Asrar's assessment:
"Visually, and this will be very clear when you see Mahmud's gorgeous art, they make a perfect contrast: this big green barbaric wild man and the armored hero who looks like a robot. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't start seeing more of these two thrown together."
Indeed, Bruce and Tony stand as one of Marvel's most popular duos at the moment, thanks to their perfect chemistry in “Marvel’s The Avengers.” Parker says that it's a very natural pairing when you pause to think about it.
"Both have a hard time talking to people who don't understand their work," he says. "And even if their public personas are often at odds, they appreciate having someone else around who 'gets' what they're doing and can talk on a higher level."
"It's more than them being geniuses; when you look at their individual characters and backgrounds, they come from two very different places and exist in very different places," echoes Paniccia. "On one hand, you've got the loner scientist with a terrible condition, a curse that haunts him moment to moment, someone who's spent most of his adult life as a fugitive. On the other hand, you've got the charming, wealthy and popular engineer who has everything at his fingertips. Put these guys together and there's a natural chemistry that's compelling to readers, viewers and fans."
With all that in mind, Paniccia promises that INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK ANNUAL will deliver smashing amounts of fun for fans of Marvel's greatest science-bros.
"There are some really cool high concepts being explored here by Jeff, and you're going to love seeing Mahmud's designs," he concludes. "These two guys are having a good time with this book, and it shows. They really play off each other's imaginations very well. Readers are going to be blown away."