Writer Gerry Duggan’s rolling out an all-new era in HULK, so we’re rolling out an all-new interview with him! All the better to get his take on everyone’s favorite green behemoth as well as a little NOVA action just for good measure.
Marvel.com: Gerry, where are you heading in HULK? And what elements of what's come before you did you want to maintain in your run?
Gerry Duggan: I really liked the assistants that Mark Waid wrote and as it happens, they dovetail nicely with what I wanted to do with the book. I have a couple dozen folders for Marvel characters on my laptop. Some character folders only have an idea or two; some have many pages of ideas, or ideas for ideas. These come in handy whether I’m asked to pitch on a character, or I’m writing a guest spot. “The Omega Hulk” was the blue chip idea in my Hulk/Banner folder. I’m glad editor Mark Paniccia dug the story; it’s going to be a fun time through the spring of 2015.
Marvel.com: Why “The Omega Hulk”? Why is that title perfect for this storyline?
Gerry Duggan: Well, Doc Green’s intention is to be the last Hulk standing, whether or not that is true, we’ll have to wait for the end. “The Omega Hulk” just sounds intense, too. If I was in a shop and there was a collection of 12 issues, all drawn by Mark Bagley, I would be leaving the comic shop with it under my arm. The elevator pitch is that it’s “an Armor Wars” for the Hulk crowd, and that’s not a lie but I’m leaving some big things out unsaid about the story and how it all fits in. I’ve been so excited about this story, that I actually set it aside and wrote most of the end already. I would estimate that issues #15 and 16 are largely written. Hulk readers have only gotten a chance to read issue #5, but I promise you, this team is going to stick the landing.
Marvel.com: Okay, in what ways is “Doc Green” different from all other Hulks and will most surprise readers?
Gerry Duggan: He’s a new Hulk persona. He’s Extremis powered, and smarter than Banner. He’s got a sense of humor, and he’s got morals, but it’s complicated. Feelings are irrelevant to Doc Green. He’s become the dominant personality, and he’s able to do it without sharing time with Banner. Or so it seems. Doc Green doesn’t sleep, for fear of giving Banner control. Doc Green doesn’t even identify with the name “Hulk.” He’s a dangerous character. He’s out to depower Hulks, and on the surface, that seems like a great thing to do for the Earth.
Whether or not he has private motives...only time will tell. Banner is interesting because there’s a monster inside of him, waiting to explode out. Doc Green is interesting because...he could be in the same boat.
Marvel.com: How do you see Rick Jones’ place in the Hulk saga? What do you want to say with him and how will he most impact the Hulk's current story?
Gerry Duggan: Rick Jones is one of our most important characters. Rick is our witness, the lens that we view the wonderful madness that is the Hulk universe. Doc Green fights A-Bomb in HULK #6, and then Rick’s story will really pick up.
Marvel.com: Now, Hulk's going after gamma-irradiated subjects, right? Why? And should they all fear such attention?
Gerry Duggan: Doc Green has only said he’s “going to cure them to help preserve life on this planet.” Any other motives remain unspoken, but there are developments along the way that might make readers question his alignment. Something quite...unsettling is on tap for the end of issue #9. Anyone Doc Green faces is in big, green trouble. Doc Green likes messing with people too. One of my favorite scenes is at the top of HULK #7. Bagley drew the most wonderful scene of Doc Green accomplishing a personal goal, but he’s really screwing with someone. I hope the surprise guest isn’t spoiled for people.
Marvel.com: Speaking of him, what do you love about working with Mark Bagley on this book?
Gerry Duggan: I could go on and on and on about Bags. He is one of the premiere artists working today, and I never thought I would be so lucky to get to work with him. This will be remembered as his story, and he’s never been better. His action is beyond compare, these double page splashes of the Hulks fighting will make you feel out of breath, and even better than that—and harder, too—is Bags nailing the emotional component. There’s so much happening with these characters that have been a part of a family for decades; some of the biggest gut punches are thrown with words in this story, and Bags’ close-ups on those moments are gold. I’ve always been lucky in collaborators. It’s especially true on HULK.
Marvel.com: Let’s swing over to NOVA; how will the events of Original Sin make our hero stronger? In what ways might he always be crippled by them?
Gerry Duggan: Well, Sam is learning some secrets of the Black Novas, but he may not have the greatest source in the world. Sam believes his father might not have been a hero, and that would make wearing the helmet very difficult. His faith is shaken, and that’s harder when you’re a kid.
Marvel.com: Hands down, what is the biggest, most important reason that Sam finds his dad? Does he envision what the “reunion” will be like, or is the on total auto-drive in this quest?
Gerry Duggan: Every kid wants to do his dad proud. Sam has much more responsibility than the average kid, but he knows that if he can’t find him nobody can. There isn’t a Nova Corps anymore, there is no one out there looking to free a POW in space. Sam wants to help his dad, because it’s the right thing to do, even if he’s learned his dad didn’t always do the right thing.
Marvel.com: What's the very worst thing that can happen with Sam traipsing around the galaxy?
Gerry Duggan: Sam’s made mistakes big and small, like any other 15-year-old kid. His biggest screw-up led to Beta Ray Bill coming to Earth to confront him. I think the worst thing that Sam could do would be to really hurt someone by accident. A close second would be to Instagram his secret identity.
Marvel.com: [Laughs] Okay, how will you segue from the events of NOVA #20 and #21 into the Halloween story in #22? Does Sam set aside his search for trick-or-treating?
Gerry Duggan: Hmm. I have to be careful how I answer this. NOVA #22 is more of a standalone issue. NOVA #20 and #21 move Jesse’s story forward in a fun, dangerous way. NOVA #22 is an attempt by Sam to blow off a little steam and take a night off from his troubles; I hope he enjoys it because #23 and 24 are Sam’s most dire chapters yet. These two issues will tie in with Axis, and Sam will be changed.
Marvel.com: What's the most fun for you as a writer to have him interact with characters like the X-Men in NOVA #22?
Gerry Duggan: I’ve always loved the X-Men characters. I’ve been thrilled any chance I ever had to write those characters. My A+X assignments were great fun. Writing kids is fun. Quentin Quire only has one line in NOVA #22, but that’s all he needs. The mic gets dropped. While we’re on the subject of the X-Men, I only got to write Kitty once in A+X, but she and Illyana are going to appear in HULK #10 in a fun, unexpected way.
Last plug: X-Men and FauX-Men will both be appearing at the same time in upcoming issues of DEADPOOL.
Marvel.com: Looks like you get to work with lots of cool artists like David Baldeon and Federico Santagati on NOVA—what's the joy with having that opportunity like for you?
Gerry Duggan: Credit the Marvel editors. They’ve always got their eyes out for talent, and everyone I’ve had the pleasure to work with on Nova has been wonderful, from Paco [Medina] to Baldeon and now Santagati for the Halloween issue. I’ve characterized the Halloween issue as a chance to blow off some steam, but there are some events in it that are important for the overall story. I don’t want to spoil it, but the issue also has a ghost in it.
Thanks for reading the comics I’m writing!