By Jim Beard
Fresh from "Planet Hulk" and WORLD WAR HULK, that quirkily cool collection of cosmic creatures, the Warbound, are set to appear in their very own Marvel Comics five-part mini-series in 2008, courtesy of writer Greg Pak and artist Leonard Kirk. That is to say, those of the Warbound who survive WORLD WAR HULK, of course.
See, these aliens have sworn loyalty and fealty to the Incredible Hulk and they mean it. These fighters will and have laid down their lives to fight for and with Big Green. And when the tough gets going, you probably wouldn't want any other humongous, battle-hardened ex-gladiators at your side. The Hulk sure doesn't.
"Epic heroic adventure that's thrilling, chilling and fun, fun, fun," is how Greg Pak describes the upcoming WARBOUND series. "We're bringing a bit of that 'Planet Hulk' vibe right here to Planet Earth."
Pak, though he's currently hashing out every single blow of the blockbusting, sloberrin'-clobberin' WORLD WAR HULK series, is eager to talk about WARBOUND and the unique bond between its members. "In the gladiatorial pits of Sakaar, the Warbound swore to stand by each other to the end, no matter what. I think there's something compelling about characters who earn each others' loyalty under the most dire of
circumstances and take those oaths seriously. I also think it's easy to love a monster with a heart of gold. And finally, three of the Warbound have fallen since the beginning of 'Planet Hulk.' The stakes for them are sky-high, which helps make every moment for them matter."
If some of these war-whooping crazies have already fallen, does it stand to reason that Marvel fans might see a few new Warbound in their mini-series? "I won't reveal yet if they actually join the Warbound," says Pak, coyly. "But one of the Hulk's oldest villains and one of the Hulk's closest former friends will play huge roles in the book."
And will there be lots of de-licious Hulk-style de-struc-tion? "Ab-so-lutely."
Pak will have his supply lines guarded by that old foxholer, artist Leonard Kirk. "I'm hugely excited about working with Leonard on the book," says the scribe. "He's been penciling and inking himself on the WHAT IF: PLANET HULK book, and the pages are through the roof. He's challenging himself in new ways, and the results are incredibly dynamic, full of fiery energy. When I'm casting as a filmmaker, I'm always looking for actors who have that extra special something, who you can't help but watch, who just pop. Leonard's popping like crazy these days."
That popping artist, to whom the news of being awarded the WARBOUND series "came as a bit of a surprise," also had a few things to say about his new assignment and his writer-general. "I've worked with Greg on HULK #108 and am currently working with him (and Jeff Parker) on HULK #111. Greg also wrote the story I drew in the WHAT IF special. What I like about Greg is that he's a very thorough writer but he gives me enough room to step in and tweak things visually. I try to stick as close to the script as possible, but if I see something that I think can be handled better with a different perspective or an added panel or whatever...I feel I have the freedom to make those changes. I've been very lucky that most of the writers with whom I've worked have allowed me the same freedom.
"Granted, I'd probably make the changes even if Greg didn't like them," says the no-nonsense two-fisted artist extraordinaire. "I've seen Greg in person and I'm pretty sure I could take him. I'd have to fight dirty but knowing that I could kick his butt fills me with a greater sense of artistic confidence. Same goes for my editor, Mark Paniccia. He's a pretty skinny guy. I could mop the floor with him."
Seems the same, er, energy that the duo put into their work shows in their feelings toward each other. But more importantly, how do they feel about the Warbound? That is to say, do they play favorites with its members? Brood, Korg, strange, quizzical alien entitiesâ€¦even armored chicks?! The two men sigh mightily as they attempt to express their depth of caring for the Warbound.
"It changes every day!" says Pak, as if the Warbound themselves were looking over his shoulders for signs of favoritism. "In an interview yesterday, I was raving about Hiroim the Oldstrong, who has a big scene coming up in WORLD WAR HULK #4. But this morning I found myself compelled all over again by Elloe Kaifi, a child of privilege turned furious revolutionary who lost both her parents during the events of 'Planet Hulk.' Elloe's in for a major turning point in the pages of the WORLD WAR HULK: AFTERSMASH one-shot in November that may just lay out a whole new path for her."
Kirk is more to the point. "I don't know that I have a 'favorite,' but I did enjoy drawing Korg in the WHAT IF special. He's a big hunk of rock like the Thing...only with a pointy head!
"I suppose it depends on the scripted panel," Kirk continues, musing over Pak's ability to write both action and quiet scenes. "But, a lot of times, the most difficult scenes to draw are the quiet, subtle moments. Having said that, I enjoy the hell out of drawing the subtle stuff. When you get it right, the whole page really comes together."
And come together the new WARBOUND mini-series will. Both writer and artist have reloaded, checked their ammo, and drawn their battle lines for this continuation of one of the most popular storylines in recent Marvel history. "From the first few issues of 'Planet Hulk,' I've been blown away by the enthusiasm of readers, retailers and reviewers for these characters," says Pak, beaming. "So many, many thanks to everyone who's embraced the Warbound and made this series possible. It's also worth noting that editor Mark Paniccia and I have a number of big, big plans that this book ties into. The series will be totally accessible to brand new readers as a stand-alone adventure, but it absolutely matters in terms of paying off some carefully laid threads in 'Planet Hulk' and WORLD WAR HULK and setting up what comes next."
2008 is set to explode with comic book action when the Warbound come on the scene. Look for it wherever the best in smashing series are sold and stay tuned to Marvel.com for more art info as we get closer to the book's release.