The following was originally posted on Comicon.com:
Today Marvel Comics hosted a press conference to discuss their incredible Hulk and his upcoming anniversary issue # 100. Greg Pak was on hand to talk about Planet Hulk and give some teasers about the series, two of the biggest being Gary Frank returning to the Hulk in a back-up story for issue # 100, will be the new regular artist on the series after Planet Hulk; and that a new limited series, World War Hulk, drawn by John Romita Jr that will tie into the monthly Hulk series, begins after Planet Hulk as well. Now, read the article or HULK SMASH!
Greg Pak, who was hanging out at the House of Ideas, began by giving us some details about what's been happening in the pages of Hulk to the jade giant, for those of you who haven't been following the Planet Hulk story. He started noting that the upcoming issue # 100, due in stores this November, would be the first time the Hulk ever had an issue # 100 since the original Hulk issues ran for six and then returned at # 102. Then he enthused, "The actual contents are mind blowing. I'm really excited about this one. The art is through the roof!"
There's no reason why the art shouldn't be through the roof though. Marvel Comics has tapped superstar artist Gary Frank to illustrate the back up story, a Civil War tie in which takes place on the planet earth. "One of the back up stories finally will show someone discovering the fact that the Hulk has been exiled."
A fact that most followers of this story already know, but in case you missed it, just before the Civil War began a group of heroes including Dr. Strange, Iron Man and Reed Richards, to name a trio of the Illuminati, decided to be judge and jury on The Hulk and send him off to a planet where he couldn't ever hurt anyone again. However, their little rocket ship went off course and instead of Hulk landing at their planned destination, he crash-landed on a dangerous planet where he isn't the biggest, baddest mother on the planet. He could be hurt, killed or, maybe, turned into the greatest hero the planet has ever know. But all that's playing out in the pages of Incredible Hulk.
Issue # 100 begins the third act in the Planet Hulk storyline, Allegiance. The first part, Exile, was issues # 92 - 95, drawn by Carlo Pagulayan. "There Hulk went from being a slave to a gladiator," Pak said. "The second act, Anarchy, ran through issues 96 - 99 (# 99 just came out yesterday), there Hulk becomes a rebel and gradually begins to not just smash things but find there's a reason to smash things. He begins to pull together a crew of rebels and forms an alliance, which is very unusual for the Hulk, but he's on a planet where rage and strength are virtues. Here people need him and he may be stepping up to the responsibility, but is he a hero or a monster? In the beginning of Allegiance, we see groups under the Hulk and find out if he will be, in the mythology of the planet, the savior or the world breaker."
Pak is also glad to be re-teamed with artist Carlo Pagulayan and glad to still have Aaron Lopresti on board for issues as well. "He was the artist who started the Planet Hulk arc with issue # 92," Pak said. "Aaron Lopresti penciled the second arc and now Carlo is back for the third, tag-teaming with Aaron. Aaron has been drawing these mind blowingly mighty Marvel slugfests. The pencils he's turning in for Allegiance are through the roof. Carlo's panels are amazing as well. He is the heir apparent to Michael Golden, who was one of my all-time favorite artists growing up. Carlo has some of that same funky dynamism. Aaron, too. I'm thrilled to be working with both these guys."
"The back up is drawn by Gary Frank - the legendary Gary Frank, who is still beloved for his Hulk run with Peter David," continued Pak. "He's probably best-known recently for his work on Supreme Power. So, Gary is drawing this back up story in our Civil War tie-in and it's just amazing. We've been looking at the inks and these pages are gorgeous. I think the back up story will also be answering the questions was it justice to send the Hulk into space and did the Hulk really deserve that - is he really a monster? These questions will be put to the decision makers in a pretty interesting way. Gary Frank is through the roof with the splash pages."
Marvel also prodded Pak to tell listeners what this story by himself and Frank is leading up to for the future of the Incredible Hulk. Pak revealed that there's an upcoming miniseries coming from he and John Romita, Jr. "World War Hulk succeeds Planet Hulk," Pak said. "This is the next big step for the Hulk and whatever will happen for the character begins here. Gary Frank will be working on the Incredible Hulk monthly series while the World War Hulk miniseries is going on. John Romita, Junior will be drawing World War Hulk. All the issues tie in together - you'll want to get them all, folks. I'm thrilled to work with Gary Frank on The Incredible Hulk and John Romita, Junior on World War Hulk."
Then the conference opened up for the question and answer session.
QUESTION: How tough is it to portray Hulk with the depth you're using here?
ANSWER: There have been many different versions of the Hulk. A lot of us grew up with the silent monster Hulk on TV, the "Hulk, Smash!" caveman talk Hulk, then Peter David went nuts with many different incarnations. But when you look at the original Hulk in those first six issues, it's like the savage but crafty Hulk we're dealing with now: mean, smart and angry. He has roots in the first six issues of Hulk. That Hulk was talking in full sentences. He was mean. He was smashing things right and left. Was he a hero or a monster? You never quite knew. So it's nice I can work within a great tradition that's not like we just decided to throw away the Hulk and do something different. This is a part of the Hulk.
It makes for a great character: the argument could be as Bruce and Hulk go through different periods, he has different emotional problems he's grappling with; so Hulk manifests in slightly different ways, but still the central issue is the price of anger.
One of the things I love about the Hulk is exploring him in many different ways. The character allows for this kind of exploration and this was the right time to jump on this kind of story or this version of the story. It was time for the Hulk to cut loose and it was time for him to just be the Hulk and smash things. It was also time to be confronted with real moral and emotional challenges. Suddenly he is in an environment where he has to cut loose, but maybe there's a reason.
This version of the Hulk is a version who is smart enough to know what he's doing, but he has to take responsibility for smashing things. I feel really lucky to come on board when these were the options to do with the character.
QUESTION: Out of all the new aliens is there one you've grown particularly fond of?
ANSWER: The Hulk has a posse. There are a few characters I just love. Korg is probably one of my favorite characters. He's a Stone Man. Back in the very first appearance of Thor, one of his first opponents were Stone Men from Saturn - these big rocky guys with Easter Island shaped heads. For Planet Hulk I was thinking of who should be on this planet with him and his buddies? This was a perfect character to play with. He's rooted in Marvel Mythology and it was a way to take his fight with Thor and look at it from a different way. What if we made him a good guy? I love Korg. He's a rock, and we all need rocks in our life. He kind of knows what life is about in a way - and I, for some reason, just really love writing him.
The artists will also run with the characters and give them great moments and faces and expressions. When Carlo and Aaron draw Korg, he has a gravity about him and depth and sadness in his eyes. Similarly when they draw Miek the six limbed bug character. In the first four issues, Carlo drew all these crazy facial expressions for Miek. As a result Miek got a lot of fun one-liners and tweaks.
So Miek and Korg, I've really had fun writing.
The character I'm most excited about right now is the Lieutenant Caiera, the Oldstrong the tall gray shadow warrior, who started out as the evil red king's bodyguard. As the story progresses her allegiances are shifting.
QUESTION: Percentage wise what are the chances of him making it back to earth to interact in the Civil War?
ANSWER: I think it's out there that the main action of the Civil War - if you just look at the schedule - it will be done before World War Hulk begins; but who knows if he will come back to earth for WW Hulk? He has a great reason to come back, seeing as he was exiled by those guys, but who knows.
MARVEL: Hulk won't have an impact on Civil War but Civil War will have an impact on what the world is like when and if Hulk returns.
PAK: One of the things exciting about issue 100 is the themes that run throughout the CW and Planet Hulk are tied together in a great way. I've been joking about the CW tie-in in Hulk 100, but the great thing about it is it's the perfect next step for carrying forward some of the themes of Planet Hulk. The tie in isn't a sales game, it actually works. It's a huge gift to work with that on a creative level. Every once in a while, you hear folks complain about working in a tie in, but for this particular case, it's the furthest thing from a burden, it's a great gift.
The story moves each other forward in great ways. The reverberations of the Civil War are certainly going to have an effect on WW Hulk.
QUESTION: When will we see Banner persona return? How will Planet Hulk affect it?
ANSWER: Yes. I can't say too much more. Banner isn't forgotten. We haven't seen much face time, and saw him in the flesh on Planet Hulk in the back up story in Giant Size # 1 issue that came out a few months ago. On a day to day basis, he isn't running around Planet Hulk, if he did, he wouldn't last that long.
We're building up all kinds of stuff with the Banner/Hulk relationship. This is all building up to a mind blowing climax.
I think we probably have some pretty good Banner stuff in #103 and #105. Keep your eyes open for those.
QUESTION: Were the three other back ups included for a particular reason?
ANSWER: Yes. One is the Origin of the Hulk. I think Tom Brevoort was the one who picked the back ups, and he did a great job of doing that. He is the big brain of Marvel. Issue # 300 is a Bill Mantlo written comic from 1984, and that is absolutely germane to all of this story. It's the one that preceded Dr. Strange exiling the Hulk the first time around. It was a story where Hulk was driven insane by Nightmare and tore up Manhattan. It's a 40 page smash fest where Hulk rips through Manhattan and all the major New York characters. It climaxed with Dr. Strange exiling Hulk to the Crossroads, which was like a Twilight Zone type place where Hulk was thrust into different universes to see if he could survive. We're kind of doing that and tackling the same questions in Planet Hulk.
Issue 300 is a big smash fest that may be a teaser for World War Hulk who knows? It also fits into the whole themes of exile and the is the Hulk a monster question.
Issue # 152 is the Trial of the Incredible Hulk. It's the same themes Marvel heroes passing judgment on the Hulk. Did they make the right decisions? What is it? Is he a monster or hero? It's the same themes in the Gary Frank illustrated back up story. These all fit together in a thematic way. It's nice for # 100 to have these stories in it, too. These are critical stories that really explore the misunderstood monster theme. It also provides very different angles on it. Different Marvel characters have different ideas of the Hulk and how he should be treated, based on their experiences with him.
This is similar to the Civil War, there are people you respect on both sides of the argument.
QUESTION: Will you be retro-numbering Hulk?
ANSWER: No plan right now. We know WW Hulk first issue would be Hulk 106 in May. At least that far out and beyond we know at least through 108 in the current numbering.
Pak closed by saying, "I also want to thank all the journalists who have written nice things and given us some props here. This is the funnest things I've ever done in comics and it's nice to have folks like yourself along for the ride."
Hulk # 100 is due in stores November 1st by Greg Pak, Carlo Pagulayan Gary Frank and variant gray and green covers.