Bruce Banner and Tony Stark unite in ‘Indestructible Hulk Annual’

As dangerous as it may be now, the Marvel Universe would be a truly frightening place if Bruce Banner and Tony Stark were villains, utilizing the destructive powers of their alter egos the Hulk and Iron Man to commit evil acts. But more importantly, it would mean Banner and Stark’s vast and imaginative intellects would be put to the task of dreaming up horrific weapons of mass destruction. Fortunately, both men are on the side of the angels — but that doesn’t mean they’ve got each other’s back.

In recent issues of “Indestructible Hulk,” writer Mark Waid established a rivalry between the two brilliant inventors, and in December’s “Indestructible Hulk Annual,” writer Jeff Parker and artist Mahmud Asrar explore that rivalry even further as the Hulk and Iron Man come together to investigate a mystery involving one of their old mentors.

CBR News: You’ve written both the Hulk and Iron Man before, but what’s it like writing them together, especially with the rivalry that’s sprung up between the characters? Why do you think these guys get under each others skins?

Jeff Parker:
They are The Smart Guys, and also The Most Destructive Guys. They kind of can’t not be in competition on many levels, and yet each knows the other is most likely to ‘get’ him, to understand what it’s like to be that kind of thinker who regularly runs up against that much trouble.

What can you tell us about the events that set this latest meeting between Bruce Banner and Tony Stark into motion?

A dangerous installation in the Pacific has been discovered, created by a man both Banner and Stark knew coming up in their fields of study. Bruce knows, as usual, that he is almost certainly going to Hulk out on this investigation, but he needs another person who can survive this place and know what he’s involved in the way Banner would. We’re going to touch on some of what drove Banner in his early years, and whether he’s really changed all that much today. And also to consider if he and Tony Stark are two sides of the same brilliant but weird coin.

Who are some of the other supporting players we’ll see in this story? Will you have any room for scenes with Banner’s lab staff, or S.H.I.E.L.D. agents like Maria Hill?

You bet, you definitely get to see Maria Hill, all the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents she yells at and a couple of Banner’s support staff. Mainly Patty, the one who we discovered essentially had a death wish.

Since this story features a supporting character with ties to both Banner and Stark’s past will your “Indestructible Hulk Annual” be a story that unfolds strictly in the present? Or will you flashback to Banner and Stark’s youths as well?

Yes, we get to see glimpse of them as young scientists on the way up, before the world knew about them. We don’t spend a lot of time with that flashback, as those two really didn’t interact back then. [The Annual] is really about what drives these men. I’m building a lot on the dynamic Mark Waid established for them, where Banner is tired of the fact that Stark unleashes such power on the world and gets praised while his contributions go unnoticed and feared. Not that there isn’t plenty of reason for that, but Hulk has also saved humanity several times, at least as much as Iron Man. We’re also working with developments from Kieron Gillen’s recent “Iron Man” storylines. That, and what Waid has been telling with Yu, Simonson and Scalene have been really entertaining. It’s a great chance for Mahmud and I to hook those together. And how cool is it that Mahmud Asrar is drawing this? I was delighted when editor Mark Paniccia said he’d be working with us. He has a really lush and pleasing style, and is extremely versatile. Also, his concept work is amazing. Hopefully we can put in some of his roughs as extra material. I’m trying to give him some breathing room with interpretation of scenes. I especially enjoy the acting he does with characters — that’s the kind of thing that takes a story to another level entirely.