When writer Mark Waid isn’t busy chronicling the life of Marvel Comics’ “Daredevil” or working on his own projects such as Legendary Comics’ upcoming graphic novel “Shadow Walk,” the prolific writer can be seen penning the adventures of Bruce Banner and the “Indestructible Hulk.” Conceived with an eye towards making Banner face up to the fact he’ll never be rid of the Hulk, the dualistic hero is now working for S.H.I.E.L.D., allowing the super-agency to direct Hulk/Banner at whatever problems need fixing (or smashing).
With the end of the “Age Of Ultron” event, the Marvel Universe’s timestream has been left in shambles — a problem Banner and the Hulk are called on to fix in Waid’s next story arc with artist Matteo Scalera beginning in “Indestructible Hulk” #11. Things become further complicated in November when Waid teams up with Mahmud Asrar, artist for DC Comics’ “Supergirl” and Marvel’s “Ultimate Comics X-Men,” sending Banner back to the lab in order to create a weapon that may eclipse the Hulk.
Waid spoke with CBR News about the end of “Age Of Ultron” and how it ties into his latest story, Hulk and Banner’s role as agents of T.I.M.E. and the joy of watching the green behemoth punch out dinosaurs.
CBR News: We’re heading into the aftermath of the Age Of Ultron and you’ve said before part of that is asking the question whether Hulk is strong enough to hold the space-time continuum together. We know the next arc on the book is titled “Hulk: Agent Of T.I.M.E.,” so how much does the end of “Ultron” impact your next story?
Mark Waid: Enormously — without question it leads directly out of the event. The take away from Age Of Ultron obviously is that time is broken; the timestream we have, the Marvel heroes have mucked around with it way too many times. The result is it’s not only a mess but, as Hulk and Banner learn, there are beings from the future who are taking great advantage of the broken time. They want to go back in the past and change history to suit their whims in a way they couldn’t before, because the timestream was always fairly strong and rapid enough that it had a self-correcting sense to it. It’s the idea that if you drop a rock into a river it’s not going to change the course of the river — it will self-correct. Now time is broken to such a point where you can go back and set yourself up as the ruler of Camelot in the twelfth century, and in doing so everything as we know it in the twenty-first century ceases to exist because there was no America, there were no colonies, there was no Ottoman Empire, so forth and so on. That’s the fun! So Hulk and Banner together — and I can’t explain how that is but trust me, that’s my favorite thing about it — have to go back through time and try to put everything right while dealing with these beings who are tearing up the timestream. They have to do it quickly because evidently one of their goals is to mess with the Hulk’s origin itself. So the clock is ticking.
While Bruce Banner is one of the guys I would tap immediately if someone told me time is broken, Hulk is someone I’d be a little more hesitant to plunge into a fragile timestream!
I know! Bruce Banner has that same exact argument, which is you don’t use a jackhammer on a scalpel problem. The timestream is not the place where you throw the Hulk. Problem is, the timestream is now so broken that the only sentient being that we know of that can survive the trip is the Hulk. So that complicates things even further, because it’s not just we have to use Hulk as a weapon through time but we have to keep him being the Hulk the whole time — because if he reverts back to Banner he’s doomed. He’ll never get back.
Will him being an Agent of T.I.M.E. effect just this story-arc, or will he continue to dip in and out of this role as you move forward past these issues?
There are repercussions that spill out beyond this arc, so we will revisit this. Besides, it’s just too much fun to watch Hulk punch out Dinosaurs! [Laughs]
Before we look ahead to November, I wanted to touch on your most recent issue which ended the Hulk/Daredevil team up. Besides being the writer for both titles, why did you feel out of all the characters in the Marvel Universe Hulk/Banner would confide in Matt Murdock?
I think the answer is it’s more plot driven than character driven. As we learned at the end of issue #10, Banner and Matt Murdock are apparently cooking something up, something legal that, as Banner says at the end of issue #10, there’s a secret deposition he’s given to Matt Murdock that S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about. We don’t know about it yet — I do, but the readers don’t! [Laughs] So the repercussions of that are going to rock the Marvel Universe to its knees.
It’s basically the leverage right now Bruce has over S.H.I.E.L.D. to make sure S.H.I.E.L.D. treats him right, but S.H.I.E.L.D. does not like being held hostage. I predict in the next year or so we’ll certainly see the contents of that dossier and exactly why Bruce Banner and Matt Murdock are a really good team together.
Looking back even further, before this last arc you worked with artist Walt Simonson and saw Bruce’s whole lab team. Are we going to be introduced to any more of Bruce’s lab mates moving into the future? Will there be any stand-alone issues or spotlights on the people working with Hulk?
That’s actually part of the plan for the post-“Agent of T.I.M.E.” area — to do more stand-alones and one-shots focusing on the characters we haven’t dealt with yet. They all have interesting stories, and as Bruce has said to us in the narrative, each has a secret they believe is a secret: a secret self or a secret side of themselves, like Bruce does. They all believe it’s so secret Bruce doesn’t know about it — and they’re all mistaken. I love peeling back the layers on these characters to see what else is there.
Following the “Agent of T.I.M.E.” story, this November you’ll be working with artist Mahmud Asrar. Were you a fan of his before? Did you bring him onto the story arc, or did Marvel say “We got him,” and you immediately called dibs?
That was more it! He turned in these covers that were phenomenal for the “Agent Of T.I.M.E.” arc and I loved his work, and so did the editor, that it was an easy sell. “Hey, what about this guy?” Yes, please!
Outside of the Bruce/Hulk team do you have a favorite or standout character?
That’s a good question. I don’t have one singular character, but I do like writing Bruce and Maria Hill together. I like their interactions and their grudging alliance with one another, because they really don’t like each other but Maria is stuck with the reality that the nicer you are to Banner, the nicer Hulk will be to you. That is something she has to suck up!
Mark Waid & Matteo Scalera’s “Hulk Agent of T.I.M.E.” story arc begins in “Indestructible Hulk” #11, on sale July 31