Marvel Comics' Next Big Thing extravaganza continues with live press conference calls throughout the week on Marvel's latest projects. Last week was a veritable cornucopia of announcements including Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley and Tom Brevoort on "Avengers Assemble" as well as the reveal of eleven "Avengers vs. X-Men" covers, including the "Avengers" #26 cover by Walt Simonson. On Monday, Marvel continued its announcement slate with a preview of "Exiled," a "Journey Into Mystery"/"New Mutants" crossover event with series writers Kieron Gillen and Andy Lanning. Today, the publisher pulled back the curtain on a new "Incredible Hulk" story arc beginning with issue #8 written by Jason Aaron with art by Steve Dillon. "Incredible Hulk" writer Jason Aaron was on hand to bring new details and information on the upcoming storyarc featuring a team-up between the Hulk and the Punisher.
James Viscardi kicked off the call introducing Aaron, mentioning Steve Dillon would be starting off on art duties with four other artists joining Aaron for later issues.
Aaron began the call saying how much he enjoyed writing Hulk, comparing the experience to his run on Wolverine. Going into "Stay Angry," Aaron was secretive about what the story was about. "It comes about after the end of 'Hulk vs. Banner' and it changes the Hulk's status quo. Incredible Hulk #1 came out of the gate with a whole new dynamic. That gets tweaked again after issue #7. That flows right into 'Stay Angry.'" The new arc will be a five issue story, relatively self contained with different artists. Aaron hinted each issue would see the Hulk in different locales. "All along the way, he has to stay angry in order to survive."
Aaron also spoke to his creative process with "PunisherMAX" collaborator Steve Dillon. "To have him jump on the Hulk is a crazy shift of gears. That's the kind of stuff that gets me excited. His issue is the Hulk story you could imagine Steve Dillon drawing," he said. Dillon's issue is like "Hulk wandering into an issue of 'The Preacher'" and will feature The Punisher. Other guest stars in the arc will include Wolverine, Kraven the Hunter and some new characters including "whacked out Mexican drug dealers, Atlantean mobsters, lots and lots of bigfoots [and] Russian super soldiers."
Aaron elaborated on Punisher's role in the first issue, stating each installment would be self-contained. "Each issue of this arc is pretty self-contained, and in the story, Hulk finds himself in the midst of mysterious shenanigans in a Mexican drug cartel. .. It's just a two of them crossing paths in this crazy fight south of the border."
The writer spoke to the writing main Marvel U Punisher in "Stay Angry" vs MAX Punisher. "It's certainly a different character," he said. "I love what Greg Rucka's doing in the main Punisher book and I want to make sure it doesn't seem like a completely off-the-wall portrayal from what Greg's doing. I think there's the potential for some cool stuff with he and Hulk over the course of this issue."
Aaron noted his tendency to shift genres for many superhero books, but said it wasn't really a conscious plan. "I wish I could say I go into this with a set plan to shift genres," he said. "It just grows out of the stories as I write them. Maybe that just speaks to how I entertain media I like. That doesn't work for every character, but certainly with Hulk I think that it does. … For this arc, I get to do it issue to issue, change things up issue to issue. This isn't a series of one-shots, this is really act two to my 'Hulk' story."
Speaking to Wolverine, Aaron said readers should expect fighting and claws popping. "It'll be a different kind of role for Wolverine and a different kind of Hulk story. With each of these issues I'm hoping to put Hulk into different settings." Hulk will also, as previously noted, be mixing it up with some other new characters.
While the artists will change each issue, Viscardi said the artist coming after Dillon will be Pasqual Ferry, but wouldn't reveal anything beyond that.
"I've seen the list of who all of them are, but other than Steve, I've never worked with them before," said Aaron.
The writer noted his favorite version of the Hulk as a fan is Peter David's smart Hulk. "When I think of the Hulk, just in terms of what I read, I go back to the smart Hulk; the Peter David stuff," he said. "When I think of Hulk, that's where my mind goes. That's my iconic version of the Hulk. Ironically, that's not one I've written. I'm trying to do something different."
Aaron also likened "Stay Angry" to the "Crank" films. "Imagine if you took the 'Crank' movies and put the Hulk in them and every five minutes, cut a segment out of them. … That's what this is. I'm trying to make this the most frenetic and crazy thing I've ever written, just barreling ahead 90 miles per hour."
While Hulk's team-up partners are traditionally heroes or villains filled with anger, Aaron said the decision to use them didn't really factor in to their selection. "Hulk really makes those other guys look really calm and reserved," he said. "Punisher and Wolverine get to play the straight man." The writer further described the first issue as "a whacked-out buddy cop movie in Mexico."
The writer also spoke to the structure of his writing in general -- specifically as relates to "Incredible Hulk." "Right now you don't see me doing a lot of big arcs. I haven't done a six issue arc in quite an while now. I am trying to keep things more dense and moving along a lot faster. I've always liked to do standalones. Going back to 'Scalped' which was my first big book, I'd always done a lot of standalones there." Aaron noted after the first four arcs of "Incredible Hulk," he would be doing more standalones.
Aaron's "Incredible Hulk" balances the line between dark and lighthearted, something the writer noted was a goal for him in the series as a whole. "I still love the outrageous and over the top and funny and darkly comic stuff. With Hulk, I've tried to wrap all that together in a big, green bow."
Kraven the Hunter, a favorite character of Aaron's since "Kraven's Last Hunt," will continue his mission statement from his appearances in "Amazing Spider-Man."
Aaron also expanded on working with artist Steve Dillon. "Steve's great," he said. "Steve's one of my all-time favorite artists. Steve can draw anything he sets his mind to, especially something that's whacked out and crazy and full of Steve Dillon sort of characters."
Wrapping up, Aaron described the locations the Hulk would visit in "Stay Angry." "He'll be going all over the world, he'll be going underwater, he'll be going off the world and to two places in the Marvel Universe we've never seen before. It'll be a huge shift in setting from issue to issue."
"Stay Angry" starts in May with Steve Dillon on art in "Incredible Hulk" #8 written by Jason Aaron. Pasqual Ferry follows as artist for "Incredible Hulk" #9.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on Jason Aaron's "Incredible Hulk"