Writer Greg Pak and artist Cory Smith preview their upcoming new title.

It all goes back to the “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” storyline in WEAPON X. Dr. Alba’s goal was to create a Hulk/Wolverine hybrid to do his nefarious bidding. Enter: subject Clayton, a.k.a. H-Alpha. Clay was ex-military before coming under the power of Weapon X’s Batch-H division and, unlike the other test subjects, he wasn’t personally recruited but rather was sold into the project. The doctor also left a bit more of his brain than the others, hoping that this would keep Clay’s military training and discipline intact, potentially making him a better minion. He seemed like the perfect candidate. No one ever expected him to go rogue, but that’s exactly what he did. With his creators destroyed once and for all, Clay was finally free.

Though the memories of his past were murky, Clay knew he had a family out there and so he traveled from one Eaglestar facility to another, wiping out any files they had on him and anyone close to him. Of course, this also meant that Clay was destroying any chance of ever reuniting with his family again… but protecting them also means protecting them from himself.

This is where we meet Clay in WEAPON H #1 by Greg Pak (INCREDIBLE HULK) and Cory Smith (X-MEN BLUE)—available March 21! Clay is still on the run when a new kind of Wendigo threatens the safety of those around him. Can Clay really sit this one out, or is it time that this wayward test subject decides to be a hero at last?

We asked writer Greg Pak and artist Cory Smith to give us as many hints as they dared!

Marvel.com: I know you both brainstormed together for the inception of this longer run—what aspects did you guys need to fiddle around with the most when you started working on this series?

Greg Pak: Well, we had a great phone conversation where we started talking through what makes our guy tick and what he really WANTS. We’ve got a guy who’s part Hulk, and the Hulk traditionally just wants to be left alone, right? But we wanted to be sure we had a proactive, character-based mission for our guy. Can’t reveal too much for fear of spoilers… but I’m loving how this is coming together.

Cory Smith: One of the cooler parts of this project, for me, was to be included in some of those initial brainstorming sessions. Greg and our editor, Darren Shan, really welcomed me into the process and we had a great talk about this series that probably went longer than any of us expected [laughs]. We wanted to fit Weapon H into the larger Marvel mythos in a way that was different than the way Hulk or Wolverine did! I threw out a few random references to some Marvel lore and characters in our phone call, and when Greg turned in a story outline later that week I was surprised to see some of the things I mentioned were included! That’s when I knew this was going to be fun.

Marvel.com: That does sound like fun! What can you tell us about Clay as a character, his origin, and his unique set of powers?

Greg Pak: As we learned in the pages of WEAPON X, Clay is a former soldier who ended up working for a military contractor called Eaglestar. But when ordered to massacre a village of civilians, he instead gunned down his fellow mercenaries. He was then sedated and sold to the Weapon X program, which partially lobotomized him and augmented him with Hulk and Wolverine DNA in the effort to create the perfect human weapon.

Cory Smith: Clay’s still kind of a mystery man when we catch up with him. Like Greg said, we’ve seen his origin story and we know a bit about his moral code, but there’s still so much to be explored in terms of his motivations and what makes him tick. Honestly, his powers are still kind of a mystery to him, too.

Weapon H #1.

Marvel.com: Is it difficult to write/draw the juxtaposition between military discipline and unbridled power in one character?

Greg Pak: I’m having a great time with it. I’ve written Hulk stories for years—a little over a decade, in fact! I’ve written a scientist as a Hulk (Banner), a barbarian as a Hulk (Skaar), and a cocky kid as a Hulk (Amadeus). But now I’m writing a grunt, a trained, disciplined soldier as a Hulk. And that’s a great new dynamic that opens up a whole set of new stories and themes to play with.

Cory Smith: I really like what Greg and co. have set up with Clay’s military background and how that would affect/influence a guy with this much power. He’s this unstoppable force of nature with the discipline to command or restrain that part of himself as he needs it. It’s kind of unprecedented, really. (And a whole lot of fun to draw when he cuts loose.)

Marvel.com: Hulk and Wolverine have been rivals since 1974’s INCREDIBLE HULK #181; did you guys research the old scuffles to bring this union of the two heroes to life?

Cory Smith: I did! I looked that issue up on the Marvel Unlimited app to see if I could absorb some of that classic Wein/Trimpe greatness into my pages. Whether or not I succeeded is another story, but it was neat to study that stuff.

Greg Pak: [Laughs] Haven’t actually gone back to dig into those myself—but I should! In the fullness of time, it seems likely that a Hulkverine is gonna have to tangle with the Hulk and Wolverine, doesn’t it?

Incredible Hulk (1962) #181

Incredible Hulk (1962) #181

  • Published: November 01, 1974
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
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Marvel.com: Clay has been making a concerted effort not to remember his (somewhat) forgotten past. Why is this?

Greg Pak: Clay’s no dummy—he’s a great soldier and strategist. So he’s quickly realized that if his enemies learn about his past, they can use his family against him. Now he’s determined to destroy any evidence of his past in order to protect his family.

Marvel.com: Are the powers tied to his emotions like the other Hulks? How do you guys play with that?

Greg Pak: They aren’t! That’s an important distinction, actually. Clay was specifically chosen for experimentation because of his tremendous discipline and control so he can control his transformations in and out of his Hulkverine form. That gives us a different dynamic from the typical Hulk paradigm that opens the door to some interesting new stories.

Cory Smith: Yeah, like Greg said, Clay is a different type of character than those who have been Hulks before. He’s been trained to control his emotions and keep a level head under fire, so when you put that type of mind into a giant Hulk monster with Wolverine’s claws it’s kind of frightening in a brand new way.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about this new Wendigo?

Greg Pak: We’re calling it the Ur-Wendigo, and it’s bigger and badder than any Wendigo you’ve ever seen. The basic idea of the Wendigo in the Marvel Universe is that it’s a curse that falls on people who commit the sin of cannibalism—the cannibal becomes a Wendigo, a ravenous, human-eating monster. All that remains true in this incarnation, but we’ve got a big, fun, creepy twist that takes our guy to the next level. Keep on reading!

Cory Smith: Greg and Darren really encouraged me to go wild with the design for the Ur-Wendigo. With that twist that Greg mentioned in mind, there’s something different about this incarnation of the Wendigo, and it’s reflected in his physiology and how he moves. The idea was to make something powerful and scary enough to be a major threat to a guy like Weapon H, which is a pretty tall order.

Marvel.com: What was the hardest thing to write/draw for this first book?

Greg Pak: We’ve got some moments of quiet tension that build up our character before we reveal him in his Hulked up form. I LOVE those moments, and I think they’re absolutely critical for helping us care about the character before the action kicks in, but there’s always a balancing act of how long you can sustain things before you let him cut loose. I think Cory’s doing a tremendous job of maintaining the tension and mystery through those early moments, so I’m feeling good about it. And the action goes through the ceiling when it kicks in, so get ready for it!

Cory Smith: This first issue feels a little like “Jaws” in the sense that when you see our monster, it’s really in moments that are earned in the story when the tension has built to a fever pitch. Greg does such a great job building the story around these scenes. I think the hardest part for me has been holding back until it’s time to draw them.

Marvel.com: What has been your favorite part of creating this series so far?

Greg Pak: There’s an eerie moment in the first few pages when Clay’s trying to disappear. He literally slices off his finger pads to try to hide his fingerprints—but they just grow back. It’s creepy and eerie and Cory’s drawn it beautifully.

Cory Smith: The collaborative process for Weapon H has been different than anything I’ve worked on before, and it’s made working on the book really rewarding. There have been minor design decisions regarding Weapon H’s look throughout this first issue that I’ve probably annoyed Darren to death mulling over, but turning in pages and finding that everyone is happy with the direction I’m taking with the art has been awesome.

Catch up with Clay on March 21 in WEAPON H #1, written by Grek Pak with art by Cory Smith!

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Greg Pak on whether Nuke can be trusted, as he forges an unlikely partnership with Sabretooth.

Thirteen, it has been said, carries bad luck with it. On January 17, the Weapon X team better hope that amounts to nothing but superstition. Because in WEAPON X #13, they find themselves divided, up against a nearly tireless foe in the Nuke Patrol, and their only hope of survival lying with the original Nuke and Sabretooth, two individuals not well known for self-control or loyalty.

We feel too freaked out to just wait and see what happens, so we hit up writer (and noted Numerologist) Greg Pak and asked him if the superstitions might be true.

Marvel.com: At the end of #12, we see Sabretooth encounter the one true and original Nuke. Without offering too much by way of spoilers, what is Nuke’s relationship to the Patrol beyond sharing a taste for facial tattoos and pills?

Greg Pak: What the heck—I’m gonna spoil it! Because it’s fun stuff.

The idea is that mysterious entities in the United States have sent paramilitary teams into Santo Marco over the years to assassinate President Duarte. But Duarte’s military has managed to thwart all of these attempts—and even captured his would-be assassins. Finally, Nuke himself was sent—and was captured! And at that point, Duarte’s scientists got to work, reverse engineered the pills that power Nuke, and Nuked-up the soldiers who had previously tried to assassinate Duarte! Now those soldiers form the Nuke Patrol and serve Duarte. But we’ll see what happens himself when the original Nuke gets free…

Marvel.com: The plot details hint at the possibility of Nuke aiding the rest of Weapon X, but how reliable an ally can he be? How in control of himself even is he?

Greg Pak: That’s the big question, isn’t it? In the classic Miller/Mazzucchelli DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN storyline, Nuke was prone to completely losing control in a spectacularly dangerous way. What makes his appearance in this story even more high stakes is that he’s apparently teaming up with Sabretooth, who’s the least in-control member of the Weapon X team, which is already a team of loose cannons.

Weapon X #13.

Marvel.com: Speaking of in control of himself, with Sabretooth effectively isolated from the rest of the team, how reliable can he be to follow the rules and help Weapon X over just indulging himself?

Greg Pak: Exactly! The huge fun of this team is how much they shouldn’t be able to work as a team at all.

Marvel.com: How does working with Yildiray Cinar enable you to realize not just the bloody conflicts Weapon X indulges in, but the moral quandaries as well?

Greg Pak: Yildiray is just a tremendous artist. We got to work together on one of my favorite Batman/Superman stories, which told an alternate world meeting between a young Bruce and a young Clark, and Yildiray delivered beautiful, affecting character work. Here he gets to cut loose with spectacular action, and I just adore all the mayhem. But he’s also delivering all that great emotional conflict and humor with every page and panel.

Marvel.com: As for the larger team, how are they faring without Sabretooth? What’s their physical state and state of mind?

Greg Pak: The team’s getting pretty brutally ripped up by the Nuke Patrol, so they’re getting pretty ticked off. Some huge decisions are coming up that will affect the team in a big way moving forward. Also, sometimes moments of great stress lead to unexpected emotional revelations. So get ready for some kissing!

Marvel.com: For holdouts who haven’t checked out the title yet, why is this arc the exact right time to jump aboard?

Greg Pak: It’s a new adventure that you don’t need a lot of extra info to dive into. And it’s a big, fun action story with pretty huge emotional consequences for the team. Also, we got kissing coming up in #14. KISSING! ACTION! MAYHEM! Dontcha dare miss it!

 

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Take a look at exclusive WORLD WAR HULK II pages courtesy of Greg Pak and Tom Brevoort!

Marvelites, level up your weekend with a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, the official Marvel podcast!

Take an epic look at all the comics coming this week like HAWKEYE, DOCTOR STRANGE, and CAPTAIN AMERICA, with Ryan, Ben and Tucker. Tune in for a riveting WORLD WAR HULK II chat with Ben and Greg Pak (1:05:25)! In fact, get an exclusive taste of WORLD WAR HULK II below thanks to Greg Pak and Tom Brevoort! Christine and Eric dish out some TV news from the West Coast and discuss all things Marvel Games with Tim Hernandez and Danny Koo (1:20:45). Close everything out with Ryan, Ben and Tucker answering your questions and comments (1:38:15)!

Download episode #319 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes, so you never miss an episode! We are now also on Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel!

This Week in Marvel will focus on delivering all the Marvel info on news and new releases–from comics to video games to toys to TV to film and beyond! New episodes will be released every Friday (or so) and TWiM is co-hosted by Marvel VP & Executive Editor of Digital Media Ryan “Agent M” Penagos and Marvel Editorial Director of Digital Media Ben Morse, along with Marvel.com Editor Eric Goldman, Marvel.com Assistant Editor Christine Dinh, and Manager of Video & Content Production Blake Garris. We also want your feedback, as well as questions for us to answer on future episodes!  Tweet your questions, comments and thoughts about TWiM to @AgentM@BenJMorse@chrissypedia or @Marvel with the hashtag #ThisWeekinMarvel!

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As Amadeus Cho arrives on Sakaar, let's look back at the planet once ruled by his predecessor!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Amadeus Cho intends to avoid many of the same pitfalls that Bruce Banner fell into over the years as Hulk. However, with this week’s INCREDIBLE HULK #710 we see him fully embracing a place that meant a lot to his Jade Giant predecessor: Sakaar.

Back in 2006, the heroes of the Marvel Universe – specifically Iron Man, Reed Richards, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange – got fed up with the Hulk and decided to send him off to a planet where he couldn’t hurt anyone and he could finally get the solace he claimed to want.

Instead, as seen in INCREDIBLE HULK #92 by Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan, he got sucked through a strange portal and ended up on a planet called Sakaar where the locals immediately enslaved him and he soon started fighting in a gladiatorial arena. 

Incredible Hulk (1999) #92

Incredible Hulk (1999) #92

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In those battles, Hulk met a group that would become known as the Warbound, who would help him first escape from the Red King and then eventually take over as king himself. Along the way, Hulk fell in love with a Shadow warrior named Caiera, who would have borne him twins, had a catastrophic accident not seemingly killed her. 

Incredible Hulk (1999) #93

Incredible Hulk (1999) #93

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The ship that Hulk’s “friends” sent him off on exploded, apparently by accident, but not. The resulting explosion tore through Caiera and many others, leaving a large chunk of Sakaar in lava-engulfed ruins.

Feeling a rage like none other, Hulk agreed to fly off with his surviving Warbound comrades and return to the true source of his misery: Earth. That story came to fruiting in WORLD WAR HULK, but what of the planet that the Jade Giant left behind? 

World War Hulk (2007) #1

World War Hulk (2007) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Well, as seen in SKAAR: SON OF HULK – simplified to just SON OF HULK on Marvel Unlimited – the planet kept on turning, even giving birth to not one, but two sons of the Green Scar. Skaar hardened himself in battle and even harnessed the full power of the Old Strong that ran through the planet. Meanwhile, Hiro-Kala, the twin, also began experiencing his own trials and tribulations on the harsh planet.

Galactus visited this place. The Silver Surfer had been drawn in by the same portal that grabbed Hulk during the original storyline, but he brought his master there in SKAAR. Thanks to the Old Strong power that flowed through the rock, Surfer figured that its energy could sate his master’s hunger for 10,000 years. Skaar had his own plans, but so did other familiar faces who appeared in an attempt to save the planet.

Now, Amadeus Cho will see exactly how Hulk-like he can be in the place that both gave his namesake his greatest challenge and also one of his most cherished triumphs.

Flash Forward

The history of Sakaar was nicely chronicled in the pages of a one-shot called GLADIATOR GUIDE BOOK. The mostly-text issue goes into great detail about everything from the Tayo Star System that Sakaar inhabits to the geography of the planet. You also get to more fully understand the hierarchy that exists on-planet with the Imperials at the top who subjugate their own kind as well as the insectoid Natives, Shadow People and Spikes. All of these groups and ideas play important parts in Planet Hulk as well as all the ensuing stories set on Sakaar!

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Greg Pak sends his team of mercenaries and monsters into the fray!

Marvel Legacy heats up in the South American country of Santo Marco with “Nuke-Clear War” part one in Greg Pak and Yildiray Cinar’s WEAPON X #12 coming December 13. With mutant genocide taking place, Weapon X’s ragtag alliance of heroes and villains may be the only ones who can stop it. There’s just one teensy, tiny problem: he goes by Frank Simpson, better known as Nuke, and he’s got a band of super-soldiers on his side. They’re all hopped up on the red, white, and blue pills, which won’t make things any easier for the mutant good guys.

Speaking with Pak, we got the low-down on the brewing conflict of his newest WEAPON X storyline.

Marvel.com: Mutant genocide is a pretty serious development. Can you give a quick summary of where this is happening and why?

Greg Pak: Our story takes place in Santo Marco, the fictional South American nation that Magneto took over way back in [UNCANNY X-MEN #4]. I’ve set stories in the country a few times over the years—in my WAR MACHINE and STORM runs—and established it as a place where dangerous leaders have periodically led anti-mutant persecutions. Most recently, the Weapon X team visited Santo Marco during the Weapons of Mutant Destruction storyline, where they investigated the murder of a mutant named Jorge. As our new story begins, the dictatorial president of Santo Marco has started a new attack on mutants and anyone related to mutants, spearheaded by a platoon of ruthless super-soldiers who wear the American flag on their faces. So yes, if you’re a fan of Frank Simpson, a.k.a. the super-soldier known as Nuke, this is the story for you.

Marvel.com: What drives Weapon X to want to put a stop to it all?

Greg Pak: Weapon X is made up of loners, mercenaries, and even borderline villains who really shouldn’t be able to work together as a team. But they’ve managed to stick together over a series of missions in order to fight shared enemies; enemies that even barely-reformed villains like Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike see the need to take out. In this case, James Proudstar, a.k.a. Warpath, gets an emergency call from Acero, Jorge’s brother, asking for help. Warpath’s immediately committed to heading to Santo Marco to fight, but as you’ll see in the actual story, each of the other members of the team may need a little more convincing. In particular, Domino’s always got her eyes on the prize, which in her case is some kind of cash payout. And Sabretooth, as always, might have some other plan up his sleeve.

Weapon X #12 cover by Rahzzah

Marvel.com: How do these special super-soldier pills make the foreign militia an even match for Weapon X? 

Greg Pak: When Nuke was first introduced by [Frank] Miller and [David] Mazzucchelli back in the classic DAREDEVIL storyline “Born Again,” his managers used red, white, and blue pills to amp him up and cool him down. We’ll see those pills in action in this new storyline. Watch out for those red ones in particular, y’all!

Marvel.com: Will Weapon X have any mutant allies, either from the X-Men or the persecuted population they’re fighting for?

Greg Pak: Weapon X tends to work alone. They barely hold together as team—they’re not really built to play well with others. But Acero and his fellow Santo Marcans will play a role as well.

This is a great place to plug artist Yildiray Cinar, who makes his debut in the book with this storyline. He’s doing absolutely incredible work, making every one of our heroes distinctive and fun and full of character and making every new supporting character feel like a fully fleshed out, compelling, real person. And he’s totally eating up all the action. I’m loving every page he turns in, and Frank D’Armata’s colors are just gorgeous over his inks.

Track a loose Nuke in WEAPON X #12 by Greg Pak and Yildiray Cinar on December 13!

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Greg Pak introduces Marvel Legacy with a return to Planet Hulk!

On October 18, Amadeus Cho makes an unexpected interstellar trip as writer Greg Pak and artist Greg Land head back to a brutal world with INCREDIBLE HULK #709!

Marvel Legacy begins with “Return to Planet Hulk: Part One,” as the young genius goes where another Hulk has gone before—Bruce Banner. But the planet Sakaar has changed since the Doctor visited years ago. And Amadeus finds himself in unfamiliar territory—on the continent of Filia, halfway around the globe from where The Hulk landed before. Thrust into a conflict he didn’t expect, The Totally Awesome Hulk will have to use every ounce of his intellect and power to survive.

We grabbed a few minutes with Greg Pak to see what’s in store for Amadeus on Planet Hulk.

Marvel.com: Amadeus Cho has learned a lot about himself and his Hulk persona recently. How does this new self-awareness influence his experience on Sakaar?

Greg Pak: Amadeus started off as the Hulk a couple years ago with this big, loopy idea that he could be the best Hulk ever; he never saw being the Hulk as a curse. He doesn’t think of himself as a tortured soul like Banner. He figured he’d become the Hulk and show the world how awesome the Hulk could be. But over the last few storylines, Amadeus has come closer and closer to the darkness within himself. To be specific, he’s got a Dark Hulk inside that’s fighting to get out—and he’s terrified of what he’ll become if that happens.

So as this new storyline begins, Amadeus gets pulled into the brutal world of Sakaar at the absolute worst time—when he’s trying to suppress the brutal monster within.

Marvel.com: How does Amadeus find himself on Sakaar?

Greg Pak: The story took place in TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #23, which just hit stands, so I don’t want to spoil it too much. I’ll just say that Amadeus ends up deciding he’s too dangerous for planet Earth in his current state, so he exiles himself to try to figure out what’s going on with this Dark Hulk inside. But then he gets a signal from Sakaar—someone desperately needs help from The Hulk. And he’s still that cocky kid who thinks he’s going to be the best Hulk ever, so he can’t stop himself from responding.

Marvel.com: You’ve said before that we’ll see a different side of Sakaarliterallyin this story. What new friends and foes will Amadeus find in his time there?

Greg Pak: During the original PLANET HULK story, the Hulk fought the evil Red King of Imperia, freed the slaves and gladiators he’d oppressed, and united the different people of the continent in a new alliance. (Whoops! Spoiler alert!)

This time ’round, Amadeus lands on a different continent on Sakaar—the land of Fillia, which had been at war with the Red King. So you’d think the Fillians would be happy that The Hulk took out the Red King…but once The Hulk disappeared, a thousand new murderers arose in the chaos and now Fillia’s a blasted wasteland where a terrible warlord hunts small clans for sport. One of these clans has put out a call for The Hulk—and they’ve gotten Amadeus.

So we’ll meet a stalwart headman, a scrappy insectivore hiver, an eerie priestess, a manic lackey, and a brutal warlord. It’s a big, epic battle-axes-and-blasters sci-fi fantasy, and you’re going to love it.

Marvel.com: Should we expect to see familiar faces from the original PLANET HULK story?

Greg Pak: Since we’re on the other side of the planet, we won’t see exact characters from the original PLANET HULK. But this fits right into all that worldbuilding we did for PLANET HULK, so you’ll see folks from the various species we established during that story. And you’ll see a disturbing perversion of the myths and legends we introduced there too.

You’ll see a Marvel hero you might have wished appeared in the original PLANET HULK. I’ll say no more, but definitely don’t miss issues #711 and #712!

I’d also like to plug the gorgeous work of Greg Land, inker Jay Leisten, and colorist Frank Darmata. They’re taking the original designs and worldbuilding for PLANET HULK and putting their own spin on them in this new part of the world—it’s just gorgeous stuff.

Marvel.com: What has been most exciting about this return to Sakaar?

Greg Pak: I absolutely loved working on PLANET HULK back in the day. It remains one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had making comics, and I’m thrilled to have a chance to dig back into that world whenever the opportunity presents itself. With this particular story, it’s a kick throwing Amadeus into the mix, because he was famously one of the few heroes crazy enough to side with the Hulk during WORLD WAR HULK. So there’s a bit of a comeuppance here—a chance to see how Amadeus handles the kind of brutal world that the Banner Hulk endured. There’s a lot of delicious and scary stuff to dig in with that kind of set up, and I’m having a blast.

I should also note that if you’re digging this vibe, please do check out the “Planet Hulk” prose novel that hits stores on October 4! I got pulled on board to write it last year, and if you dug the original PLANET HULK, I think you’re going to love the prose novel. We got a chance to dig a lot deeper into all kinds of aspects of the story and try some surprising new things. Check it out!

INCREDIBLE HULK #709, by Greg Pak and artist Greg Land, crash lands on October 18!

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Getting inside the twisted mind of Stryker with writer Greg Pak!

Behind every Hulk-Wolverine hybrid stands a megalomaniacal and bigoted man named Stryker.

In the latest chapter of Weapon H’s tortured story, the madman continues his quest to destroy mutantkind. In response, Sabertooth wants to kill the Weapon before things get worse—though he’ll be met with resistance in the form of claws…as Logan and Laura Kinney join the fight. On October 11, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente join artists Marc Borstel and Ibraim Roberson for “The Hunt for Weapon H: Part 3” in WEAPON X #9!

We spoke with Greg Pak to get a closer look at William Stryker and the newest iteration of the Weapon X program.

Marvel.com: Does Stryker have an end goal in mind here (other than the eradication of all mutants)?

Greg Pak: Honestly, that’s pretty much it. He’s a racist sociopath who’s convinced himself that God wants him to rid the world of mutants. He has other side goals along the way, and if he actually succeeded, he’d probably come up with a new target—because someone with that much hate in his heart always comes up with more targets. But his primary goal has always been the extermination of mutants.

Marvel.com: He’s been involved with Weapon X before—tell us more about his return to the program.

Greg Pak: He teams up with a genius scientist named Dr. Alba, who’s bioengineering the world’s most perfect killing machine with the DNA of various mutants and super heroes, including The Hulk and Logan.

What makes this delicious is that we’ve recently learned that Alba and Stryker have slightly different goals that may create massive problems for Stryker very soon. We’re also going to learn a bit more about what makes Stryker tick. Literally. I can’t say more.

Marvel.com: What kind of relationships does Stryker have with the mutants he’s hunting?

Greg Pak: He actually teamed up with Lady Deathstrike once upon a time. So there’s always the question of whether everyone on the team could really be completely on board. The team’s full of loners and actual criminals, so exactly how long their allegiance will last might change at any moment.

Marvel.com: The Hulk recently saved Stryker from Logan, Sabretooth, and Lady Deathstrike—does he feel indebted to the Hulk for that moment of mercy?

Greg Pak: Nope. I don’t think Stryker feels normal emotions like that. I think he’s wholly convinced of his personal righteousness and the correctness of his crusade and sees everyone else he encounters as tools for his use in pursuing that crusade. He might pretend to feel indebted, but only if it might benefit him at some point down the line. But he’ll never genuinely feel moral indebtedness to the Hulk—or probably anyone else.

Marvel.com: How does Stryker keep one step ahead of the mutants he’s trying to kill?

Greg Pak: You’ll have to read the books to find out! But no one on the team has strength and ruthlessness on the same level as Weapon H, the monster that Alba created for Stryker. So as long as Stryker controls Alba enough to control Weapon H, our heroes are in for a world of pain.

Follow WEAPON X #9, by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with art by Marc Borstel and Ibraim Roberson, on October 11!

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Greg Pak and Greg Land reveal their plans for Amadeus Cho on Planet Hulk.

Greg Pak returns to Planet Hulk, but this time the Totally Awesome Hulk Amadeus Cho joins him for the ride. As Marvel Legacy gets underway, Greg Land comes on to bring the world of Sakaar to life in the ‘Return to Planet Hulk’ arc kicking off with THE INCREDIBLE HULK #708.

Marvel.com: What has it been like to return to Sakaar with a Hulk other than Bruce Banner?

Greg Pak: It’s a blast. I’ve been thinking about Sakaar a ton this year after having written the PLANET HULK prose novel that comes out in October, so getting the chance to go back in comics is tremendous. And going back with Amadeus opens up some new opportunities in the storytelling that’s a huge amount of fun. This is a big, big story for Amadeus — he’s on an emotional precipice as the story begins and he will come out of the story a different person. Big, big stakes!

Marvel.com: Will we see different sides of Sakaar than what we were exposed to in Planet Hulk?

Greg Pak: We’ll literally see a different side of the planet! During the original PLANET HULK story, folks frequently mentioned the Red King’s war on the neighboring nation of Fillia. In RETURN TO PLANET HULK, Amadeus will land on that other continent — which is now a desolate wasteland devastated by the Red King’s bombing campaigns. So it’ll be familiar and fun for PLANET HULK fans, but it’s a distinct situation and culture that explores another part of Sakaar and the legend of the Worldbreaker.

Marvel.com: What has the design process been like for these new parts of the planet? How have you been able to put your own spin on the original look and feel of the world?

Greg Land: Hulk first encounters a group of the planet’s desert people that utilize vehicles that are cobbled together from old engines, metal scrapes and their planet’s version of automobiles.  The tricky thing here is to make the rides look unique and functional, being dynamic looking as well. Big wheels and tires are a must for the desert-like conditions.  As far as the inhabitants, their overall look is similar to the original Planet Hulk, with more of an emphasis on ragged clothing and hand welded/hammered armor.

Marvel.com: How much can you tell us about how Sakaar has changed since Banner’s time there?

Greg Pak: We start this story from the POV of folks in Fillia who suffered for years from the catastrophic bombing campaigns of the Red King. Their cities and farms were destroyed and the survivors ended up roaming the wasteland in packs, fighting for survival. Now a specific clan is about to be destroyed by their enemy. But the members of this clan heard strange, thrilling stories of the Green Scar, the Worldbreaker, a huge green alien who fell through the Great Portal and smashed the Red King. And they start to wonder if they could bring that champion back to fight for them…

And I’ll say no more! Read the books — they’re gonna be great!

Marvel.com: Beyond the planet itself, how have the characters we know from Planet Hulk changed, in demeanor or appearance?

Greg Pak: You’ll see familiar Sakaarian species like the insectivorid Hivers, the gray Shadow, and the red Imperials, but we’re introducing a brand new set of supporting characters and villains here. And since they inhabit a different part of the world and have been through different experiences, the look and feel is more barbarian post-disaster than the ancient Rome sci-fi of the original. It’s a tremendous amount of fun — new worldbuilding based on the incredibly fun worldbuilding we did during the original story.

Greg Land: As the series moves forward, I hope to be able to get more details in specific characters if they continue. I will tweak costuming as I become more comfortable with who the individuals are in terms of attitude, importance, etc. I’ve not been involved in the direction/formation of the series and have only worked on the first issue. So I have no idea what is going to be happening but will jump into the designs as I get the scripts. Hopefully, some new monstrous characters will be involved.

Marvel.com: Amadeus had a little involvement with the original Planet Hulk and World War Hulk storylines, how will that color his experience on this excursion? How will his differences from Banner affect that?

Greg Pak: TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #23 and the GENERATIONS: HULK one-shot set up this story in a big way by drawing some key differences between Banner and Amadeus and laying out the huge challenge Amadeus faces at this point in his life. So I won’t say too much for fear of spoilers, but that’s a good place to start peeking for some possible hints about this.

Marvel.com: Hulk’s armor from the original story has become iconic. Will Amadeus change up his look in this arc?

Greg Pak: Yeah, Amadeus will have a different look from the original — partly because this is a part of the world less influenced by the Imperial culture of the Red King’s people that played off of those ancient Roman motifs. In Fillia, everything’s in chaotic free-for-all, so everyone’s armor and weaponry and vehicles end up being drawn from many different sources. I love what Greg Land’s doing with the look and feel here — he’s clearly having a total blast with all of this in his designs for all the characters and gear.

And keep your eyes open for a key armoring-up scene in an early issue that gives more emotional context about where Amadeus’s armor comes from in this world.

Greg Land: The editors supplied me with a finished piece of Amadeaus’ new armor/look for the adventure, so I am using this as a guideline.

Marvel.com: The first Planet Hulk led right into World War Hulk. Should readers expect similar implications to this storyline?

Greg Pak: Anything’s possible. Keep on reading!

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What’s cooking in the lab? We asked Greg Pak to spill the beans!

The various Weapon X programs have been a thorn in the side of mutantkind for decades, but new management might turn that thorn into a chainsaw. On July 26, Reverend Stryker finally releases Batch H in WEAPON X #6, and we can only imagine what writer Greg Pak and artist Greg Land have in store for us. “They’re cooking up a killer, and we’ll see if our heroes can handle it,” warns Pak.

So just what kind of killer is Batch H? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a straight answer as Pak effectively danced around my questioning like a true, seasoned comic book writer. However, I can tell you that this creation branches out from the typical mutant powered goodie bag featuring Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath, and Domino, to include some gifts from Totally Awesome Hulk! “That’s like a machine gun with a bazooka, some hand grenades and a bunch of knives thrown in; and then the Hulk is a nuke,” explains Pak, “He’s the strongest entity in the Marvel universe so if anyone has that power they’re a huge threat. They could wipe out all mutants.”

Now, which of Hulk’s abilities Stryker successfully melded with his freaky skin suit cyborgs remains a mystery. But, when asked what powers he would give a pro mutant operative to combat Batch H, Pak said you’d probably want something with Professor X’s mind, the ability to put people to sleep, and some kind of influence over emotion to pacify the threat.

Weapon X #6 cover by Skan

Dealing with this hodge-podge of overpowered superhumans won’t be the team’s only issue. “A key question being explored is, is the human recruit still there?” says Pak. Each cyborg starts as an average Joe, human host that Stryker recruits. And while a few arguably villainous characters on the team may be down for whatever, our usual heroes are definitely not. “They’re not murderers. They don’t want to kill anyone. So it’s very important to find out if the people are still there,” explains Pak.

“It’s chilling and it’s creepy and you’re going to want to read it,” teases Pak, “There are surprises coming, a big twist coming.” Plus, like everything else he does, there will of course be humor woven in. That includes more bickering from our favorite old married couple, Logan and Sabretooth, and more of the everyday office life characterizations Pak had a good time sneaking in. “One of the fun things in this whole series is seeing the every day life of the people in the Weapon X facility and how they deal with what they’re doing,” raves Pak, “It’s not one monolithic attitude. We get to see different ways of dealing with human atrocities,”

Get your action, horror, and office life fix on July 26 in WEAPON X #6 written by Greg Pak with art by Greg Land!

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Greg Pak crashes the Totally Awesome Hulk into the world of Weapon X!

By Josh Weiss

The Weapon X program has returned, and while it couldn’t be described as “better than ever,” it’s up to its old shenanigans of hunting down and eliminating mutants as well as utilizing their powers. However, this time there’s a bit of a twist: The lethal cyborgs at the program’s disposal also have Amadeus Cho—aka the Hulk—in their crosshairs! He’ll have to team up with Old Man Logan and Sabretooth to discover the murderous machinations against mutant kind in this summer’s brand-new arc, “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” coming to the pages of TOTALLY AWESOME HULK and the upcoming WEAPON X!

We spoke with writer Greg Pak, responsible for both books and the crossover, about exciting team-ups, man-eating aliens ,and the mysterious threat known only as Weapon Gamma.

Marvel.com: TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #19 will serve as a prelude to this arc. Was it hard to set the stage without giving too much away before it launches proper in June? 

Greg Pak: Well, no. Every issue in this whole storyline has its own internal story and matters so it does set some things up, but it also is its own adventure that plays an important role both in terms of plot and character at this moment in time. I don’t do kind of treading water stories [Laughs]. I strive hard not to do that kind of story, you know what I mean? If there’s gonna be a thing that sets something up [it] is because there’s an important element or character beat that is worth covering in that early issue. Every story is hard. To a certain extent there’s always new challenges with everything you’re trying to do, but I wouldn’t say this is any harder than any other part of the story. I will say it’s all ridiculously fun. We spent a lot of time developing this and nailing down all the details. I’d go into the Marvel offices and have big meetings with the editors and that’s hard work, but by the end of it, we were kind of cackling together as we figured out how big things could happen and some fun twists and in particular, just really fun character moments so that this thing is developing in a way that makes for hopefully, both a thrilling action story, but also has these great character development moments throughout so that it matters on every level.

Marvel.com: What’s been keeping the Weapon X program out of sight all these years and other than picking off mutants, can you tell us what else they’re after this time around?

Greg Pak: I can’t reveal too much; I don’t want to spoil what’s happening in the story, but I can say that yes, the big mission is the extermination of mutants. And that’s been from time-to-time in Weapon X—with various Weapon X programs over the years that has been an objective, but at other times, it seemed like they were more interested in just creating super soldiers for other reasons and other purposes, but that’s front and center this time around. There is a classic Marvel villain who has basically taken over Weapon X and we will reveal that individual as the story progresses and it will hopefully be a big shock and a lot of fun. What makes it a little different is that over the years there have been a bunch of different super soldier programs and the new Weapon X program is the best of the best. They are culling their technology and techniques from the past and picking the best methods and it’s bigger and badder than ever and they have a plan, and this plan, it’s a very specific and precise plan that could work [Laughs]. I think the other fun of it is that we are, and this will become clear as the story goes on, but we’re doing some real world building. We’re spending a lot of time with these villains. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that a great story really depends on the antagonists, that you need formidable and compelling villains in order to really get deep into your story and I’m really thrilled about what we’re doing with these villains and with this whole world that they’ve created with the Weapon X program. We’ve got two main villains and they’re just very interesting—they have a very interesting relationship and there’s some really interesting contrast between the two of them and I can’t wait until we can reveal more.

Marvel.com: Why target these specific heroes and villains like Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Domino, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath, and The Hulk right off the bat? 

Greg Pak: That is an excellent question [Laughs] and the answer will be revealed…no, like I said, there’s a very specific reason why Weapon X is going after these specific characters and I’m not gonna give that up, but if you think about what those characters do and what they’re capable of, maybe readers will come up with their own ideas, but all will be revealed over the course of these few issues.

Marvel.com: Can you give anything away about this mysterious Weapon Gamma? Is its title related to the radiation that gave Banner and Amadeus their powers? 

Greg Pak: Well there’s an interesting image that’s been revealed of a big Hulk-like figure in a tank with some Wolverine claws and so, we’ll see what’s in Batch H as the story progresses. I cannot tell you more [Laughs], but Weapon X has a plan and that certainly appears to be part of this plan. Exactly what it is, we will see.

Weapons of Mutant Destruction Alpha #1 cover

Marvel.com: What was it like teaming up a wise-cracking teenager like Amadeus Cho with the more jaded and grizzled personalities of Old Man Logan and Sabretooth?

Greg Pak: That is a lot of the hook of the story. It’s just like I’m looking for interesting contrasts between our two main villains within our group of heroes. You always wanna have, particularly when you’re working in a team book, you wanna have different voices. You want every character to have his/her own distinct voice. So that makes not only just the rhythm of dialogue more fun, but it gives you drama and tension and humor and fun character beats. It allows your characters to develop, basically, when your heroes are challenging each other in interesting ways. It also allows you to dig deeper into the themes of your book and so, if we’ve got this group of badasses, basically, who are used to doing what needs to be done no matter what that is and then you’ve got Amadeus Cho who is, in a lot of ways, a much more idealistic hero who doesn’t believe that nothing is impossible. He’s all about possibility as opposed to a cynical acceptance of reality. The last thing he is, is a killer—he’s a Hulk so he’s a smasher now, but he’s a cocky 19-year-old kid who thinks he’s the best Hulk there ever was and part of that for him is that he thinks he’s smart and he finds ways around problems and cuts the Gordian Knot and doesn’t accept that the worst outcome is what needs to happen. He saves lives and he’s not a lesser of two evils kind of person. And so that’s a very interesting point of view to throw into the mix when you’ve got folks like Logan who have seen the very worst that humanity has to offer and has responded with the worst from time-to-time and folks like Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike in particular who are straight up villains—who have been straight-up villains many times in their careers, but who are now working with these heroes for reasons that will be revealed as the story progresses. It’s a lot of fun. My editors, as the story developed, they suggested bringing The Hulk into the mix and I thought about it for two seconds and I was like, “That really makes a lot of sense.” It makes sense just on this emotional character level. As you’ll see, it also makes perfect sense in terms of plot and our villains’ plans.

Marvel.com: On that note, how do longtime enemies Logan and Sabretooth feel about forging an alliance? 

Greg Pak: [Laughs] Well they hate each other’s guts, right? What’s beautiful about those guys too and it’s a classic kind of setup, they hate each other, but they also probably know each other better than they know anybody else on the planet. They’ve known each other longer than just about anybody else who’s alive and they’re so very in similar in so many ways. If the person you know the best is the person you hate the most, that’s a very interesting dynamic to play with so they’ve been a lot of fun to write. It’s the kind of fun thing where as they team up then they also know just how to get under each other’s skin, even though they’re working together so they’ve been great to work with together.

Marvel.com: How does Amadeus, as a non-mutant, feel about being hunted by the Weapon X cyborgs? 

Greg Pak: I think [Amadeus] is the kind of person who has always been an outsider his whole life. He’s not a person who’s like, “Oh, how strange it is that I’m a human working with mutants.” That kind of thought wouldn’t formulate itself in his head. He’d just be like, “Let’s do this!” [Laughs] If somebody’s out persecuting somebody, Amadeus is gonna be like, “This is garbage and this has got to be stopped.” Basically, Amadeus immediately identifies with whoever the underdog is like most great classic super heroes, but I think with Amadeus in particular, that’s a big part of his drive. He’s gonna stick with the underdog and feel right at home fighting alongside them until he finds out what his new friends are capable of. [Laughs] We’ll see what happens then.

Marvel.com: You’re re-teaming with artist Mahmud Asrar for this story. What kind of tone did you guys want the artwork to convey?

Greg Pak:  Mahmud is amazing. He’s been drawing [TOTALLY AWESOME HULK] for a while and I just love everything he does. You see it coming through in the “Protectors” arc we’re doing right now where we’ve got a bunch of Asian-American super heroes teaming up with Amadeus and they’re taking on these humanivore aliens who have basically kidnapped a bunch of Manhattanites and put them in a food colony outside of Seknarf Seven and so our heroes are fighting to save their lives, save all these New Yorkers. But in that storyline, it’s a big fun goofy story of a bunch of mostly young heroes and a few crotchety older heroes taking on crazy comic book alien super villains. And there’s also a lot of little fun dynamics and little moments between these characters and Mahmud just kills on all that! At the same time, it’s a big action story and there’s also these kind of some very emotionally searing moments in it and Mahmud’s killin’ all that too. So the new story, where you’ve got the WEAPON X book and the TOTALLY AWESOME HULK book coming together, has some of these lighter elements from [TOTALLY AWESOME HULK], but then some really dark stuff and some very hardcore moments and action. And Mahmud is a great artist to nail all of that so he’s doing a tremendous job.

Marvel.com: What will this arc mean for the future of mutantkind in the Marvel Universe?

Greg Pak: An excellent question. You’re gonna have to buy every single issue to find out. [Laughs]

“Weapons of Mutant Destruction” gets underway with TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #19, available May 24!

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