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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Greg Pak revives the infamous program, whether the X-Men like it or not!

Weapon X has returned with a new leader and a new mission. But they won’t be around much longer if Old Man Logan and Sabretooth have their way. The deadly duo has gathered Lady Deathstrike, Domino, and Warpath and formed a new team to combat the revived Weapon X before they can get too far off the ground.

WEAPON X writer Greg Pak, who will launch the series next year with artist Greg Land, sat down with us to tell how this team comes together and what kind of threats they will face in the battle against this new enemy.

Marvel.com: Weapon X is back; what’s this new reformed program’s goal?

Greg Pak: The Weapon X program is back, and it’s more deadly than ever—but this time its objective isn’t just to use mutants. Now it wants to exterminate them. And the powers and abilities of this new Weapon X threat are so terrifying that you need both heroes and villains teaming up to handle it. So get ready for a blockbuster thriller of a comic book with a brutal group of heroes and anti-heroes stretched to their limits in a battle for the survival of mutantkind. And of course, we’re going to have tons of fun as our heroes drive each other crazy along the way.

Marvel.com: Wolverine and Sabretooth have a history, but this particular Logan hasn’t really seen much of this Sabretooth. What has it been like writing these two together?

Greg Pak: It’s a blast. You’ve got an older Logan, who’s been through a whole different set of experiences teaming up with this Sabretooth he doesn’t really know. It’s always fun to have these two characters tangle with each other, particularly when they have to team up for any amount of time. But this time, you have the added dynamic of an older, wiser—well, potentially wiser, anyway—Wolverine teaming up with a younger Sabretooth. They’re a blast to write together; you can put those two characters together and fun things will just happen. They’re so similar, and yet have different ways for dealing with the world and totally different sets of morals and ethics. So for them to find common ground and fight alongside each other instead of against each other, it’s a fun challenge. And, of course, you get the chance for hugely fun conflicts of all kinds. As a writer, one of the most fun things to write is characters who behave badly. And seeing characters who hate each other be forced to work together, it’s classic!

Marvel.com: How do Logan and Sabretooth end up pulling this team together to take on Weapon X?

Greg Pak: The question is whether these heroes and anti-heroes can come together at all and work together, and whether they can handle what’s coming. This new Weapon X is bigger and badder than it’s ever been and will unleash its attacks in ways we’ve never seen before. Logan’s pulling this particular team together is because he needs a team that’s the best at what they do, and are willing to go the distance. And yet you create huge problems for yourself when you get people this dangerous in the same room together. So the stakes and potential for disaster are pretty sky high.

Marvel.com: Logan and Sabretooth have clear stakes in this as products of the previous Weapon X program, but what motivations do Domino, Warpath, and Lady Deathstrike have to join the battle?

Greg Pak: Some of these characters are more strictly heroic than others, they’re always going to stick their necks out when someone’s in danger, that’s just who they are and what they do. But Lady Deathstrike, for instance, she’s not been like that, traditionally. But Weapon X is out to exterminate everyone, so there are certain points where you set aside your qualms about the people you’re working with to fight the thing that has to be fought. These folks are going to be at that stage, but as the story goes on, you’ll see who’s willing to do what when it needs to happen, and who’s not. There will be points where the job at hand requires genuine heroism, and there may be points where the job requires something else altogether. This is a story that will test how villainous our villains are, and how heroic our heroes are. And on the flip side, it will show us how heroic these villains can be, and how villainous our heroes could become. It will push both sides to their breaking points. Our characters are going to find things out about themselves that they may not like, and that may be good or that may be terrible.

And I’ll also say, I’m thinking of this book as a series of big, blockbuster action-thrillers. It’s going to be a big satisfying series of huge emotional and physical explosions. It’s the kind of thing that I love to do, which is combine big genre action with genuine emotional story. And we’ve got great, smart, terrifying villains, so it’s going to be very satisfying to see our team take them on.

Weapon X by Greg Land

Weapon X by Greg Land

Marvel.com: Will the team come up against any familiar foes or team up with any friendly faces?

Greg Pak: I’m not quite at liberty to disclose anything beyond our team just yet, but I can say for sure there will be some familiar faces and some totally new surprises. That’s always the most fun way for me to tackle: drawing some fun stuff from classic continuity while creating new threats from new angles. But who exactly is the figure behind this new Weapon X program? That’s a big part of the ongoing mystery of the book. Dontcha dare miss a single issue!

Marvel.com: What has it been like to work with Greg Land on art again?

Greg Pak: It’s great to get to work together again; this is the first time we’ve worked together since X-MEN: PHOENIX – ENDSONG almost 11 years ago now. Greg did a tremendous job on that, and we’ve talked over the years about trying to work together again, so I’m excited to be back with him again on another X-book. He’s been working on character designs and covers, and you can just look at Old Man Logan snarling on that cover and see we’re in for some fun action already. I think he’ll bring his great energy to this project, what I loved about working together on ENDSONG was that we had a lot of quiet, intimate moments between characters, and we had a lot of big, crazy action moments, and Greg’s good at delivering on all that. I’ve promised to give him lots of nice splash pages where he can go nuts. He’s capable of all kinds of stuff, and I’m hoping we can work all his artistic muscles on this book.

Marvel.com: What about this new project that has you most excited?

Greg Pak: I’ve done a ton of X-Men books over the years, but mostly limited series and short runs on some ongoing titles. So this is a chance to really dig into an ongoing series, and I’m really excited for that. It also harkens back to the themes of my favorite X-Men books growing up, and, in a way, this might be the most classic X-Men book that I’ve had the opportunity to work on; what’s more classic X-Men than heroes and anti-heroes teaming up to battle against genocidal monsters? And even just doing a book called “Weapon X” is pretty tremendous. Back in the day, that original Weapon X series [in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS] was huge for me. It was up there with “Daredevil: Born Again” for me as this modern classic. So I’m happy to play in all these different sandboxes, and I really love this particular group of heroes and villains we’re working with.

I’ve inherited a lot of teams on different books over the years, and the best thing is when you can get to the point where you put any two members of a team in a room together and the scene practically writes itself, just by the virtue of the dynamics of those characters, little points of sympathy and conflict just present themselves naturally. I feel like we’ve got a really fun, focused group with these five characters. Each one of them makes total sense in the team, given the mission, but they all have their own distinct ethical codes and backgrounds, even speech patterns, that are all different in very fun ways. Jeff Lemire did great stuff with Lady Deathstrike in OLD MAN LOGAN that’s going to be incredibly fun to build on. We’ve already talked about Logan and Sabretooth, but then you think about Sabretooth and Domino, or Sabretooth and Warpath, or Warpath and Domino, and the different kinds of relationships these heroes are going to have. Warpath and Sabretooth are going to have a very different dynamic than Warpath and Old Man Logan. It’s figuring out who’s going to be friends, who’s going to even feel comfortable around each other, who’s going to be watching whose back, and who might be secretly sharpening the knives. It’s going to be a blast playing with all those dynamics.

Follow Marvel.com and our social channels for the latest on WEAPON X and the rest of ResurrXion!

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