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Marvel Comics on Wednesday staged a telephone press conference with Jeph Loeb, writer of its new Hulk series.

Below are highlights from the call:

* Loeb said he was a little intimidated following Greg Pak's work on Planet Hulk and World War Hulk and has been pleased with the response to the first issue of Hulk.

* Is Banner a suspect of the murder of Abomination? "I would say it's pretty hard for someone to get out of the particular prison he's in," Loeb said, noting Banner is a base five stories below the ground with incredible secruity.

Loeb said readers will see more of the base in Hulk #3, following a throwdown in #2.

* Loeb said he and Ed McGuinness spent a lot of time talking about the book, and noted that the receptionist John Byrne created in Fantastic Four was an inspiration for the robotic secruity at the base.

* Loeb said by the end of #2, there's a "really great moment" where the Hulk, now fast, a strategist and uses a gun, appears like an Alien from the movies, where he grabs someone and beats him so fast no one is sure what they saw.

"You get an idea that something different is happening," Loeb said, adding that Iron Man will know what he's up against by #2.

* Loeb said the world doesn't know if Banner is the Hulk now. "Maybe the Hulk isn't anybody, the Hulk is just the Hulk. And if you calm him down, you just get a Hulk who is asleep," Loeb said.

* Rick Jones is now in the Alaskan frontier. "My instinct is he won't be in the Alaskan frontier for long," Loeb said, noting that when Rick and Bruce get together, nothing good usually happens.

* The Hulk is now giving off enough radiation to turn sand to glass and is leaving off a residual trail.

Loeb said between She-Hulk's strength, Tony Stark's resources and Leonard Samson's profiling ability, they should have a fighting chance against the new Hulk.

"They've up against the guy who ran the Pantheon, they ran up against Joe Fix-It," he said, noting that the Hulk's defeats have been traced back to Banner.

"But the real question, are we dealing with a Hulk we've never done before?" Loeb said, adding that by issue #4 readers should have "a pretty good idea what's going on."

* Could the Hulk be a Skrull? "I'm not ruling out anything," he said, noting the Hulk has been in space for a time and that there is also a new Son of Hulk book coming up.

* Loeb said he has promised that the Hulk is going to punch the Watcher in the face. "I love the idea of an issue where the Watcher is walking around with a big black eye," Loeb said.

* Asked about the cover to #3, Loeb said the solicitation says it's the Hulk vs. the Abomination. "I would look for something that has an indication of Abomination 2.1," Loeb said.

Asked if it was a flashback, Loeb said his inclination is to move forward with the book.

* Asked about Secret Invasion, Loeb said he probably won't crossover into it, although he is working with writer Brian Michael Bendis.

* Loeb said the idea of doing 25 issues with artist Ed McGuinness appeals to him, with some other artists doing some break-in stories, like their collaboration on DC Comics' Superman/Batman.

Loeb said McGuinness' return to Marvel was driven by his desire to work on the Hulk. "He has some new, whacked-out idea every day," Loeb said, noting that the book has an "in your face" quality with lots of close-ups.

* Talking about the core cast, Loeb said that She-Hulk will remain a major player in Hulk.

Loeb said Doc Samson will continue in more of a proactive mode and that concept of his strength coming from his hair will be dealt with.

Loeb said Tony Stark's involvement comes from his dealings with S.H.I.E.L.D. "Tony's got a lot of making up to do after Civil War," he said.

* Loeb said that Maria Hill serves as the voice of the audience, and, "at the same time is a very powerufl woman running a very powerful organization."

* Loeb said "some incredibly wild stuff" that McGuinness brings up will follow the first arc.

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