You'd really think that, after the events of Empyre, Wiccan and Hulkling would have earned a bit of a break from superheroics. They got married just in time for Hulkling to be whisked off to be the emperor of an unlikely Kree-Skrull alliance, then they had to team up with their fellow Earth heroes to fight off an invasion that threatened to destroy life as we know it in the Marvel Universe, and on top of all of that they didn't even get to have a honeymoon. Now the honeymoon is here, so the heroes otherwise known as Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman are definitely going to get some time to relax and just be in love for a while, right?
Well, not so fast, because another Marvel event has already arrived to cut the vacation short.
This spring, Wiccan and Hulkling will join the universal onslaught that is King in Black with King in Black: Wiccan and Hulkling #1, a new one-shot from writer Tini Howard (Excalibur, X of Swords) and artist Luciano Vecchio (Ironheart, Incoming!) that follows what happens when the forces of the symbiote god Knull descend on the Shi'ar resort where Billy and Teddy are just trying to enjoy married life for a bit. In the exclusive preview pages below, you can see just how quickly an interstellar paradise descends into chaos when symbiotes arrive to crash the party.
Though King in Black's main story -- helmed by writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman -- is largely focused on Earth and the battle there as Knull takes the fight directly to Eddie Brock and his allies, for Howard and Vecchio the chance to use the event to tell a story focused directly on Teddy and Billy's relationship was a dream come true, as both creators describe themselves as longtime fans of the characters.
"I think in their original series, Billy and Teddy were the ideal teenage dream, they were the quarterback and cheerleader of superhero teens. Which wasn't totally unrealistic -- many of us know a couple who met as teenagers and everyone knew they'd be together forever from that moment on," Howard told SYFY WIRE when asked about the evolution of Wiccan and Hulkling as a couple. "But I love writing them now, as adults. They were always a little younger than me so I didn't exactly grow up with them, but their lives were always the nostalgia just in my rearview mirror. When I wrote Death's Head, they were newly engaged sweethearts sharing a new apartment, but now they're Space King and his husband, Space Wizard. They've come into their own as adults a bit. My thoughts on them have had literal years to marinate and evolve, so I'll always love writing them."
Vecchio added, "It is quite the dream come true, their story is particularly special to me and so many readers and I always wanted to contribute to it with my take on their nobility, tenderness and badassery. I think their marriage marks a new chapter and continues to solidify their individual and mutual growth as the preeminent power couple of the Marvel Universe they are, and that’s what I tried to convey visually."
Like many Marvel events, King in Black offers a variety of fresh storytelling avenues for a number of tie-in creative teams working on various corners of the universe as Knull's reign of terror continues. That means we get things like a Wiccan and Hulkling honeymoon story, but it also means we get those kinds of stories combined with artists from across Marvel's talent roster doing their own spin on symbiotes. For Vecchio, it was a chance to merge a number of different influences into this particular story.
"There are so many references, inspirations and possibilities to choose from," Vecchio said. "I mostly combined Tradd Moore’s take on Knull and the dragons in Silver Surfer Black with the look and shapeshifting logic of the live action Venom, adding my own spin and focusing in the viscous materiality. I aim to unnerve myself with their appearance."
For Howard, who's just coming off the mammoth task of co-headlining X of Swords, the story was also an opportunity to tell a more intimate story that still might have major implications further down the line. After all, Knull's not the only might cosmic ruler in the picture in this one-shot.
"This issue was something I was writing during the very end of some of my X of Swords scripting, and it was definitely a nice shift to work on this story, where the biggest stakes have been laid out by Donny and Ryan, and I just get to tell the story of my favorite couple in all of Marvel taking on this massive threat," Howard said. "And there's no better time for it -- the King of Space is probably going to have something to say about his honeymoon being interrupted by what's to come in King in Black!"
King in Black continues with issue #2 of the main miniseries this week. King in Black: Wiccan and Hulkling #1 arrives in March.