WARNING: Warning this interview contains spoilers for Avengers #684, on sale now
From the start, the Avengers have always had a complex relationship with founding member, the Hulk. MArvel's premiere superhero team appreciates having his strength and the intellect of his alter ego Bruce Banner on their side, but they also know that the volatile Green Goliath could easily become their enemy at any time. Of course, that hasn't been a problem for several months now -- because Banner/Hulk has been dead.
He's back among the living now, though -- and he's become the Avengers' adversary. His return comes at worst possible time, too, as Earth's Mightiest Heroes are trying to prevent two warring cosmic powers from tearing up and eventually destroying the planet. To make matters worse, the Hulk's return hits just as a mysterious, supposedly long lost Avenger revealed her true identity, a secret that seriously complicates Earth's Mightiest Heroes quest to save their planet.
These were the two big reveals in Avengers#684, by writers Al Ewing, Mark Waid and Jim Zub, and artists Joe Bennett and Paco Medina. The issue was the latest installment in the epic 16 part “No Surrender” storyline where the Earth has been stolen by the Elders of the Universe known as the Grandmaster and the Challenger and turned into a game board for a contest between their armies the Lethal Legion and the Black Order. The Avengers are meant to serve as “obstacles” for those armies.
We spoke with Ewing, Waid and Zub, about the Hulk's return; the inspiration for Ewing's upcoming Immortal Hulk series; and how some questions about Voyager have been answered but a couple, large and important ones remain.
CBR: One of the big moments in Avengers #684 is of course the return of the formerly Incredible and now Immortal Hulk, Bruce Banner. The issue opens up with a special 10-page prologue by Al and his Immortal Hulk collaborator artist Joe Bennett that explains the Hulk's ability to resurrect. What inspired this “Immortal” take on the Hulk?
Al Ewing: This is something that's been brewing for a while - the last time I was in the Marvel "writer's room," way back at the start of last year, we were talking about the Hulk. and I pitched the idea that he was resurrecting so often because that's just what he does. Like, we don't need a MacGuffin or magic or Hydra science every time - he just comes back. That's what he does. That's what he is. I don't think it went anywhere at the time, but when I sat down on my own and really thought it through, that led very naturally into the idea that when the gamma bomb went off, Bruce died... and then he came back. The birth of the Hulk was also the first demonstration of his immortal nature.
I had to go through a pitching process to get the Hulk book, but once I did and I had the basic ideas locked in place, I was doing my usual thing -- I did it with Iron Man for Fatal Frontier -- trawling through the very earliest appearances to get a handle on the primal vibe of the character, and also absorbing any weird synchronicities that came my way. I heard the old Frankie Vaughn song "Green Door" on the radio, and that kind of wormed its way into things. "Green door, what's that secret you're keeping?" There's a whole thing with the Green Door that's going to bubble up through the early issues of the book, and end up introducing a new, terrifying enemy for the Hulk, and for the Marvel Multiverse. You'll have to wait for the July solicits for the first mention of that one...
Jim Zub: I remember grabbing dinner and drinks the night before our Avengers summit to hash out the major story beats of the weekly and Al told me how much he wanted to write the Hulk and that he hoped there would be a way to springboard from the weekly into that story. I'm so happy it's all come together and that he's going to get his chance.