What can you tell us about the evolution of the Hulk's role in this story? Was he always part of the plan? Who first came up with the idea to make him a major player in the story?
Ewing: Hulk was locked in by the end of the first sit-down meeting, the day after that "writer's room" I mentioned. He was definitely on his way back, and we kind of claimed that beat for our own, because we knew it would grab hold of people at the halfway point. And that was very early on - so almost right from the start, we were building a couple of big action scenarios around the return of the Banner Hulk, and you'll be seeing those play out in month three. Essentially, we had the idea of a whole squad of Avengers against the Hulk, and at first that was going to be all the heavy hitters - which would have been exciting, but would also have had the scent of pro-wrestling to it. Like, if we know the Hulk's going to beat the hell out of everyone - and we do know that, he's the Strongest One There Is - it's much more interesting to pit him against the weak and the wounded, back at HQ. It turns it from an exhibition match into a desperate last stand. (And it is going to be the last stand for a couple of Avengers. There are casualties. You've been warned.)
I noticed the Hulk doesn't say a single word in this issue. It gives him an incredibly sinister aspect. What can you tell us about his current state of mind and consciousness? Is this a classic savage Hulk? A more calculating one like his grey hued incarnation? Or something new that we haven't seen before?
Ewing: It feels like something new, in that I'm not consciously doing anyone else's Hulk. When I wrote the Maestro for Contest Of Champions, it was very much Peter David's Maestro - lots of quips, lots of wordplay. But if I'm channeling anything for this Hulk, it's those very first issues, when he was new and strange and unknown and very much a horror character. I'm kind of opening myself up to all that weird, old, dreamlike stuff and letting it drive the bus a little bit. And one thing that stands out is that everyone was really scared of the Hulk in the very early days, in a way they haven't been since - they were afraid of what he might do, because they had no idea what he could or would do.
That's our Hulk. He's a terrifying mystery - and I'm going to hold off on revealing any of that mystery here. The next three or four issues of Avengers will answer all your questions.