AVENGERS #684 BY AL EWING, MARK WAID, JIM ZUB, PACO MEDINA, JOE BENNETT, JUAN VLASCO, AND RUY JOSE
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
Ewing, Zub, and Waid deliver fine storytelling as Hulk returns from the dead. The artwork is solid as well, with piercing drawings and popping colors. This is an excellent setup issue for future intensity in Avengers "No Surrender."
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In this oversized issue, the Hulk takes center stage as Voyager’s origin story continues. What is the relationship between Voyager and The Grandmaster? How has Hulk resurfaced? What now lays in store for our heroes who had just been doing so well? AVENGERS #684 gets into this and more as all hell breaks loose!

The Hulk Just Can’t Die

This issue is really unique. The first ten pages give us flashback sequences as the Hulk begins to bust his way out of the earth. What’s even cooler is that at the end of this issue, Marvel provides us with the issues these flashbacks are taken from. They range from various INCREDIBLE HULK comics up to CIVIL WAR II and even SECRET EMPIRE #5 and #6. This is a solid way for casual fans to see the many times Bruce Banner has died. Even better, its reference to SECRET EMPIRE informs fans where to look to find out exactly when Bruce came back into life after his death in CIVIL WAR II.

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The Hulk’s first actions are pretty intense. He finds the retreating Lethal Legion (Captain Glory and Mentacle) and takes care of them swiftly. It’s a gruesome scene, where Hulk literally breaks Captain Glory’s spine. But this isn’t the only act of intense violence: at Avengers Auxiliary Headquarters, Hulk essentially rips through Enigma, Cannonball, and Quicksilver.

AVENGERS #684 ends with Red Hulk prepped and ready to take on his rival, but will he even hold a chance?

The Subplots of AVENGERS #684

AVENGERS #684
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

While the Hulk’s story carries on, Voyager’s backstory continues. We learn she is actually Grandmaster’s daughter and that this type of scenario has occurred for them before. She locks herself inside a storage vault with a Pyramoid at Avengers Auxiliary Headquarters. This confuses the Avengers but they slowly begin to put the pieces together.

While they do so, Voyager’s skin turns blue like Grandmaster’s and she reveals how she has assisted her father in these types of games before. However, she notes that she’s tired of only being a pawn in his game: she wants to be her own player. Grandmaster isn’t entirely sure what Voyager is planning by bringing the Pyramoid to Avengers Auxiliary Headquarters, but Challenger is certainly pleased. It’s curious to think if her character will make it out alive after “No Surrender.”

Setting up THE IMMORTAL HULK

If anything, “No Surrender” sets up the return of Hulk. Al Ewing will be writing THE IMMORTAL HULK series after “No Surrender” is complete, and I couldn’t be happier with this selection. Ewing has proven himself immensely with THE ULTIMATES, and the fact that THE IMMORTAL HULK will essentially be a horror story has me believe this will be the most unique Hulk story yet.

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The way Hulk attacks his victims in AVENGERS #684 itself is very intense. Captain Glory’s spinal energy makes even Grandmaster flinch. And when Enigma is attacked, the screech of her scream is emphasized. If you compare this to, say, “Planet Hulk,” the viciousness of Hulk is the main focus of his brutality. He’s not smashing people: he’s killing people.

The Hulk has been demonized so much over the years. Al Ewing and company taking this direction makes sense. He’s a victim, yes, but he’s a monster. I’m curious to see where Ewing takes the idea, and I’m happy “No Surrender” takes the opportunity to showcase the series a bit. It also allows for a break from the other action taking place and gives fresh life to the series that has entered its third month.

The Artwork of AVENGERS #684

AVENGERS #684
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

An array of artists contribute to this issue. On pencils there is returning artist Paco Medina and newcomer Joe Bennett. Drawings in this issue are sharp. There are Hulk’s pulsing muscles and fierce looks of anger that overtake every page Hulk features in. Then there’s Voyager, whose facial features match the mood of every scene she’s in: the look of confusion, the look of sadness, and finally a smirk that shows this was her plan all along. Medina and Bennett do an excellent job conveying a range of emotions.

Then there are the colors from Juan Vlasco and Ruy Jose. Hulk’s growing green eyes are a nicely noted touch, and the overall colors — while a bit too cartoony at times — make characters pop and stick out. The juxtaposition of green and red as Hulk and Red Hulk face off is absolutely grand and will have fans of the two characters feeling nostalgic for Jeph Loeb’s HULK run.

What We Can Expect Next

AVENGERS #684 was a very solid issue. Nothing too groundbreaking occurred, but the setup for Hulk to cause absolute chaos will only make future issues better. I’m curious what is in store for Voyager, Grandmaster, and Challenger, as most of their players are now off the table. Obviously, Challenger plans to utilize Hulk to lead him to victory, but how will that play out? Only time will tell as we wait for AVENGERS #685 next week!

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