You’ve seen the rumblings. You’ve heard the roars. In Avengers #684, the Immortal Hulk is finally unleashed on the battlefield. Is it good?
That’s right, the IMMORTAL Hulk! After being resurrected in Secret Empire, Bruce Banner cops to a hard truth — the Hulk cannot be killed. Someone wants to take him for another ride? Fine. But leave Bruce out of it.
The Challenger is ready to take advantage of his ace in the hole, but the Grandmaster has something up his sleeve, too, and it’s been hiding in plain sight. But what happens to the chess player when the pieces refuse to play along?
And who will wield the final Pyramoid, and for what purpose?! Only the might of two COMBINED USAvengers can save the world now!
As you might have gathered by now, much of Avengers #684 serves as an advertisement for Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk book, due to debut in June. If that sounds crassly commercial, you’re not necessarily wrong, but I swear it’s done in the most artful way possible.
Seriously. The Hulk’s always been beautiful in a tragically poetic sort of way, but now artists Paco Medina and Joe Bennett have brought that to the page, with colorists Jesus Aburtov and Morry Hollowell. Though there’s a lot of black space in the first few pages, it’s used well to juxtapose the major moments in Bruce Banner’s life (and deaths) with the blinding light of gamma radiation everlasting.
And if Avengers #684 is less Mark Waid and Jim Zub, and more Ewing showing what to expect from his next project, Immortal Hulk is something we’ll all need to watch closely, because he’s already got the horror vibe down. This is a truly terrifying Hulk, more mindless and yet more precise than ever, violently and instantaneously laying waste to anything in his path. He’s so frightening that it’s hard to imagine the character who steps up at the end has much of a chance against him.
The other main thread in Avengers #684 is the one you’ll read headlines about, as the true identify of Voyager is revealed. It seems kind of obvious at first, but through the staggering of her monologue, you actually get little, mini-revelations in several successive panels, and by the end, the situation isn’t quite what you expected. It’s a tough trick to make comic readers guess wrong in this age, so even these little tugs at the rug we confidently stand on are victories, and they clearly took painstaking thought about craft from the writing team.
All that and I haven’t even mentioned the great character work and underlying plot between the USAvenger characters, further evidence that Ewing was steering the ship on Avengers #684. If you haven’t read that book (as I haven’t), you can still get the gist of what these people feel and why these moments are important, but it’s not so distracting as to take you out of the current story. Followers of that book will likely be doubly rewarded.
Oh, and even though you don’t see the Avengers much, you do get some visual cues as snapshots of how each team is doing, including a stern Rogue holding Corvus Glaive’s … glaive.
Checking all these boxes in one issue, even if oversized, makes this the best and most creative installment of “No Surrender” yet.