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Avengers #684: Review

Mar 2018
Mark Waid, Paco Medina

Story Name:

No surrender: part 10

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #684 Review by (March 24, 2018)
As usual this part of No Surrender is written by Al Ewing and Jim Zub as well as Mark Waid. Joe Bennett assists Paco Medina with the pencils and Ruy Jose joins Juan Vlasco on the inks. To complete the picture Morry Hollowell colours with Jesus Aburtov.

This may be the last opportunity in this series to mention that before it was the HQ of the Resistance in Secret Empire the Mount was the base for the Pantheon in Peter David's Hulk stories in the early 90's.

Grandmaster isn't the 1st Elder of the Universe to be shown to have a daughter. Collector's daughter Carina played a big part in the Korvac Saga in Avengers #167-177. Matani was Collector's dead wife briefly resurrected in Silver Surfer v3 #3.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #684 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Image from Avengers #684
This issue begins with several pages of Hulk history seen from a new slant. Possibly they're meant to be Hulk remembering. (A handy page at the back tells us where these memories come from.)

It begins of course with Bruce Banner saving Rick Jones from the Gamma Bomb test. A medic declares Banner dead, but then he wakes up and 'screams for hours'. (Hulk (1st series) #1 of course.) Then we see Hulk being decapitated by Captain America's shield (from Avengers: Ultron Forever #1). Major Talbot declaring Banner dead again (Tales to Astonish #69). Doc Samson ditto (Hulk #225). Wasted-away Hulk dying (in Hulk #367). Hulk trapped in molten metal (I think) (Hulk #446). Banner gets shot in the head (Indestructible Hulk #20).

But he kept surviving, so in the lead-up to Civil War II Bruce devised a way to definitely kill Hulk. At the time he was supposedly free of Hulkness, but he told Hawkeye to use it if he ever seemed about to turn again. It involved 2 arrows tipped with gamma-enriched vibranium. Clint Barton should put 1 in Bruce's hypothalamus at the base of the brain. If he didn't need it for a 2nd attempt he should put the 2nd arrow in his heart. And of course Clint did both shots in CWII #3.

But the Hand used magic to resurrect the Hulk until Doctor Voodoo allowed Banner's soul to go to its rest (Uncanny Avengers v3 #17). Here we see Banner trying to tell Jericho Drumm that the Hand isn't really controlling the Hulk, he's just awake and angry, but Drumm can't hear him.

Then behind the scenes in Secret Empire #5 Arnim Zola used science to bring Banner back again. Zola was surprised how quickly Bruce revived. But he'd (without Hydra-Cap's knowledge) put a time-delayed implant in Banner's hypothalamus that would *really* kill him this time when he'd done his job. And Bruce was happy about that. In SE #6 Hydra dropped Hulk on the Resistance HQ the Mount, and he had a last rematch with the Thing as shown here.

And the voice over tells us that it wasn't magic *or* science that brought him back because the Hulk *never* died. When Zola's implant kicked in he just pretended to die to get some peace, as in the previous occasions. But now the Challenger has woken him again - reactivated the scream that won't stop, the rage that won't die, the Immortal Hulk (a new title unveiled at the end of last issue).

Now on with the main business of this story arc. As we all know the Grandmaster and the Challenger have stolen the Earth to play a game on it. Their 2 teams of aliens the Lethal Legion and the Black Order contend for 5 elemental Pyramoids. Most of Earth's superbeings have been frozen in stasis to keep them out of the way, except for a bunch of Avengers to act as obstacles for the alien teams to overcome. However the obstacles have won 2 of the Pyramoids. The proper teams only have 1 each. Now the 5th Pyramoid is left to play for. Challenger revealed his extra playing piece the Hulk. But Grandmaster has something up his sleeve too.

The 5th Pyramoid unleashed vengeful ghosts on the Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan where Beast and Wasp (Nadia Pym) were trying to bring Avengers' butler Edwin Jarvis out of a coma. Last issue Voyager teleported the Pyramoid away. She was supposedly 1 of the founding Avengers who had appeared to die in a later conflict. But she had returned for this battle. However when Jarvis awoke last issue he claimed that the team's memories of Valerie Vector were false implants - she had never been an Avenger.

Challenger has apparently sent Hulk to grab the Pyramoid for his side, but now Grandmaster gloats that the Hulk doesn't know where to go. Challenger suspects that his opponent might have something to do with Voyager.

Jarvis has convinced Beast and Wasp of Voyager's deception. Nadia theorises that the infection in Edwin's memory centre, that they cured last issue, is why Voyager's trick didn't work on *him*.

In Avengers Auxiliary HQ Lightning uses his power to charge up Toni Ho's old Iron Patriot armour while Dr Ho herself contacts Falcon (Sam Wilson), Citizen V and Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) in 1 of the 2 away teams. She also tries and fails to get in touch with Beast. Enigma takes the frozen-in-stasis Squirrel Girl the the medical bay and puts her with equally-frozen Vision. Cannonball and Quicksilver are there recuperating from injuries. Suddenly they see blue spots in the air (with no explanation this issue).

Tony Ho detects an energy reading from the storage vault as Voyager arrives in there with the 5th Pyramoid. But Val shuts the door on the others locking them out. Her skin has turned blue and she lets us see her memories which explain what's going on. The physicist Arthur Vector that she claimed was her father really did exist, to lend credence to her story. But we now learn that her true father is the also blue-skinned En Dwi Gast, the Grandmaster.

She'd been at his side during all his previous games, most of which we don't know about, learning all his moves. (But we never saw her there.) Apparently he used to give her all the things, like planets, that he won - and she was a benevolent protective ruler(?).

This time her father gave her the powers of teleportation and memory alteration, and it seems maybe he persuaded Challenger to allow the Avengers as obstacles just to have some some place to hide her in plain sight. She was to work behind the scenes to his advantage.

But apparently her latest move wasn't in Grandmaster's plan. And we learn that she intends to win *this* game for herself.

The gameplayers detect where the Pyramoid is. Challenger sends Hulk after it. Grandmaster sends Captain Glory and Mentacle, the only remaining active members of his Lethal Legion. But Hulk lands on Glory breaking his back. And when Mentacle tries to take over Hulk's mind she cries out in agony.

Toni Ho contacts the 2 Avengers teams to tell them where the 5th Pyramoid is now. We see the rest of Falcon's squad:- Dr Voodoo, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Synapse and Wonder Man with LL captives Metal Master and the Blood Brothers. And in the quinjet she sent for them last issue Rogue with Hercules and Thor (Jane Foster) and the glaive she took from Corvus Glaive's dead hand.

Hulk arrives at the HQ with a thoom. Toni sends Lightning to bring Cannonball and Quicksilver into battle, and her lover Enigma out to face the Hulk with orders to stay invulnerably phased. However Aikku Jokinen does the opposite and goes diamond hard to take the brute on. But Hulk tears bits of her armour off and tosses her aside.

Cannonball rockets at him but gets a similar treatment. Pietro Maximoff superspeeds to save him from crashing into a wall, but suffers broken ribs. Lightning throws all his electric power at him and collapses with exhaustion. But Hulk stands unharmed.

Toni Ho told Gen'l Robert Maverick not to go against the green Hulk as Red Hulk. Even when his power was fully working he wouldn't have won, and now that Hydra messed him up during Secret Empire he has no chance. But Maverick said he had an idea and triggered his Rulk hour (if he's lucky) of power. Now we see what he meant as he turns up as Iron Hulk - Red Hulk wearing parts of the Iron Patriot armour.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Paco Medina
Juan Vlasco
Jesus Aburtov
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Mark Brooks (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Doctor Voodoo
Doctor Voodoo

(Jericho Drumm)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)

(Bruce Banner)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Emily Guerrero)

(Jane Foster)

(Janet Van Dyne)

(Nadia Pym)

Plus: Cannonball, Captain Glory, Citizen V (Roberto Da Costa), Enigma (Aikku Jokinen), Iron Hulk (Robert Maverick), Iron Patriot (Toni Ho), Lightning (Miguel Santos), Mentacle.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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