Avengers #684 REVIEW

Mar 15, 2018

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AVENGERS #684
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jim Zub, Mark Waid, & Al Ewing
Pencilers: Paco Medina & Joe Bennett
Inkers: Juan Vlasco & Ruy Jose
Color Artists: Jesus Aburtov & Morry Hollowell
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 3/14/18

The consequences of last week’s irksome plot kinks work themselves loose in this thrilling chapter of Avengers: No Surrender. Hulk, now the Immortal Hulk, and Voyager rise as opponents as both Avengers and the Grandmaster scramble to work the particular situation to their advantage.

Ten issues into this event readers have been asked to roll with “the moves you see and the ones you don’t” with little chance to catch a breath, much less a break. Avengers #684 smartly focuses heavily on how Hulk is even in the picture and delves much more deeply into Voyager’s true identity. I found it interesting that one character just wanted to be left alone and the other was sick of being discarded and lonely but both are forced to play the game. What happens when the pawns get minds of their own? I look forward to that answer.

Games. The never-ending nature of them in a world with people like Grandmaster really got me thinking. Who are the Grandmasters in our real world? Who are the pawns? So often the little guy in life is a pawn in another man’s game. The last hundred years alone, soldiers and sailors have been sent around the world to fight, to die, myriad reasons and always at the decision of those in power who never step foot on the battlefield themselves. So to see the Avengers, pawns too long in this game, work so doggedly to free themselves from the machinations of men who have nothing but time on their hands, is heartening. Is it time in our real world are we ready to stop being pawns in someone else’s game? It might be if the 99% of us could stay focused long enough to challenge the domination of the 1% holding most of the power. Is it even possible? Are we trapped our entire lives marching to the beat of someone else’s drum? A rather deep set of questions but all sitting there in the pages of this comic for us to contemplate. If heroes and villains are meant to be guides for us, we can take heart in where this story seems to be pointing.

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The creative team behind this issue is rather large, three writers and six artists alone. You’d think that’d be too many cooks in the kitchen. You’d be wrong, thankfully. This issue flows so seamlessly, you’d never know so many people brought this together.

Medina, Bennett, Vlasco, Jose, Aburtov, and Hollowell gave the audience an introduction to Hulk worthy of much praise. Almost collage-like, readers get to see the pain and the exhaustion Bruce Banner lived with day to day. Dying. Living again. Dying. Living again. Bruce just wanted the pain and loss of control to stop. There’s a particular page full of very small panels. A moment of death. The next panel, all black, save sparse narration. Life. Another moment of death. Blackness of life. Colorful death. Clever of the creative team to flip the reader’s expectation. Death usually correlates to the color black. Life correlates to vivid, bright color. The creative team flips this to reveal the depths of Bruce’s desire to just rest, to go into the darkness of sleeping death and be left alone.

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Where much of Hulk’s reintroduction is dominated by contrasting black with vivid prismatic color, his story later in the story is built on the rest of the characters recognizing the “immortal” part of his name. His eyes are a solid white light, no hint of Bruce or of any humanity left behind them. He’s unstoppable now. He’s full monster and pure rage. He’s not here on his own accord and how he’s drawn reinforces that reality. He’s stomping and pounding his way into Avengers HQ but he seems as if a mighty puppet on invisible strings. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t emote even a little bit. The art in this issues captures that so specifically. Loved it.

Where Hulk is almost mindless movement, everything about Voyager’s story is purposeful. Her story, as told through the art, is dominated by purples and blues, cool tones. The trademark sunny yellow of her uniform fades away for her to reveal her true self, her much blue-er self. It’ll be interesting to see how her choices, at this stage in the game, will be countered.

Last week I found myself bemoaning my own lack of comic history and fortitude to break down such a tightly woven and heavily populated story. This week, all that goes away as I get the pleasure of welcoming back a favorite character, Hulk (even if he doesn’t really want to be here) and getting the truth about Voyager in the open. I’m really looking forward to how this whole game plays out over the next six or so weeks. It’s definitely a roller coaster ride worth reading (and rereading if you’re a newbie like me).

Review by: Cheryl Gustafson

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