We are shown the origins of the Incredible Hulk as well as all the times he has faced death over the year (more than you would think, also Avengers: Ultron Forever). He then returns in the present, looking confused but just as angry as ever.
We return to the game between the Grandmaster and the Challenger and watch the Avengers continue to try and contain the growing situation around the world. We learn the true origins of Voyager, and then the Hulk tracks down remaining members of the Lethal Legion and then the Avengers Auxiliary HQ from which Toni Ho, General Maverick, and Enigma are working.
I believe I've said this in a review before, but I am wholeheartedly against this weekly Avengers: No Surrender thing that Marvel is doing right now. It's way too much money to ask from your audience, especially when you're asking at least $3.99 per issue, with #684 being priced at $4.99.
However, the Incredible (Immortal) Hulk has returned, and that was enough to catch my attention this week.
Setting the frustrating context surrounding this installment aside, Avengers #684 is still an unwieldy mess of plot and characters that typifies the phrase, "too many cooks in the kitchen." The Hulk's return reads like an entirely different plot shoehorned in despite him being nominally brought in by the Grandmaster. This only adds to the nauseating number of plot threads which this story is already trying to balance.
They try to make the Hulk coming back from the dead "a thing," and it only draws more attention to the problem that death is meaningless in the Marvel Universe. The plot twist with Voyager is ridiculous enough that it leaves you wondering why this character was such a big deal in the first place.
I know I'm late into this, but it is a little ridiculous that I could not figure out how the Avengers fit into the game between Grandmaster and the Challenger.
The redeeming factor in this book is the Hulk's rampage in the last part of the comic. It is nice seeing the Jade Giant cut loose in Paco Medina's fantastic art styling. It is still badly truncated, leaving Lightning's last big stand against the Hulk feeling far from epic. Of course, the big smash-down between Hulk and General Maverick's Red Hulk/Iron Hulk (which has already been cover-spoiled) is saved for next issue.
Joe Bennett's artwork leads into the comic well too. He makes the Hulk look as mean and intimidating, as he well should. Medina's work is great on the whole too. Juan Valasco and Ruy Jose's inking work is solid. Jesus Aburtov and Morry Hollowell's color art is also quite good.
Avengers #684 confirms what a lot of my assumptions about No Surrender were. It's bloated, confusing, and unwieldy. While it's not miserable, the dense plotting that's gone into it is ludicrously unforgiving. The art team brings their A-game to at least leave it visually appealing, and the Hulk is back at least. I can't recommend it on the business model alone, but, as its own issue, it's mediocre at the best of times. If you're already on for this ride, you're probably going to stick it out anyway. If you're not, it's not worth it, even for the Hulk.