In Review: Avengers #685

A Hulk-smashing successful issue, with several strong surprises.

The covers: The big reveal of last issue is the cover of this issue: The Iron Hulk! The Red Hulk, General Robert L. Maverick, is wearing Stark armor to be this new amped up hero. Mark Brooks does another sensational job on this latest Regular cover, with the RH looking as though he’s already taken a few hits from this green cousin. I love this. The Variant cover is by Terry and Rachel Dodson, focusing on Magma, who’s sitting atop a small volcano, with flames rippling off her and her fiery seat. She looks fantastic and beautiful. This frontpiece shows that the Dodsons need to be doing more for Marvel. Overall grades: Both A

The story: The Challenger and the Grandmaster are observing Black Swan and Proxima Midnight travel to the next Pyramoid. Unbeknownst to the Challenger, Voyager, who’s been revealed as Grandmaster’s daughter, has this last device, and her father telepathically contacts her, but she refuses to respond. She whispers to an empty room, “I am not your puppet.” This family drama is interrupted to return to the action within the Avengers Auxillary HQ where the Hulk is pounding into the Iron Hulk. Something horrible occurs at the worst possible time during this battle. The distant Avengers field team can only listen in horror as Toni Ho calls for assistance. One Avenger realizes he might be able to do something, but at a possible price to himself. Once gone, another Avengers states she might be able to activate one of their frozen peers. A new hero battles the Hulk and it’s an epic throw down, with it having a jaw-dropping ending. Just as if it seems things can’t get worse, two villains arrive and start battling one of the injured heroes (who again goes down. Again I ask, can this character succeed at anything in this storyline?). There’s several good surprises and lots of action in this issue. The cliffhanger is a perfect “Now what?” moment. Thumbs up to Jim Zub, Mark Waid, & Al Ewing for this issue. Overall grade: A

The art: Paco Medina is the penciler and Juan Vlasco the inker on this issue. This pair open with a great splash page of two villains making their way to find the Pyramoid. Voyager’s quick appearance on Page 2 has her looking very defiant and done with doing what daddy wants. The Hulk scenes in this issue are the reason to pick this up. His first appearance has him felling the Iron Hulk with a right, which is followed by a tight panel of the Hulk’s face beautifully enraged. The next two pages have the Hulks battling each other, with each getting some good shots at the other. Maverick looks more angry than the Hulk, with the latter being in control of his actions, such as a great third panel on Page 5. The final visual on 6 is a stunner and, though I barely know one of the combatants, I gasped at the visual — it’s that strong. The entrance on 8 is great and the top two panels on 9 are excellent. The hero who’s doing the action in panel two on that page looks absolutely beaten in the third panel. Page 14 has the image that will be talked about for years: that’s never been done before and it’s shocking to look upon. The reaction that ends 15 is also outstanding. The action that follows the two villains’ arrival is good, though I was bemoaning how this hero is the whipping boy of this series. Thankfully, the final three pages brought me back into the book with the arrival of a hero who is inches away from the Hulk on the final page, which is a beautiful splash. I like how the recently arrived hero is drawn with an extremely passive stance. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first page has a fantastic golden border, alerting the reader visually that the image scene is not taking place in normal space. The orange background of this image also makes it extremely cosmic. The soft violets on the second page draw attention to the object and highlight Voyager well, showing that she may be under the influence of the device. The Hulk and Iron Hulk battle blasts at the reader with yellow backgrounds, highlighting the two characters. The work done on the fighters’ skin is outstanding, with the Hulk at the bottom of 3 killer. When the Iron Hulk uses some technology against the Emerald Giant, blues dominate and they look good. The distant Avenger that begins to travel to the Auxiliary HQ exits with a specific color I’ve not seen him use before; could colors be foreshadowing that this character is similar to the power of the final Pyramoid? Jesus Aburtov continues to show his mastery of colors with the arrival of the Hulk’s next foe and the surprise character who saves some peers. Notice on 9 that hero is not given bright colors to show that he’s in a weakened state. Bright yellows again increase the action on 13 and 14 excellently. The final page has Aburtov doing a superior job on the backlighting of the closing two characters. This is an outstanding job on this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, scene settings, telepathic communications, transmissions, and a hero’s speech (all three the same font), whispers, sounds, computer text, and the tease for next issue are created by VC’s Cory Petit. I’m loving the sounds in this issue and there have to be big ones if the Hulk is smashing someone. There are a lot of whispers in this issue and all are great, used for quiet commentary, challenges, and fears. I was disappointed that three different forms of communication used the same font style, with only the shape of their balloons differentiating. This insinuates they sound the same, and I doubt the telepathic communication sounds the same as the latter two. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: A Hulk-smashing successful issue, with several strong surprises. There are several memorable moments as it’s Avengers versus the Green Goliath. One moment is a shocker. Great character moments, outstanding fights, and good art make this a winner from the House of Ideas. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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