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Avengers #686: Review

Mar 2018
Mark Waid, Paco Medina

Story Name:

No surrender: part 12

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #686 Review by (April 6, 2018)
Al Ewing and Jim Zub are the authors alongside Mark Waid again.

In previous issues the Pyramoids have appeared to disintegrate the players who reached them. (But we know they are only removed from the board and placed in stasis.) Voyager presumably avoided this fate in #684 by handling the item telekinetically. How does Hulk survive? Maybe by smashing it before it can affect him? Or maybe just because he's the Hulk?

So what's left for the last 4 issues? Getting Earth back where it should be and getting the other superpeople out of stasis. Or are there more twists to come?


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #686 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Grandmaster and Challenger have stolen the Earth to use as a gameboard for their 2 teams of aliens to compete for 5 Pyramoids. They have put most of Earth's superbeings in stasis apart from a group of Avengers who were supposed to just be obstacles for their teams to overcome. But the 'obstacles' have won 2 of the 5 points, and the alien teams 1 each. Now only the 5th Pyramoid remains.

Most of the aliens are now out of the game. But Grandmaster had a secret pawn, his daughter who was posing as a long-lost Avenger named Voyager. She grabbed the 5th Pyramoid but instead of taking it to her father she rebelled and took refuge with the Avengers. Challenger also had an extra piece and has sent the Hulk after it. He has stormed through the Avengers who were left at the Auxiliary HQ and is beating at the door of the vault where Voyager hides. But now pacifist Wonder Man has appeared to talk him down.

Most of the Avengers are off in 2 away teams. We now see the smallest of those teams comprising Hercules, Rogue and Thor (Jane Foster) hurrying home in a quinjet. Thor is using her power over storms to give them wind assistance.

Simon Williams blocks Hulk's path. He keeps talking as Hulk keeps beating on him, trying to reach the Bruce Banner within. He relies on the fact that his ionic body is invulnerable. But Hulk says he can smash *anybody*. And Wonder Man fears there's no Banner to reach.

In an outer room some of the Avengers are fighting the last 2 aliens standing, Black Swan and Proxima Midnight of Challenger's Black Order. Our side seemed to be winning at the end of last issue but the fight still continues - Cannonball vs Midnight, Aikku Jokinen and Toni Ho (ex-Iron Patriot) trying to get through Swan's forcefield. That last pair of Avengers are using bits of Aikku's Enigma armour that Hulk trashed last time - Aikku has blast gloves and Toni uses the helmet's eye-beam. These weapons are almost drained until Lightning recharges them, and the duo fire as 1 and take Black Swan down. Proxima defeats Cannonball and turns on the others. (This looks very much like the situation at the end of last issue.)

The Enigma weapons are now really dead as Proxima Midnight prepares to throw her spear that never misses. But she's knocked down by Thor's hammer. The 3 reinforcements have arrived. Voyager is watching the proceedings telepathically and realises that it is teamwork that always gives the Avengers the edge. That and a purpose that transcends winning - something that her game-playing father could never understand.

Wonder Man has also now realised that he is facing an intelligent Hulk (but not a Hulk with Bruce's mind as has sometimes been the case before). He tries to point out the futility of Hulk trying to tear his head off because his ionic energy will always regenerate him. Hulk finds that ironic because he and his inner Banner recently realised that Hulk can't die either (hence the title of his upcoming series The Immortal Hulk). And he's not *really* working for Challenger. He just wants the game to end because when it's over the winner will destroy the Earth - and Hulk will finally be free of the humans who wouldn't leave him alone.

But their interesting chat is interrupted by Hercules and Thor attacking Hulk. Rogue thanks Simon for his delaying tactic and then adds *her* power to the battle. Hulk shrugs them all off but Rogue then tries her unique extra ability. She removes a glove and touches their foe with her bare hand to absorb *his* power. In the process she reaches Bruce Banner in Hulk's mind who desperately tells her to escape while she can. Anna Marie falls away, skin green and muscles starting to bulge.

Simon Williams tries the vocal approach again. He reminds Hulk that he *thought* he had died. He was at peace but then the Hand woke him up (in Uncanny Avengers), and later Hydra (in Secret Empire). Now he knows that he can never have that peace. The universe will never let him. But this only angers the brute.

Challenger watches by remote viewer as his master piece rips the door off the vault. Voyager sides with the Avengers and tries to teleport Hulk away but she is easily batted aside. Hulk reaches for the Pyramoid ... and claims it for himself before crushing it. And then turns into Bruce Banner and collapses.

Challenger can't understand what happened. Grandmaster points out that Hulk committed a foul and so Challenger *loses* a point, making GM the winner. And the punishment for the loser is banishment from reality. But then Voyager explains her role in things to the Avengers (that we learned in #684). She is En Dwi Gast's daughter who he placed amongst the team to mobilise them into opposition, and to win the last Pyramoid for him. This is news to Challenger who accuses his opponent of cheating. Grandmaster just describes it as creative gameplay and offers a rematch.

But Challenger blasts him.

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.


(Bruce Banner)

(Anna Marie LeBeau)

(Jane Foster)

Plus: Cannonball, Enigma (Aikku Jokinen), Iron Patriot (Toni Ho), Lightning (Miguel Santos).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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