In Review: Avengers #675

This sets up this saga's premise with staggeringly beautiful visuals.

The covers: Ten covers to collect for this first installment of the epic “No Surrender” saga. The Regular cover is by Mark Brooks and is a lenticular warparound cover. This caught my eye not for it being lenticular, but for having Rogue front and center. I’ve got a soft spot for the mutant, having been witness from her first appearance to her original run in The Uncanny X-Men. That was enough for me to pick this book off the stands. I like covers where heroes appear to be tumbling to their doom and this has that in spades as Rogue is surrounded by other Avengers caught in the drag of a portal. I like this, though I could probably see Brooks’s work better if this wasn’t a lenticular cover. There’s an Incentive Premiere Variant version of this cover, putting the focus on Spider-Man and Cap, who are on the backside of the Regular cover. I’m glad this was done, but the coloring has too much that’s uncolored to make me want it. The Alex Ross Variant has a statue of the early Avengers (Hulk, Giant Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Voyager) protected by Beast, Lightning, Quicksilver, Thor, Rogue, and the Vision. This is Ross, so you know it’s good. The coloring really makes this piece pop with some eerie oranges used for the sky. There’s also an Alex Ross Sketch Variant cover that’s the same are as the previous cover, sans the color. Again, it’s Ross, so it’s worth tracking down. Daniel Acuña is responsible for the Party Variant which features Voyager being snared by Venom as Wasp, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Captain America look on from below. The villain looks terrific, as does Voyager, though the speed lines used to show she’s fighting her attacker look a little odd. Having the illustration atop a white background really makes the characters stand out. The Incentive Party Sketch Variant cover features the same illustration by Acuña, but is in black and white. This reminds me of the black and white magazines Marvel did in the 1970’s. It look okay, but I prefer the colored version. The Trading Card Variant is by the talented John Tyler Christopher who has Citizen V flanked by a bust shot of Rogue, as the Falcon flies skywards between them. I love Citizen V and the Falcon. I wish Rogue had been completely paralleling the leader of the U.S. Avengers, rather than just a bust shot. The Avengers Variant is a classic illustration of the past by Mike McKone & Rico Renzi. The original Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man are joined by Ant Man and the Wasp, with Voyager right behind the powerful trio. I always enjoy seeing new versions of the characters in their original designs and this is terrific. Julian Totino Tedesco is responsible for the first piece of the Connecting Cover Variants. The Falcon is flying forward, accompanied by Wasp and Cannonball, with busts of other heroes behind them; Quicksilver receives most of the focus after Falcon. This looks fine, but will probably look better when paired with the other covers. There’s a lot of red in this cover, so I’m hoping to see some differentiation in other covers. Is it me, or does Quicksilver look like David Bowie? The Skottie Young Baby Variant has his Li’l versions of the Avengers (Hulk, Cannonball, Thor, Rogue, Quicksilver, the Human Torch, and Falcon) reacting to an application to join from Man-Thing. The joke is a smiler and the characters are cute. I know I’m in the minority, but I’ve just not ever been a fan of these variants. Overall grades: Regular B+, Incentive Premiere Variant C-, Alex Ross Variant A-, Alex Ross Sketch Variant B+, Party Variant A-, Incentive Party Sketch Variant B, Trading Card Variant B, Avengers Variant A-, Connecting Cover Variant B, and Baby Variant C

The story: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, & Jim Zub are the writers on this thirty page opening salvo in the “No Surrender” saga. Things start quietly in Texas as Miguel Santos is undercover on a car theft ring. He’s recognized by their leader and transforms into Lightning to make short work of the crew. After the police show up, he has words with one of the detectives that are cut short when they see something in the sky that gives them pause. Santos thinks it may be “the end of the world.” In New York City, a blast of crimson spreads across the skies, causing the Falcon and Redwing to turn to view the explosion. Below him, a driver isn’t watching the road and almost kills a group of people. The hero intervenes and saves the onlookers, with him joining in. “Seriously, what the hell is going on up there?” Page 8 reveals that the Earth and its moon have been moved. The story then moves to other heroes effected by the anomaly or realize what’s happened. That’s the gist of this issue: something has moved the world and the heroes try to save its citizens from the effects of its transportation. The writers move around often to ensure the reader realizes the worldwide effects that are occurring, as well as show the bloated cast using their abilities. I haven’t read a regular Avengers comic in decades and felt like I was drowning in characters. Granted, this is supposed to be an epic, but every classic Avengers story pre-1990 didn’t require all your fingers and toes to keep track of the heroes. Something to think about, Marvel. Thankfully, the numbers become greatly reduced, for an unknown reason, which will allow future issues to focus on a few heroes. A new (old?) character appears on the final page who will undoubtedly reveal backstory about herself next issue. This was unquestionably readable, but merely sets up the premise for this saga. Long time Marvel fans may have enjoyed this more, but for me, coming in as a “new” reader, I was overwhelmed with the cast. Overall grade: C+

The art: I became enamored with Pepe Larraz’s art on Kanan, a superior Star Wars miniseries, and his work is just as strong on this book. The first panel shows a wonderfully desolate garage, followed by a superiorly detailed interior. Miguel is introduced to the reader, with him smiling dazzlingly in a close-up. His transformation into Lightning is epic and the bottom panel on 2 communicates to the reader his power level. The shock at what he sees at the bottom of 3 needs no dialogue to show he’s stunned. The double-paged spread on 4 and 5 has a spectacular view of Central Park with the Falcon flying over it, as well as something powerful coming to life in the distance. The action sequence that follows creates a great sense of epic movement, with a car hurtling through the air and the heroes saving the bystanders. Page 7 shows how the portal is effecting people, including tiny panels showing television broadcasts of the event. All these panels create an absolutely epic feel. Thor and Hercules get some particularly epic scenes, with Herc getting a classic pose. In San Diego the heroes deal with a monstrous tidal wave and the way in which Larraz renders the water is amazing; an always difficult element to illustrate, Larraz makes it look fantastic! Pages 26 and 27 are another double-paged splash, this time showing which characters are left by the end of the opening troubles. Larraz makes each easy to be seen, solidifying for the reader who will ultimately save the world. The final page introduces a familiar (unfamiliar?) character in a full-paged splash. That’s an entrance! This book is staggeringly well drawn. Overall grade: A+

The colors: David Curiel, who worked with Larraz on Kanan, has got quite the job in trying to color every teeny detail of the art, but succeeds handsomely. I mean, look at how beautiful that garage looks in the second panel on the first page. It’s a garage! Sure, it’s a clean one, but look at how colors indicate light sources, their reflections, and the gray and metallic surfaces of the space sing as true. When Carlos becomes Lighting the colors accentuate his power perfectly. The fifth panel on Page 3 uses a stark red to show the shock at what the characters see. This red is repeated on the next pages for New York City’s sky. Computer projections have a slick soft pink throughout the issue. The blues used for the waters off San Diego are beautiful. Yellows, oranges, and browns are employed for the eruption of a famous volcano. Colors become plot points beginning on 22, telegraphing to the reader that something is not right. Everything Curiel does is magic. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This book’s text features scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), sounds, the story’s title, the book’s credits, transmissions, television text, and yells. All are crafted by VC’s Cory Petit. For a cast this ginormous, it’s impressive that Petit never covers key elements of the visuals that the reader has to see. The scene settings are bold and slightly tilted to the right, pulling the reader rapidly into the story. The dialogue is easy to read, but, sadly, is the same font as narration. These two forms of communication should be in a different font, but they’re differentiated by the color of the boxes and balloons that contain them. The sounds are incredibly fun and there are plenty of them, given the mass destruction that’s going on. My favorite is the first BOOM of the issue. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story throws the reader into the story will no build, which was exciting, but also causes confusion with the bloated cast. Thankfully, the cast shrinks considerably, allowing an easier time for readers in future installments. The visuals are the highpoint of this issue, which dazzle in every panel. I’ve not read an Avengers comic in decades, so I’m looking at this story as my re-entry to the series. There are many promises begun in this issue that I hope to see delivered. Overall grade: B

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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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