In Review: Avengers #676

The story is moving at a deliberate pace, but the visuals remain staggeringly lush.

The covers: A trio for this second installment of “No Surrender.” The Regular cover is by Mark Brooks and is unquestionably a clever one. What looks like a photograph is actually a complete illustration of a collector looking at a treasured copy, albeit dogged one, of Avengers #1. The cover is familiar to all comic fans, this includes Voyager on the front. This character is key to this series. This is the cover I had to purchase. The second piece of the Connecting Variant covers is by Julian Totino Tedesco. It’s as red as the previous issue, if not more so. The dominant character in the circle could be Citizen V, but having only just started picking up an Avengers comic for the first time in decades, I can’t be sure. Thor is standing atop a statue of Giant Man that’s crumbling. There are other characters on this cover, but I don’t know who they are. The Avengers Variant cover is by one of my favorite illustrators, Alan Davis, with inks by Mark Farmer and colors by Matt Yackey. This features Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Captain Marvel, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and the beast running, leaping, or flying forward on a green background. Beautiful. Overall grades: Regular A+, Connecting Variant C, and Avengers Variant A

The story: There’s also a trio of writers for this book: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, & Jim Zub. Who is responsible for what, I couldn’t say, but this had me turning pages rapidly to see what happens next. The book opens with the Wasp and Beast trying to save Jarvis, who was injured last issue. Unfortunately the Beast detects something incredibly wrong with the beloved man. The story then moves to Avengers Mansion where Voyager speaks with those heroes who are still capable of moving after so many protagonists, and villains, were frozen in their tracks. Her past is recounted by others, from her founding of the team, how she stayed when the line up changed, and was present during major events, such as when the Vision cried. Hercules reveals that they lost heart when they thought she was killed fighting against Victory, way back in Avengers #70. How she survived is believable, but long time fans know she’s never appeared in any Avengers comics. There’s something amiss with the time stream. However, this is left dangling because the heroes have bigger problems, such as the Earth and the moon being transported to another location whose skies are crimson. As they ponder their choices, the story moves to Egypt where two teams appear: the Black Order and the Lethal Legion. What these two groups do and say teases much of what this saga is about, but nothing is specifically stated as to why the Earth and its satellite have been moved or some heroes frozen, let alone Voyager’s true story. Still, I couldn’t stop turning pages. I’d like to get some answers and I’m hoping they start in with the next weekly installment. Overall grade: B-

The art: Pepe Larraz continues to impress with his stunning visuals. Look at how he draws the reader into the story on the first page: a horizontal panel that shows pigeons flying, then moving to a panel from the birds’ point of view which shows a hospital, then a smaller panel within the building showing the chaos from the influx of patients during the previous issue’s chaos, and then moving to looking down at Jarvis’s body with Beast and Wasp trying to save him. Beast’s reaction at the end of the page plainly shows the reader his shock with a tight close-up of his eyes. A turn of the page has a gorgeous introduction to the surviving heroes in a meeting room. This soon gives way to Voyager being inserted into iconic scenes in early Avengers’ history. Each of these flashbacks has Voyager illustrated in the style of the artists who drew the original work and its flat out awesome. Additionally, each of these panels is introduced by an Avenger in Larraz’s style and they also look terrific. The panel that shows Voyager’s survival looks great, with the background a treat for long time fans. The double-paged splash that features the Black Order and the Lethal Legion is outstanding. The action that follows their arrivals are incredible and has me chomping at the bit to see these characters fight the Avengers. The final page is a full-paged splash that’s a jaw dropper. It’s an image that’s not supposed to happen in comics and Larraz makes it utterly epic. I wish Larraz could be cloned so he could draw everything. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This work is beautiful not only for the illustrations, but the colors created by David Curiel. The book opens with those pesky white birds against a red sky. Notice when the sky is no longer shown the crimson continues through the narration balloons, continuing to remind the reader of the ever present threat of this location. Light sources are very real in this book from the get go, with the holographic displays radiating reds and the large white light above Jarvis creating a bright white on the characters, such as on the Beast’s head. The light streaming into the room in the second panel on Page 2 is heavenly. The flashback sequences are instant classics colored with the same colors of the time, deliciously flat. It’s not until 6 that the colors return to the present being incredibly vibrant. The two villainous teams have dark colors and square off in a dark setting, but the pages explode with spectacular colors when they tangle. Speaking of spectacular colors — the last page. This moment deserves some killer colors and Curiel obliges. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit creates scene settings, narration, dialogue, sounds, character identifications, an unseen speaker’s font, and the tease for next issue. I’m so impressed that Petit can insert so much text on a page and not step on any key elements of Larraz’s art. Seriously, there’s a lot going on with each page and there’s a lot that Petit has got to place on them. I really like the sounds that appear and am eager to see what he’ll create when the Avengers take on the villains. It’s the unseen speaker that’s Petit’s domain in this issue. This is obviously the big villain and it falls upon to Petit to make this individual ominous with the design of this character’s speech and how large or small he makes it. Just by looking at this character’s dialogue, the reader can recognize the power of this speaker. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The story is moving at a deliberate pace, but the visuals remain staggeringly lush. I’m going to continue to follow, but I’d like to see more of the story revealed and some interaction between the heroes and the villains. Voyager is a very interesting character. 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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