In Review: Avengers #678

This is reigniting my love of Marvel's characters.

The covers: Four different covers to pick up if you’re able to escape the Lethal Legion and the Black Order. The Regular cover is by Mark Brooks, who again has created a slick illustration. With Rogue and Red Hulk behind her, Thor yells as she has to battle Molyn for control of Mjolnir. The energy crackling around the iconic weapon is great and the emotion on each character perfectly suits them in this moment. Brooks continues to impress. The final Connecting Variant cover by Julian Totion Tedesco has Rogue as the focus, with other Avengers in the background: Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Lightning, Red Hulk, etc. A piece of the broken Avengers statue is also shown, with the top of Thor spiraling off to the right. This is a fine cover on its own, but is better when combined with the others. Mike del Mundo does the Avengers Variant which features a street corner that has the Vision, Spider-Man, Falcon, Wasp, Hercules, and Thor, standing (or flying about) a street sign that sports most of their names. Interesting, but too lightly colored to stand out. The colors look faded. The final cover is a Young Guns Variant cover by Russell Dauterman and it’s a sensational shot of Rogue finishing off a left punch to the reader, while about to deliver a right. The mutant looks amazing, with her face having a wonderfully ironic emotion for the action she’s committing. The colors are also strong, with the greens in her costume terrific. Overall grades: Regular A, Connecting Variant B, Avengers Variant C, Young Guns Variant A

The story: Picking up from last issue, two teams of Avengers are about to engage the bad guys. In Peru, Johnny Storm is tired of waiting for the Falcon to decide who’s going to make the first move against the Black Order and the Lethal Legion, who are battling one another. He yells “Flame on!” and begins to speed toward them until he spies them in action. The Falcon screams, “Do you plan to take all these guys on your own?” The scene then moves to Rome, where four members of the Lethal Legion look down at the frozen body of Quicksilver that they beat the tar our of last week. Rogue, Hercules, Lightning, Thor, and Cannonball rush the baddies. The God of Thunder tries to pull Mjolnir back from Metal Master Molyn, who uses his abilities to hurl it at her. Rather than have Thor stop her weapon, writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing, & Jim Zub instead have recently healed Cannonball decide to insert himself between the hero and the hammer since “Mah blast field will stop that hammer long ’nuff ta–” And the hammer hammers him, sending him flying. Things get worse for the heroes until two others appear, helping them for all the wrong reasons. There’s an interlude in the battle, moving to the Grandmaster and his still hidden opponent discussing the battle. Fighting is this issue’s focus, with both teams encountering troubles on two different continents and still not knowing why these aliens have moved the Earth or invaded their world. If you want action, you will not be disappointed. I was extremely happy to see the heroes more involved with the villains and I was thrilled. It was also good to have a return to Avengers HQ, where someone returns momentarily and someone gets some major guilt. An artifact that’s desired appears, leading to lethal results for one character and possibly another. This was what I want in a team book! Overall grade: A+

The art: If you don’t know the work of Pepe Larraz, you’ve been missing out on some spectacular books! If this is your first exposure to the man, buckle up because you’re going to get whipped about from all the excitement that spills off the page. The first panel has Johnny thinking to himself, with no dialogue on the page until the final panel. This allows Larraz to create some outstanding tension and emotion solely from his art. When Johnny launches himself forward, flaming on, it’s spectacular. So massive is his transformation, even Red Hulk is taken aback. As mighty as he appears, he stops when looking at the imagery that comprises the full-paged splash on the second page: there’s a battle in the sky, the aftereffect of a slap, and two characters battling with blades in a swirl of flames. This page rocks. The next page is also a full-paged splash and the perspective is wonderfully disquieting: the page is an upside down look at Quicksilver beaten into the ground, with the villains looking down at him. The broken concrete really shows the pain that the mutant underwent during his pummeling. I double-dog any reader to not turn the comic upside to take this page in! The Avengers announcement on the next page is perfection, with the battle for Mjolnir awesome. The actions on the page after this are epic in scale and delivery. The take down of one villain on 7 is creepy as all get out. The focus on Synapse on 10 is terrific, reminding me of classic Marvel Girl in pain. The one page at Avengers HQ contains seven panels with each packing some emotional punch, with that final circular panel (my favorite type of panel in comics) used to show one character’s shock and guilt. The action on 14 surprised me because of the speed that led up to it and what occurred in the largest panel — Larraz’s art makes it staggering. The Red Hulk gets some major attention in the book’s final pages, with him looking undeniably massive and strong. The scene stealer of the book is Rogue, who constantly is pained or stunned at what she’s witnessing. Larraz does a killer Rogue. But then again, what can’t Larraz create? He’s a killer artist. Overall grade: A+

The colors: It takes a talented colorist to get a handle on a detailed book and David Curiel controls where the reader looks in Larraz’s art. Look how Johnny’s pale skin dominates the first panel: the narration balloons are red with yellow letters to highlight Storm’s power. How the team’s heated comments in the third panel have gone orange and red, resulting in the explosive yellow and orange of Johnny’s frustration in the final panel to flame on. Dang! That’s cool! The colors emanating from the flying villains on 2 makes them pop off the page and the fire that engulfs the baddies at the bottom smoothly draws the eye. The energy that engulfs Mjolnir is unearthly in yellow and orange, which is used to great effect in the final panel on 4. The final panel on Page 7 uses Rogue’s flesh to make her stand out against the darkness before her and the flaming red behind her. Check out how smoothly Curiel makes Grandmaster’s many screens slightly lightened to signal to the reader that they’re holograms. The violets that surrounds Voyager when she uses her abilities are beautiful, practically magical. My favorite work by Larraz is the fourth panel on 15, with my favorite character looking incredible. Reds and oranges rightly dominate the final pages, due to certain characters, and perhaps to foreshadow their fates. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit is responsible for narration and dialogue (the same font), scene settings, yells, sounds, screams, and the tease for next issue. My only grouse is the same font is used for narration and dialogue. It is differed by the color of the balloon containing the text, but I would have preferred the narration in italics, as is typically done in comics. The screams and yells are large and often, with them getting larger the closer one gets to this issue’s end. The sounds continue to be spectacular in every shape, size, and design. They are perfect matches for all the actions. Overall grade: A-

The final line: You want heroes? You want awesome action? You want incredible antagonists? You want fast action? You want visuals to die for? You want Avengers No Surrender! This is reigniting my love of Marvel’s characters and is spurring me to check out other titles. This is a gateway comic, to be sure. 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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