In Review: Avengers #682

The focus is on Red Wolf and Hawkeye, while an iconic character finally rises.

The covers: A pair of covers for this installment that begins with the Regular by Mark Brooks. This is an unlikely cover as it features Red Wolf in the lead position, atop a galloping horse. The hero holds the reigns in one hand and a pistol in the other. Behind him, leaning down to get a clear shot, Hawkeye launches another arrow at an unseen foe to accompany the other three shafts he’s fired. This is a beautiful cover for the focus, the horse, the characters, and the gorgeous dirt and dust swirling about. Brooks really outdid himself on this one. The Variant Connecting cover by Nick Bradshaw & Jim Campbell continues to show Avengers before destruction occurring behind them. Hawkeye is at the top center, nocking an arrow at the giant green fist that has punched its way out of the ground. Now I wonder who this could be? To Hank’s right is the Wasp, Nadia Van Dyne, and to his left are Doctor Voodoo and a white robot that I can’t identify. I’m a big Hawkeye fan, especially when he’s wearing his classic costume, so I really like this. The art is great. The colors on this also look good, with the explosion of orange behind the characters making them pop and the green on the Hul — er, ah, that character’s fist eye catching. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant Connecting A 

The story: Taking a turn to the past, this tale by Al Ewing, Jim Zub, & Mark Waid opens in the Valley of Doom in 1872. Red Wolf is staring down the barrel of a bad man while to his back is a canyon cliff. He thinks of the words his mother spoke, “You cannot take the path until you see it.” These words have kept him true in times of strife, informing him how to look at things. A turn of the page and the reader is transported to the present where the Avengers are battling the Lethal Legion. Just arrived members Red Wolf and Hawkeye are brought up to speed by the Falcon. The archer shoots an arrow that momentarily takes Mentacle down, but Red Wolf simply watches, waiting to see his path. At the Antarctic, Rogue, Thor, Hercules, Lightning, an unconscious Cannonball, and the corpse of Corvus Glaive, whose powers the mutant absorbed before punching him through the chest, stop for a breather. Lightning says they should have waited a little longer for Voyager to return, but Rogue shuts him down harshly. She quickly apologizes and Hercules breaks the tension with some strong words. The writers cut back to the Manhattan for an update on Jarvis’s condition before returning back to the melee in New Mexico. As the heroes battle, Red Wolf returns to that moment in 1872 and it inspires him to do something. This dramatic action then has the story returning to Manhattan where something terrible has appeared in the hospital. And speaking of terrible, someone has finally crawled out of the debris and that means trouble for everyone. This was a solid installment to the saga, with it leaving me wanting to see much more of Red Wolf. Spin-off miniseries, Marvel? Please? Overall grade: A

The art: Sean Izaakse is the artist and he begins with a beautiful panel that shows the Valley of Doom, which looks as though it came out of a Louis L’Amour novel. The man trying to shoot down Red Wolf is as gross as any western villain can be, but Red Wolf’s first close-up is fantastic. He’s strong, proud, and focused. Pages 2 and 3 is a partial double-paged splash and it’s a fantastic scene of the villains and heroes having at it on the ground and in the skies with energy going off every direction and dust and debris flying in its wake. Clint’s cocky smile on 3 make my heart race — that’s the Hawkeye I know! The introduction of the characters in the Antarctic look great and the angle on the final panel shows how Rogue is realizing she may have gone too far with her avenging. Back in New Mexico, Janet takes down a foe outstandingly, while Sunspot is rescued by a peer. This pair of pages, 8 and 9, is great for the action and energy it conveys. There’s a larger panel on the next page that shows the battle from a distance and Izaakse makes it look fantastic. Page 12 is the winner of the issue, though, for showing the bond between the two characters. There’s quite a bit of dialogue, there needs to be, but if one only looks at the visuals it’s easy to see how each regards the other in the heat of battle. Watching the focused character in action is awesome and makes me want to see more of this individual. The villains are nicely drawn in this issue as well, with the Challenger having the best evil smile he’s had so far in this story and I’m hoping that other artists follow Izaakse’s lead and give him that menacing grin. The final page is a deserved full-paged splash revealing a character that readers have been expecting. This visual will not disappoint. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Completing the artwork are the outstanding colors of David Curiel, with this being his final issue for No Surrender. The scenes sent in 1872 are appropriately brown and tan and they are beautiful. Pages 2 and 3 are like an explosion of colors, given how the book began. This is how a comic book battle between teams should look! Colors identify characters quickly and show where blasts and clashes are going down. The blues and whites used for Antarctica look terrific and I’m already missing this locale and how chilly Curiel makes it. The reds used as a background color for the Wasp’s attack on 8 intensifies it and allows her yellow armor to stand out. The yellow energy coming out of the object on 14 is powerful. Pinks are surprisingly used for some new threats on 17. It’s very unusual, but suits the dangers well. The greens that appear on 19 and 20 are very bright and are nicely teased being hidden by some darkness. Curiel is my go-to Marvel colorist extraordinaire. Overall grade: A+  

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit provides scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), sounds, whispers, yells, and a much desired character identifier at the end of the issue. I wish that a change in fonts had been used for Red Wolf’s narration. Colors and the shape of the balloons are changed instead, which works, but italics would have been a better way to show the change in communication to the reader. The several whispers in the book are great; small enough to be recognized as quiet, but still readable. The sounds during the fight are really neat, with Hawkeye’s first arrow’s impact making a sound that will sing in the hearts of original Marvel Comics’ fans. Overall grade: A

The final line: Love the focus on Red Wolf and Hawkeye, while an iconic character finally rises. The story continues to move smoothly, the action is high, the characterization is well done, and the visuals are exciting. This what Marvel Comics are famous for. If you haven’t read a Marvel series in a while, this is where your rejoin the fold. 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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