In Review: Avengers #687

This issue of exposition reveals information that the reader already knows. Vaguely interesting.

The covers: A trio to find if one has to have every frontpiece to this thirteenth installment of “No Surrender.” The Regular cover by Mark Brooks is once again something to behold. A close-up of Voyager on the left side of the cover has the character screaming in pain as her skull cracks open like a broken pot to reveal Hercules, Sunspot, Wonder Man, Synapse, and Thor emerging. Creepy, cool, and the perfect thematic visual to what this issue contains. Brooks continues to be on fire in creating covers for this saga. The Variant cover by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, & Marcio Menyz has a monstrous Red Skull’s head looking down from the upper left of this image in a hypnotic composition of red and white lines. Running or flying away from the crimson face are Thor, Wolverine, Captain America, Deadpool, Rouge, and Havok. It has absolutely nothing to do with the issue, but is very cool and has a very retro vibe due to those red and white lines. The final cover is a Venom 30th Anniversary Variant cover by Jamal Campbell. These covers are running across several Marvel titles to celebrate this villain. This illustration is based on the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #347 which was originally created by Erik Larsen. This looks good, but why? Overall grades: Regular A+, Variant A, and Venom 30th Anniversary Variant C

The story: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, & Jim Zub open this issue focusing on Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, as she listens to Voyager tell her story. As this “original” Avenger speaks the character vanishes from past adventures that Janet was a part of. She makes the realization that Voyager was never an Avenger. Realizing these heroes are not happy with her, Voyager attempts to transport herself to see her father, but the Scarlet Witch stops her. Doctor Voodoo then uses his abilites to restrain her. He demands she start talking. The writers then move to the compound’s living quarters to focus on Bruce Banner, who’s recovering from being the Hulk and doing terrible things in the previous pages. There’s instantly a sense of irony at the top of Page 6 considering Bruce wanted to be dead. A character approaches him and they have a conversation where the tortured hero discusses his place in the world. Thankfully, the character speaking to him argues the opposite, which may change the doctor’s outlook. The story then moves to the medical bay, where one fallen hero’s state is brought up and another hero repeats that he’s seeing something moving among that they cannot. This is the issue where Voyager has to place her cards on the table to the heroes so that they, and the reader, know everything about her and then can decide whether she can be considered a friend or foe. What she tells the heroes the reader already knows, at least most of it. Looking at this issue in isolation, nothing major occurs in this installment, save Voyager’s backstory. It’s vaguely interesting if one likes these characters, but my concerns are more for Earth and its inhabitants, more so than this new/old character. A necessary issue, but not a thrilling one. Overall grade: C+

The art: This issue has a lot of exposition, which would have to occur after the Hulk smackdowns of the previous issues. Because of this, artist Paco Medina and inker Juan Vlasco have a lot of the book where the characters are just talking to one another. So there’s considerable standing around and looking at one another. This is tough place to be in as artists, but the pair do what they can to move the point of view around to make things look interesting. The first page incorporates some familiar images in Avengers’ history with Voyager disappearing from each. This is a good way to show how the truth of the character’s existence is slowly revealed to the heroes. The double-paged spread of Pages 2 and 3 establishes Voyager as the focus and the cast who want to know who the heck she is. Her attempt to exit is beautifully done and shows the power she’s capable of. It’s the intensity on Voodoo that ends the page that really stands out. That said, all the characters on 3 look really awkward, especially the Falcon. And what’s up with his fingers in that panel that are as long as his thumb? It’s only one panel, but I can’t get this image out of mind. The conversation between Bruce and the other character is really well done, showing the anger and despair of the tragic hero. The medical lab is a fairly tight space, allowing for some good close up of characters, though the hero on the table has his head way too far back in the top panel on 11. The wisp that catches a hero’s attention is neat. Voyager’s origin is told in three pages and these are illustrations that will appear whenever Marvel decides to update their Handbook of the Marvel Universe series. They look fantastic. The final four pages introduce the next threat for the world and the build nicely upon one another, resulting in a full-paged splash for the last page, with the villain in classic full-on rage mode. The visuals were okay on this issue. Overall grade: B

The colors: Jesus Aburtov & Federico Blee show their skills on the opening page by using faded, dated coloring for three panels that show Voyager disappearing from the characters’ past. A turn of the page returns to the excellent colors of the present, with seven Avengers close to the brightly colored Voyager. When the woman uses her abilities to leave the pinks to designate her powers look great. I like that they turn to violet when Voodoo uses his abilities to stop her. Glowing eyes are really well done by Aburtov and Blee in this issue, making the characters look unearthly. Good color work is also done on characters’ flesh, such as on the pair in the living quarters. The medical lab is a little too dark, though; I can’t think of any medical facility where the lighting isn’t brighter so that any injuries can be more easily seen. That first panel in that location is almost ridiculously dim. Heck, the outlying spaces are brighter than the one the injured party is on. The hero that sees the quick moving object is also too dark on his two pages. Things vastly improve for Voyager’s tale, with bright colors showing off all her family. I liked the majority of the colors, but there are some odd moments here and there. Overall grade: B

The letters:  Narration and dialogue (the same font), yells, scene settings, a sound, and the tease for next issue are created by VC’s Cory Petit. The story doesn’t provide opportunities for a variety of fonts, but when someone yells or puts emphasis on a word or phrase, Petit bolds them to make them stand out. A solid job, but nothing showy. Overall grade: B+

The final line: In a collection this might be more entertaining, but looked at on its own, this issue of exposition reveals information that the reader already knows. Unless something is teased that becomes a major plot point in later issues, this could be skipped and not much missed. 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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