In Review: Avengers #690

Nice, but nothing memorable as the messes are cleaned up.

The covers: Three different covers on this concluding chapter of “No Surrender.” The Regular cover by Mark Brooks shows all the main players of this series: Scarlet Witch, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Rogue. All the characters look  incredible with Hulk and Cap being the standouts. The first Variant cover is by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Marcio Menyz. This is a gorgeous frontpiece of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones kissing after their wedding, while Captain America, Iron Man, a character I don’t know, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine look on smiling. The characters are great, the setting great, the details on the flowers in the foreground perfect, and the colors excellent. The other Variant cover is by In-Hyuk Lee and shows seven Avengers striking a pose atop a rocky outcropping. The Falcon, Voyager, Rogue, Beast, Wasp, Hulk, and Lightning look good. The birds flying behind the characters are distracting. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant Sprouse A+, and Variant Lee A-

The story: The danger has been stopped and the villains defeated, so writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub have the Avengers playing clean up and showing where the many members of this cast end up in its conclusion. Things start sadly as Jarvis is wheeled up to the mansion (Wasn’t he perfectly fine standing in the previous issues?) by Wasp with Beast and Wonder Man along. They stop once in the gate, looking upon the ruin of the mansion. Other heroes can be seen moving debris about, trying to clear the area so they can rebuild. Nadia Van Dyne rushes to the butler upon seeing him, giving him a lovingly long hug. Roberto reveals he’s stepping down from a leadership position from the team. Voyager, one of the reasons why disaster befell the Earth, makes her intentions for her future known, but not before Captain America, Thor, and Hercules speak with her. Both the fates of the Lethal Legion and the Black Order are revealed. One of these dastardly teams seems to make an agreement with a powerful villain, promising more deviltry at a later date. I was pleased to see that the Avengers Auxiliary Headquarters is addressed with some characters being focused on to return to at later date. Two Avengers are taking some time off from the team to look for a member they believe to be alive, and I see from the advertisements in this issue that there’s a spin-off series coming soon. The best scenes in this issue occur on Pages 15 – 17. There’s a lot of emotion in a brief discussion of the past. 17’s dialogue hit me hard and the visuals increased the tone substantially. The ending is fine, but takes too much from the conclusion of the second Avengers film’s credits. Seems too similar to what’s been in Metropolis for decades. Still, that’s a little thing. I’m sure it will be taken out as soon as the new Avengers title begins. Was this coda necessary? No. Characters’ choices could have been done in other books, like the beginning of the new series. Was this a good read. Yes. Was this integral to the “No Surrender” saga? No. Overall grade: B-

The art: The first page show the characters’ return to Avengers mansion. Artist Pepe Larraz has the characters react silently to the sight with the destruction unseen. Even the crowd surrounding the mansion is unhappy. A turn of the page has a double-page splash that shows how ruined this iconic building is. The scale of the destruction is increased with the inclusion of a few team members working in the debris or flying about to clear it. I admit getting a little choked up every time I look at this image. This sad vision is lessened immensely by Nadia’s reaction to seeing Jarvis. Her hugs gave me hope. Seriously, they did. Her smile made it better. Made me think it could get better. Moving to the characters in the skeletal frame of this building, they grin at each other: they know it will get better. These small smiles made the hurt lessen. When six of the team confront Voyager it resembles a trial. Showing her to have her head down makes her visually repentant for what she’s done. Her exit is spectacular. The teams of baddies are in incredibly different locations. Based on what Larraz has created, I’m more than willing to plunk down some money to see him continue the adventures of the group on Page 9. I liked seeing what was going on within the auxiliary HQ, with the visuals in the third panel on 11 giving me hope. The exit on 12 is terrific; it’s not a dramatic exit, there’s no fighting or yelling. Just a walking away and it makes this leave from the series wonderfully real. This realism that Larraz can create really comes to the forefront on 15 – 17. Several panels are close-ups of charactrers’ faces to make their words strong. Only one character can look the other in the face, making these visuals emotionally powerful. The last panel is not a surprise, but it is a heart breaker. The last page is a full-paged splash and it’s a solid image to end this issue, this storyline, and this series on, but it’s just too damn many characters. It also begs the question how did that get built so quickly and the mansion isn’t? Just saying. I continue to be in awe of Larraz’s work. Overall grade: A-

The colors: David Curiel’s work is flawless throughout this book. Notice how the characters are given light colors as they make their way to the mansion. When the reader is pulled back from them the colors brighten, which is a good contrast to what they see on Pages 2 and 3. The use of so much browns and whites on these two pages make this looks like the structure was firebombed. The first ray of sunshine in this book is the second panel on Page 4, with Curiel using a strong yellow to increase the warmth of Nadia’s reaction to seeing Jarvis. Voyager’s blue skin is beautiful and the violet energy she expels when she exits gorgeous. The many shades of emerald on Page 9 make the setting otherworldly. The tiny bright colors in the third panel on 11 made me extremely happy. The last page has Curiel creating a sensational lighting effect from the sun. Curiel can do no wrong. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, a yell, and scene settings are VC’s Cory Petit’s contributions to this issue. A wide array of fonts are necessary to this issue since the story is picking up the pieces of the actions of the previous fifteen issues. The scene settings continue to be brilliant and the one yell on Page 2 is wonderful. The emotion that this one exclamation exudes is perfect. Overall grade: A

The final line: Nice, but nothing memorable as the messes are cleaned up. Characters go their separate ways until called again and villainy takes a breather before causing more havoc. Was this necessary. No. Was it readable. Yes. But the last issue was the place to stop this story. 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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