Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Nico Sprezzatura
“No Surrender,” the latest Avengers epic, continues in earnest this week with issue #678. After a month’s worth of issues, are we getting any closer to some answers? Kinda.
With Avengers #678, we’re officially at the one-fourth mark of the story. It’s perhaps time for things to heat up — luckily, our POV character this week does that for us quite literally, as I’ll explain a little further down. Without giving things away, this week introduces us to a new MacGuffin that could prove fatally crucial to someone in our expanded cast.
But enough with the preamble — time to break down the issue a bit.
THE BIG BIG BAD?
Last week’s reveal of the Grandmaster certainly complicated matters for our Avengers, but this issue suggests there’s a bigger bad operating above him, the Black Order, and the Lethal Legion. We even see them —or part of them, anyway— in a panel at one point. I have to assume it’s an established character we’ve seen before, or else keeping their identity secret would seem pointless.
Also, still no Thanos… yet.
Not much to report this week. Sorry folks! That said, a very interesting solicit for Avengers #687 revealed last week (accompanied by this incriminating cover) mentions that a “traitor in their midst…may be their best chance at survival.” Could this shady figure be Voyager herself? Totally possible.
THE LIMELIGHT AVENGER
This week, we’re treated to Human Torch’s perspective on the events happening. Johnny Storm is a pretty interesting character to follow lately, between his current status as an Avenger and former member of the Fantastic Four, who’s still mourning the apparent loss of his sister and brother-in-law. As he explains in his narration, Johnny feels like he has something to prove to the others, which leads to a crucial moment on the final page.
The further we get into “No Surrender,” the more I’m realizing how efficient this shifting POV structure in the narrative is shaping up. Just take a look at the roster page and you’ll realize how vast the scope of this story is, so by putting a new character in the spotlight each week, you avoid the frequent problem of overcrowding-but-underserving in these big crossovers.
WORDS AND PICTURES
One thing I’ve really been appreciating about “No Surrender” is that, despite its cataclysmic plot, writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub haven’t forgotten to add some levity to the proceedings. At one point in this issue, the Avengers take a beat to stop and watch the villains fight each other, to which (who I believe to be) Hercules exclaims “AVENGERS OBSERVE!” It’s really the small moments in a story like this that make it an enjoyable reading experience.
Avengers #678 is the last we’ll see of Pepe Larraz’s art until closer to the finale, and this past month he definitely set a high bar for any successors moving forward. This issue in particular required a lot of character work from him, and he definitely succeeds in nailing the emotional moments from Waid, Ewing, and Zub’s script.
I wonder how a shakeup in visuals will affect the story moving forward. We learned last week that at least two of incoming successor Kim Jacinto’s issues have been replaced by Mike Perkins (recently of Iron Fist) and Sean Izaakse (Zub’s collaborator on Uncanny Avengers and their upcoming Champions). Izaakse’s art is more akin to the aesthetic of Larrraz, Jacinto, and Paco Madina than Perkins’, so it’ll be interesting to see how those issues measure up to the collective art of this story overall.
Buy it. If you’re still along for the ride, Avengers #678 is worthy of your dollars — unless you’re planning to catch-up in trade.