Avengers #679

 Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub
 Kim Jacinto
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Mark Brooks

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

In last week’s issue of “No Surrender,” Human Torch was taken off the chessboard, leaving our dwindling party of Avengers to deal with the aftermath — all while a pair of bigger forces are pit against one another in the cosmos above. In Avengers #679, our epic story reaches the end of its first act. Should you bother continuing onto act two? Find out below!

The identity of The Grandmaster’s opponent is revealed in this issue —which I’ll touch on a little later— but apart from that aspect, we’re none closer to finding out who the big bad of “No Surrender” is here. At this point, the stakes seem a bit too “big” for it to be just Thanos, but who knows. Maybe it’s Thanos! It’s too soon to tell. I feel like everybody in the Marvel Universe just expects the root of any slight inconvenience to be at Thanos’ feet at this point. “Ouch, stubbed my toe. Flipping Thanos.” That sort of thing.

Missing in action.

In an interesting turn of events, this week turns the spotlight over to one of our many antagonists instead of another Avenger — specifically, The Challenger. I actually wasn’t sure if he was an existing character or not while reading this issue, but a quick search afterward leads me to believe he’s original to “No Surrender.”

Without getting into it too much —read the issue yourself!— we learn through a flashback that Challenger is actually an Elder of the Universe alongside The Grandmaster, retconned out of time and memory… not unlike Voyager. As a dark counterpart, of sorts, to the latter, I wonder if it’s an intention piece of characterization that’ll come up later. Maybe!

But by having The Challenger’s POV in this issue, it shakes up the formula a bit; I hadn’t even thought of an issue being told from the perspective of a non-Avenger until now. I have to assume this won’t be a one-off type deal, especially as we proceed into the second act of “No Surrender.”

Avengers #679 marks Kim Jacinto’s debut on “No Surrender,” and it keeps very much in line with the kind of visuals Pepe Larraz established throughout his initial run. Jacinto’s art is no better or worse than Larraz’s, which sounds like a backhanded compliment (it’s not). In the context of a weekly superhero book, consistent art is crucial in keeping us invested in the story; diverge too much from the path we began with, and it takes us out. In that respect, Jacinto is successful here. His character work is expressive, his visual storytelling is clear, and his tonal shifts from small-scale dialogue scenes to grandiose cosmic fare don’t feel jarring.

Paired with David Curiel’s colors and Cory Petit’s lettering, you could plausibly read this issue without even realizing there’s a different artist than you’ve come to expect. Again, not a bad thing! It sounds like I’m disparaging Jacinto’s work when I’m not, honest!

On the writing front, this particular issue feels very much commandeered by Al Ewing than prior installments have. Because every issue of “No Surrender” is credited to a pool of three writers (along with Jim Zub and Mark Waid), it’s difficult to tell which name had the biggest hand in a single script, but #679 is undeniably Ewing’s, with cosmic-level shenanigans and deep dives into Marvel lore. If you’re a fan of that sort of thing, you’ll love this issue. If not, there’s still enough happening on Earth (or as it’s dubbed in one scene, “Avengers World”) to keep you interested.

Buy it. 
With act one nearing its end, “No Surrender” pushes forward in Avengers #679 with an intriguing, cosmic-level installment. Buy it if you’re still onboard!

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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