Avengers #868 Review

Avengers #686

Writers: Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub
Artists: Paco Medina (penciller), Juan Vlasco (inker)
Colorist: Jesus Abertov
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

How many Avengers does it take to neutralize an Immortal Hulk? In this week’s Avengers #686, the “No Surrender” saga inches closer to its conclusion, and presents an unexpected face turn for one its insidious foes — but can they be trusted?

THE BIG BIG BAD?

One interesting facet of “No Surrender” is that it seems there’s no central villain running everything, but rather, a rotating vacant spot for any one amoral character to inhabit whenever it needed to be filled. At first we thought it was the Grandmaster, and then Voyager (more on that in a bit…), and with the conclusion of this issue, another figure has staked their claim for the evil throne.

Still no Thanos, though. Marvel is likely saving him for the just-announced Infinity Wars event this summer, so I’d be surprised if he even makes an appearance at this point.

VOYAGER WATCH

Whew, Voyager has been taking us for a real rollercoaster ride in this story, huh? First she was good, then she wasn’t, and now she’s… maybe good again? As Grandmaster’s game Challenger continues with no clear end in sight, Voyager is confronted with a surprising decision: continue playing with (or for) her father, or jump ship to the Avengers.

Based on what we know about Voyager, this could be yet another double-cross. But it could also not be one. Guess we’ll find out sooner than later!

THE LIMELIGHT AVENGER

Wonder Man takes the reins of this issue. Simon Williams is an interesting character; he’s a classic Avenger who doesn’t really get much to do these days, and he spent much of the past decade out of commission. “No Surrender” has really been an opportunity for him to remind the both the Avengers and us readers why he deserves his membership, so his version of events is a valuable one.

That said, this issue is mostly dictated by action rather than words, so we don’t get that much of his perspective on things. But he’s definitely a character I’d like to hear more from moving forward, if Marvel has any substantial plans for him after “No Surrender.”

WORDS AND PICTURES

Paco Medina draws some damn good Hulk. That’s pretty much my main takeaway from this issue, which features Medina’s reliably good pencils joined by Juan Vlasco’s inks and Jesus Abertov’s colors. I particularly love a scene wherein Rogue attempts to get through to Bruce Banner inside the shell of a Hulk — between the Hulk himself and Rogue’s verdant color palette, there’s a whole lot of green there. But it works!

Cory Petit’s lettering is also very good in this issue, giving him ample opportunity to play around with different styles. Ensemble pieces like Avengers require clear, visual distinction between different characters in dialogue, and when you can render the words presented on a page uniquely from one another, it makes for a better reading experience.

Wonder Man’s narration, for example, looks different from other character narration, while Black Swan’s dialogue bubbles are black and more sinister compared to that of, say, Thor’s regal Asgardian flavor. Another subtle point in the lettering: Hulk’s dialogue bubbles are presented in the standard format, rather than “hulked out” distress, because the Immortal Hulk is fully cognizant and intelligent. It’s clever!

THE VERDICT: Buy it.

“No Surrender” is fast approaching its conclusion, but before then, Avengers #686 is yet another satisfying chapter of this epic superhero saga.

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

Nico Sprezzatura

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

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