Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Mark Brooks
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Nico Sprezzatura
This week in “No Surrender,” we witness the return of not one, not two, but three different Avengers — one of whom doesn’t quite seem to be his old self. But, are they worth worth your time? Find out with this week’s Avengers #681.
THE BIG BIG BAD?
At this point in the story, I do have to wonder if my theory that there’s a greater bad above Grandmaster and Challenge is valid, or if I’m projecting my expectations. It does kind of seem they’re the villainous ceiling of “No Surrender,” but I’m still expecting some sort of shoe to drop with voyager. If she’s not the main baddie, then she’s working for them. We’ll find out eventually, I guess!
Mentioned, but not seen. That is all.
THE LIMELIGHT AVENGER
This week’s narrator is Red Wolf, in his first substantial appearance of the story. He showed up at the end of last issue (alongside Hawkeye) as the Avengers’ cavalry, and his expertise becomes very useful here.
For those who aren’t familiar, Red Wolf is Marvel’s first Native American character, created in 1970 but reintroduced in 2015, in the Wild West-set Secret Wars tie-in 1872. When the Marvel multiverse was restored, that version of the character was transplanted into mainstream verse, and later joined Clint Barton’s ragtag team of anti-establishment Avengers.
Because of his unique background, he’s an ideal character to take the reins for an issue. Sometimes an outsider’s POV is exactly what you need, and as we see in the issue, Red Wolf makes a certain connection that may prove vital in figuring out how the Avengers get out of this mess.
WORDS AND PICTURES
This issue is drawn by guest artist Sean Izaakse, most recently of Uncanny Avengers and forthcoming on Champions, both of which keep him alongside “No Surrender” co-writer Jim Zub. I was a big fan of his work on Uncanny, and his style is compatible with the aesthetic established by predecessors Pepe Larraz and Kim Jacinto, so he’s more than a suitable fill-in for Kim Jacinto this week.
Colorist David Curiel deserves a mention, too. I haven’t said too much about his contributions up to this point, but now that we’re on our third artist of this story, his colors have become very noticeable and consistent throughout.
Colorists are crucial in maintaining a book’s tone amidst artist shake-ups; I always cite Ian Herring’s work on Ms. Marvel as a great example of this. Despite the myriad artists who’ve drawn that title since its launch in 2014, Herring’s colors are distinctive and serve as a throughline between artists. Here, Curiel is very much in that mode, with a weekly title like “No Surrender” necessitating that quality.
Plus, after many teases… Bruce Banner is officially back as Hulk. It should be mentioned that this was spoiled by Marvel a day ahead of this issue’s release, but hey. Immortal Hulk, baby!
With a major return for a classic member of the team —and a killer twist— Avengers #681 continues the weekly “No Surrender” saga with an exciting new wrinkle.