Written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub
Art by Pepe Larraz, David Curiel, Cory Petit
Edited by Alanna Smith, Tom Brevoort
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 17, 2018
“Something’s very, very wrong. . .”
Hank McCoy – the Beast – is the first Avenger to speak in Avengers #676 as he and Wasp (Nadia Pym) try to help remedy Edwin Jarvis’ condition on page one of this second chapter of the “No Surrender” storyline. Written by the trio of Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub, drawn by Pepe Larraz, colored by David Curiel, and lettered by Cory Petit, this issue resumes the standard twenty-page length for modern comics, but does not run short on exposition and set-up.
Nor is there a shortage of characters. In addition to the dozen-plus Avengers from three different squads, the Black Order (six members) and the all-new Lethal Legion (seven members) crash to Earth. Their purpose here appears to be simply to fight, with Earth serving as the battlefield – neutral ground for the two squads. Oh yeah, Voyager gets some space in Avengers #676 as well.
If you were intrigued by the “Who is Voyager?” campaign, then this is the issue for you, as you get five pages of Voyager’s story, told by the Avengers who fought alongside her. Those pages provide a nice, succinct measure of the character, giving readers more than enough to latch onto. Her portion of the tale dips into Avengers lore, with flashbacks to Avengers #1, Avengers #16, Avengers #58, and Avengers #70. Not only do we get her origin, but her battle with Victory (who strongly resembles another time-tossed character Mark Waid has history with) and brief cameos from Yellowjacket, Black Panther, Grandmaster, and Kang.
Larraz is simply masterful in his framing of the flashback scenes and the execution within, channeling Buscema and Kirby while embedding Valerie Vector – Voyager – into classic Avengers adventures that are anchored by Voyager’s would-be peers. The overall effect is convincingly executed, and will, undoubtedly have readers scrambling for archival editions of the aforementioned issues to root for clues of Voyager’s influence.
Modern Larraz is just as effective, with a glorious range of camera angle and perspective, giving depth and polish to the scenes of today through more detailed rendering, altered perspective, and dynamic panel construction. Some pages come together in masterful puzzle-like quality, with Larraz playing around with panel pop-outs and overlaps. Juxtaposed with the wonderfully nostalgic flashback panels, the modern-day scenes feel imminent.
Curiel’s work is not limited to colors, as he applies effects and depth, lighting and shadows, truly melding with Larraz to make Avengers #676 a masterwork, particularly in the modern scenes. He scales back the gradients and color ranges, offering flatter appearances to the flashback scenes. He then answers the Larraz’s pending current-day calamity with deeper tones, mixing in heavier amounts of cool shadow to offset the brighter tones of the Avengers’ uniforms and the surrounding energy bursts of the action permeating the pages of this comic. For every red, there is a blue, yellows to match blues, and so many tones of cool metal flashing across the panels.
In the midst of chaos, more danger materializes, with the Black Order and an all-new Lethal Legion popping up, answering to disembodied voices – one blue, one red, both bellowing in word balloons that are rimmed with Kirby-esque borders. Petit provides very clear tones to the unseen foes who appear to have set so much of “No Surrender” in motion. The meeting of the Black Order and the Lethal Legion is sharp and smart, thanks to the labels Petit assigns to the characters, making sure not to interfere with Larraz’s lines or Curiel’s colors. The ensuing battle brings an assortment of alien dialects, translated through various word balloon styles that add richness to the diversity in the pages of Avengers #676.
Again, it is mentioned that both heroes and villains have fallen to the suspended animation unleashed in the first chapter. No villains are shown in stasis, however, but not for lack of effort from Larraz, who maintains a cast of over thirty characters in twenty story pages.
That said, Avengers #676 has no Captain America, no Odinson, no Iron Man, Hulk, Black Panther, or any sliver of Hank Pym’s legacy (save a brief appearance by Nadia Pym on the first page of the issue). That lack of “classic” Avengers makes this issue feel a little bit “Avengers Disassembled,” but only a little. The exception is that rather than dispersing and drifting apart, the Avengers gather together in Avengers Mansion – three teams and some stragglers, all trying to figure out what’s happening and how.
Narrated by Falcon, Avengers #676 follows similar story structure to the previous issue, with the narrator giving us bookends for a major development. In this case, that development is two-pronged: the aforementioned collection of villainy and the cliffhanger that closes this issue out. I’m all-in with this Avengers adventure, especially since Avengers #676 expands the horizon of battle, widens the cast of characters, and brings something new to a story that has a classic Avengers feel.
The Verdict: 9.0/10