REVIEW: Avengers #680

AVENGERS #680 / Writers: Al Ewing, Jim Zub, & Mark Waid / Artist: Kim Jacinto / Color Artist: David Curiel / Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit / Cover Art: Mark Brooks / Publisher: Marvel / Feb 14, 2018

Rogue, emotionally raw and physically exhausted, leads the way in Avengers #680. Reeling from the loss of a beloved friend, Rogue is done. Done playing defense. Done being a pawn in a deadly game. Done trying to think things through to logical conclusions. After learning from Voyager that two new beacons/pyramoids have been discovered in New Mexico and the Antarctic, the Avengers Rome team of Rogue, Hercules, Thor, Voyager, and Lightning, trade Roman ruins for the Antarctic ice.

The Avengers Peru team is down for the count at the opening of the story. Red Hulk has withered down to human form, heart damage and all. Scarlet Witch arrives with a support team, via a cool spell from Dr Voodoo, bringning the team’s number back to fighting strength. In an unexpected twist, Wasp, as in Janet Van Dyne, arrives to help! Last we saw her she was frozen in stasis. Somehow Grandmaster has sorted the game that when one Avenger goes down, another will leave stasis to take the fallen’s place.

Back at Jarvis’s bedside, Nadia and Beast continue searching for a cure. Simon arrives and tells them of Johnny Storm’s death, bringing a stark reminder that saving the world is one thing, a noble thing, but focusing on saving a friend is just as worthy. Nadia, understanding Simon’s abilities, throws a Hail Mary of an idea past him, a possible way to save Jarvis, but will it work?

The strongest part of the entire issue centers on an epic battle in Antarctica. The Black Order, led by Corvius Glave and Proxima Midnight have arrived first, hoping to claim the beacon for their own and win the round. 

I just loved the detail on Corvius Glave in this issue. He’s an ugly electric vicious otherworldly-looking creature. Plus, I totally dig Mjolnir flying in and out of scenes in the fight, Thor nowhere in sight. 

Remember how I said Rogue was just done? Yeah, Rogue shows UP, her Avengers crew in tow, ready to avenge Johnny’s death and lay waste to any foe in her path. Her narration throughout the fight lends emotional depth, a combination of pain and sarcasm, to a scene that could feel shallow, despite the explosive action.

The way the panels are arranged amps up the energy and gets more frenetic as Rogue’s rage finds its target in any and all of the Black Order. One page is made entirely of horizontal panels impling fast movement while the next page hits the breaks with three vertical panels. The effect on the reader is like being in a fight: flying fast fists meeting suddenly smashing stops.

Each panel gives Rogue a chance to let her pain out and she’s making good contact. The Black Order underestimated Rogue and her team. The strongest page brings Rogue’s power to life as she clutches Corvius Glave’s face with her bare hand. Jacinto’s art and Curiel’s colors reveal the depth of Rogue’s pain and her satisfaction with being able to make someone, anyone, pay.

It was refreshing to focus on a single battle and have so many pages dedicated to it. This issue is all Rogue’s. The bitter taste of guilt, of feeling powerless is immediate from the jump. Rogue doesn’t see herself like a Falcon or a Cap or anyone else usually tasked with leading a team. In the face of all the chaos and death around them, she has no choice but to play to her strengths. The frames where she really gets to dish it out were extremely satisfying. These Black Order fools treat everyone, Avengers included, as if they were nothing, nothing more than game pieces on a board. To watch Rogue rise against that and make them pay is immensely satisfying. If only it were so easy in the real world.

The issue closes with a tease for something sinister in the shadows of a broken down town somewhere in Nevada.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

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I'm a curious, creative, comic(al) woman. I am unapologetically Team Cap, but not HydraCap because there is a line in the moral sands of the universe and that whole thing is on the other side of it. I teach high school students all about the joys of mythology through comic books, graphic novels, and films. I wandered into the comic book world in 2015 and is a proud member of the #DoYouEvenComicBook gang.

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