REVIEW: Avengers #683

AVENGERS #683 / Writers: Jim Zub, Mark Waid, & Al Ewing / Pencilier: Paco Medina / Inker: Juan Vlasco / Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov / Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit / Cover Art: Mark Brooks / Publisher: Marvel / March 7, 2018

Beast and Wasp, fending off a pyramoid-induced ghost invasion, go big (by going small) to save Jarvis in this week’s revealing issue of Avengers: No Surrender

Up to this point, the vast majority of action has taken place in far off locales around the globe with two different Avengers teams battling for Earth’s survival. Antarctica, Rome, Peru, all unwilling hosts of this cosmic game. Yet, tucked safely away from of all this fighting is Jarvis, quietly fighting for survival in the hospital. It’s been a long time coming for Jarvis to get his purpose revealed. All we’ve known is he has a virus and it’s killing him. I recognize he’s valuable enough to the Avengers to sideline Beast, Wasp, and others to tend to his care but what’s his purpose in the bigger picture of the game? 

Frustratingly, for the reader and the characters, the rules of the game continue to evolve. Are the pyramoids always going to kill you when you touch them? Apparently not. Understanding the scope of the game, from Grandmaster and Challenger on down through their two teams, The Black Order and Lethal Legion, to how the pyramoids work and the purpose of the Avengers at all, is fresh to everyone, reader and characters. Zub, Waid, and Ewing have taken their time doling out the facts of the game and with so many moving pieces, shifting the rules and realities doesn’t allow for anyone to feel they are on solid ground. I’m sure that’s purposeful, knowing how the issue ends, but it’s still aggravating for newer readers trying to keep all the characters straight.  

Despite the pyramoidal plot twist, the heart of the issue grapples with an age old question: do the needs of many outweigh the needs of just one? Beast and Wasp attempt to answer that question, knowing that the answer is wholly built on the character of the person tasked with finding the answer. In a story full of conflict, mostly the man vs nature/supernatural kind, adding even more interpersonal conflict feels heavy, too heavy. Logically, I know the Avengers are reeling and making life and death choices moment to moment. But all this is cumulative and nine issues in and it’s getting cumbersome to manage. There’s not enough shawarma in my city to refuel me after getting through this event. 

Where certain story elements left me annoyed, the art gave a valiant effort to make up for it. I’m still new to comics. I’ve figured out that reading comics for two years amounts to very little in a genre where stories go back decades. Much of my learning comes in the art. The English teacher in me gravitates to the text/lettering immediately. I will read through an issue too quickly and miss most of the story. I have to force myself to go back and really see the art to get what the comic’s selling. As I learn to do that, I love how I can see the characters come to life.

The artistic team of Medina, Vlasco, and Aburtov brought both Beast and Wasp, in particular, alive for my imagination in this issue. Transitions from big to small, how they grapple with the ghosts, how they express their shock at the end, all crafted with an eye for delivering humanity in a story riddled with anything but. As the entire issue is focused inside a hospital, and not at a sprawling exterior location, the art packs a punch in a relatively small space. At first blush, one would think a hospital room, the inside of a human brain, all would seem to limit the story. However, as I read more comics I learn that even in the smallest of spaces, a grand story can be told. 

My favorite visuals from the issue came from Jarvis’s mind. Beast makes his way through Jarvis’s body to get to his brain, hoping to inject the poor man with the antidote. I love how Medina, Vlasco, and Aburtov created Jarvis’s memories for me to see: a swirl of Avengers in battle, in classic 60s style. Just in this two page spread, I am reminded, through Beast, that Jarvis has quietly, patiently, and faithfully organized behind the scenes so someone else, the Avengers, can save the day. He’s witnessed it all. That witness, based on how the issue ends, proves to be invaluable. Jarvis gets to save the day.

The cliffhanger is not particularly surprising. I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. Now that I am more than halfway into this event, I’ve got to say that as a comic noob, this series is overwhelming. The vast cast of characters and action is exciting. It also leaves me bemused and in need of a deep dive into the Marvel back catalog to try and make heads or tails of what I just read. I don’t want to do that every week. Yes, this series is big in scope, bright in energy, a good mystery, and this series is not for the casual comic noob with life demands outside of reading comics. 

Verdict: 4 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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