REVIEW: Avengers #688

AVENGERS #688 / Writers: Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub / Artists: Kim Jacinto & Stefano Caselli / Color Artist: David Curiel / Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit / Cover Art: Mark Brooks / Publisher: Marvel / April 11, 2018

It’s game over and Earth’s chances of survival seem slim in this speedy 14th issue of Avengers: No Surrender. Challenger has won the game, technically. Is winning because the other cheated a real win though?

All we know  for now is Challenger is in his rageful feels and Earth is his prime target for destruction. The Avengers realize they are outmanned and outgunned. Can Quicksilver and the team at HQ scramble any sort of defense before time runs out?

Earth’s imminent demise puts the Avengers back in reactive mode in this commanding issue. If you wondered how Earth could keep on spinning and it’s atmosphere remain intact—despite Grandmaster moving the planet somewhere else in the galaxy—you’ll be pleased to find that question answered this week. It’s believable enough in a world where monsters, aliens, superheroes, mutants, and ancient beings all reside in the same plane of existence. Of course, Challenger’s smash-and-crash world tour complicates everyone’s chances of survival.

In helping to beat back this latest brink-of-ultimate-destruction, Voyager’s new allegiance to the Avengers is convenient and useful. She’s explains everything about how her father kept Earth livable for his game, including how it’s all going to fall apart—fast. (Thanks a lot, Challenger.) Of course, Voyager’s not actually qualified to get the job done. Everyone, from Thor and Lightning to Hercules and DaCosta, takes their shot at doing what they do best, but it’s not going to be enough. These Avengers, even with Hulk in the mix, are woefully overwhelmed.

Quicksilver’s got a plan to free the rest of the Avengers from stasis. Yet, there’s no guarantee that more Avengers will turn the tide and keep Earth spinning. What can a few more superheroes actually do in the face of imminent destruction? How will Earth’s Mightiest Heroes repel Challenger? How does one return an entire planet to its original orbit in the universe? If you were thinking our heroes are in over their heads big time, you just may be right. I have no idea how they’re getting out of this one intact.

This 14th installment in the No Surrender run plays the cards one expects in the waning chapters of an adventure story. The power of teamwork, of stepping up and playing to your strengths, and sacrifice for the greater good all shine through. That’s not to say it’s all serious or doom and gloom. There’s an infinitely satisfying scene between Challenger and Hulk that might be my favorite part of the issue. I’m still on about Hulk’s perfect teeth. If they survive his encounter with Challenger, I’m giving up. You win, Hulk. You and your teeth are as indestructible and immortal as your name suggests.

I’ve got to dig deep on the art for a couple of specific characters this week as all stood out and took this issue from enjoyable to must-read.

Quicksilver takes the narrative lead this week, fueled primarily by Jacinto, Caselli, and Curiel’s admirable work. Yes, he’s fast. This is known, even by newbie me. It’s one thing to use the basics to show speed, hites and all that. Quicksilver’s scenes are more than the sum of its parts. The admiration comes in with the balance of panels, color, and narration. Their art brings a real emotional weight, a yearning for something just out of reach. For a character like Quicksliver, not much is ever out of reach. There’s a strange juxtaposition of being so fast and not fast enough that propels the story forward with an emotional weight worthy of the task at hand.

Last week I got all gushy about Challenger. Yes, I will admit that he’s sort of hot in a really inappropriate, world domination, would-kill-me-as-soon-as-look-at-me way. Fine. Moving on. This week, he’s just as imposing but he’s on Earth now, not just wandering up in the stars somewhere. He’s beating down my planet and that cannot stand.

So I set to thinking about what, artistically, draws me to Challenger again this issue. He’s’ not often shown in action, doing anything. He stands around a lot, electric vibes snapping and zapping around him. The draw is in the details. The balance of color, his mouth is just a little too big, his eyes a little to beady.

As I wrap up, I have, have, have to gush about Mark Brooks’ amazing cover. Art Nouveau juxtaposed with our heroes grabbed my attention and kept it. I’ve never spent a good four or five minutes admiring a cover before. That changed this week. It reminds me of a beautiful stained glass window. All the familiar symbols, Cap’s shield, Thor’s hammer, Ironman’s helmet. Spoilers at what’s to come or just cool design? We will have to wait and see.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

 

 

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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