A cosmic threat so large has emerged that all the various Avengers teams must come together in Avengers #675. Thus begins the “No Surrender” story which will run weekly for the next few months.
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: January 10, 2018
Collected in: Avengers: No Surrender
AVENGERS goes WEEKLY for the stunning sixteen-part saga that will write the end of an era! The Earth has been STOLEN! The sky burns while mysterious cosmic objects crash down from above, wreaking havoc across the world! The Avengers are the last line of defense between Earth and the mysterious forces threatening to tear it apart. It’s time to ASSEMBLE! The teams you know and love from AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS, U.S.AVENGERS and OCCUPY AVENGERS come together to face a threat beyond any they’ve faced before in a weekly epic adventure that will define the future of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!
For decades now it has been the status quo that the most popular characters and teams will field multiple books. It does not matter what company we are talking about, the top sellers will get secondary titles whether it is wise or not. In recent years we saw this happen with the explosive popularity of both Deadpool and Black Panther title, which spawned multiple spin-offs each… all of which were cancelled within a year. Even the triple-A properties like Batman or the X-Men have a hard time floating multiple titles these days, and we are often left with a game of whack-a-mole as new titles get announced, launched and cancelled in rapid succession. Sometimes a book makes it past the year mark, but that is uncommon.
One trick that has been tried to combat this is to have a single title bearing the brand name, just published once a week instead of once or twice a month. The most notable example I can think of is Amazing Spider-Man from several years back where they ditched all the periphery titles and went weekly with the one title. If you take a look at the solicitations these days you will see that we are back to having multiple Spidey-books on the market, so make of that what you will.
All of this is lead up to point out that the number of Avengers titles was absolutely getting unwieldy (four with the name “Avengers” in it alone). Marvel has thus decided to temporarily nix all those titles in favor of going with a weekly version of the Avengers for the next four months. The writers from the other titles are all working together to make this a big event called “No Surrender”. Who exactly the Avengers are not surrendering to is still a bit of a mystery, and not one that the first issue sheds much light on.
Basically this would normally be a crossover event going through all the Avengers books, but instead Marvel has put the other books on hiatus and made it easy to keep track of what the reading order is. That is actually a pretty decent way of doing things, and one I hope turns out to be successful. It does not mess up any tradepaperbacks for the other books, avoids consumer confusion, and makes it easy for readers to skip if they are not interested in the story (Marvel probably is not too keen on that last point). If this is a preview of how Marvel plans to do crossovers in the future then I am in. The only question remaining is if Marvel will push forward with a weekly schedule for Avengers following the release, or if they will relaunch and/or rebrand the other titles after. Like many things in Avengers #675, we will have to wait to find out about that one.
Given that this is the starting point for a sixteen-part event it would be safe to assume that this issue would primarily be one for setting up the threat, which is exactly what it does. This issue is big on questions and light on answers, which would be annoying if we had to wait a month, but on a weekly release schedule that should be fine. The basic premise as laid out here is two-fold. First, the Earth has been moved out of the solar system abruptly by powers unknown. Second, a select group of heroes and villains have been put in suspended animation all across the globe. Both of these things happened separately, but instantaneously. We will also be ignoring the massive geological problems that would come with moving the entire planet to same arbitrary location in the hopes an explanation for that will be forthcoming in later issues.
Interestingly it looks like D-List hero Living Lightning (now going by just “Lightning”, apparently) is going to be our primary point-of-view character, which seems like an odd choice. I presume the idea is to help give the story some weight by viewing it through the lens of a character who is not constantly dealing with Earth-threatening events himself. It also helps underscore how big a deal everything is because the Avengers called him in, which even he recognizes means they are scrapping the bottom of the barrel for help. We will have to wait and see if this will end up being a breakout arc for Lightning, although I am guessing his role is strictly going to be point-of-view with a major heroic moment towards the end.
With the basic plot established the rest of the issue is dedicated to the Avengers cleaning up the mess left by these events. This is basic introductory stuff here for people who may not have been reading U.S.Avengers, Occupy Avengers, or Uncanny Avengers. Each of the teams gets a brief introduction and some broad notes on their current status. Everyone gets their chance to be heroic, and do amazing things that show how powerful the teams are. One team fights a tidal wave, while another deals with a volcanic eruption, just as two examples. It is all absurd, over-the-top sci-fi nonsense that sets the tone just right for this book. This is going to be a popcorn adventure through and through, and this issue is letting us know that upfront. That does not mean you will suddenly fall in love with it if you prefer your sci-fi a bit more grounded, but at least it has the decency to warn you in advance.
Tossed in with the setup is our token nod to proving the threat is real by injuring a recognizable character. In this case we get to see Jarvis, the Avengers butler, get crushed by falling rocks as he saves a girl from certain death. I am going to throw it out there now that this plot thread will probably somehow lead to Jarvis being merged with Vision to bring the comics version of the character in line with the movie version. This is a shot in the dark, but given Marvel’s desire to “movie-fy” their comic characters, no matter how little it makes sense, I think it is a fair guess.
Regardless, this also allows for some dramatic tension since the Avengers have to focus on saving the world over directly helping their friend. This is a choice that the newer Wasp, Nadea Pym, takes issue with and dashes off to get Jarvis help. Honestly, that part of it makes sense since we have already seen in Nadea’s short-lived series that Jarvis is important to her. That does not change the fact that the Avengers — several of whom are doctors — seem ready to write him off. This is not some crazy techno virus or AIDS stand-in this time around, he has just been severely injured by falling rocks. In the world of comics that practically happens three or four times a week, and there is always some Kirbytech around the corner to deal with it (if the character is important enough, which Jarvis is). I just do not buy that even amidst a cataclysm the Avengers would not take care of their own. But, hey, artificial drama is a comicbook staple, so there you go.
There is one last thing to talk about here, and that is the introduction of a new character. There has been a bit of advertising behind her so this is not precisely a surprise, but regardless the addition of Voyager to this story is going to be one of the main talking points for a while. Right now we know virtually nothing about her, except that she is being retroactively inserted as an original Avenger. Back in the early 2000s Marvel played with this idea with the Sentry, and it worked well enough at the time. Unfortunately the downside to that is that we are now adding in a second original Avenger that no one has ever heard of. At this point it is too early to tell how we are supposed to take that. We will have to wait until next week to see where this idea is going. It is worth noting that the seeds for Voyager’s introduction were planted in Marvel Legacy #1 last year, so this is not precisely out of the blue.
Thoughts on the Art
The interior art for Avengers #675 comes from Pepe Larraz this week, with David Curiel joining him as the colorist. I am not familiar with Pepe’s work prior to this, but he has a solid grasp of how to do blockbuster action books. There is a lot of dynamism to his panels which sells the crazy action going on. His facial expressions lean towards the cartoony and exaggerated side, but not distractingly so. For a book like this the idea is to keep things readable while showcasing the chaos, and that Pepe Larraz does well.
David Curiel takes Pepe’s linework and adds a lot of pop to it. This is a flashy book that draws from pretty much the entire color palette. That can be tricky as too much color can make page flow and direction hard to follow, but just like Pepe David is up to the task. Between the two of them they have a good looking book here, and hopefully the remaining issues will be able to live up to it.
As the start to a major event this is not a bad introduction. There are ton of questions still up in the air — not the least of which is how the Earth has not iced over and been destroyed now that it is not near the sun anymore– but there is a lot of time to get answers for those. More problematic is the new character Voyager. Inserting her into history like this comes with a whole host of problems that will need to be addressed. There are some talented writers involved on this event so I have confidence that things will play out with some degree of logic, but faith only takes you so far.
It is always hard to rate a first issue of an event based on what we get in that issue alone. So much of this issue being well received will depend on where all these plot threads end up within the next few months. Will the introduction of Voyager make sense? Will the explanation of the Earth’s magical teleportation hold weight? Is this all just an overlong vehicle to turn Jarvis into Vision? There is no way to know yet.
That said, taken on its own this is a promising start. It would be easy for a story like this to start off confusing, but it is actually easy to follow along. Each team gets some spotlight time, and important characters get introduced. I would not say that is enough to commit to what is essentially a sixteen-issue maxi-series if you are not already an Avengers reader, but it is worth keeping an eye on. Any Avengers fan reading any of the books being published up to this point should at least find something to like in Avengers #675. At the very least it is off to a much better start than Avengers: Standoff two years ago, so that has to count for something.
(For what it is worth: I am mostly certain that this story will heavily involve the infinity gauntlet and Thanos. We have the sudden teleportation of a giant planet across the galaxy, the full on freezing of multiple characters simultaneously and blatant time manipulation to introduce a sixth founding Avengers, all of which would require power on a cosmic level. These powers are not exclusive to the infinity gauntlet, but all of them at the same time limits the list considerably. There is also the fact that this series will be wrapping up just around the time the Avengers: Infinity War movie hype will be in full swing, and I think there are pretty good odds that is where we are heading.)