Avengers #680 - No Surrender Part 6
In an uneven installment, Avengers: No Surrender continues forward, providing some of the best looking action yet, but not enough narrative drive to hold it all together. Writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub, paired with artist Kim Jacinto and series colorist David Curiel, struggle to make this chapter feel impactful, with fumbled reveals, muddy pacing, and a reused cliffhanger. Will readers start to abandon the title if something doesn’t change soon?
Still reeling from the “death” of Johnny Storm, the Avengers have little time to regroup before they are off to the next macguffin (seriously, it’s even named as such in the story), taking the fight directly to the Black Order. But first, Avengers are taken out, others are returned to the field, and page space is devoted to Beast and the All-New Wasp figuring out that they were wrong about Jarvis’ condition and are basically back to square one.
“Back to square one” is an apt description for this issue, since, despite the fact that it’s in its sixth chapter, it doesn’t feel like the story is going anywhere. Between the Jarvis subplot (hardly the series’ most compelling) spinning its wheels and the core narrative returning back to the same place, essentially, it was 3 issues ago but with new locations, most of this issue a drag. The oddest thing may be the offhanded way a major mystery from the first issue of this story--the Avengers being locked in suspension--is ‘revealed.’ No drama, no shock, just, “oh, hey, this works like this, I guess.” And speaking of anti-climactic plot points, the cliffhanger is basically the exact same thing as the previous issue, made even worse because it is given absolutely zero context within this installment. Yes, that character is coming back soon. It was spoiled months ago, it’s not a surprise.
Perhaps the only real surprise in this issue is how good Kim Jacinto is at drawing fight scenes. Some of the character moments don’t really work, the facial expressions are too tense, they feel overly staged. But the big fight at the end of the issue? Jacinto was born to draw battles, clearly. The pages, assisted by David Curiel’s masterful coloring, just come alive during this sequence, keeping the action clear and concise while zeroing in on great moments with exciting framing. Sadly, it’s not enough to really save the book overall, as it’s too short, takes too long to get to, and is undermined by a weak twist and a recycled cliffhanger.
Waid, Ewing and Zub are all strong writers who know how to handle story, so it’s hard not to conclude that something is not working with their collaboration. Or perhaps that’s too harsh, and they are just biding time before the real fireworks start. They better get to it, however, as the audience may not be willing to stick around if issues continue to feel as thin as this one. Readers need more than just a short fight to get them coming back, and this story has a long way to go before it’s finished.