Avengers #682 - No Surrender Part 8
Contains Spoilers for Avengers #682, but this one has already been spoiled everywhere.
As it smashes (pun intended) into its halfway point, No Surrender, the massive Avengers story written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub, finally hits its stride in the most pleasing chapter yet. Joined this issue by guest artist Sean Izaakse, who brings a more classic superhero feel than the core art team, this one finally sees Avengers get proactive, and may even be a star-making turn for a character who deserves a bigger spotlight, after a few failed attempts to elevate his status.
The action-packed issue, largely rolling forward with the existing momentum of the story, sees Hawkeye and Red Wolf, who were partnered up after Occupy Avengers, joining the fray and aiding Falcon’s team against the Lethal Legion. These sequences are paired with a flashback to Battleworld, where Red Wolf resided before arriving on “Prime” Earth. This still, but tense, scene contrasts nicely with the explosive battle the Avengers find themselves in the present, while also illuminating the character of Red Wolf in a way that compliments his role in the issue. And what a role it is! Red Wolf has really suffered since his excellent introduction in the Secret Wars tie-in mini, 1872, with his solo series bogged down by problems and cancelled early and Occupy Avengers, his second push, cancelled quickly as well, so his spotlight in this issue is his highest profile so far, and the writers do not squander the opportunity. There will, without a doubt, be far more Red Wolf fans than there were because of this issue.
Beyond Red Wolf, the issue also moves every hanging plot element forward, finally aligning No Surrender for the “real” story, namely the nature of Voyager. Without her appearing, and only being named once, the mystery surrounding this retcon-in-a-character hangs over the conclusion, or, more specifically, the part with Jarvis. Jarvis, this issue, finally wakes from his coma and utters a few words that are assuredly related to Voyager and her “history” with the Avengers.
And then, finally, the teased return of the Hulk, which...is just a single image of him on the last page. Basically just a fourth cliffhanger in a row about the Hulk’s return, but, at least, this time he’s really back all the way and named, with his new title of Immortal Hulk. Clearly, this will be the central focus of the next issue or so, but, because of another twist in this one, these two plot threads will be colliding in explosive, and collateral-damage-inducing, fashion.
For his part, Sean Izaakse brings a strongly rendered and more classic-styled issue than the previous chapters. With a look that has echoes of Alan Davis and Mark Bagley, Izaakse does the book justice, but it isn’t as flashy or modern as the art of Pepe Larraz, who launched the book, or Kim Jacinto, who was originally supposed to draw this issue. It’s not hard to imagine that Jacinto would have blown the lid off this one, given his fantastic action panels over the previous issues, which is a high bar for Izaakse to meet. He doesn’t quite reach it, but, with Hawkeye traipsing about in his classic duds, the classic feel still works. And it doesn’t hurt that David Curiel is holding the visual look together with his vibrant coloring.
It’s great to see Red Wolf finally given a chance to shine, and, despite the hype about the Hulk, is really what makes this issue the best of the series so far. It’s invigorating to feel like the heroes in the book are finally approaching this situation in a proactive way, using their deductive reasoning to suss out the best strategy rather than just chasing the villains around and flailing about. Hopefully, the other heroes will finally wise up and follow his lead.