Avengers #675 marks the beginning of “No Surrender," a 16-week event which sees all three books starring Marvel’s mightiest heroes folded into a single weekly title. The story brings together all of the current Avengers teams – the Uncanny, U.S. and adjectiveless versions, plus Hawkeye and Red Wolf’s Occupy Avengers – and the creative teams who were previously handling them into a single title, including writers Al Ewing, Mark Waid and Jim Zub.
It features just about every living hero who has ever responded to an “Assemble!” -- there are 28 characters on the cast page, and that’s not a fully comprehensive list of everyone in these pages -- and confronts them with an unprecedented global disaster.
In other words, this is a big comic, in just about every sense.
Even at 30 pages of story, the issue struggles to fit it all in. Among all the characters, all the explosions, all the structural damage to recognizable landmarks, it’s hard to find a single through line. The issue opens with Miguel Santos -- formerly Living Lightning, but “just Lightning these days” -- who also narrates the final scene. But Lightning doesn’t provide a consistent viewpoint character, or in fact appear in any of the intervening action.
Instead, we jump between clusters of heroes as they try to save the day as natural disasters break out across the world. Rogue and the Human Torch holding back a tidal wave in San Diego. Sunspot and his U.S. Avengers stopping Mount Vesuvius from erupting. The Wasp and Jarvis rescuing people in New York.
This is a good chance to see superheroes focused on saving lives rather than punching faces, but with no idea of what is behind the larger threat – namely, Earth and the moon being stolen from their normal corner of space, and being dropped somewhere else – it’s hard to get too invested in the action. These sequences are ably rendered by Pepe Larraz, in a style most reminiscent of Stuart Immonen’s Marvel work, but without the time to establish who is in danger or linger on any of the characters saving them, the stakes never feel as high as they should.
What’s left, then, is an issue of scattered great moments. Captain Marvel floating in space, looking out at where the Earth used to be. A couple of romantic beats, both of them given over to same-sex couples. The issue’s last-page reveal, which would admittedly be more effective if it hadn’t been given away in the initial announcement of the event.
They don’t quite add up to a satisfying whole, but there’s plenty here for “No Surrender” to expand on over the next 15 weeks. With the inciting explosions out the way, hopefully the forthcoming issues can spend a little more time with some of its 28-strong cast.