SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers #677, by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub, Pepe Larraz, David Curiel and Cory Petit, on sale now.
Marvel’s 16-part weekly story Avengers: No Surrender wasted little time establishing serious stakes. So little time, in fact, that the publisher spoiled the series’ first major casualty, Jarvis, over one month before the release of the first issue. However, while the longtime Avengers butler is still clinging to life (for now), another mainstay of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes may have actually met their maker in the pages of Avengers #677.
With the Black Order and the Lethal Legion engaged in a brutal competition, it’s deemed necessary for the Avengers to be relocated, for lack of a better word. As such, the Black Order destroys Avengers Mansion, and if not for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, the charred remains of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would have been scattered amongst the rubble. Instead, the team is transported to an old auxiliary Avengers headquarters, where they quickly begin to regroup and talk strategy.
The heroes split up into three teams; one to counter the threat of the Lethal Legion in Rome, one to take on the Black Order in Peru, and one to remain at HQ as a reserve unit. Falcon recruits Human Torch, Red Hulk, Synapse and Wonder Man to join him in Peru, while Rogue assembles a team consisting of Thor, Hercules, Lightning and Cannonball. Meanwhile, Quicksilver – who’s still on the outs with Rogue – scorns his fellow heroes for leaving him behind to, as he puts it, “make coffee at the speed of sound.”
Nevertheless, Pietro refuses to be grounded for long, despite Rogue’s lack of trust in him. The speedster quickly makes his way to Rome, only to discover that the Lethal Legion has his friends on the ropes. As the last Avenger standing, Pietro strikes, making quick (no pun intended) work of Metal Master, the Blood Brothers and Mentacle. However, back at HQ, Scarlet Witch is in the midst of using a hex to try and wake Vision from his state of hibernation – a seemingly unrelated act that has unexpected consequences for Pietro.
Although Wanda succeeds in freeing Vision from his paralysis, the synthezoid's previous state immediately shifts to another Avenger: Quicksilver. As soon as his teammate is mobile, the speedster immediately finds himself in the same predicament, frozen in place. Unlike Vision, though, Pietro isn’t surrounded by friends but rather by the Lethal Legion. Then, as the issue comes to a close, we see the Blood Brothers pummeling the helpless Quicksilver into the ground, sending chunks of debris flying into the air.
One the one hand, this is very much the sort of cliffhanger ending longtime readers have come to expect from serialized comic books, and oftentimes, they’re merely used to build drama and anticipation for the next issue. However, there are a few things to consider before simply brushing this off as cheap shock value.
First and foremost, the solicitation for next week’s fourth chapter of Avengers: No Surrender specifically states that one of the heroes will pay the ultimate price, followed by the not-so-subtle disclaimer, “THE FIRST AVENGER FALLS!” Furthermore, there appear to be clues alluding to Quicksilver’s demise in the cover art for the one of the event's final chapters, Issue #688, which depicts the speedster donning a crown of what looks like lilies. The crown, of course, is often used as symbolism for a halo, while flowers are symbolic of restored innocence upon death. It also bears an uncanny (again, no pun intended) resemblance to the crown on the Statue of Liberty, which projects a luminous aureola at night – once again, symbolic of a halo.
All things considered, if Quicksilver isn’t the hero who dies in Avengers #678, then Marvel's done an incredible job making it appear that way.