And he’s been done dirty!

In Avengers #679, the Grandmaster’s Challenger stands … revealed! Can he take back what’s rightfully his? Is it good?

The Skinny

Lightning can’t help but feel responsible for what happened to the Human Torch. But how will he tell Rogue?

And what does it mean for the game the Grandmaster and his Challenger are playing? Ol’ GM seems to be behind the 8 ball a bit, with a “designated obstacle” beating his team to the McGuffin. Sure, he wants this to be competition on the highest level, but he should remember the highest of all stakes is on the line.

Just like the life of loyal Avengers butler, Edwin Jarvis! Beast and Wasp find out his condition is worse than it looks, thanks to being witness to so much superhero craziness over the years. Even if they can heal the acute, will Jarvis fall to the chronic injury?

The Lowdown

The condition of Jarvis is a nice nod to continuity (and reality), much the same way that pre-Superior Spider-Man Dr. Octopus’ geriatric body gave out after repeated super-punches.

But Avengers #679 is all about the Challenger. Spoiler here, but if you were expecting him to be revealed as a pre-existing character, you’ll be disappointed. No, the Challenger and the Grandmaster were once locked in perpetual combat, until our familiar GM pulled the ultimate upset on his former better and banished him to a state of eternal nothingness, never to to return, until everything ends. Sound familiar?

Now, with the same chips on the table, the Challenger will stop at nothing to reverse the roles. The writing team of Mark Waid, Jim Zub and Al Ewing believably craft this new character’s backstory, and drench him in the rage of squandered millennia. We’re reminded of the Grandmaster’s shrewd trickery, as the villain infighting continues to take center stage, this time at a cosmic scale.

So there isn’t much of the actual Avengers in Avengers #679. That’s fine, as it’s good to have a fleshed out villain, but it seems like the heroes have been undercut for most of this weekly “No Surrender” storyline. Rogue gets a nice “maverick tough guy” moment here, but that’s about the extent of it. Obstacles, indeed.

Kim Jacinto’s art is solid throughout, with fine lines and great facial expressions. It’s like a poor man’s Leinil Yu, and that is anything but a slight, although the shading is a little heavy-handed at times. David Curiel’s colors enhance the grounded-yet-fantastic scenes, rounding out the big-time superhero feel.

The Upshot

Avengers #679 is another fine installment of this slooooowly unfolding story. The creative team does their duty in creating cliffhangers at the end of each issue to try holding excitement over to the following weak, but “No Surrender” may not be meaty enough to convince people to part with $16 every month. At five issues in, it almost feels like we’re still in the prologue.

It’s also a little sad to see Lightning go from the point-of-view character to a transcontinental messenger service. With all the attention paid to the Challenger here, you’d almost think he was the protagonist.

Avengers #679
Is it good?
It's fine, but nothing spectacular. "No Surrender" is a very long story, but it feels like the creative team is more using that as an excuse to spin their tires rather than pack in the most action possible.
Great art from rising stars
An interesting backstory for the Challenger
Where are the characters on the marquee? It's not called "Challenger: No Surrender."
The pace is dreadfully slow, as you might expect, but that doesn't mean it has to be
7
Good

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