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Avengers #681: Review

Feb 2018
Mark Waid, Kim Jacinto

Story Name:

No surrender: part 7

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #681 Review by (March 2, 2018)
The May solicitations show that Avengers starts with #1 again after this weekly story arc ends with #690. So this run won't last to the big #700.

Captain Glory's 'origin' suggests he isn't Noh-Varr's father or the evil alternate version of the same, but another alternate - possibly the 1 from *this* timeline.

I don't know how Ferene is in both battle sites at the same time. She's only shown in the New Mexico battle in the opening double-spread, so it's most likely just a mistake. She was in the Antarctic at the end of last issue and later in this issue. But we don't know anything about her powers, so she *could* be capable of bilocation. Alternatively the 2 battles this issue and last could be simultaneous - the end of last issue could be after the start of this 1, and she could teleport from New Mexico to the Antarctic.

Hawkeye and Red Wolf were last seen in #675. They've not been frozen like other super-characters, presumably because they have no superpowers. But they weren't summoned by Voyager to Avengers Mansion.

Mike Perkins helps out with the pencils/inks this issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #681 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Image from Avengers #681
2 Elders of the Universe Grandmaster and Challenger have stolen the Earth to use as a gameboard for their game. They have chosen 2 teams of aliens as their playing pieces, who will contend for Pyramoids which the Elders place on the board. Most of Earth's superbeings have been frozen in stasis to stop them from interfering. But the Elders have left a large group of Avengers to act as obstacles for the alien pieces to overcome.

2 Pyramoids were placed for the 1st round. Challenger has the Black Order team whose member Black Dwarf won the Pyramoid of Earth. But Grandmaster's Lethal Legion haven't won anything because Avenger Human Torch grabbed the Pyramoid of Fire. Unfortunately getting a Pyramoid seems to disintegrate the getter (but we know they have merely been teleported somewhere and frozen inside giant blocks of something).

Then 2 more Pyramoids were dropped into place. Last issue we saw Rogue's team of Avengers fighting to stop the Black Order reaching the Pyramoid of Water in the Antarctic. Now we turn our attention to New Mexico where the Pyramoid of Air is the subject of battle between the Lethal Legion and Falcon's Avengers.

Captain Glory of the LL gives us a mental voiceover commentary. He explains that he is actually Captain Glah-Ree of the Kree. His squadron was wiped out in battle with the Takolians, but Grandmaster plucked him from certain death to join some others in a similar position. They were to play a game against the Black Order. If they failed they would each be sent back to the time and place they came from, and left to die.

Meanwhile he is preparing to fight Synapse of the Avengers. The might of the Blood Brothers is pitted against tiny Wasp (Janet Van Dyne). Ferene defends herself against Falcon. Mentacle lashes out at Citizen V (Roberto Da Costa) with her mind and her tentacles. Metal Master (Molyn) propels a car at Scarlet Witch. And Drall faces the spells of Doctor Voodoo.

Synapse and Wasp evade their attackers. Metal Master ignores *his* opponent in favour of trying to encase the Pyramoid in iron. Being a supervillain he speaks his thoughts out loud and lets slip that the fact that they are working for the Grandmaster. Wanda Maximoff hears this and casts a spell at him to force him to explain what's going on. He of course just mumbles a vague hint.

In Antarctica Rogue's team have defeated the Black Order. They captured Ebony Maw, and Rogue took out her anger over her lover Johnny Storm's death (as she believes it to be) by killing Corvus Glaive. When she deliberately touched his face bare-handed last issue she absorbed some of Glaives's thoughts and powers, and his skin condition. She learns that Challenger brought Glaive and his brother Black Dwarf back to life in order to rejoin the Order and serve as his pawns in this game against Grandmaster, winning points by acquiring Pyramoids.

They didn't notice last issue that Ferene of the Legion was there and dealt with Supergiant of the Order. Now she slips past them and makes for the Pyramoid. Lightning tries to stop her but fails. And Ferene 'dies' to gain the point for her team. BO'ers Black Swan and Proxima Midnight are watching from within force bubbles created by Swan. Proxima wants to stay to help her husband Corvus, but Yabbat Ummon Turru wants them to flee to fight another die. Avenger Voyager doesn't have the energy left to teleport the team back to HQ. She ports herself there to recharge, leaving the others including Hercules and Thor (Jane Foster).

At the Avengers Auxiliary HQ (their main base Avengers Mansion was destroyed in #676), Toni Ho (ex-Iron Patriot - the armour is hanging up just *waiting* for someone to use it) tries to find ways to help Voyager rebuild her strength. Gen'l Maverick is there to help out, since his Red Hulk power ran out too last issue (the cover for #685 suggests *he* may be the next to don the IP suit). Meanwhile Valerie Vector tells them how she got to be Voyager.

Her father was Arthur Vector, who Toni has heard of as someone who worked on teleportation. Young Valerie heard him explaining to his fellow-scientist wife that he intended to achieve it using quantum entanglement, which he described (not really correctly) as the theory that every atomic particle has a twin somewhere in the universe linked by faster-than-light forces. The wife was more concerned that he was ignoring her and their daughter, and she wanted a divorce. Val didn't want that - she burst into the lab and ran into some equipment that changed her. It made her connected to every atom on Earth.

Arthur studied his child as she grew up, and she learned to use the entanglement to transport herself and other things to anywhere on Earth. Her parents published their findings. And Val found *her* calling when she helped found the Avengers. Later her parents died, but she stayed with the team as Voyager until she appeared to die in another of Grandmaster's games (as related in #676).

Now she's rested and ready to do her job again.

In New Mexico Mentacle is trying to extract information from Citizen V's mind. But he's fighting her off using mental defence techniques taught him (when he was the New Mutant/X-Man Sunspot) by Prof X. The Rigellian recognises Charles Xavier as a powerful telepath, by Earth standards. She prepares to wipe the mind of 1 she reads as Avengers' team leader. But Roberto had only joined *this* team last issue to help swell the numbers. And now its real leader Falcon comes to the rescue, and flies mentally-injured Da Costa away.

Captain Glory has continued to fight Synapse, but she keeps using her mental abilities to anticipate his moves. But now he stops blocking her mental probes and what she reads stuns her momentarily. Falcon returns and she tells him how they are just part of the gameboard where the Legion and the Order are players. The Legion plays for Grandmaster. While fighting Scarlet Witch Molyn decides to resume his spiel and says that the Order work for Challenger. And Grandmaster moved the planet to cause extreme weather, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to make the board more interesting.

But Synapse's next revelation caps it all. The teams are competing for the Pyramoids, but once they've won them all and the game is over the gameboard Earth will be discarded. Falcon announces that the Avengers' strategy must change. Now they must stop *anyone* from winning the New Mexico Pyramoid.

Wanda bombards Metal Master with spell-cast rocks. But a Blood Brother smashes into Dr Voodoo to stop him from using *his* magic. And Drall hurls her spear at the Witch, but Wonder Man blocks it. As Wasp attacks a Blood Brother, Captain Glory tells Mentacle to put into action a plan they hatched beforehand. Mentacle mentally grabs 1 of the Blood Brothers and propels him towards the Pyramoid, as the most expendable of the Legion. Drall draws the fire of Falcon and Wonder Man as the BB begs them not to make him touch the target. But just as he's about to do so ...

... explosive arrows blast him away. And Hawkeye and Red Wolf join the Avengers team.

Meanwhile under the ruins of the Mount the green voice continues by telling us that the Hand (in Uncanny Avengers) and the Empire (in Secret Empire) weren't really responsible for bringing him (obviously the Hulk) back to life. It's that he can never really die. And a large green hand reaches the surface.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Kim Jacinto
Kim Jacinto
David Curiel
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Mark Brooks (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Voodoo
Doctor Voodoo

(Jericho Drumm)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)

(Bruce Banner)
Red Hulk
Red Hulk

(Robert Maverick)

(Anna Marie LeBeau)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Emily Guerrero)

(Jane Foster)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Blood Brothers, Captain Glory, Citizen V (Roberto Da Costa), Drall, Iron Patriot (Toni Ho), Lightning (Miguel Santos), Mentacle, Red Wolf.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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