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Avengers #689: Review

Apr 2018
Mark Waid, Pepe Larraz

Story Name:

No surrender: part 15

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #689 Review by (April 28, 2018)
Once again Al Ewing and Jim Zub share the scripting with Mark Waid.

With help from Marvel Wiki I can explore the memories Voyager triggers. Hawkeye remembers the Underground's Mount base being attacked by Hydra during Secret Empire. Rogue remembers the Unity Squad fighting Graviton in Uncanny Avengers. Cannonball recalls Da Costa's New Avengers vs Maker's New Revengers. Captain America sees himself punching Thanos (more times than I can count). And Scarlet Witch thinks all the way back to the Korvac Saga.

And the story's not over yet, there's an epilogue in #690.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #689 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The contest between the Elders of the Universe Grandmaster and Challenger ended when Challenger obliterated his opponent. But now the winner has decided the destroy the gameboard, the stolen Earth. But also Quicksilver sacrificed himself to stop the process that kept most of Earth's superbeings in stasis except a few Avengers.

Around the USA we see superheroes, who have just thawed from their freeze, saving people from the effects of Challenger's action:- Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Viv Vision deal with an earthquake and flood in New Jersey while their fellow Champions Hulk (Amadeus Cho) and Nova (Sam Alexander) face fires in Texas. In New York the Defenders Daredevil and Iron Fist are as usual in Hell's Kitchen and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are on Long Island. Ms. America is in Los Angeles and Scarlet Spider in Nevada.

All this is happening because Challenger's rampage in the Grandmaster's cosmic game room (in a spaceship above the Earth) disrupted the World Engine which kept the Earth stably spinning in its foreign environment. But Lightning exhausted his energy helping Thor (Jane Foster) repower it. And Roberto da Costa has unleashed his Sunspot power (which may kill him) to help Hercules keep the machine stable. Thor now joins their effort. Toni Ho, without her Iron Patriot armour, can only tend to Miguel Santos and watch. But this is only a stop-gap measure until someone returns the globe to its rightful orbit.

Grandmaster reassembles his atoms (the Elders can't die since Grandmaster tricked Death into making them immortal in Avengers Annual #16) but he's lost his title to Challenger. En Dwi Gast prepares to leave Earth to its fate, but Toni sends Lightning after him (she has to stay to minister to Roberto if his power burns him out).

The Avengers in New York of course think that defeating Challenger at the site of Avengers Mansion will solve the problem. Cannonball and Rogue slam into him from behind. Falcon (Sam Wilson) leads Beast, Doctor Voodoo, Wonder Man and the newly-woken Squirrel Girl to attack. Captain America was also until-recently frozen but he's ready (well he has experience with being defrosted) to direct Synapse to probe the foe's mind and Scarlet Witch to hex his nervous system. Rogue attacks again with Hawkeye and Wasp (Jan Van Dyne). But Challenger is now ready for them and blasts them all away.

The other Wasp (Nadia Pym) is sheltering with Voyager, Grandmaster's daughter who turned against him to help the Avengers. Wasp asks her if she can teleport Challenger away. Voyager has never used her power on an Elder before, and when she tries she collapses with the strain. And Challenger's still there to get revenge for her earlier subversive moves against him.

But Beast, Dr Voodoo and Falcon attack again before he can strike her. And Jan-Wasp gives Hawkeye 2 nano-acid arrows to use against him. He lets fly with them (but we never see if they have any effect).

Lightning is following Grandmaster as he goes to pick up a few trophies before leaving. GM intends to lie low for a few centuries and then challenge Challenger to a rematch when he's calmed down. They pass Human Torch (Johnny Storm) and Red Wolf (plus the aliens Black Dwarf and Ferene) alive but suspended in crystals. (They got there by claiming Pyramoids in the game, which appeared to disintegrate them.) GM views his daughter (whose true name we learn is Va Nee Gast) fighting alongside the Avengers, and prepares to abandon her too.

Lightning doesn't have the power to affect Grandmaster, even if he hadn't used all his electricity up. But he tries another tack and challenges him to a game of poker.

Challenger has shrugged of all attacks again, when Wonder Man approaches and suggest they talk things over. But if he won't chat then Simon Williams says he'll have to go through him. The pacifist hero probably intends to let his foe waste his energy against his invulnerable ionic body. But then the Elder's blast starts to tear even that energy-form apart, until Dr Voodoo uses a stasis spell to hold him together. The 2 Wasps combine forces to blast the enemy in the eyes with their Stings.

In their poker game Miguel Santos raises the stakes - he bets his life against freedom for Red Wolf. En Dwi Gast counter-raises - if he loses he'll return Earth to its orbit, but when he wins he'll take Earth and its population for his own gaming amusement.

Synapse is still trying to attack Challenger's mind but is blocked. Squirrel Girl suggests a different team-up. On a hunch she asks Falcon to use his ability to mentally communicate with birds, and he finds he *can* see through the foe's eyes. Synapse piggybacks on that connection to reach in and trigger the alien's pain centres. (Doreen Green had expected her to just mentally talk the guy down.) While he's reeling Cannonball and Rogue strike again. And Squirrel Girl joins in, but only with the proviso that they try to rehabilitate the enemy when they've defeated him. But all they succeed in doing is make him more angry.

Back at the poker game Miguel makes the move he'd planned all along. He raises the stakes again. Voyager was able to alter the Avengers' memories so he figures her father can do that too. He bets his legacy - if he loses then En Dwi can erase all memories of the good he's managed to do in his life, so that he will be remembered as a loser. But GM will have to risk the same.

As we see more heroes doing their things on Earth (Thing, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Dr Strange, Luke Cage, Storm and Old Man Logan) Lightning muses that Avengers don't do what they do for glory (except maybe Hercules) but he's betting that for Grandmaster it's not enough to win but to be *known* as a winner. And he's right because En Dwi Gast folds even though he's got a good hand. And as Red Wolf and Torch are released Miguel won't even let him see what hand he was beaten by.

In Manhattan all the Avengers are piling on and Cap urges them on as he senses Challenger weakening. But Va Nee knows that as an Elder their foe has almost limitless energy, and it is the Avengers who weakening. Then Beast tells her to use her memory control to make them remember earlier desperate fights that they won. And she does so, ending with the inspirational cry "No retreat, no surrender". Scarlet Witch in particular is inspired to craft a spell to use their rallying cry "Avengers assemble" to magically enhance everyone's power for 1 last mighty blow ...

... and Challenger falls, unconscious.

The team return from the cosmic gameroom with the 2 rescued Avengers, and Johnny Storm is reunited with his love Anna Marie (Rogue). Voyager stands aside to let the Avengers savour the moment. The Earth returns to its proper place (GM true to his word) in front of the waiting Captain Marvel. Sasquatch and Puck report from the Alpha Flight space station that its readings are normal, and also the Moon's back too (although it never figured in the story while Earth was away). And the population of the world rejoices in relief. (We see Black Panther in his citadel, and Colossus and Kitty Pryde near a crashed plane.)

Pepe Larraz
Pepe Larraz
David Curiel
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Mark Brooks (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Voodoo
Doctor Voodoo

(Jericho Drumm)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)

(Anna Marie LeBeau)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Emily Guerrero)

(Jane Foster)

(Janet Van Dyne)

(Nadia Pym)

Plus: Cannonball, Iron Patriot (Toni Ho), Lightning (Miguel Santos), Red Wolf, Squirrel Girl.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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