Too Many Cooks Clash in Avengers 676

by Drew Baumgartner

Avengers 676

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I still read my old college newspaper, but the older I get, the more I recognize how terrible it is. Case in point: they recently published an article about a meeting on campus, but failed to put the meeting into any kind of context — there were no quotes from anyone involved, no explanation for why the meeting might be necessary, no connections to similar issues at other schools (I’ll apologize now for being vague, but the point isn’t to dunk on this particular article, so I’ll leave it at that). The result was something closer to meeting minutes than an actual article, overemphasizing the “what” in place of any “why”. I found myself thinking the same thing in Avengers 676, which has so many characters and events to cram in, there really isn’t any room to properly examine any of them.

Towards the start of the issue, Sam casually lists our protagonists as “three teams of Avengers — plus reserves,” which is already a kind of daunting cast to keep track of. Writers Jim Zub, Al Ewing, and Mark Waid do their level best in touching base with them, but the results are closer to meaning minutes than an actual story. The story they seem to be telling is about how Sam is struggling to lead such a big group, but the closest they can muster to actual tension is Rogue and Roberto talking over one another.

Rogue and Roberto

An overabundance of leaders is an interesting struggle for the Avengers to face, but it’s a bit denser than this issue really allows for. That is, we don’t spend enough time with any of these characters to actually see them struggle. Sam’s voiceover gives us a taste, but only just.

There are simply too many characters in the air for this issue to do justice to, but by the issue’s end, we’ve also introduced the Black Order and the Lethal Legion, who seem to have tapped Earth as the cage for some kind of grudge match. It advances the plot, obviously, offering some explanation for what’s going on, but mostly seems to be here to speed us into this issue’s cliffhanger: the Black Order blowing up Avengers Mansion. This series might ultimately be more about those flashy final pages than it is about meaningful characterization (and this issue isn’t without some breezy charm), but I know this creative team is capable of both. Here’s hoping they find their footing once all the pieces are on the board.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Too Many Cooks Clash in Avengers 676

  1. I think to say the creative team is capable of both is to give too much credit to Jim Zub, whose Marvel work has never come close to the really good creator owned work. I’ve expressed a couple of times that I was interested in the premise of this book – the idea of a character basically appropriating history to assimilate is an interesting concept to me. But it fundamentally comes down to the fact that the creative team is exactly as bad as it sounds. Between Zub’s struggles with writing Marvel, Ewing’s consistent mistaking of trivia and power sets for characterisation and Waid’s complete inability to write any character that isn’t an empty, meaningless shell, this is unfortunately the natural outcome. Unfortunately, the best hope for this book was that Zub could bring the writing quality he brings to Glitterbomb and Wayward.

    I can’t think of anything more embalatic, though, of Waid and Ewing’s problems than Voyager’s backstory. Voyager was always going to have an appropriative backstory, because that is what she is. Stealing moments that historically belonged to other characters is exactly what you do with a character like Voyager. But there is nothing to her except that. Her naming the Avengers, or being part of Cap’s kooky quintet, are all continuity points, bu give us no insight in who she is. THe ‘android cries’ moment is especially terrible. If she stole someone else’s character moment, that may have mattered. Instead, she just replaced Pym in a scene that is still all about Vision. She’s just wallpaper.
    Hell, her ‘death’ at the hands of Victory could have been the perfect moment to define herself as more than just wallpaper. Give her a death that means something, speaks to her character. Instead, she just spends more time as wallpaper. All the continuity notes and power set interaction is pure Ewing, the empty, flat character is pure Waid and the sense of missed potential from the quality we should be getting is pure Zub

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