by Drew Baumgartner
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.
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?