Avengers: No Surrender is never going to be a Marvel movie. It’s embedded with far too much Marvel Comics minutiae to ever hit the big screen. It’s too sprawling; its cast of forty-some heroes and villains is too big.
But all that is what makes No Surrender the perfect Avengers COMIC story. And I’d argue that if you loved Infinity War, and you want to spend some of your pre-Endgame time seeing what Avengers comics are all about, that No Surrender is the book for you.
“But Matt,” you might be saying. “Didn’t you just go on about how No Surrender is steeped in Marvel Comics lore? How it’s not a good candidate to become a Marvel movie?”
“How, then, is it THE comic you’d recommend to someone looking to scratch that pre-Endgame itch?”
Those who don’t follow Magic: The Gathering blogs might be unfamiliar with the concept of lenticular design (and no, we’re not talking about lenticular comic covers; that’s a whole ‘nother bag of cats). To sum up the concept quickly, a trading card or comics story that utilizes lenticular design is simple and accessible to those who need it to be simple, and intricate and complex to those who want it to be intricate and complex. It’s satisfying to both “beginners” and “experts” at the same time, despite their disparate desires.
No Surrender Is a Lenticular Comic Book
Avengers: No Surrender is a perfectly lenticular comic book. Readers who had been following each monthly Avengers comic up to No Surrender‘s release got the next chapter in their favorite characters’ ongoing sagas, as well as winks and nods to past events as varied as Secret Wars, the Kree-Skrull War, and even DC Comics’ Zero Hour (in a fantastic one-panel gag).
But readers who knew nothing about those comic events, who knew nothing about what was going on in Avengers at the time (like I did when I bought No Surrender), or who knew nothing about Avengers comics period still found No Surrender satisfying. That’s because co-writers Mark Waid, Jim Zub, and Al Ewing built a seemingly-simple story (Earth is stolen; the Avengers have to put it back where it belongs) that utilized each character’s unique circumstances and situations, without DEPENDING on their readers knowing those things before they cracked open the book.
As a new reader, all No Surrender asks of you is that you know who the Avengers are and what they do (they’re a group of superheroes who save the world), and that you’re willing to learn about and grow attached to characters you might not’ve heard about before – but who will quickly become your new favorites.
No Surrender came out around the same time Infinity War released in theaters. Its authors likely knew they’d have the opportunity to walk at least some moviegoers into the wider Marvel Comics universe. And that, to me, completely explains why No Surrender is structured the way it is.
A Stepping Stone to the Wider Marvel Universe
The story’s overall plot is cosmic yet simple, just like Infinity War. But throughout No Surrender‘s 16-issue run, the writing and art team gets to show off bonkers set pieces, concepts, characters, and mash-ups that the movies will never touch, either because they don’t have the budget or they don’t yet have decades worth of Marvel history to play with.
No Surrender draws deep from Marvel history yet is STILL somehow a perfect entry point to Marvel Comics. And not just because it’s deceptively simple, but because it’s deceptively showy. No Surrender shows off most everything good ‘ol-fashioned superhero comics can do, including secret bases, split-into-teams scenarios, page turn reveals, and sacrifice plays.
No Surrender is a straightforward superhero story that recognizes that being a straightforward superhero story is cool now, in the year 2019. And it posits that if you’ve figured out how to enjoy the superhero stories you’ve seen at your local theater, despite the fact that they feature a talking raccoon and a Norse god, you’re going to figure out how to enjoy this one, too. Despite the fact that Jarvis is a real live man, and not an AI.
So if you love the Avengers movies, and you’re looking for something as high-octane as Infinity War to get you hyped for April’s Endgame, I highly recommend you check out No Surrender. It’s a perfect launching point from which to start exploring the Marvel Comics universe, and superhero comics in general.