“No Surrender” part 4 kicks off today in this weekly story arc featuring the Avengers in a game they don’t even know they’re playing. This issue aims to reveal a bit more of the rules as the heroes get into the swing of things.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Our 50th issue begins a special new story: Michael Tenicek lost his wife, years ago, to a chronal cataclysm. But he’s not the only one in Astro City whose life has been upended by life among the superheroes. Today, we’ll meet others, learn their stories and see how Michael–and friends–cope with their trauma. A sequel to the Eisner-nominated “The Nearness of You,” considered by many to be ASTRO CITY’s best story ever.
Why does this matter?
Whatever happens here, you’d best understand this arc is going to rejigger the Avenger lineup. Already characters are being taken off the board while new ones are added. Avengers who have had a less prominent role over the decades (like Rogue) also feature to gain importance from this story.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
That’s not a healthy way to think Johnny.
This issue opens up the battling and thus the game at play for the Avengers. They’re still unclear what the rules are, but it becomes slightly more apparent how to gain a point. While this information is divulged over the issue the story’s writers Al Ewing, Mark Waid, and Jim Zub focus closely on Human Torch. This is a similar approach to the last issue which featured Quicksilver via his internal thoughts via captions. Once again Marvel reminds us of Mr. Fantastic, who hasn’t shown up yet but is remembered here as Human Torch reflects on how Reed would have an answer to the calamity at hand instantly rather than Falcon’s method of thinking of a plan on the fly. This plays into Human Torch’s approach to the battle and that helps carry everything forward.
The rules of engagement are becoming clearer as Grandmaster has a key scene with a mysterious onlooker yet to be revealed. I can’t say how the rules make sense given a reveal on the cost of gaining a point, but that’s part of the fun.
Pepe Larraz continues to draw excellent action amongst all kinds of energy blasts. Human Torch, for instance, looks great as he flames on and zips around the issue. A lot of the battling takes place amongst single panels of action rather than wide sweeping full or double page spreads. It’s a testament to his quality of art that it’s discernable what is going on at all. This choice also aids in keeping things fast and chaotic which does well to embody what our heroes are going through.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s quite clear at this point why this is a weekly series and that’s mostly due to the slowly moving plot. While each issue offers plenty of battling and some great art you’re still left wondering what is going on. The story is playing at its own speed, which is fine, but it can also be frustrating when all you want to know is why any of this is happening. Thankfully it comes out weekly because if we had to wait a month to get so few answers I think most would give up on the story.
Speaking of battling, the chaos of these fights is starting to get a bit confusing. We have heroes at two locations all going up against bad guys like Metal Master who have an edge on heroes like Thor due to their abilities. That allows these heroes to have their own battles within the battles, but it’s also difficult to keep track of who is where and what they’re facing. It’s becoming clear the chaos of battle and the lack of defined rules to the game are elements the heroes must deal with, but it’s beginning to try our patience.
Is It Good?
I want to like this series way more than I do, but my patience is wearing thin on what the point is to all this madness. I’m still highly interested in minor details imparted as you turn the pages, especially concerning our recent addition to the Avengers, but overall it’s action without purpose.