The 16-part, weekly “No Surrender” storyline, which ran through issues #675-690 of Marvel Comics' Avengers, was an epic tale that perfectly captured the fun and heroics that have made the titular team comic book cinematic icons. That came as no surprise to longtime fans, though, and when it was revealed that every script had been finished way before the first issue was published, readers could rest assured that the storyline wouldn't suffer from last minute changes or adjustments. Then, upon reading the actual storyline, fans realized that this was a story the creative team had a blast writing and illustrating, fun that translated to the reading experience.
Now that tale of how the casts of the three previous Avengers titles (Waid's Avengers, Zub's Uncanny Avengers, and Ewing's U.S.Avengers) came together to defend a stolen Earth from the villainous machinations of cosmic beings has wrapped, the writers and their editor, Tom Brevoort, join CBR for a look back at bringing the event story to life. More than looking back, we also peer into the future of some of the story's major players like the Grandmaster, and the writers' next Marvel projects: Champions, Ant-Man & the Wasp and Doctor Strange
When I first heard about how quickly you guys were writing the issues of "No Surrender," it seemed like this was more than just an assignment for the three of you. And in reading the story, it was clear that was because you were all having fun writing it. What was it like coming together for the first time to work on the tale? And at what point did things just click for you? Tom, when did you first notice that this was a story that was really clicking for your writers?
Mark Waid: My memory is that it was never not fun and not clicking. I’m sure that we probably ventured down one or two dead-end roads in development, but that would have been during the earliest hours.
Al Ewing: I think things really started to click during the first issue -- we just seemed to be getting into sync in a way that was working. I know in my head it became this super-important project, partly that was because I felt a lot of pressure not to let the rest of the team down on the writing end, to really hold my end up, and partly... there's something about the Avengers, especially in the cosmic realm and playing with characters you don't normally get to play with, that just gets the ideas flowing. And that part was there right from the start, from the first writers room and even on the email chains before that - it was great to throw ideas into this big bubbling Avengers soup and make cool stuff out of them, all the way through.
Jim Zub: Now that it’s all done, I can admit the almost paralyzing fear I had before we all got together at the Marvel Offices. The night before we met I’d just flown in and both Mark and Al were already in New York for the Marvel Writer’s Summit. I was feeling some serious Imposter Syndrome. These were seasoned pirate captains and I was a wide-eyed cabin boy without his sea legs who somehow stowed away on the S.S. Avengers without anyone noticing.
Then, once we got into the room, I finally realized I could contribute and that this was going to be a ton of fun. We built momentum and the ideas started ricocheting off each other in wonderfully unexpected ways. That day, being there face to face and getting instant feedback on what was working and what wasn’t, that was so important.
Al and Mark were slammed with other projects, while at that point Uncanny Avengers was my only Marvel monthly, so I stepped in to start breaking down scenes/page counts for the first few issues. I expected people to get precious about how many pages they were given, or disagree with pacing choices, and was bracing myself for a tedious process as we parsed it all out -- but it never happened. I sent the first issue breakdown to the group, Tom tweaked it a bit, and everyone just went to work. We all knew what we needed to do, and that if we didn’t get those scripts in on time it could cascade into a schedule nightmare down the line, so we all just dug in. For me, that was when it clicked. No more time for doubts.
Tom Brevoort: I was extremely fortunate in that, by sheer luck of the draw, I wound up with a writing team that worked comfortably together, and whose strengths and aptitudes balanced one another out well. You really can’t plan for that kind of alchemy happening. But this crew was in lockstep from the moment we all sat down together to break down the story and chart out the 16 issues.