The 16-issue weekly epic Avengers: No Surrender, by writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub, and artists Joe Bennett, Kim Jacinto, Paco Medina, Pepe Larraz, Sean Izaakse and Stefano Caselli, has come and gone, drastically altering the landscape of the Marvel Universe in the process. However, while there was no shortage of casualties along the way, an untimely death led to one hero in particular finally being given his due: Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver.
Debuting in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s X-Men #4 in 1964, Quicksilver – for all intents and purposes – has long been considered “the poor man’s Barry Allen” in many comic book circles. Essentially Marvel’s answer to DC Comics’ Flash, Pietro has never quite been held in the same regard as the Scarlet Speedster, despite having a rich comic book history that trails Barry’s by a mere eight years.
Nevertheless, in Avengers #688 – part 14 of No Surrender – Quicksilver finally earns his stripes when he goes out in a blaze of glory that’s highly evocative of perhaps the most heroic moment in Barry Allen’s tenure as The Flash.
In order to defeat The Challenger and save Earth, Quicksilver realizes that the Avengers will need all hands on deck. This, of course, means he must catch up to the lightning-fast beacon that’s keeping countless heroes frozen in stasis, but even he isn’t fast enough to do that… at least not without help.
Pietro, after explaining the severity of the situation, manages to convince his sister Scarlet Witch to use her magic to augment and enhance his abilities. However, as Wanda explains, there’s no telling what might happen if Quicksilver moves “beyond the limit of [his] powers.” Thankfully, though, Synapse reluctantly agrees to help break through the mental barrier that would otherwise stop his mind from allowing him to exceed those limits.
“Wanda’s sorcery destroys probabilities,” Quicksilver says, as he begins to travel faster than he’s ever gone before. “Synapse’s mental powers unlock speed beyond fear.”
Then, as he reaches out his hand, he finally captures the beacon before suddenly disappearing with a flash of blinding light.
Naturally, one can’t help but compare Quicksilver’s heroic sacrifice in No Surrender to Barry Allen’s courageous last stand in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. After realizing the 30th century is beginning to come undone, Barry returns to the past to try to warn Batman, but upon doing so, he’s pulled into the Antimatter universe by the Anti-Monitor. However, he’s eventually able to escape captivity long enough to destroy the villain’s anti-matter cannon by running around it at super-speed, but in doing so, he ends up traveling so fast that he’s seemingly killed. (In actuality, he ends up trapped in the Speed Force, where he would remain for over two decades.)
Don’t expect Quicksilver to be gone anywhere near the length of time Barry was, though. In fact, his story picks up once again (albeit with the hero “Trapped beyond the perception of friends, family and allies”) on May 16 in Quicksilver: No Surrender #1, by Saladin Ahmed and Eric Nguyen. Still, the question remains as to whether he’ll actually make it out of that miniseries alive, or if it will merely see him “save a world that he may never be a part of again.”