Avengers: No Road Home is an entertaining sequel to the successful weekly Avengers: No Surrender.
When every sun across the universe suddenly goes dark, the reformed Voyager gathers Hercules, Hulk, Vision, Hawkeye, Rocket Raccoon, Scarlet Witch and Spectrum to investigate. Spinning out of a family tragedy for Hercules, the Avengers face Nyx, the ancient goddess of night, driven mad by centuries of imprisonment. With her twisted children at her side, she’s bent on revenge and remaking the universe in her image. The Avengers race Nyx and her family to recover three talismans of power, traversing time and space, where the barbarian warrior Conan joins the struggle. In the heart of the creative spark of the universe, a rejuvenated Vision faces off with Nyx to determine the fate of the galaxy.
Much of the creative team behind No Surrender reunites for No Road Home, managing to pull off another weekly comic with a certain amount of style. Writers Al Ewing, Jim Zub and Mark Waid have wisely streamlined the sequel, not only reducing the issue count to 10 (from 16), but focusing on a smaller core group of characters. The writers waste little time; by the end of the first installment, the primary cast has been assembled and their respective status quos established, the major threat and prime villain have been introduced, and they’ve already uncorked a couple of shocking moments.
Focusing on a smaller cast allows the authors to dig into their characters a bit more, making good use of their various personal issues and challenges. They continue the recent characterization of Hercules in a smart and agreeable way and exploit the dramatic impact of other characters’ crises (Spectrum fearing for her humanity, Vision facing his possible mortality, Voyager’s desire to become a true hero). Hulk serves as an effective wild card; not only does he push events in unexpected ways, the simmering tension between him and Hawkeye creates an element of dangerous instability among the heroes. Conan makes for a wild addition to the heroes, teaming especially well with the Scarlet Witch in a compelling spotlight issue. While her children come across as standard-issue threats, Nyx herself is a fascinating villain, her motivation very relatable, leaving readers with the sense that maybe she’s not entirely in the wrong. By the story’s end, the characters have been shaken up and positioned for their next steps.
The climax could come across as a bit of a deus ex machina, as Vision and Nyx face off in the “House of Ideas” and Vision essentially out-imagines the villain. Aside from the meta-references to Marvel’s own self-mythology, the sequence works better than one might expect, with a nod to the climax of the “Kree/Skrull War” saga and what’s essentially a love letter to decades of Marvel stories and characters. If you can check your cynicism at the door, it’s a fun and entertaining wrap to the series.
Paco Medina and Sean Isaakse anchor the art team, with Carlo Barberi stepping in for one issue and a team of talented ink and color artists providing excellent support. The art has a clean and classic feel to it, but spiked with modern touches that make the visuals contemporary and relevant. It boasts strongly choreographed action storytelling, with opportunities for the artists to render some quiet character moments and then swing to outrageous action sequences. The artists get to produce some memorable moments, such as Hulk sitting astride Nightmare’s demon horse, Conan’s dramatic entrance to the action, various shots of the imposing Nyx from a variety of dramatic angles, and a series of two-page spreads that pay homage to decades of Marvel characters. All three artists have a similar approach and aesthetic, so there’s no significant lurches in the stylistic direction of the series. They all do expressive, dynamic character work and keep the action moving briskly and cogently, without sacrificing flair or whimsy. Given the logistical restraints of producing a weekly book, it’s really a best case scenario.
Fans needn’t have read No Surrender to pick up the action of No Road Home, though it can’t hurt. As a blast of fun, classic comic book storytelling, No Road Home is a winning bit of entertainment.