Avengers: No Road Home #5 // Review
One group of heroes faces the goddess of night in a multi-pantheon city of the gods as another group chases an artifact in the realm of nightmare. Cosmic conflict explodes off the page culminating at the beginning of a crossover with one of the first ever sword-and-sorcery fantasy heroes. A weird mix of moods animates the latest weekly chapter of the Avengers: No Road Home mini-series written by Jim Zub, Mark Waid and Al Ewing with art by Sean Isaakse. The mix of godly cosmic action with magic, mysticism feels ever-so-slightly lopsided with the rather sudden introduction of the buff from Cimmeria, but the creative team does an admirable job of juggling everything.
Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Spectrum and Hercules are captured in supernatural darkness by Nyx--Goddess of Night. Things seem pretty bleak, but Spectrum and Scarlet Witch have the tools to get them out of their predicament. Meanwhile, things are considerably more messy for Hawkeye, Rocket Raccoon and Hulk (who looks really cool on the back of Nightmare’s spectral horse Dreamstalker) as they face a horde of soldiers in the land of dream. For Scarlet Witch, escape from her predicament evidently finds her making a detour into the Hyborian Age where she runs into its most legendary resident.
Zub, Waid and Ewing juggle the two-ended story with considerable flair throughout the issue. It’s nice to see Scarlet Witch and Spectrum at the center of a cosmic conflict. Once again. Wanda Maximoff is allowed to be the badass she’s always been capable of being. It’s very potently dramatic action that she’s unleashing. After a dramatically energetic opening, there’s a witty bit of dialogue in Nightmare’s realm between Hawkeye and Rocket that gives the issue some much-needed levity before the chapter launches into its second half. The issue kind of needs that levity because that second half features one of the Hulk’s most sinister moments ever committed to the page. It’s a haunting encounter in the realm of dream between Hulk and Nyx’s son Hypnos. A single sound effect at the bottom of the page might be relatively small, but its impact is absolutely deafening.
In the hands of Isaakse, that moment is given an overwhelmingly sinister vibe in heavy inks and glowing eyes. Iasaakse delivers so much impact in the course of the issue. From the fractured face of a damaged Vision to the animated electric glyphs of Scarlet Witch to a rampaging Hulk wielding a massive broadsword on Dreamstalker-back, there are a lot of really great moments dynamic bursting off the page. There are silent moments of drama as well. A forlorn Scarlet Witch struggles with darkness at the beginning of the issue, and the stress and powerlessness are crushingly rendered. A lot is going on here and very little of it ISN’T brought to the page with significant impact.
The introduction of one more hero at issue’s end is meant to have a bit more impact than it probably does. This may be a mega-popular legendary hero who first appeared at the dawn of the twentieth century, but Marvel has a decades’ long history with the character and his appearance here just isn’t nearly as impressive as it needs to be. . . And given that the introduction at issue’s end is kind of a jarring smash-cut of a thing, it’s difficult to say quite precisely where the series is going from here, but a major conflict has ended, and further adventure awaits next issue.