Avengers: No Road Home #6 // Review
A blinded heroic witch from the modern Marvel Universe is aided by legendary Hyborian hero Conan as the Hulk edges over into something unspeakably monstrous in the realm of Nightmare. This is where the weekly mini-series Avengers: No Road Home reaches its second half. Writers Jim Zub, Mark Waid and Al Ewing navigate the story through a somewhat awkwardly composed chapter in the series that feels more like a couple of disconnected issues than a single, cohesive installment of the story. Artist Sean Izaakse delivers the story to the page in a way that goes a long way toward keeping it all compelling.
The bulk of the issue has Scarlet Witch traveling in the Hyborian Age with Conan. Her tangle with Greek night goddess Nyx at the end of the previous chapter catapulted her into Conan’s world, and now she’s lost, blind and alone save for the presence of her barbarian companion. The two go in search of one of the magical shards Nyx is also seeking. Planted in the middle of the issue is an exchange between Hulk, Rocket Raccoon, Hawkeye, and Nightmare. The darkness Hulk has found in possession of HIS shard grows ever more menacing by way of interlude between the first and second halves of the issue.
Zub, Waid and Ewing introduced Conan right at the end of the previous issue. The current issue has Conan and the Scarlet Witch already in the middle of a very long journey together. It’s a bit of a jarring jump considering Conan only just showed up in the final page of the previous issue, and she hadn’t even said anything to him. And given that thrust of the previous segments in the series had been so cosmic in scope, it feels kind of weird for so much of this issue to be grounded in the sword and sorcery of Conan. It’s a massive rift in the story that makes the Avengers crossover with the re-emerging Marvel line of Conan comics feel awkwardly commercial. Marvel just recently re-opened its pages Robert E. Howard’s world. This looks like a stilted attempt to draw attention to that with a popular group of heroes.
Izaakse’s art carries the same aggressive weight in the world of Conan that it does in the Marvel Universe, which keeps the story feeling quite fluid in the weird Hyborean fugue that dominates this issue. Izaakse switches to more earthbound brutality from the cosmic stuff he’d been conjuring in the previous issues of the series, but it has a consistency that keeps the switchover from feeling like a total derailment of the narrative momentum built-up in the first five issues of the series.
It’s nice to see more Conan for Marvel. With this crossover and titles like Conan and Bêlit, it almost feels like the barbarian was never really gone. That being said, this crossover doesn’t REALLY feel like a crossover. It’s just...Scarlet Witch hanging out with a barbarian. It won’t really start to feel dynamic until the second half of the ten-part mini-series really sets in next issue with greater integration between the realm of Marvel and the realm of Robert E. Howard.