Avengers: No Road Home #9 // Review
A group of mighty heroes face a challenge of truth on a distant planet as they seek to defeat the Goddess of Night on the other side of the galaxy in the penultimate chapter of the ten-part Avengers: No Road Home miniseries. The writing team of Jim Zub, Mark Waid and El Ewing set the stage for the climax of a series drawn by Paco Medina. While the ninth chapter suffers from the rather odd pacing of previous issues in the ten-part series, there are a few cleverly novel aspects to the issue that distinguish it as one of the better ones in the series thus far.
The newly reunited Avengers find themselves facing Nyx--Mother of Night on the planet of Euphoria. Euphoria is a sentient planet which has lost its patience with all of the violence that heroes and villains alike have brought to its surface. As the issue opens, Euphoria goes about the somewhat tricky business of asking everyone what they really want so it can go about granting them their wishes. It’s a tricky business that catalyzes the conflict, ultimately sending heroes and villains alike to the most totally awesome and fantastical locale yet seen in the series: Long Island.
The writing team is clearly thinking in terms of the larger story they’re putting together in the course of the ten-part series. They’re thinking in terms of the collected trade paperback that is as inevitable as the final issue. It’s a bit strange to have a good 25% or so of the penultimate issue START with a long, soul searching conversation between heroes and a Wizard of Oz-like entity capable of granting Hercules his satisfaction, Hawkeye his youth, Vision his humanity, the Cowardly Lion his courage, the tin man his heart and so on. The sudden lurching forward of the action that terminates the scene feels a bit silly coming right after all that meaningful, deep character introspection that opens the issue. From dialogue with a powerful entity to a violent action sequence to. . . Long Island, the issue kind of feels like it’s all over the place in a way that isn’t terribly enjoyable but somehow not entirely unsatisfying.
Medina delivers to the page exactly what he needs to put there to tell the story. And while it’s not precise enough to make up for the weird plot composition of the issue, Medina DOES render delicate nuances of emotion in the dialogue quite effectively before switching gears into very briskly-rendered action. This is a hell of an accomplishment for an issue that features four consecutive 9-panel pages with the exact same layout. The fact that the art feels fantastic at all in spite of this (and the fact that the issue terminates in Long Island) is one hell of an accomplishment.
The series begins to draw to a close in one corner of the Marvel Universe as the big War of the Realms crossover picks-up elsewhere. The intensity of this particular mini-series owes a lot to the deep emotional characterization that has been thoughtfully brought to the page, and that’s what really matters as the series draws to a close