Avengers: No Road Home #3 Review

by Charles Martin on February 27, 2019

Avengers: No Road Home #3 Review
Writers: Al Ewing, Jim Zub & Mark Waid
Penciller: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's time for a gut check: Mid-way through this issue, the narration refers to the first of Nyx's Night Shard MacGuffins as "a MacGuffin" right there on the page. It's up to each reader to decide if the series has proved itself clever enough to justify that sort of self-awareness. 

The narration in question belongs to Salty Ole Rocket Raccoon, which is a mitigating factor.

The MacGuffin gut-check needs to be a personal and subjective assessment. Me? I'm getting No Road Home in free review copies and I remain a huge sucker for any comic with a "Written by Al Ewing" credit - even a shared one. So I'm still on board - and I believe this issue is a rewarding, high-quality comic.

If you're paying $4 a pop for this series at your FLCS, though, and you haven't really fallen in love in the first 60 pages? That "MacGuffin" would be a perfect opportunity to boot the series down to "wait for the trade/Marvel Unlimited" with a loud Lana-Kane-esque "Noooooope."

Calling a MacGuffin a MacGuffin is by no means the only questionable step this issue takes. Structurally, it splits the Avengers team in three and follows two of the new sub-groups. That's actually a smart choice. Putting off the third gives the first two sub-teams much-needed breathing space.

What's questionable is how blatantly the two team's stories are told by different authors. The first team - Rocket, Hulk, and Hawkeye - is undoubtedly in the hands of Al Ewing, with all the creepy horror, clever humour, and third-person Rocket narration that implies. The second team - Herc, Vision, Wanda, and Spectrum - is turned over to (I think) Jim Zub for a tight "taking care of business" MacGuffin hunt without any narration at all.

These are both good flavours, and they're both done well. But they're so distinct from each other!

I appreciate that the visuals remain highly consistent (and highly satisfying!) while the narrative starts to fragment. The art team continues to do outstanding character work; the first team's story is ennobled by the presence of the best-looking Rocket Raccoon in all Marveldom. And the colours continue to draw high-intensity shades from all across the spectrum. The way the two Nyx-kids who attack the second team drag an icy blue palette along with them is impressive.

The excellent artwork is a strong point in this comic's favour. The visuals are responsible for pushing my rating higher than it would be if I was considering the script alone.

I'm being highly critical here, but that's because I'm still trying to slot this series into its proper niche. With #1, I thought we were getting a must-read blockbuster. And unfortunately, I was mistaken. Now my opinion is leaning towards "round-up story presenting quality plot points that don't quite fit anywhere else." 

The Hulk-Hawkeye confrontations? Superb and moving, but not suited to Immortal Hulk. The low-key "dying Vision" arc? Fascinating, but it falls outside the scope of Champions. The further development of Voyager? Well, it's a story without a home. It could become the spine of this title, but it hasn't done so yet.

What we have for a spine right now is the threat posed by Nyx and her MacGuffins and her children. I hesitate to write the antagonists off, but they do seem aimed into the same inconsequential void that swallowed the Challenger and his baddie squads in No Surrender. "Avengers we love facing some BS threat we don't really care about" was a problem in that series, and it could become a problem here, too.

In its third issue, No Road Home takes shape as a quirky assemblage of jigsaw pieces that don't quite fit into the Marvel universe's other stories. They are individually fascinating, but the "save the world" narrative they're attached isn't living up to their potential so far. This is a very fun read. It isn't a particularly compelling one, though, and the high cost of its weekly schedule is going to make it easy for a lot of readers to pass over.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
For the love of Glob, Marvel, just give Al Ewing another Rocket miniseries so he can get that "Rocket returns to Halfworld" story out of his system!