Avengers: No Road Home #9 Review

by Charles Martin on April 10, 2019

Avengers: No Road Home #9 Review
Writers: Jim Zub, Mark Waid & Al Ewing
Artist: Paco Medina
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Things take a turn for the weird as we rattle toward the conclusion of this wild weekly adventure. Staging the confrontation between Nyx and the Avengers on "Euphoria, the Wishing Planet" turns out to be highly relevant; in this issue, the setting itself plays a role in a literal and metaphorical way.

But not so much, I'm afraid, visually. Original artist Paco Medina is back at the drawing board, and he delivers admirable characters throughout. Poses and emotions are clear and powerful, and the action is strong when it erupts. Plus, having my favourite Rocket artist on board for a Big Rocket Moment is terrific.

All of these wonderful characters are placed in a collection of featureless voids, though! 

Colourist Jesus Aburtov does more than his fair share to add texture and depth by carefully modulating the blank backgrounds and harmonizing their colours with the vibrant characters in front of them. He also adds tremendous power to the various zappy powers employed in the fights; they stand out like neon. 

He fumbles a critical moment, though, by leaving the Ominous House of Ominousness dark when it shouldn't be. When Rocket's pointing straight at the House and asserting that light is coming out of it, the colours make a liar out of the raccoon. 

"Excellent characters adrift in a mostly-formless void" is not just the lead critique for the visuals; it also applies to the script. The weird mechanics of Euphoria give all of the Avengers (and Nyx, too!) an excuse to engage in deep introspection. 

This is another issue that gives multiple characters strong spotlight moments. Hercules handles narration and also talks meaningfully about himself. Clint and Spectrum get brief but powerful moments, too. Even Conan takes a turn at philosophizing, and his words are appropriately combative and Crom-tastic.

It's the plot that really echoes the absence of backgrounds. This feels far too much like an issue that's been drafted and re-drafted, changing direction as it's written. Noteworthy moments and ideas are mashed in even though they've lost their logical connection to the plot. The Big Rocket Moment, wonderfully fun though it is, has zero bearing on the story and is thereby cheapened. Conan's excellent speech takes the form of a morale-booster for one of the Avengers. The reason it's needed comes far after the speech, exposing the artifice of planting it in advance.

The first page of the issue is a gorgeous splash of Blue Marvel rallying deep-cut heroes to take care of Earth while the Avengers are fighting Nyx. It's beautiful and it shows off awesome folks and it utterly fails to convince you that what they're doing is important.

I'm focusing mainly on the pickable nits, but this issue doesn't fall into full-on disappointment. Even though it's struggling to hold my interest with the core story of fighting Nyx, that is hardly its only attention-getting hook. I'm still engaged - passionately! - with what these characters do and what happens to them. The final issue will be a must-read for me because I'm that hungry to find out how this experience ("blah" though it is in itself) changes the heroes going through it.

While I'll probably never recommend No Road Home to a friend based on the plot developments, there are a huge number of characters that could inspire me to say, "If you like [X], you gotta check out No Road Home." And that's a pretty dang powerful achievement for a series that assembled its ensemble of heroes almost at random.

No Road Home #9 manages to satisfy and succeed because it makes its cast highly compelling (and makes them visually gorgeous). The plot is made of flimsier stuff, falling, like the settings, into the realm of forgettability. While the shortcomings are significant, the sterling character work makes the issue well worth reading.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I actually dropped a hyuuuge spoiler up there, multiple times, but it's the wonderful, clever kind of spoiler that you're never going to spot until after you've read the comic.