In Review: Avengers: No Road Home #1

Not perfect, but a fun start.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Yasmine Putri. All the heroes (Hercules, Voyager, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Spectrum, Rocket, Hulk, and Hawkeye) are falling backwards, breaking a glass image that features an image of Mount Olympus. The colors meld into each other too much, making a focus difficult to find. The first Mark Brooks Variant cover features the Scarlet Witch in the center of the cover, her right hand high above her casting a red light over all so that they can see. Clockwise around her are Voyager, Hercules, Vision, Hawkeye, Rocket Raccoon, Hulk, and Spectrum. Neat, but this is an average cover from Brooks. But holy smokes! Are you going to want to grab a copy of the Mark Brooks Hidden Gem Variant cover. This has a gorgeous full image of the Scarlet Witch smiling as she works a toy remote that moves a tiny toy Vision about on the floor. She is breathtakingly beautiful and the Vision toy is as cute as a button. The background is violet with stars and swirls. Fantastic! Juan Ferreyra’s Variant has the Avengers appearing to be overwhelmed by Venom’s ebony tendrils, though the anti-hero is not in the image, nor in this issue. The Hulk is at the top of the illustration, howling as he’s enveloped. On his left shoulder sits Voyager, while on his right is Rocket, blasting at the black streaks. This pair is still free of the symbiote. Below them are the Scarlet Witch, Hercules, Hawkeye, Vision, and Spectrum — all being consumed. In fact, in the bottom right one character has been completely covered, with only their eyes and teeth showing. I’m done with Venom, so this doesn’t do anything for me. Remember how I said you’d want the Brooks Variant? Yeah, you want to get a copy of the Adam Hughes Variant as well. This features only the Scarlet Witch as she’s got her left hand extended forward, her right down low. Both are open as though working a spell. She is fantastic and the colors are outstanding in every shade of red. Wow! The Connecting Variant cover is by Mico Suayan & Rain Beredo. The Hulk is the dominant figure, raging as he moves to the right. Before him on a rocky outcropping is Rocket. To the mechanical whiz’s left is Spectrum, looking at the reader. Just behind the Hulk is Voyager, flying to the right. The background is dark clouds at the top and bright orange at the bottom. Nice, but not killer. There’s also a Second Print cover which is the final page of the issue by Medina and Vlasco. It’s good, but a titch spoilerish if one doesn’t know the ending of this book. Overall grades: Regular C+, Brooks Variant B-, Brooks Hidden Gem Variant A+, Ferreyra Variant C+, Hughes Variant A+, Suayan Variant C+ and Second Print A

The story: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, & Jim Zub, the trio of writers behind Avengers: No Surrender, have created this follow up. Hercules is in New York City recounting a battle that he and the gods participated in, but is stopped to be told by the officer that she, and the other officers, are busy with a situation in a hardware store. Naturally the god wants to vanquish evil and goes in to confront the mysterious threat, only to discover it’s one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Something occurs in the sky to stop the pair of characters short. Elsewhere, Clint and Wanda have lunch in a diner, with the Scarlet Witch presenting him with an old box of his belongings, before the sun goes dark over them as well. The same is repeated in Washington, D.C. as Spectrum and the Vision have a task, with the latter receiving some very bad news. When the sun goes out over New Mexico, Bruce Banner transforms into his larger persona. Once he’s changed, a character from No Surrender appears stating that the other Avengers have to gather to stop the danger that’s taken out the sun, not just on Earth but throughout the universe. All of the previously seen heroes are gathered and arrive at their destination to see destruction and bodies. The villain of the piece appears on the final page doing something horrible to one of the heroes. This was a good build, with each hero getting a solid scene to establish who they are and what their motivations are until the sun disappears. The character that meets first with the Hulk was good to see again, though she essentially focused like Pariah on Crisis on Infinite Earths. I was most happy to see one character stop being humorous and start getting incredibly serious on Page 23 and his reactions that follow this page are dramatic. I don’t know anything about the villain that appears at the end and want to learn more. This was a solid start. Overall grade: A-

The art: Paco Medina is the penciler and Juan Vlasco the inker for this book and their work is fine, though there’s nothing in the story that allows them to show something stellar. The second panel on the first page could have been a stunner, but it has no background and the gods, with the exception of Hercules, are so far from the reader as to be unimportant. The second page has the focus on the gods, which is good, but the final blow against the monstrous foe occurs off panel. The look of joy on Herc’s face at the bottom of Page 4 is perfect. I like his pose in the fourth panel on 5 when something blows up. The character he meets looks fine, but not great. The panel that ends 6 is vague. I do like the reaction in the last panel on 7 which is wonderfully comedic. The best drawn pages of the book occur in the diner between Hank and Wanda. The characters look exceptional and their emotions are fantastic. I’m not a fan of the Vision’s new look, though I do like the character. Banner and the Hulk look outstanding, with the green giant looking threatening every time he speaks to anyone, especially one Avenger. Though it’s only three panels, the quick peek at action on three alien worlds is great. I love everything about Page 20. The final two panels on 23 don’t have as much comedic punch as they would have it they were larger. The partial double-paged spread of 24 and 25 has the characters looking strong, but not much detail is in the setting — there’s a lot of space devoted to the empty sky. The reader needs to feel as much shock as the character who’s effected the most by the state of this locale. The first three panels on 26 don’t sell the horrors as well either, with too much of the panels devoted to the heroes and not the victims. I do like the anger and pain of the character on 27, which is a great visual payoff for what’s been seen. The final page is a full-paged splash introducing the villain. This character looks good, but what she’s doing to one of the protagonists really establishes her evil nature. There are visuals to enjoy, while others slightly miss the mark in this opening chapter. Overall grade: B

The colors: The colors on this issue run from hot to cold. The opening page has too much orange in it, making the second panel’s art meaningless. Jesus Aburtov improves considerably on the next page and with the action returning to New York City, Herc looks fantastic. I don’t understand why the penultimate panel on 5 would have the hero bathed in rose, while the background behind him is not effected similarly. I do like the progression of darkness at the bottom of 7. The colors in the diner scenes are perfection. The blue sky of Washington D.C. had me thinking the sun had also set there, with the sun’s glare having me think it was the moon. The Banner and Hulk pages are awesome, and the violet that’s later reflected on the Green Goliath’s visage very cool. I love the red for the computer room’s red alert. Hulk and Hawkeye’s page has the highlights really well done: it’s was impressive how Aburtov conveyed darkness, but allowed the reader to still able to see the action. I don’t like the colors on 24 and 25 as the colors blend into each too much, making a focus hard to find as the art is now blurred. Better is the following page, especially with the upset person’s face. There are several dialogue balloons and narration boxes that have their own unique colors so the reader can identify who’s speaking and thinking. Overall grade: B-

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit is the man behind this issue’s text, which includes narration and dialogue (the same font), dialogue, scene settings, sounds, transmissions and Vision’s speech (the same font), and whispered dialogue. I wish the narration and dialogue had been a different font, as differing them by the shape and color of the balloons and boxes has everyone sounding the same. A similarity between the transmissions and Vision’s speech is fine since both are mechanical in nature. The scene settings are big, bold, and awesome. The whispered speech is for a character muttering a comment, one feeling shock, and another’s passing. Very effective. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Not perfect, but a fun start. The heroes are introduced and a problem established that goes beyond Earth. The art is suitable, but there’s not many opportunities for it to wow the reader, and when it does it misses the mark. The characters are familiar and enjoyable, so I’ll be back for more. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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