In Review: Avengers: No Road Home #3

The team is split with three dealing with a classic villain and the others carrying an unsuspecting traitor.

The covers: Only a pair to collect for this issue if Voyager doesn’t send you elsewhere. The Regular cover is by Yasmine Putri and features Nightmare grinning like a demon as he holds a green globe that contains images of Hulk, Rocket, and Clint trying to get out of the orb. The trio looks as though they’re slowly melting within this object. This is an excellent horrific image that teases the villain causing the heroes trouble. The Connecting Variant cover by Mico Suayan & Rain Beredo looks to be the final frontpiece that completes the long image. Nyx and the Children of Night stand among the ruins of Mount Olympus looking to the left, which is where the heroes are. Oizys raises herself up on her long body, Hypnos strikes a pose that he’s willing to exchange punches, Dolos is in the foreground running, while his twin Apate remains crouched holding a blade. In the back Nyx raises her right hand in a gesture to signal her fighters attack. This is good. Overall grades: Regular A- and Connecting Variant A

The story: Rocket Raccoon is waking up on a table as the robots that created him are burning open his chest to alter him further. He screams and struggles, but “the robots stared into him with their dead eyes and kept on cutting.” He’s able to raise one of his restrained hands high enough to grab the cutting laser from the automaton and fires upon them. After destroying the mechanical surgeons with their own weapon, Rocket runs out of the laboratory with the device and his clothes magically appear on him. Looking into a side room he comes up the Hulk holding Clint off the floor. “Here to watch?” the green goliath asks. Rocket raises his weapon. “Put…him down, Hulk. I’m askin’ nice here.” The Hulk squints his eyes thinking over his options. Al Ewing, Jim Zub, & Mark Waid start this chapter with these two dramatic moments and then surprises the reader with a revelation at the bottom of Page 5. The story warps further with the arrival of the antagonist on 6. I love this villain, as he’s one I remember discovering when I was little and he’s portrayed brilliantly in this book. But before this baddie can do anything further to these three Avengers, the book moves to the other four heroes who are in someplace unique. I was saddened by what ails the Scarlet Witch and too pleased with Hercules’s reaction on Page 7. I’ve not heard of the location on 8 and 9, but it’s memorable. The tease on 10 is outstanding, with it being fully explained in the third panel on 18 — smart writing. The flashback on 12 and 13 is great, with the admission at the end of the latter superb. The character that appears on 15 is neat and I’m sure that next issue will show more of what this character is capable of. The entrance on 18 is great and what happens as a result of this entrance on 20 is great. I’m very excited to see what happens next issue. Overall grade: A

The art: Penciler Paco Medina and inker Juan Vlasco do a solid job on this issue. The opening splash page is okay, but the simple background disappoints. If the action had been pulled in tighter onto Rocket nothing would be lost visually, save the vague background. The six panel sequence on Page 2 is outstanding, with the narration from another character really not needed to tell the reader what’s occurring. The transformation in the fourth panel on 3 is a good clue to the observant reader. The Hulk looks outstanding when Rocket comes across him and Clint. The smile the big lug gives at the end of Page 5 is beautiful. The change of settings at the top of 6 is killer and the entrance in the large panel is absolutely worthy of the character. The Avengers’ entrance into their location on 7 is great. There’s a partial double-paged splash on 8 and 9 which is okay, but I have no idea where the characters are in relationship to this place and because of its design it’s hard to make out how large it is. It’s futuristic, but that’s about all it’s got going for it. I like how the visual of the third panel on 10 shows a character’s point of view and teases something major. The final panel on 13 sums up the villain wonderfully. Rocket and Hulk are killer on 14. The entrance on 16 is great. The bottom two panels on Page 17 are brilliant; I especially like the close-up of the hero, as circular panels are just classy and so cool. The entrances on 18 are perfection. Fog appears on 19 and it’s not terrific. It’s really loose. It might be the colors, but I think it’s more its construction, as shown in the third panel. The action on the final page is great, though the background sadly disappears in the last panel. There’s much to like and some areas of concern. Overall grade: B

The colors: I like the colors on this issue by Jesus Aburtov. The yellows and white on the first page make the blues pop. The rose on 2 and 3 increase the horror and tension well. Hawkeye’s narration is in mustard which has it catching the reader’s eyes every time it appears. I love the highlights on the Hulk’s skin on 4 and 5. But it’s the sensational wacky colors of the location the trio go to on 6 that steal the show: the combination of neon pink, black and green is wonderful. The coloring on 8 is fine on the structures, but not so hot on the rocks that circle it. However, those pinks are perfection. That’s not a color one associates with superhero books, but Aburtov is using pink handsomely. The coloring in the third panel on 10 (Can I mention this panel enough?) is absolutely key to a reveal later in the issue. The greens on the book’s big bad are spectacular, giving him a delightfully eerie sheen. The blues on 18 and 19 look good for a background color, but are too nonspecific to represent fog. The colors are faded in the final panel on 19 to create the density of the fog, but it comes off as a printing error. The colors in the final panel of the issue are too dark. Yes, this is a “bad” character, but this individual would have had a bigger impact on the reader if he was brighter. Overall grade: B

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit creates the narration, mechanical speech, dialogue, whispered and distant text, one sound, and the tease for next issue. I really like Clint’s narration which looks unlike any other text in the book. It instantly informs the reader what they are reading based on its design. The mechanical speech, for the robots in the opening and the Vision, is italicized, suggesting they sound slightly different from biological creatures. The whispered and distant text pulls the reader closer to the book and creates some good tension. Sadly, there’s only one sound for this issue. This is extremely disappointing. Sounds are one of the key elements of a comic book and to have so many lost opportunities in this book for sounds is sad. It’s not Petit’s decision to insert sounds, that falls on the writers, and I wish they’d add more. Overall grade: A-

The final line: The team is split with three dealing with a classic villain and the others carrying an unsuspecting traitor. I was thrilled to see who the big bad was and he’s fantastic. The cosmic locale is interesting and I’m hoping to see more of it and the character encountered there. The visuals are fine, though there are some loosely rendered images that lessen the book. The colors, however, are stunning, with some wildly entertaining choices in a quirky setting. This series continues to be enjoyable. 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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