In Review: Avengers: No Road Home #6

This follows the typical Conan comic book plot. Been there, done that--decades ago.

The covers: Three to pick up, with the last one giving me some trouble. The Regular cover is by Yasmine Putri and I love this! Conan and the Scarlet Witch are being attacked by four giant scorpions. He is using his sword to hack at the creatures, while she is using her abilities to take them down. This is gorgeous! I love the figures. The coloring on the scorpions blend in a bit too much with each other, but they are supposed to look like a wave of death swarming them. The backgrounds are also killer. This is just great. The Variant cover by Phil Noto has the Scarlet Witch powering up as Hypnos comes at her with his fists. Just back and between the pair is the Vision whose hands are glowing with energy. This is okay, with Wanda looking outstanding, but the villain looks a little clunky. Granted, I had to look at a tiny image of this cover online, when blown up didn’t look great. The Vision is cool, but isn’t really needed to be included. The colors on this, always a Noto hallmark, are excellent. But wait! There’s another Variant cover I found online. It accompanies this review and I have no clue who illustrated or colored it. It looks great, though. Wanda and Conan are riding white horse emerging from a sunrise. The sky behind them is pink and the Witch’s scarlets stand out strongly. I love this and need to know who created it. Plus, I want a copy for my own collection. Overall grades: Regular A+, Variant Noto B, and Variant Unknown A

The story: Wanda screams at seeing Hercules and the Vision turned to sand as Nyx rages at a loss. Awakened by this nightmare, she begins to calm herself, reassuring Conan that’s she fine. The Scarlet Witch, blind, has been transported to the time of Conan and the barbarian has agreed to help this witch retrieve the black shard that was taken from her when she arrived. Naturally, Conan has agreed to help, for a half share of the fortune. The pair have been traveling for three days encountering survivors and savages of the desert. Pages 4 and 5 shows that they have now encountered a monster, as a giant scorpion emerges from the sand, killing their horse. After this and much travelling they find the thieves, but not as they had expected. A four paged interlude featuring Hawkeye, Rocket Raccoon, and Hulk explain what this trio is doing since defeating Hypnos last issue. Unexpectedly, Conan shares this vision with Wanda and see the Hulk as “a creature of Crom.” Their paths will obviously cross and it won’t go well for one of them. The pair of heroes enter the wicked city of Shadizar and find the shard of ebony, accompanied by the rituals one expects Conan to stumble into. This allows for a good cliffhanger. Yeah, it’s official: Conan has met the Avengers. Okay, an Avengers. This is something writer Jim Zub expressed his glee over last issue and co-writers Mark Waid and Al Ewing, as well as the TPTB, allowed it. I’m not keen on this. It works in small doses, such as the classic Marvel Team-Up #79. If it’s only Wanda that meets him and works with him, I’m good, but that Hulk moment strongly foreshadowed the pair fighting. Conan is one of those characters that I don’t want to see running around with superheroes. Minus Wanda, this is as stereotypical as one can get in a Conan story. I’ve very nervous about further appearances by Conan in this title. Overall grade: C+

The art: Sean Izaakse does a bang up on this issue’s art. The first page is an excellent full-paged splash that has Wanda at the top of image screaming and within her silhouette are Hercules, Vision, and Nyx. This is a great way to summarize a key plot point from last issue and transition to Wanda in this strange land. Conan looks fantastic on every page he’s in, even if he’s just sitting still. His brow is always down, giving him a troubled and angry demeanor. I love the image of Wanda at the bottom of Page 3 which visually show her malady. The double-paged splash on 4 and 5 has the giant scorpion emerge, clutching the poor horse in a claw as the heroes watch. It’s got some neat comic book sharp teeth and extra eyes. The battle that follows is solid, with each character contributing in their own way to fell the beast. Page 7 is an outstanding montage of the pair’s trek through the desert. What happens to one of the thieves on 9 should be a tip off to readers as to what’s coming. Another outstanding montage of the desert trek continues on 10. The Hulk continues to devour the scenes he’s in, looking like a horror, with his smile only increasing reader anxiety towards him. The action on 15 is great and I can’t wait to see what this has done to the Marvel Universe. The scene on 16 is expected in a Conan tale when he’s with a woman and I like how Izaakse teased it on 17 and 18 before having an unexpected reaction. The city of Shadizar looks great, from its exterior and interiors. The two pages with a merchant look good, with some funny emotions. Page 23 is the typical scene from most Conan tales, yet Izaakse makes it look good. In fact, I would have been happier if the action had slowed down a bit so that more of the ritual could be seen rather that being so close to the characters. The action that occurs looks excellent, with the last illustration a full-page splash of a cliffhanger. I really like Izaakse’s work. Overall grade: A

The colors: When I worked in a comic book store in the 1980’s a joke among the owner and the employees was that Conan comics need only yellows and browns to tell stories since the barbarian is always in the desert or surrounded by rocks. I’m happy to say that Jay David Ramos with Marcio Menyz don’t follow that premise. The book opens with some spectacular reds to increase the horror of what Wanda sees. Throughout the book, Wanda’s red costume provides a welcome splash against the yellows and oranges of the desert. The giant scorpion is a dead green with glowing emerald eyes, making it a focal point on its pages. The best coloring of the book is on Page 10, with blues and greens joining the oranges and yellows to make the page just beautiful. The Hulk’s greens are frightening, a sign of danger every time they and he appears. I like that Nightmare’s speech balloons are emerald colored reinforcing his supernatural essence. The colors of the city’s exterior at night are great. The final setting’s location is colored appropriately, but I wish it would have been a little brighter, as the characters and the setting blend in with each other too much, creating a blob on the page. Violets are excellent on the final page, signaling how the characters have transported to this time. Overall grade: A-

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit creates dialogue, yells, narration, whispered dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue. I like the dialogue, the variety of yells, and the whispered dialogue, given by one wanting to remain hidden and another leaving this mortal realm. The narration is a different font from the dialogue and that makes me exceedingly happy. The sounds are good in the climax, but the one used for an action made by the Hulk looks very amateurish. The tease for next issue is big, bold, and exciting. Overall grade: A

The final line: I’m really on the fence about Conan being in an Avengers tale. This was okay, because he was only around Wanda. I’m really apprehensive about his further appearances in this series. That aside, this follows the typical Conan comic book plot: seek a treasure, fight a monster, encounter minions, interrupt a ritual, and battle the giant monster that appears. This is as typical as Conan stories get, just with an Avenger in tow. The visuals are good, but this is a dip in storytelling. Been there, done that — decades ago. 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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