Avengers: No Road Home #8
Issue eight sees the two factions of Avengers facing off against Nyx and her terrible children. The fact that beating this external threat requires dealing with their own secret, internal perils is certainly not a coincidence. Dreams have their own language, after all, and this nightmare speaks it fluently.
Once again, Jim Zub, Mark Waid and Al Ewing manage to maintain the precarious balance of explosive action and contemplative characterisation which has become the Hallmark of this series. There’s a clever duality to this series which is reflected on every level, from the structure of the narrative to the layout of the art. That’s an awful lot of artistic effort to pack into something which is as fun and enjoyable as the usual mindlessly consumable comic book fare. But that’s sort of the Marvel Ideal, isn’t it? It’s the ethos repeated, again and again, in those Stan’s Soapbox inserts they’ve been running: a good time, a pocket adventure, and also something that will give you an Idea to mull over to help light your way through the dark.
Let’s start with the art. Carlo Barberi, Joe Sabino and Jesus Aburtov (penciler, letterer and colorist, respectively) deliver light, cartoonish lines, fun scenes, and splashy explosions which are undercut by deep shadows and a formal structure that ensures that every panel acts as a mirror — either in the sense that characters in two different locations reflect each other’s physical actions (sometimes these reflections are reversed, for an added layer of subtlety) or else in the emotions which are written across their faces.
Some of these mirror scenes are more obvious than others. See the page posted below for reference.
The written side of the narrative is also ‘shaped’ in this way. The journeys and self-revelations that the characters experience (even if they’re a bit old hat for us True Believers) are mirrored by the experiences of others — and it is this empathy, the sense of fellow-feeling, which comes to the characters after they’ve battled through their own private pain and learned to recognize it in their friends which enables them to move forward with their quest. I’m thinking, particularly, of the lovely scene with Hercules when he understands that while he cannot help or control his history or the facts of his nature, he can decide how he will use those traits to beat despair. Once Herc has this revelation, he is able to contextualize the thing causing his pain. He is able to see it reduced to it’s true size. He is able to understand the suffering that this pain is generating in another person, and finally, he is able to crush it.
That’s one hell of an apt metaphor for psychological growth.
Of course, this bit of characterisation is mirrored in the interaction between Hulk/Banner and Hawkeye, but I’ll leave you to work through that fine bit of writing on your own.
Pick this story up.
Review by Bethany W Pope
Marvel is a corporation with a philosophical Ideal: a fun story, a good time, a pocket adventure, and also something that will give you an Idea to mull over which will, hopefully, help light your way through the dark. That’s exactly what this series delivers.
Avengers: No Road Home #8: Perchance to Dream
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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