Avengers: No Road Home's Finale is a Love Letter to the Marvel Universe

After ten weeks, Avengers: No Road Home comes to an end, marking the team's final battle with Nyx, Queen of the Night. In its finale, the creative team of Jim Zub, Al Ewing, Mark Waid and Sean Izaakse deliver an issue that's not only a fitting end to the weekly series, but a heartfelt love letter to the entire Marvel Universe. More impressive, is does this while delivering upon the series' driving question of what exactly it takes to be an Avenger. The creative team has crafted the single best issue of the entire series, topping their previous collaboration with last year's weekly series Avengers: No Surrender.

Picking up immediately after the previous issue, Vision confronts Nyx for a final showdown with the fate of the entire Marvel Universe at stake. Despite facing overwhelming odds, Vision is undeterred and calls upon a surprising source for reinforcements in a pitched battle. It's a nice twist on the entire series as the creative team shows its hand, drawing from decades of Marvel history to deliver a wholly satisfying conclusion and subverting expectations of the usual mindless superhero action that can dominate the industry. That Waid will be writing this summer's History of the Marvel Universe is cause for celebration, as the issue provides a trip down memory lane that comes off as a celebration rather than forced fan service.

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Ewing, Waid and Zub present the finale as a metatextual meditation on the nature of storytelling, the importance of hope in a medium that recently been overly preoccupied with darkness, and what it takes to be a hero. It's no grand coincidence that the primary antagonist of this series is darkness personified, and the creative team make this connection especially apparent here. The level of self-aware storytelling is reminiscent of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore's writing, though this team never comes off as if they are riffing off of the British comic writers.

If the writers of the issue appear to be channeling Moore and Morrison, artist Sean Izaakse's work here will certainly remind readers of the works of Marvel legends including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Dave Cockrum. Working with colorists Erick Arciniega and Marcio Menyz, Izaakse has the seemingly daunting task of evoking Marvel's extensive history and vast library of colorful characters in this issue without coming off as dated or overstuffed in an issue that is both a sendoff for No Road Home while reflecting on the Marvel legacy. That's a very tall order but fortunately the art team exceeds lofty expectations here; Izaake's creatively collaborative chemistry with longtime partner Zub on full display.

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While Avengers: No Road Home may not seem to have especially lasting consequences (aside from the reintroduction of Conan the Barbarian into the Marvel Universe), one suspects that was never truly the title's ultimate goal. Whereas No Surrender was an effort to stage big, bombastic, classic Avengers action, its follow-up has been a more self-conscious exploration of mainstream superhero storytelling, as its offbeat cast of characters each undergo self-examination while battling to save the universe.

While a bit uneven at times, Avengers: No Road Home closes with one of the strongest single issues any member of its creative team has put together in recent memory. This is not meant as a slight to their previous work, but rather as a testament to how breathtakingly good this comic is. While the metatextual detour may throw readers expecting a more conventional superhero showdown for a loop, it's a fantastic look at Marvel Universe from the perspective of the one of the most synthetic, yet authentic, members of the Avengers; Vision's outside perspective giving a Kirby-like quality of the strange, wonderful world that Marvel has thrilled fans for for decades. The finale to Avengers: No Road Home is one of those rare cases where the destination is far more important than the journey to get there.

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Avengers: No Road Home #10 is written by Mark Waid, Jim Zub and Al Ewing and illustrated by Sean Izaakse. It is on sale now from Marvel Comics.

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