More tightly paced than last year's Avengers: No Surrender, the weekly follow-up, Avengers: No Road Home, dedicates its entire eighth issue to a battle on multiple fronts as the fight against Nyx, the Queen of Night, intensifies. What sets this one apart from other, similarly nonstop action issues, however, is a mind game of sorts in which the heroes face their inner demons while continuing the pursuit of the series' underlying question of what it takes to be considered an Avenger.
Picking up from last week's cliffhanger, the fight against Nyx and Oizys, Creature of Misery, continues in earnest, with the team divided into two brawls. The main event has Hulk, Hawkeye and Rocket Raccoon facing down Nyx, while Hercules leads Conan, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Spectrum against Oizys. The issue is encapsulated by these two epic throwdowns, but writers Al Ewing, Mark Waid and Jim Zub still make the fracas feel like more than action-packed filler by carrying forward established themes and character arcs and providing glimpses into several characters, providing a personal touch that elevate it above the usual "punch everything the entire time" single issues.
Since the first issue, Hawkeye has contemplated his sense of self-worth as the Avengers face escalating threats that are completely undeterred by the scrappy archer. This issue gives Clint Barton a chance to shine, although, given how the story progresses afterward, it does come off as a bit anticlimactic. What works for Hawkeye is his dynamic with the Hulk, with the two finally hinting at a potential reconciliation of sorts by the series' end. Their relationship had been understandably strained after Hawkeye killed a potentially rogue Bruce Banner during Civil War II, leading to his monstrous resurrection in the preceding No Surrender. This antagonism has informed the characters for the entirety of No Road Home, so while Hawkeye's big moment may not necessarily come off as a showstopper, it's more important for what it hints at between the two teammates.
The corresponding fight between Hercules' faction and Oizys is a bit more esoteric, given the character's power set. The Creature of Misery's knack for getting inside his victims' heads is on full display, with Conan and Vision particularly affected. Structure wise, it throws off the pacing a bit from the battle against Nyx, but it does offer a more cerebral change-up from the main fight, and provides a nice window into a couple of the heroes.
Artist Carlo Barberi also delivers on a fairly kinetic tale. Given this particular issue's premise, there are a lot of moving parts, each visually distinctive, and fortunately he gives each character their artistic due. Hulk and Hawkeye's showdown with Nyx is the issue's highlight, and Barberi delivers in full as the doozy of a donnybrook escalates. It's always good to see Conan in the middle of the action, and this issue continues to prove that his inclusion in No Road Home isn't just a cheap way to herald Marvel regaining the publishing rights to the character.
Fight issues can be complicated to read on their own as part of a larger story, but Avengers: No Road Home #8 succeeds in moving the plot forward while balancing its cast with strong character moments. Uneven at places, the issue nevertheless sets the stage for final battle as the plot and the villain's schemes move into their final stages. With only two issues remaining, the creative team still has quite a bit of ground to cover, but they move ever closer to answering the series' underlying question of what exactly does it take to be worthy enough of being an Avenger.
Avengers: No Road Home #8 is written by Jim Zub, Mark Waid and Al Ewing, and illustrated by Carlo Barberi. It is on sale now from Marvel Comics.