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The creative team of last year's bestselling weekly series Avengers: No Surrender, is reuniting for the follow-up, Avengers: No Road Home with the first issue debuting this week. The writing team of Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub reteam with returning artist Paco Medina for this first issue, with a tighter focus and smaller team, but still considerably high stakes. And, thanks to this revised scope, No Road Home hits the ground running without leaving readers behind in its wake.

Planned for ten issues and running concurrently with Jason Aaron's main Avengers title as opposed to No Surrender, which ran by itself for sixteen issues, this debut issue serves a de facto roll call introducing what will presumably be most, if not all, of the main cast of superheroes moving forward, including several familiar faces from the previous weekly series. It's immediately apparent that this team will feature a smaller roster than the preceding story, which works out for the best as the creative team takes the time to give every character involved their due time in the spotlight without coming off as overstuffed or forced.

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What makes this first issue especially laudable is that it all works for longtime fans while remaining completely open and accessible to readers that never read an issue of No Surrender, despite this tale spinning out of the previous title's events. Aided by an expanded page count, the creative team capitalizes on the added room to not only introduce their cast, but the story's stakes and new threat all within 35 pages. Having read No Surrender certainly enriches the experience, but the creative team does a laudable job recapping previous events and establishing the status quo of the characters involved without getting bogged down by exposition. Perhaps most interestingly, the issue finally contains a face-to-face meeting between the Hulk and one of the characters responsibly for his current pain with a hint that unresolved matters between the two will be a recurring thread throughout No Road Home.

Matching the first issue's epic scope is the art team of penciller Paco Medina with inker Juan Vlasco and colorist Cory Petit. Medina draws each of the characters and their respective introductory settings as instantly recognizable and gorgeously rendered. Flashback sequences of Hercules recounting his mythical exploits transition seamlessly with high-flying adventures of Vision and Spectrum while friendly, intimate conversations and matched with tortured solitary sequences. The art team is weaving together a variety of seemingly disparate threads and characters each with their own respective mood and setting and they do so admirably. And when the issue hits its climax, the team beautifully illustrates the story's scope with the appropriate feeling that all hell is about to break loose.

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If there are any noticeable drawbacks, it's that the streamlined cast eschews more popular, recognizable Avengers for characters traditionally relegated to the second string. That isn't to say readers not as familiar with the wider workings of the Marvel Universe wouldn't recognize heroes outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe regulars, but for the uninitiated, a title carrying the Avengers moniker without more iconic names in its roster may put off some by the creative choice. Having said this, it becomes clear by the final pages why, exactly, certain members of this lineup have been selected for this particular story, with a new threat that explains that this miniseries' title is not meant to be taken metaphorically.

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A breakneck-paced first issue that largely succeeds on executing its ambitious scope, Avengers: No Road Home #1 is an excellent, accessible debut that promises an epic story driven by more offbeat characters. A streamlined experience in comparison to No Surrender, the issue trims the cast and scope without compromising the stakes. A great read for fans of the previous weekly series and new readers alike, No Road Home sets the stage for greater things to come.

Avengers: No Road Home #1 is written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub and illustrated by Paco Medina. The issue is scheduled to go on sale on February 13 from Marvel Comics.


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