Review: We Can Never Go Home #5

It’s been a minute, and in the meantime there have been hardcovers, there have been announcements, and there have been super-secret mixtapes. The time has come, and the final issue of the first volume of We Can Never Go Home is finally here. At the end of the last issue, our heroes Madison and Duncan had been taken to Mr. Carroll’s compound, and at the beginning of this issue, they discover they will be tested. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, since y’all shouldn’t have been sleeping on this book to start with, but lies are revealed, beatings are laid down, and the whole team nails a super satisfying ending.

We-Can-Never-Go-Home-#5-1One thing that Rosenberg, Kindlon and Hood did extraordinarily well over the course of this series was let you, as the reader, play both sides of the superhero debate against each other. We’re never quite sure about Duncan—he’s constantly doing terrible things, but treats Madison fairly well. Madison is obviously the coolest, and always has/will be. Over the last five issues, we’ve gotten to see them go from insecure teenagers to the kinds of adults they could become, and they represent, in microcosm, everything about superheroics, from the escapism to the inherent fascism of a violent system, to the innocent delight that comes with finding out that you can do something that no one else can.

Josh Hood’s art on We Can Never Go Home has been revelatory since issue 1, panel 1, especially with Amanda Scurti and Tyler Boss’s lush neon color palette, but this issue, Hood really kicks out the jams on the sucker. The fight scenes are brutal ballets, and the quiet moments are just the right moment for you to catch your breath before the team throws you into another crazy situation. Hood also includes a lot of idiosyncratic things about Mr. Carroll that really make him stand out as the supercreep of this book; I don’t know how much of that was Hood and how much was Kindlon/Rosenberg, but kudos for unsettling me with that dude. Boss’s colors in this issue are at the peak of their powers, as well, from the gladiator fight in Mr. Carroll’s compound to the muted epilogue, everything speaks to the mood, and pushes the story along. Brian Level also stepped in on this issue to illustrate the epilogue, and his work is stellar, as always. He matches Hood’s style well enough for you to follow the action, and his sequence is really evocative of all that’s happened between the characters since the beginning of the book.

This is the first book from Black Mask that truly excited me (unless I’m misremembering and Space Riders came out first), and it has not let me down since the first issue. This is the kind of character work that many mainstream superhero books are missing, that final piece to the puzzle that reminds everyone that we don’t just read these books because the people can do cool things. We read these books because we want to see what effect being able to do these cool things has on the people. Kudos to everyone involved on this book, and to all of you who are going to pick up the collection and read it for the first time: I envy you. Now, time to throw on a Mission of Burma vinyl and wait until the next volume drops in 2016.

Score: 5/5

We Can Never Go Home #5 Writers: Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon Artists: Josh Hood, Brian Level Colorist: Tyler Boss Letterer: David C. Hopkins Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/2/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital