REVIEW: Exiles #1 (The Wrath Of Khan)

Blink is back and must gather a new ragtag team to save the whole Multiverse from being inexhorably extinguished by an unknown threat.

 

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EXILES #1
Author: Saladin Ahmed
Pencils: Javier RodrÍguez
Inks: Alvaro López
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: David Marquez & Matthew Wilson
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:
Clarice Ferguson (AKA Earth-295 A.O.A. Blink) is relaxing in the Bahamas and getting to know her family, albeit the family of the OTHER Clarice (Earth-616 Blink) who is herself also actually still alive…somewhere, last seen in New Tian during Secret Empire. Confused? Then we’ll begin.

What You’ll Find Out:
The Unseen (once known as Nick Fury) is bound and chained on the moon and cursed to watch the events of Earth and do nothing as the Multiverse is slowly and deliberately destroyed by something called the Time Eater. As he laments his role and how he got there he is visited by…himself. He senses that the less grizzled Nick Fury, who has appeared through a teleport gateway clutching a Tallus from an undetermined world, is dying. Before disappearing in a blinding flash of non-existence the younger Fury passes on the “doohickey” says his job is done and it’s all up to an unnamed heroine and her pals and offers the Unseen some fashion advice as the Tallus begins to come to life seeking its new owner…

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…who is blissfully unaware that her past exploits as a time-hopping hero are about to be on the cards once again. As she basks in the joy that is a seafood dinner in the Bahamas with her ersatz Aunt Sandra, we learn they only met last week. The aunt herself seems to be taking the fact the niece before her is an alternate version and also taking discussion of the Multiverse and X-Men hero life in such an offhand way, as Blink receives a message from the Tallus on the moon, makes her apologies and teleports away.

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Arriving on the moon she is none too pleased to see the trinket waiting for her and calls out whoever is playing wizard behind the curtain. Unconvinced The Unseen isn’t yanking her strings she doesn’t take the news of her new mission well, not least because she hasn’t a clue what to do and neither does he. As she is chided for her flippant remark about the M’Kraan Crystal she justifies the attitude by reminding him that people have been trying to kill her all her life and there’s no point getting upset about it, as the Tallus comes to life and ports her away.

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Arriving in a new reality she wonders aloud if the Tallus is suddenly self-aware and thinking for itself now. As she doubts her own theory she is attacked from behind by a blast of energy and then commanded to get up. Her Inhuman attackers accuse her of being a spy come to take them out even as she asks for help before the flashing Tallus scares them into firing again and she goes on the offensive. They take advantage of the fact she is pulling her punches and Blinks last memory as she passes out is hearing them say they are taking her to the boss.

30708491_10160473018735413_3572693365064880098_nAwakening chained and a held at gunpoint by none other than an older, war-weary Kamala Khan Blink realizes she isn’t among friends. The Inhumans are holed up and defending themselves from all manner of opposition including humans and Sentinels, not so many mutants, as they seem to be in short supply. Clarice wastes no time in giving her the 411 of events and Kamala checks her vital signs like some Inhuman lie detector as she goes into more detail on the reality-threatening nemesis. As if mentioning the threat alone has brought the threat into being the very reality around them begins to disappear much the same way we witnessed Fury do on the moon. As the Tallus takes steps and ports the two of them out of there Blink just manages to convince Kamala it isn’t her as they land in unfamiliar surroundings.

 

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As they familiarise themselves with the futuristic world around them Blink has the unfortunate task of informing Kamala her world is no more, a victim of the very threat she is set against. Given her past, she believes with Kamala’s help they can restore it as she realizes the Tallus seems to be picking her new team from destroyed realities, but first, they need to fix their location and why they are there. Just as they witness Iron Lad dealing with some bullies they intervene and learn the bullies once nearly put him in the hospital and tell him that maybe he should be putting his armor to better use when the Tallus begins to flash again, informing Blink that maybe he is their latest recruit. She tells him to let them go as they have important issues to discuss. Denying his rebuttal she reiterates that they have bigger fish to fry.

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Once the bullies are released he removes the helmet and as his tech informs him they are time travelers they are in turn shocked to see he’s a teenager. Once introductions are done we learn not only is this not the Earth-6311 version we know from Young Avengers but also that Kang is hunting him for stranding him in the time stream. Just as they convince Nate to join them Kang himself arrives to stop them but is himself stopped in his tracks and wiped out of existence as the three heroes are left to bear witness to the horror that is…the arrival of the Time Eater.

 

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What Just Happened?
Blinks reticence to pick up where she left off is a little odd here as she was last seen with the Panoptichron, training the new batch of reality fixers in the last series. Speaking of which, before it’s even released the line-up has caused equal amounts excitement, trepidation and even controversy among fans, whatever way you cut it this is not an X-title, even with Blink as the mainstay (and a half character which isn’t even a character but a cartoon cut-out) Luckily we aren’t bombarded with all of them in one go but just Blink in the lead and two of the less controversial members as things unfold. I was actively looking forward to seeing Valkyrie and I think it’s possible she may have added some much-needed charisma. Both Iron Lad and Kamala were a little bland for me here and had nothing much to offer in the way of back- up-cast. Iron Lad isn’t even the same character as seen in Young Avengers but a different iteration and Kamala seems an attempt at Old Woman Khan, which I suppose is fair enough as this is about alternate versions of characters we know already. Personally, I feel introducing both Valkyrie AND Wolverbaby in one go may be a risky move and too much to swallow for those who have an issue with them both. Only Blink herself seemed to hold things together, as well as the back up of having both Nick Fury and the Unseen there too. Not to mention the end reveal of who is destroying the Multiverse. I did enjoy Marvel Zombies so the addition here of Zombie Galactus Head makes sense in the way of alternate world characters added to the story as a threat.

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As always the bold use of colors by Jordie Bellaire is eye-popping, from the grim brown/yellow pallet we briefly see of Kamala’s world to the bright neon of Nate’s. It is a stark (no pun intended) contrast and a reminder we are dealing with different realities. Not to mention the dark, dusty moon and the bright sunny Bahamas. As well as the different energy signatures of the Tallus porting the team and the Time Eater absorbing realities, which on occasion share panel space but each is clearly defined and offers no confusion. Even Javier Rodríguez one splash page, reminding us of her past exploits, didn’t seem out of place. And the well-defined inks of Alvaro López aren’t drowned out by the bright colors but enhanced by them. His rendition of Iron Lad and Kamala is well realized and Blink is as unmistakable as ever even with the new hairstyle, a great departure from her old do. At first a bit of a shock it grew on me and stands out very well as does the appearance of the other two if not the characters themselves.

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And the cover by David Marquez and Matthew Wilson is as iconic as any of previous Exiles runs. As for the writing, with all team books, the dynamic is heavily reliant on the mixed bag of characters involved and this is no different and so far the new ones involved have little character or any interesting traits. The team gathering is a tad slapdash and comes off a little rushed to me and the snarky way Blink is with everyone, from the Unseen to Iron Lad isn’t something I’m familiar with and maybe she’s gotten more hard-nosed since losing her old team. Possibly with the two new members still to join she may crack a smile. Saladin Ahmed has a hard job this issue setting things up. The constant repetition of the impending threat, though necessary to inform each new character is a little dull and reminds me of the dad in Silent Hill who CONSTANTLY describes his daughter to NPC’s he meets in the game and this drags the pace down somewhat. Though we only have two to go so hopefully next issue this will pick up.

Rating: 5.5/10

Final Thought: To paraphrase Echo and The Bunnymen…Bring on the flying horses!!!


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