After mourning the loss of Kamala Khan and some much-needed downtime the team decides that Clarice going off alone to try to find her other compatriots alone is not an option and they put their combined energies together to kick-start the Tallus into action again. Apparently not only does it make it work again but has improved some things, as on arrival in the Old West their less than normal appearance raises no eyebrows. As Blink begins to get her hopes up of finding her friends, her investigations are stopped short by a fracas involving some familiar faces of an unfriendly nature, who swiftly retreat promising to be back with reinforcements and the barkeep tells them to get away before the Magnus Gang return and Blink is told that it won’t bode well for the townsfolk and they will just cause trouble. But the more friendly face of Moira McTaggert steps in to remind him trouble was there already and telling Blink to go won’t change that, before taking the team outside to chat, telling them about the Magnus Gang and their shenanigans, which apparently include kidnapping Morph and Nocturne. Suddenly Quicksilver makes good on his promise and returns with his leader and the other reprobates in the Magnus Gang.
As a fight breaks out the Exiles manage to hold their own, until Magnus takes Iron Lad as a prize and makes a swift exit with his group, leaving Blink and her friends to vow to rescue him, despite Moira insisting they have no hope, as the gang are long gone and lost to them in the desert. Wolvie insists he can track them and Moira points out that they still need a guide and no one in the town will risk their lives to help, though she mentions one called King, a foreigner who blew into town recently who also seems to be gunning for the Magnus Gang and has been attempting to gather someone to join him. When Clarice asks to be taken to him, Moira says it looks like there is no need, just as a voice behind them declares folks call him King, but his name….
Characters: The Western setting was not something I expected to like but the character designs and art made it work so well. The inclusion of the Brotherhood was a great touch and made for realistic antagonists in a way that smoothed the transition from the space saga of the last arc and really hooked me. The Black Panther showing up at the end like Idris Elba in The Dark Tower or Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles was truly inspired. And yet again Elendil steals the show even without speaking. When the Exiles fall flat on their face arriving in the old West, who stands regally above them all ready to go? As the Brotherhood show up, who do we see peeking over his shoulder looking surprised? Yes folks that’s right, comedy gold right there. I freaking LOVE that horse!!
Art: Mike McKone has already produced some excellent variant covers on Exiles #2 and #4, so it’s great to see him being given chance to shine on the main cover here and he manages to make it look dramatic as well as memorable with this vastly different version of Magneto, looking as we see him portrayed inside as well as holding Blink and Wolvie at gunpoint. Because of the lack of characterization and art that went before I have not fully bought into this title so far, but the internal art of Rod Reis has made me look again with new eyes and actually made me appreciate the story more. The first confrontation between the two groups was great to see, as was the typical hotheaded introduction to Quicksilver. It’s nice to see he’s the same everywhere you go. I even admired and believed in the face-off between the equally ridiculous Wolvie and Toad, the two seem to have a perfect sympatico duality to them.
I even loved the Western theme of this issue, which is a surprise for someone who doesn’t really like Westerns, and the art really sold it for me, Quicksilver was ever the dapper villain, Scarlet Witch looked awesomely bewitching and Magnus switching his cape for a poncho was a hilariously inspired touch, even having his little shield on his ten gallon hat. Even Mastermind as Maestro was an interesting spin. And especially the face-off between Magnus and Clarice. Look at these six panels below and tell me you don’t hear the strains of Ennio Morricone from all those Spaghetti Westerns. I know in my head I did and could almost see the tumbleweed roll by.
And although Wolvie is still annoying the art has also made him a LITTLE more in synch with the other characters, giving him a slight Tasmanian Devil air, especially when going up against the Toad, which makes his addition less off-putting. I would still rather see the X-Baby version we were promised on the promo art and not the cartoony abomination, but this is a vast improvement…I still don’t like him though, sorry. Yet the depiction of the larger than life colorful characters bursting into the saloon was not at all out of place and I bet even if the piano stopped playing and the card shark looked up it still would have fit the genre.
And a full page spread of the fight scene that actually did justice for the use of the whole page and wasn’t just an excuse to fill pages with nothing but imagery and gave everyone a spot to shine in. Truly exceptional Mr. Reis.
Lettering: It’s not often the efforts of letterer can get my attention, but this issue various ‘sound’ effects, from Quicksilver’s sonic booms, shots being fired and Valkyrie slamming Toad to the floor were all fitting in the context of the art and above all Blinks ‘blinks’ were a character all of their own this issue.
Writing: At first I was a little concerned at the explanation of the arrival in the Old West not raising any eyebrows, as they guessed the Tallus was masking their true appearance. The Deus Ex Machina of having it suddenly working perfectly and transporting them EXACTLY where they needed to be was already more than enough simplistic plot devising for me, but when Blink enquires at the bar and finds out that other ‘strange types’ have been seen recently, a blue girl in particular, then this makes it more believable as it is probably why no one was as shocked as they expected. I have to say I was still a little perturbed by Iron Lad this issue. One minute he is brooding and sulky with Valkyrie about Khan, then two minutes later joking with her and Clarice about swimwear. I can happily buy the character about-face, but it could have been remarked on by Val that his mood had improved, or she and Clarice could have used the joking to lighten his mood making it a bonding moment rather than just off the cuff levity. Just an observation. As for the rest of the story, losing Khan hasn’t changed the dynamic much, there is still a slight void in characterisation but the story itself worked well, because Saladin Ahmed made the support characters much more colorful and a little more interesting than the main hero team, which is always going to happen as we are more used to the team but not the antagonists, who change each story arc. And these villains and support characters are far more interesting than the Time Eater/Kang. I did also buy into the heroes a little more this issue, as the team deals with the fallout of losing Kamala, who was, to be honest, a noncharacter from the start and just a grumpy Wolverine rip off. Valkyrie is more rounded and shines a little more and though Blink is still a little, not herself of old, she is improving.
The opening dedication to Steve Ditko throughout all of this months issues was touching and informative. With statements by a Who’s Who of movers and shakers within Marvel Comics, it goes to show how everyone has felt the impact and is a true testament to the talent that was lost to us all recently.
COMING NEXT: Blink’s original time-traveling companions make an appearance, including fan-favorites Sabretooth, Morph, and Nocturne! And they’re just in time for a showdown with the gunslinging Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! But what does that mean for Blink and her NEW family of Exiles? And the Exiles aren’t the only familiar faces in town. They call him “King,” and you do not want to find yourself in his Vibranium crosshairs. Who is the Black Panther of the Wild West – and what does he want with the Exiles?!
Until Wolvie goes this team will always suffer a little from being unrelatable. Though it has improved with Khan gone and even Iron Lad isn’t as vapid and boring as before. Maybe with the return of the original Exiles, things can improve and the team can really get off the ground?
Exiles #6: The Good, The Bad and The Wolvie
- Writing - 6/106/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 7/107/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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