Blink awakes in ancient Baghdad and while being mistaken for Aladdin must attempt to gather her friends, each of whom have been stranded in a separate story from within the world of One Thousand and One Nights. As she gradually accounts for her allies we finally catch up with the whole team together, in time to face the nemesis de jour...Caliph Doom
OK, I’ll bite. It’s not Christmas yet, but we seem to be in Panto season…SHE’S BEHIND YOOOOUUUU!!! I’m sorry, I love a good bedtime story and Arabian Nights were one of my favorites as a kid, but this is getting a little too like filler to me, yet again. We had enough of that with the trial last issue. After the previous arc in the Wild West, I was fully anticipating so much more. There was little to no characterization here, despite Blink crowbarring in that she doesn’t know the story of Aladdin (“dystopian childhood remember?” Age of Apocalypse blah blah blah) And yet again I didn’t buy Val’s grief at losing Elendil. Similarly, Cap warning Val not to hurt Becky or she will “make you pay dearly for it” fell on deaf ears. At least Cap said “Nan” and not “Grandma” which is usually one of the many mistakes American comics make when writing Brit characters, having us use words and phrases that wouldn’t normally pass our lips…so in this at least all is right with the world and points have to go for accuracy there.
Sadly mostly everything else was making me impatient for the story to actually get going. We meet a whole motley crew of characters populating this magical realm and are shown wonderful settings, all of which are introduced then disposed of for no logical reason. Saladin seems to have forgotten the mission and just gone for the ‘stranger in a strange land’ element without actually introducing the threat. Why are the Exiles even there? What has the Tallus brought them for? Why were each of them being split up other than to introduce Marvel mainstay characters in trope versions of themselves and stretch the issue out? Even when we finally catch up with TJ playing the part of storytelling Scheherazade, the wife of Shahry?r, and then Doom himself turning up at the end I was left wondering what the focus really was, We have waited so long for an original Exile to show and then she only appears in the final page. With one issue to go in this arc it isn’t leading much to the actual dilemma for the Exiles and their usual jaunts across reality, which is kind of their whole point, right?
And moving swiftly on to the supporting cast, Black Cat and the Forty Thieves, Hakeem Strange and the Cyclops..Cyclopses…Cyclopi? This is what the Exiles is all about, showing the myriad options out there in the Multiverse to inform the lives of the alternate characters. This has always been the fun part of the title in any iteration. And the visuals of this were stunning. The colors of Muntsa Vicente added a richness to each and every scene. From the desert trek of Blink and Strange, the rich, verdant forest with Val and Becky and the creaking decks of King’s Voyage across the sea. They were all perfectly on point and had an other-worldly aspect to them. As for Javier Rodríguez and Álvero López, they grabbed me right from the opening scene in the streets of Medieval Baghdad. You could almost hear the vendors shouting over the beat of the Darabouka and even smell the herbs and spices the hawkers were selling. But that is all it was, nothing else was sold to me but the image. And imagery alone can’t sustain the story.
And David Nakayama’s cover was yet again stunning and worthy of a Disney movie of its own. So while the cover and the internal visuals were great, the characters and overall story itself seemed to suffer from pointlessness and meandering. And without any seeming thread to the plot or realistic characterization it’s going nowhere. Maybe we will get the whole point of this plot in Exiles #10 which is on sale 14th November. Also one point of interest, although the three main stories showcased here (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor) are of course the most recognizable of the Arabian Nights and are commonly associated with Arabian Nights, the original Arabic One Thousand and One Nights contains NONE of the stories seen here. They were all added later by Antoine Galland and several other European translators. It’s mildly pedantic I know, but there it is.
A visually stunning feast, with no actual ingredients. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder there is something to be said of substance. And there was none of that here.
Exiles #9 A-LASS-in and The Lamp
- Writing - 2/102/10
- Storyline - 2/102/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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