As a fan of alternate reality stories, I’ve always had a soft spot for “Exiles,” a book that’s all about exploring alternate realities. But I lost touch with the book after a while, and it seems I wasn’t the only one. A scant six issues into its latest relaunch, “Exiles” ends with an extra-sized issue that not only wraps up the current series and team’s mission, but provides a larger explanation about the nature of all previous Exiles teams. While this is the third “Exiles” series, the book has been running almost constantly for the past eight years and it seems that simply putting a new number one on the cover after a few months without an issue isn’t enough to keep readers interested in this reality-hopping series. That's a shame, because Jeff Parker does some great writing in this finale.
The issue begins with the current team finishing up a mission that they thought was complete by simply killing Magneto on a world where mutants are united under his leadership, but, now, must start a war between the two factions, the X-Men, and the Brotherhood. While a fairly subdued mission, it does provide Parker a chance to showcase the team dynamics before getting into the more details-heavy plot of explaining everything before wrapping it all up.
The team that Parker put together for this book is certainly interesting although a bit scattershot with variations on Forge, the Beast, Polaris, the Scarlet Witch, and Black Panther joining Blink and Morph. As this book hurtles toward its conclusion, each of the character is given a moment or two to shine. Without going into spoilers, Parker manages to solve the ‘something isn’t right with Blink’ subplot effectively, while also bringing the team closer together and energized with renewed purpose. How he does so does get a bit too involved and may lose readers by boring them, but if you can stick through the three or four pages of explanation, the rest is a joy.
Salva Espin’s art is energetic although simplistic. It has a ‘bright shiny happy’ feel to it that keeps pace with Parker’s writing, working to make this issue a lot of fun. His compositions and figures suffer from an inability to depict anyone as looking older than their mid-twenties, but he counters that with some very good character work and cartooning skills. He’s an artist that needs time to grow, but if his work on this issue is any indication, Salva Espin is a name you’ll be seeing in credit boxes for years to come.
It’s hard to pinpoint what doomed this relaunch of “Exiles” to a quick death, but it certainly isn’t the quality of work by Parker and Espin; This is the best issue of the series I’ve read since Judd Winick was on the book. It’s a shame that it’s the final issue. Maybe in a few years, people will be ready for the concept again. If Jeff Parker is on board then, I know I will be, too.
(It’s the beginning of the end in CBR’s preview of “Exiles” #6!)