Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Jim Calafiore (p), Eric Cannon (i)
The book opens by showing us that shortly after Curt Connors experiment turned him into the Lizard, the creature used the serum on his wife Martha, and then the rest of the neighborhood. We then see that this soon resulted in a full blown Lizard explosion, and before humanity could get a grasp on the situation America's entire Western coast became infested by these creatures. We then see that humanity responded to this threat by containing the creatures behind a massive wall, effectively handing the entire region over to this new reptile race. We then see that the Exiles have arrived on this Earth, and their mission is to keep a nuclear device from being set off inside the reptile environment. As the team journeys through this hostile region, we see that in spite of Morph's bid to keep spirits up, Mimic's temperamental mood keeps Blink from enjoying herself. As the group locates the site where the bomb is being readied, we see Mimic & Blink head in to stop the party who is working on the device, while the others hold back the gathering lizards. While they do stop the denotation of the device, the mission hardly has itself a happy ending, and Mimic's mood becomes even more dire.
This issue has itself one of the more interesting "what if" scenarios, as we get a look at what the world would look like if the Lizard actually managed to take a fairly impressive first step in his bid to take over the world. Now the solution to this problem is a bit disappointing, as it's struck me as a hurried ending to what had been a fairly interesting problem, and frankly the Exiles dealt with the most immediate problem, while leaving the scene before the real issue can be addressed. Now we do get a strong final scene for Curt Connors, and since he is the one who initially triggered this tragedy his death does lend a sense of closure to the story. However, while I applaud the "done-in-one" approach, when most titles are looking to expand their stories for the accelerated trade paperback program, I would've liked to see Curt Connors offer up a means to correct his mistake, as in regular continuity we have seen that there is a chemical means to reverse the change, and given he changed back into human form, one would think that this would inspire Curt to at least try to save the people his experiment changed. Basically the ending we did get was a little too abrupt for my liking.
The issue does take some time away from the crisis of the month to look at a couple members of the team. Now Cal's sour mood is going to get old fairly quickly if it's not dealt with soon, as while tension always makes for an interesting relationship, at the moment Cal's keeping it all bottled up inside, and as such Judd Winick can't do all that much with the idea except have Blink grow increasingly frustrated. Speaking of frustration, the second member of this team who gets some time in the spotlight is Morph, who we find is busy trying to score with the married Sasquatch. Now one does have to wonder why he hasn't used his shape-shifting abilities to remedy this situation on a world that isn't quite so dire as the one they end up in this issue, but it did make for a rather cute scene, and it also created a fun moment between Blink & Mimic, as she tries to cut off one of Morph's avenues to get himself some action. There's also an interesting little moment where we see Talila has emerged from her mourning, and engages in a little playful teasing with Morph. However, given the last issue dealt with her ill-fated relationship with James, this scene was a little jarring.
Well Mike McKone's extended absence is a beginning to get a bit worrisome, but as long as Jim Calafiore is on hand to provide the guest-art I'm not going to complain too loudly. Now sure Jim Calafiore's work isn't as expressive as Mike McKone's, and as such some of the more emotionally intense moments simply aren't as effective as they might've been (e.g. Curt Connors anguish as he describes his role in the tragedy). However, where Jim Calafiore's work is actually stronger is in it's delivery of the action scenes, as the opening flashback material of the Lizard's rise to power is quite effective at presenting the horror of the situation, and when the Exiles find themselves under attack, the sheer savagery of their lizard attackers is perfectly conveyed. I also have to credit him for making Morph into the most visually interesting background character since Plastic Man, as he must go through at least a dozen different identities during his handful of pages in this issue. The art also does a nice job capturing the big ideas of the story, from the opening double-page shot of the wall that surrounds the West Coast, to the angry intensity of Cal's reaction on the final page.
A fairly entertaining issue, and while I'm normally the first to applaud a writer who delivers a standalone tale, I found the ending to this issue felt like Judd Winick suddenly realized he was on page twenty-one of a twenty-two issue story, and as such he went for the easy out, rather than the more rewarding finish. Now I understand why Curt Connors would end his life, but frankly it doesn't make for the most satisfactory of endings, as there was more than enough material to explore to carry us into another issue. Now there is some fun material in this issue involving Morph, and the scenario that is set up in the early pages of this issue developed a very engaging setting for this adventure to take place. However, the idea of redemption really should been introduced, as the way this story ends, we're basically told that Curt Connors' actions were beyond redemption, which is rather disappointing.
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