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Exiles #81

Posted: Monday, May 29, 2006
By: Diana Kingston



Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Jim Calafiore

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Confession time: I've never read anything from Marvel's "Heroes Reborn" period. It took place during my hiatus from comics, and I've never felt compelled to go back and fill that particular gap. Naturally, that leads to a certain detachment on my part with regards to this specific issue; the exposition is there, but as with previous segments of the World Tour, some prior experience is required for you to fully appreciate the guest characters and setting.

Having finally achieved his ultimate goal - finding a stable body - Proteus decides to do an about-face and return home, ostensibly to cause trouble. But a failsafe plan implemented by Heather Hudson lands him on Counter-Earth instead, and Blink leads the team on a final offensive against their enemy.

This issue demonstrates Tony Bedard's considerable skill at plotting: there's a proper explanation for every development in the story, and nothing is left to random conjecture. There's a reason Proteus can't tell he isn't actually home, and why Counter-Earth was specifically chosen for the last battleground. Again, it's clear that the alternate realities selected for the World Tour weren't just selected for the nostalgia: Bedard used each one and their respective histories to enhance his own narrative. We also see multiple threads coming together, as elements from previous arcs reappear towards the end of the issue.

Of course, the downside is the dependence on prior familiarity; I probably got a lot more out of the "2099" and "Future Imperfect" arcs simply by virtue of having read and enjoyed those stories in the past. It's not that the exposition isn't there, because by the end of the issue I felt I knew what I needed to know about "Heroes Reborn" to understand the story... but the conclusion of this issue hinges on a pair of characters who turn up out of nowhere. It's jarring for me, as someone who doesn't really "get" what's going on, but I imagine it went over a lot smoother with more knowledgable readers.

Another thing that deserves mention with regards to this specific issue is the characterization. Generally speaking, Bedard hasn't done much with his cast - they've all been rather underwritten, without much personality. His depiction of Blink here is atypical in that she's angry, she's strategizing, she's doing so much more than she used to. Sure, it's a little late in the day what with Claremont set to take over soon, but it's something, at least.

A solid issue, familiarity issue nonwithstanding.



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