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New Exiles #2

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Chris Claremont
Tom Grummett (p), Scott Hanna (i), Wilfredo Quintana (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: New Exiles #2 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 13.

After the first issue provided a fairly slow start to the New Exiles book, this issue gets right into what the Exiles books are best known for: team-based combat with freaks from another dimension! The action sequences were very well presented, with powers and actions looking distinct and clear. Much of the dialogue during the opening sequence was that of superhero clichés, with villains introducing themselves to their adversaries, but at the very least it allows the reader to get a good grounding on what is going on, unlike some books I have been introduced to recently. During the fight, a minor subplot is setup for Sabertooth, which I will refrain from spoiling. I am curious to see how this will come back to haunt the character in the future, if at all, but it seems like a shame if it is just dropped as it would add a dimension to this version of Sabertooth which would put him in juxtaposition with the traditional role that Wolverine played in Claremont's X-Men stories: a hero with a side that needs to be controlled. Depending on how it plays out, this could be an interesting development of a character which I feel could be better developed in the Exiles stories.

The introduction of new/variant characters continues at a breakneck pace throughout the book, with the most prominent being an alternate version of Gambit (whose name is spelled as either Remy or Remi; it is unclear to me if this is an error in the lettering or if it has a different pronunciation dependent on the character saying the name). The son of an alternate Namor and Sue Storm, the new Gambit appears to be able to breathe underwater and have above normal strength. He also speaks with an accent that, I think, is supposed to be Louisiana based, but mixed with other Southern states that were sunken into the ocean during a meteor shower. I was impressed that Claremont has attempted to link a character's personality and vocalizations with story. It will be interesting to see if this character ever migrates to another writer if that will be maintained. Remy has a decent, original relationship with Rogue that doesn't seem (as of yet) to be based on getting in her pants, despite the clever lip-lock introduction. Again, depending on where this goes, it could be an interesting pairing where these characters could have a very different relationship from their 616 counterparts.

The overarching plotlines are being developed quickly enough that they engage the reader, but not run so fast that they get lost in endless battles. There are clearly nuances with the Panther allegiance, the Ororo allegiance and the Atlanteans that are being given some room to breathe; It's refreshing to read a story that actually develops organically rather than having it shoved down our throats. I am really impressed by the this issue's overall pacing.

Moving on to the art duties, Tom Grummett et al. have done a great job with this book. They have invented a number of striking new characters. Namor looks exactly as someone who lives underwater should: lean, lithe and raw muscle. The depiction of Logan feels original to me, and that is very hard given the number of renditions there have been of that character over the years. Gambit looks like a swashbuckling rogue, with the mystique that I was hoping the new Aquaman would have when he was introduced. Finally, I adore Grummett’s depiction of Rogue. Everything about her is outstanding to me. The clothes the boots and the hair match the feel of Claremont’s dialogue.

Grummett does an outstanding job with not only Namor's anatomy, but just about all of the other figures in the book. Ororo’s body type is significantly different from Sue Storm, each of whom are both noticeably different from Rogue. The colouring is very nice, with only the odd quibble that comes from some lighting effects. One pleasure is the level of detail in the pencils, inks and colours that all come together in truly beautiful panels. For example, when looking at this issue the reader should pay attention to the Tallus in each panel in which it appears. It flashes appropriately in the light, consistently with how the panel is lit.

While the issue is very solid, it comes up short in a few respects:
  • It was unclear to me where the story was taking place. Gambit and the Atlanteans are from the Caribbean area, but most of the story seems to take place in and around Africa.

  • There was a big deal made out of Psylocke's new costume in the first issue. For a skilled fighter with many years of history, I had hoped she would choose a slightly more appropriate costume for combat.

  • Why do Wolverine and Sabertooth start to get into it? Please, just let it go. It is not mandatory that these guys hate each other across time and space.
Overall, a good issue, and one that is making me want to see more. I think Claremont is at his best when he can tell the story he wants and not be hampered by continuity, and the Exiles are perfect for that type of storytelling.



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