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New Exiles #3

Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Chris Claremont
Tom Grummett (p), Scott Hanna (i), Wilfredo Quintana (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: New Exiles #3 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 12.

Well, this book has quickly moved from promising to ridiculous. There are so many things in this book that just do not ring true in the characterizations of long existing characters, and what is worse is that newly created characters with quickly established backgrounds, with no continuity to speak of, are behaving in ways that are inconsistent with that same backstory.

Let us start with the wonder and awe that Betsy feels when looking at the map of the continent of Africa. First, Betsy is somewhat experienced in plane jumping and probably should not be that surprised by the world appearing different after a meteor strike. Second, Betsy was kissed by Sabertooth and brought under some sort of vampire spell. Great, super. Apparently, this is an instantaneous thing, because the Betsy that I know would have kicked him in the head the moment he made the move to grab her. It is probably related to her wearing what has to be one of the more ridiculous costume changes made in comics in recent years. With the move of many comics to having more realistic female costumes (such as what can be found--only slightly--in Birds of Prey), New Exiles presents a trained martial artist choosing to wear an open midriff with the equivalent of a tube top.

The dialogue between all of the characters hanging out with Namor and Sue Storm is truly abysmal throughout the book. After 20 years of marriage (approximately, judging by Gambit) Namor apparently doesn't understand his wife at all and refers to her as "wife." However, Sue Storm acts just as silly when she insists that the children should be brought along to … somewhere … to do … something. It all gets a bit muddled, but it is really important that the children come along to be put in mortal danger later in the book.

Probably the silliest part of the entire book is the following set of lines from Sue Storm from much later in the story: "I have felt that way since Namor and I first met. The first time he said 'Trust me' we were deep underwater and I was out of air. He wanted to remove my helmet thanks to Atlantean science, he thought he had a solution. I figured I was dead either way but I loved him…"

So, when Sue Storm crashed into the ocean and met Namor for the first time, after the death of her brother, one of her best friends, she immediately fell in love with Namor on first sight. Forgive me if this is a bit of a reach. The whole dialogue in that scene feels like it was two or three panels that were concatenated by mistake.

After a flight with an invisible plane powered by Rogue the whole crew arrives at an abandoned ruined city, which apparently was rendered that way because according to Namor, "… this land was not always a desert. Not so long ago there were great cities in central Africa. Earthquakes changed the topography…"

Now, for geography buffs, none of this is true, and a very simple investigation into the Sahara and its history would yield entirely different information. The Sahara is believed to be the result of the monsoons of Africa moving to a more southern course in the continent, moving the Inter-Tropical Convergence Storm south so that it covered Ethiopia (now drier) India and southern China. This change was accompanied by a rapid cooling and drying of the north of the continent and then a slow warming period. All of this resulted in the desert ecosystem of the Sahara. It was during the years of approximately 2700-2300 BCE (among other eras). I'm sure there were earthquakes somewhere, but it has nothing to do with whether the area is now a desert or not. As an aside, one might assume that after 20 years of drastically changed continental borders that the air stream and water currents again would shift and either the Sahara would be much larger or much smaller than on Earth-616.

Putting this aside: Namor and team are joined by Sabertooth, Psylocke and some lackey of Storm's. How did they do this? Betsy flew up to the edge of space and looked down on the Earth to observe the air currents on the continent, coincidentally this was exactly what Rogue was worried about. First, it seems odd to me that Psylocke can do this. Second, wouldn't this be something that someone with an understanding of the weather should do? Someone like a mutant weather goddess? The writing is just silly and sloppy.

Then there is a big fight with Bloodwitch and a bunch of other characters that are introduced in one panel. And we end with what is supposed to be a shocking revelation about Black Panther, but the art instead makes it looks like some kind of fetish piece. I was actually mildly embarrassed to have this issue open on my desk at work when I flipped to that page.

Other than that, the art is certainly serviceable, with character designs still being interesting if not entirely consistent. The Namor/Sue Storm children look like characters out of Elfquest, which is a little disconcerting. There is some shifting between Betsy being Caucasian and Asian. I do hope that someone straightens out what she is supposed to be soon since her recent resurrection.

I simply cannot believe that this book replaced the Exiles. I had such hopes for a rejuvenation of the Exiles idea, but after this mess I'm really close to going back and reading Judd Winick's original stories, and that is saying a lot for me.

Postscript: We can add Claremont to the list of writers writers who now use thought bubbles.



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