Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Mike McKone (p), Jon Holdredge (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with the Exiles in the middle of a battle with Callisto, who is the Sorceress Supreme on this world, but our heroes are able to secure a victory by destroying a powerful crystal that Callisto was using to carry out something called the Great Ascension. However, as the Exiles travel to their next world their passage between worlds is diverted by an outside party, and the team ends up in the Mojoverse. As Mojo the all powerful ruler of this televised entertainment obsessed world gleefully welcomes the Exiles, we learn Morph is the party that Mojo is seeking, as during a previous visit to Mojoverse, Morph became one of this world's most beloved celebrities. As Morph & Nocturne are captured by Mojo, the rest of the Exiles are able to escape, but Mojo has what he was after, so he doesn't pursue the escaping heroes. We then see Morph isn't willing to play along with Mojo's plans, but he changes his mind when he learns that Nocturne is being tortured until he agrees to return to the airways. After looking in on the rest of the Exiles as they make plans to free a imprisoned Longshot, we see they are on hand to witness the return of the Morph Show.
This issue offers up a fairly interesting revelation about the Mojoverse, and while this idea may have been presented before, this is the first time that I've understood the importance of this idea. Basically this issue tells the reader that there is only one Mojoverse, and given the Exiles have shown that the are thousands of parallel Earths, the idea that Mojoverse is a single destination makes for an interesting discovery. Judd Winick also does a nice job playing up the elements of this environment, as Mojo isn't nearly as grating on the nerves as he's been in past appearances. In fact I'd even go as far to say that this issue rates as the best Mojo appearance I've ever come across, as there's moments in this issue where the character's demented P.T. Barnum quality is actually quite entertaining. The reason for why Mojo has drawn the Exiles to his world also fits rather nicely into the character's past portrayals, as on a world where ratings mean everything, it makes sense that he would actively pursue a party who had already proven themselves to be a hit with the audience. There's also the sense that this story might very well remove Morph from the team, as it does look like Mojo has the ability to pull the Exiles back to his world whenever he wishes.
When Nightcrawler left the X-Men to join Excalibur, Longshot took over as my favorite X-Man, and I'm still a bit annoyed at Chris Claremont for the rather sloppy way he wrote Longshot out of the book, as basically he was cast into comic limbo in-between issues. Since that time Longshot has enjoyed a handful of guest appearances, but none of the subsequent writers seem to understand the element that made Longshot such an interesting character while he was with the X-Men, as he was very much along the lines of Jericho of the New Teen Titans, or Ice from the Blue & Gold Justice League, in that he was a gentle, almost naive personality being called upon to perform acts of heroism. Now I'm glad to see Judd Winick looks to be ready to use Longshot in this arc, and my fingers are crossed for a longer stint with the group. However, the comments made by Mimic as the Exiles are discussing how they should deal with Mojo do have me a bit concerned, as it sounds like his take on Longshot is going to be very much along the lines of the various guest appearances the character has made since his departure from the X-Men, where he was cast in the role as an almost mythical leader of men.
Mike McKone is back after a couple months off, and his work is always a welcome sight in these pages, as he established to look of this book, and its cast. His art is certainly eye-catching, as he puts a wealth of detail on the page, and his action sequences seem to be improving by the issue, as the opening battle is quite impressive, as is the shake & bake maneuver in the middle of the issue. The art also does a nice job capturing the sheer evil of Mojo, as his demented grin is the perfect companion when we get a look at the evil acts he's committing (e.g. the torture of Nocturne). Mike McKone's highly expressive faces also make this book all the better, with the look on the collective faces of the Exiles when they discover where they are, and Morph's look of defeat as he gives in to Mojo's demands being two strong examples. The art also tells the story quite nicely, as the bubble device that captures Morph & Nocturne is nicely realized, and one has to smile at the panel where the Exiles discover where Longshot is being held. Our brief look at the Morph Show is also rather cute, as is the cover to this issue, as how can one not love the sheer gaudiness of Morph's Elvis impersonation.
I'm a big fan of the character Longshot, so the promise of his putting in an appearance during this arc has me quite excited. On the other hand, I've never been a huge fan of Mojo, or the Mojoverse, as past writers have overplayed the idea, so that what could've been a fun poke at television was just this side of nails on a chalkboard when it came to entertainment value. Thankfully Judd Winick seems to have a nice grasp on the character of Mojo, as he not only comes across as a real threat, but there's also some genuinely funny moments in this issue. From Mojo's delightful barrage of cliché dialogue, to the scene where he chastise himself for forgetting the order in which one is suppose to use torture to compel people to carry out his wishes, this issue earns itself a recommendation, as it's the only time I've actually enjoyed Mojo as a villain. The focus on Morph as something more than comic relief is also a welcome touch.
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