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Exiles #20

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Jim Calafiore (p), Jon Holdredge (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens by introducing the reader to a parallel Earth where the Legacy Virus was never cured, and when Doug Ramsey of the New Mutants was in the final stages of the disease, we see his fellow teammate Warlock attempted to cure his friend by infecting Doug with his techno-organic virus, which in theory would drive out the Legacy Virus. However, we see this merging resulted in creation of a highly contagious third virus that turned most of the Earth into purely evil techno-organic life forms. We then see the Exiles arrive on this Earth just in time to rescue a group of uninfected children from falling prey to a group of techno-organic beasties. We then see the Exiles escape into a safe zone that has been established in Las Vegas, as the city has been surrounded by disruption technology that keeps the human population inside safe. After the Exiles are captured, and scanned to insure they aren't carriers of the virus, we see the Tallus tells the group their mission is to locate Doug Ramsey, as his body would enable the humans to produce a cure. However, with Doug located in the heart of the virus controlled territory, we see the mission is already next to impossible, but it's made worst when we get a look at the army of infected super-powered beings that guard this region.

Comments:
Being the devoted New Mutants fan that I was for the better part of the 1980s, I did enjoy the strong ties that this latest world has to elements from that title. In fact the scene where Warlock makes its decision while standing over the bed of the dying Doug Ramsey packed more emotional punch than it really should've, given I was on hand when both of these characters were killed in the regular Marvel Universe. However in spite of the innovative back-story that this current arc has developed, in the end the scenario is starting to feel a bit too familiar, as once again the Exiles are on a world that has been overrun by some alien, biological, or demonic force, and their job is to wander into the heart of the contaminated area to secure to means to free this world from it's enslavement. Now the idea that this current adventure is going to kill off one of the original members of the Exiles does lend a sense of dread to the proceedings, and that last page has to leave a slugfest happy fanboy like myself quite eager for the next issue to arrive. However, with the recent visit to the Mojoverse I had thought Judd Winick had decided to move down more unique avenues on this book, so it is a bit disappointing to see him rushing back to his staple plot.

There's also the simple idea that Judd Winick falls so willingly into the patterns that have been established for this type of story, as we have the underground resistance who are able to do little more that sit on their hands and detail how dire the situation is. We also have the children who are endangered that the villainous threat, and in a display that couldn't be more obvious in its bid to establish the idea of who the villains of this story are, the techno-organic creatures decide that leaving the dismembered bodies of these children outside the rebel camp would be their preferred course of action before the Exiles arrive to make their heroic rescue. I also have some questions about the idea that the Exiles weren't exposed to the virus during the fight, as they didn't shy away from making direct contact with the creatures, and past stories involving the techno-organic virus have clearly shown that one simply couldn't make contact with an infected party with becoming infected oneself. Still, I will concede that this is a new world and the merging with the Legacy Virus also makes it a new techno-organic virus, so I'll give Judd Winick some leeway in how he want to deliver this last idea.

First off this issue has itself a Dale Keown cover, and while Sasquatch's role in this issue isn't nearly impressive enough to warrant this cover, the simple truth of the matter is who else on this team would you call upon Dale Keown to draw? As for the interior art, if Jim Calafiore is slated to be this book's new regular artist than I couldn't be more pleased, as he's a very solid artist, with a strong eye when it comes to laying out exciting action. Now his faces aren't as expressive as one might hope for, and there are moments in this issue where he looks to have some trouble with body proportions, as Hank Pym looks like he's been using an inferior grade of pym particles, and it's left him with a head that's too large for his body. However the art does some very strong work detailing the idea of a world that was being ravaged by the Legacy Virus, and the emergence of the techno-organic virus was equally horrific, especially when it followed on the heels of a powerful sequence of panels that had Warlock infecting Doug in a bid to save his life. The attack on the children was also did a nice job of conveying the horror of the situation, as the creatures' evil nature was nicely captured by the art.

Final Word:
An issue that feels a little too familiar as Judd Winick offers up another world that has been taken over, and it falls upon the Exiles to battle against seemingly impossible odds to save this world. Now the back-story that he creates for this world does a great job of drawing upon an element of X-continuity that I must admit I'm rather partial to as I was a huge fan of the New Mutants before Rob Liefeld and the worst excesses of the 1990s hit the title. The threat that is created is also pretty exciting, as how can one not be intrigued by the promise shown on that final page, and the much hyped death of a founding member of the group adds a nice sense of danger to this adventure. Truth be told I'm not sure I'd like to see Mimic, Morph, Blink or Nocturne leave these pages, though the promise of a new member should help to dampen the loss. Still, this issue does follow a pattern that is beginning to feel a bit predictable.



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