Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Jim Calafiore (p), Jon Holdredge with Eric Cannon (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with Blink in a very bad way as the techno-organic virus has almost completely infected her entire body, and the cure is able to do little more than slow the infection. We then see Mimic takes a moment to discuss plan B with the current leader of this world's Avengers, Hank Pym, and we see the man agrees that the planet must be destroyed to keep the Vi-Locks from expanding to other worlds. To this end we see a plan is introduced that will see someone fly a missile laden craft into the central power core of the Vi-Lock's realm, and the resultant nuclear breach should effectively destroy the planet. As Mimic manages to get himself as the pilot of the ship that will undertake this suicide mission, we see Morph's mystery plan has actually produced another way of defeating the Vi-Lock's that doesn't involve destroying the planet. It turns out Morph had Rachel make contact with the gods of Asgard, and as such not only has this powerful group of warriors come to fight off the invaders, but Asgardian blood proves to be the ideal means of driving the techno-organic virus out of a person's body. However, while a recovered Blink manages to reach Mimic & get his to abort his world destroying mission, the issue ends with an Exile being sent home.
I'm not quite sure what to make of the solution that Judd Winick came up with, as while it is a perfectly viable solution to the problem, the simple fact of the matter is that he's quite literally offered up a deux-ex-machina ending, and I am dead set against rewarding writers who take this option. What makes this ending even more irksome is that the solution that Morph came up with is the "perfect" answer, as not only does it provide the ideal cure to the techno-organic virus, but the personalities of this collection of characters are pretty much a mirror reflection of their Marvel Universe counterparts, and since this Earth hasn't had any contact with these characters for well roughly five hundred years, one would think they would be a little less friendly. I mean one of the main reasons these characters even interact with mortals is due to the fact that one of their number was sent to live among the lowly humans, and this character came to embrace humanity. In the end though the simple fact of the matter is that this solution has all the hallmarks of a ending where the writer simply decided to go for the easy out, and after presenting us with the most dire solution he could possibly offer, we see him reveal the character had a parachute all along.
On the other hand this issue has itself a surprise that is so utterly cool that I'm not even going to attempt to conceal it, so if you don't want to know which member of the Exiles is gone by the end of this issue, and even more excitingly which character takes their place, then I suggest you jump to the next column. As I had guessed at the end of the last issue Judd Winick decide to go for the one character that I'm sure every reader assumed was safe, as by the time the dust settles on this issue Blink is no longer a member of the Exiles. Now Judd Winick leaves room for her return, and her departure leaves a very large unanswered question in the air, that the next issue box is quick to point out, so I'm guessing the answer is forthcoming. However, while the removal of Blink is certainly an impressive surprise, "New Mutants" fans need to go out an pick up this issue, as Blink's replacement is none other than everyone's favorite demon sorceress/teleporter, Illyana. Aside from this exciting bit of news, it would also appear that the replacements are being chosen based on the new character bringing similar abilities to the group (e.g. Morph leaves the team, his replacement would be likely be another shape-shifter like Mystique).
Jim Calafiore is doing a pretty solid job on this book, and while the announcement in the letter page makes it clear that he's not penciled in as this title new regular artist, it would appear he's stay on board as this book regular guest artist, and with this book stepping up its production to eighteen issues a year, I suspect we'll be seeing his name in the credit box several times over the next year. He's certainly done an admirable job of this recent arc, as his versions of the Vi-lock infected heroes have a nice nightmarish quality to them, and as such when Mimic's plane is being ripped apart by the creatures, there's a very real sense of danger established by the art. The page where the help arrives is also quite impressive, as while the art could've used a bit more room to capture the grandiose element of the reveal shot, for the most part the art manages to capture the basic idea that these characters are majestic figures. The art also continues to have fun with Morph's shape-shifting ability, as there's several panels in this issue where the art manages to produce a smile thanks to Morph's shifting identities. The art also does a nice job of capturing the abruptness of the final scene where a member of the Exiles leaves the book.
The arrival of the gods of Asgard to act as the happy ending solution left me a bit unimpressed, as it's simply a little too convenient that the Asgardians would not only be willing to help, but having their blood act as the super-cure to the techno-organic virus felt like Judd Wincik was trying too hard to make this solution seem like the perfect ending. Still, I will give the book full marks for its little slight of hand when it came to the identity of the Exile member who wouldn't be with the team past this issue, as for most of the issue one character stands out as the ideal candidate, but at the very last moment the book pulls a switch on the reader, and I'm sure most fans will be quite shocked at the identity of who is removed from the cast. However, I'm sure I won't be alone when I say that most of my excitement comes not from who was removed from the team, but rather who was added to the group, as "New Mutants" fans are in for a very welcome surprise.
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