Writer: Chuck Austen
Artists: Clayton Henry (p), Mark Morales (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with Illyana explaining to the Avengers why they have to die, and needless to say they aren't exactly big on the idea that she presents them with. The book then looks in on Morph, Sunfire & Nocturne, as they are confronted by Moses Magnum & his small army of soldiers, and like most good villains he isn't welcoming our heroes with open arms. However, deciding that a speedy retreat is preferable to a pointless slugfest, Sunfire grabs her teammates, and takes to the air. As Sunfire busies herself with the fighter craft that were sent after them, the book jumps back to Illyana, who doesn't exactly put on the best showing against the Avengers, as we see she is knocked for a loop, and is about to have her head removed from her body. However, we then see that the speech she made earlier actually made an impression, as Colossus turns on his teammates, and in the end Illyana has to do little more than watch as the Avengers kill themselves. Meanwhile, Mimic & Sasquatch have finally made their way to the battle, but Moses Magnum proves to be a rather formidable opponent, and during the ensuing fight, Mimic looks to have taken a rather serious injury. However, thanks to Illyana's actions the Avengers are dead, and as such the mission the Exiles had been asked to accomplish has been completed.
There are moments when a writer manages to surprise you when they have a character do something that comes completely out of left field, but it works because one can see the writer put some real thought into this plot twist, and what would motivate this character to carry out such a surprising action. Then there's the moments where it's clear a character's actions are solely motivated by the needs of the writer, and that the only reason why a character has acted in such an uncharacteristic fashion is because the writer needed them to. Chuck Austen offers up a scene in this issue that falls very much in the latter category, as Colossus decides that he's ready to kill his teammates & sacrifice his own life because a woman claiming to be his sister from another world told him he has to. I guess on this world they don't have shape-shifters, or telepaths who can mess about with a person's mind. Plus, even if he believed the story and his devotion to his sister was so strong that he would do anything for her, the book does such a poor job of conveying his mental state, that his actions are almost incomprehensible. The book completely avoids any examination of what would drive a man to kill his teammates, and he might as well have been a robot that was reprogrammed to kill for all the mental anguish that Chuck Austen manages to convey.
In a display of narcissism that completely ripped the carpet out from under any emotional investment one could of found in this scene, Chuck Austen appears to have decided that it would be far more traumatic to discover the body of your counterpart, than your loved ones. Now I'm sure it would be disturbing to find your body, as survival instinct is an ingrained part of everyone's mental makeup, and as such standing over the dead body of a person who looked just like you would be unsettling. However, given she's adopted the life of a costumed hero, it felt incredibly self-absorbed that she would become so upset to learn that her counterpart didn't survive. I mean the basic tenet of every hero, especially one who just made an impassioned speech about self-sacrifice, and the duties of a hero in the previous issue, is that one's own life is of secondary importance to the lives of others. However, Chuck Austen seems to be of the mind that he can draw the most emotional punch by showing us her reaction upon discovering her own body in the ruins. In any event the scene simply didn't work for me, but then again I guess I should be thankful that Chuck Austen didn't attempt to tackle a scene that required him to convey a moment of genuine emotion, as based on his past work, I really don't think that he's up to the task.
First off while I'm sure it was purely unintentional, I have to say that the cover to this issue is rather suggestive in nature, and I do have to wonder if Randy Green was aware of certain details when he offered up this cover. As for the interior art, Clayton Henry is a pretty solid artist, as his characters have a nice fluid quality about them, and in this issue I found his characters had a pretty wide array of expressions. This issue is also filled with action sequences, and while the panel work is a little unimaginative, and there's no real in-your-face moments in what should have been a highly charged encounter between Illyana & the Avengers, I will give the art credit for clearly detailing the action, and in the other battles there's a couple strong big moment visuals, with Sunfire's attack on the fighter craft being the highlight. The art could've been a little stronger on the scene where Moses opens a crack in the earth below our heroes, as the solid black didn't really convey a sense of depth, and as such I had to look twice to fully register what we were being shown in this panel, which is never a good thing on such an important moment. The art could've also have done a better job detailing the idea that Morph & T.J. were plunging to their deaths while Sunfire was busy taking out the fighter craft, as one is almost left with the impression that Morph is able to fly.
I like the newfound tension that Illyana brings to the cast, and I'll credit the book for being able to cast Moses Magnum as a fairly credible threat. However, I have to take issue with the almost simplistic way that this issue had Illyana accomplish to task of killing the Avengers, as having Colossus suddenly turn on his teammates was poorly motivated, and the book does next to nothing to explain why he decided to help Illyana. The book also manages to cheat the reader out of the one potentially interesting aspect of this fight, as Illyana isn't forced to take action against her brother, and the one fight she is allowed carry out is delivered off panel. There's also a rather awkward attempt made in the final pages to deliver a moment of genuine emotion, as Sunfire discovers her counterpart on this world was killed, but the ham-fisted way this scene is handled, robbed it of any impact it might've had. Plus, to tell the truth, I found the scene presented the characters as a little too self absorbed.
What did you think of this book?
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