Waiting for the Trade: Exiles

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Waiting for the Trade
 
New Exiles vol. 4:
Away We Go

By Chris Claremont,
Tim Seeley and Scott Clark

Collects New Exiles
16-18 and X-men Sword of the Braddocks

Why I Bought This: It
was $5 at BAM and had a real nice Psylocke cover

 

The Plot: In the
series finale the Exiles deal with a Shi’ar civil war and take down two of the
recurring villains from Claremont’s
run: an alternate Invisible Woman who serves as Madame Hydra and Slaymaster (a
Captain Britain villain similar to Bullseye).
 

For those who don’t know what Exiles is, it is about a team of mutants who visit alternate
reality earths (kind of like the TV show Sliders).
The original Exiles spun-off from “Age of Apocalypse”—a story I never read
but apparently everyone liked the character of Blink in AoA and since the main
Marvel Universe version of her was dead to find a way to keep her around the
writers decided she tried to teleport to safety when the AOA universe ended and
she ended up in alternate reality. She also took the AOA version of Sabretooth,
who is a hero and goes by Mr. Creed as well as Morph–another mutant who was
dead in the main Marvel Universe but was popular in AoA–with her. Throughout their
journeys through reality they picked up various other alternate reality
versions of the X-men for a series that went close to 100 issues that I for the
most part never read. I first picked up Exiles
in the discount bin for their two World Tour trades in which the team visited
alternate realities that had been stand alone books in the past like House of
M, the New Universe, 2099, Heroes Reborn and Squadron Supreme—and I’ll say that
it is a really fun story if you read some of those other universes originally and wanted to see
them revisited. Plus I immediately saw the appeal of Blink as a great
character: she is a strong team leader with interesting powers so it is no
wonder after AoA they found a way to keep her around.

New Exiles was (I
assume) a last ditch attempt to save the series by hiring Chris Claremont to
write it with a new #1 and bringing in both Psylocke and Sage from the main
Marvel Universe as members. Because Psylocke is my favorite X-man and I enjoyed
the two “World Tour” trades I picked up one of the Claremont trades when it hit the discount bin
too. But I missed one or two that occur before this final trade.

 

Anyway in this book the team lineup includes: Psylocke &
Sage, Morph & Mr. Creed from AoA (but not Blink); an alternate reality
Shadowcat who is identical to Claremont’s original interpretation of the
character; a male heroic version of Mystique (although considering the original
can imitate men as well as women I’m not sure that’s much of a difference
either); an alternate version of Rogue who can control her powers and touch
people if she wishes but personality wise seems otherwise the same, and a hero called
Gambit who is the son of Namor and Sue Storm and has inherited variations of
both their powers.

(spoilers below):

 

Chapter 1 – Evil Sue and not-so-alternate Kitty Pryde fight
in a battle of defensive powers being used aggressively. Evil Lilandra battles an
alternate version of Deathbird who has no powers and Morph. Alternate more
powerful Rogue disintegrates some chick who apparently killed Misty Knight last
trade and then kisses a purple alien. Kitty defeats Evil Sue by ripping out her
spine but dies in the effort. Rogue takes purple alien’s War Machine armor and
rejoins the battle.

Chapter 1.5 – Merlyn (an old Excalibur villain who either impersonates or is an evil alternate
reality version of the Arthurian mage) battles Sage in some other dimension,
and is about to kill her when some hologram chick that had been living in her
head emerges from her body to save her.

Chapter 2 – Psylocke and Slaymaster have a two page martial
arts fight until some other villain interferes. Slaymaster takes out his ally
because he wants to win a fair fight. Cut to Rogue who uses the War Machine
armor to take out three Shi’ar warriors. Psylocke wins the fight but when
Slaymaster begs for mercy she spares his life. And then in classic villain mode
when she goes to walk away he tries to stab her in the back but Mr. Creed makes
the save. Before Creed can get the kill Slaymaster teleports away. Evil
Lillandra surrenders.

Chapter 2.5 – Hologram chick beats the hell out Merlyn in
hand to hand combat. She returns to Sage who is dying so to save her they
remerge although this will erase both their original personalities into a new
one. Once they merge they disappear in a flash of light. Merlyn recovers and
lets out a primal scream.

Chapter 3 – The Exiles help the Earth the Shi’ar invaded
rebuild. Rogue makes out with purple alien dude (who has his War Machine armor
back). No-power Deathbird assumes control of the Shi’ar Empire and signs a
peace treaty with the President. Morph decides he is going to stay behind and
help Deathbird. Rogue also decides to stay behind because she loves purple
alien dude. The rest of the Exiles return to the Crystal Palace
(their homebase outside time where they can teleport to any reality) where Sage
is now a hologram bound to the castle. Sage assures Psylocke she is okay with
this setup even though it means never going home again. A teenage Valeria
Richards wants to join the team. We see highlights of various missions that
Claremont must of intended to write about but didn’t get to followed by Morph rejoining
the team because his relationship with no-power Deathbird didn’t work out. This
is followed by Gambit being called home because Namor died and he needs to
assume the Atlantean throne. Psylocke and Mr. Creed have sex. We end with
everyone watching the sunset as the series comes to an end.

Chapter 4 – In the Sword
of Braddocks one-shot
Slaymaster continues his alternate reality tour of
killing Psylockes. This time he kills one that was married to a version of
himself and to get to her he has to kill his analog upon which he absorbs him
becoming twice as powerful. We then get a flashback of how the main Marvel
Universe Slaymaster blinded Psylocke when she was Captain Britain (in his
solo title before she joined the X-men). Psylocke trains on the holodeck
fighting a false Slaymaster and she cannot defeat him. She gets a psychic flash
that the Slaymaster from this series intends to go to the main Marvel Universe
and kill her brother Captain Britain; and since their version of Slaymaster is
dead she does not think her brother will have a chance of avoiding the ambush
since he won’t remotely expect it (although considering how often people return
from the dead in the main Marvel Universe that is dubious logic). Psylocke
returns to her home universe and goes shopping. Slaymaster is there and attacks
her but she’s ready for it. The sounds of battle draw Brian to it and Betsy
takes a couple bullets for him. He’s ready to fight beside her but Psylocke
insists on taking on Slaymaster alone. She channels the memories of every
Psylocke he has killed and is able to anticipate his every move. This time when
Psylocke wins she kills him. She bids her brother goodbye and returns to the Crystal Palace where Sage heals her and then she
celebrates her victory with Mr. Creed.
Critical Thoughts:
This is sort of a rushed mess which I guess is what happens when a series gets
cancelled. Also because of the alternate reality gimmick this is sometimes a
hard series to be dropped in the middle of. I really don’t see in the last issue
why Morph quits and comes back. You’re cancelling the series let him live
happily ever after.  

Still I bought this book because it had a cool cover and I
like Psylocke and in that sense this is a perfectly serviceable Psylocke story.
Her vendetta with Slaymaster began in one of the earlier Claremont volumes I have, and plays off
history from both universes which is a nice touch. That two page martial arts
fight in chapter two is well done and even though it is rushed the escalation
between her being willing to spare him in the first fight and kill him in the
second comes off as a natural progression. She learned from the first fight he
is not going to respect mercy, and now he’s made it even more personal by going
after her brother so I believe that decision and I think it is consistent with
her character. Claremont
also writes the rapport between the Braddock siblings quite well, which is no
surprise as he’s been writing these two characters for decades. 

The Sue-Shadowcat fight is also fun in a fanboy sense as
we’re seeing perhaps the two most famous defensive powers in comics pitted
against each other and used in a very aggressive way as they fight to the
death.

Otherwise I don’t have strong opinions about anything else
that happens in this trade. The Meryln stuff is confusing and not very good—though
if you care his subplot is finished off in the mini-series/trade X-Men Die By The Sword in which the
Exiles and Excalibur team up to fight him but that book is truly terrible so I
wouldn’t recommend seeking it out.

 

Grade C. I
wouldn’t call this good even by the standards of a cult book like Exiles. In fact I would say of the four
or five Exiles trades I have read
this is the least of them. But it is far from terrible. There are no character
assassination moments. The art and writing are both perfectly acceptable if not
all that inspiring. That sounds like an average C-list comic to me, especially
one I grabbed on the cheap.