REVIEW: Exiles #3

EXILES #3 / Writer: Saladin Ahmed / Penciler: Javier Rodriguez / Inker: Alvaro Lopez / Colorist: Chris O’Halloran / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Cover Art: Dustin Marquez & Justin Ponsor / Publisher: Marvel / May 9, 2018

It’s a big day in our house. We’ve had a certain comic book cover printed out and hanging on the fridge (with hearts and stars drawn on it) for a few weeks. What’s going on? Today is the day PeggyCap (as we’ve dubbed her) comes to life on the cover, and in the pages, of Exiles #3. Let me explain. See, my eldest daughter loves Goldie Vance and the girls from Spider-Man: Homecoming. My youngest daughter loves villains. All the villains (don’t ask). I love Captain America. My husband doesn’t care about comics. All of us, however adore Agent Peggy Carter. She’s clever, brave, resourceful, witty, and a lovely role model. So, I’m thrilled to report that writer Saladin Ahmed and the artistic crew of Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Chris O’Halloran, and Joe Caramagna deliver a rollicking and rambunctious story that left me sputtering at the cliffhanger. It’s a perfect introduction for Cap into the world of Exiles. Let me speak truth to you, if I may. If you’re still on the fence about Exiles, it’s time to hop off. Today’s the day to pick it up and join the adventure.

Jumping in this month’s story, Blink and the crew are doing their best to keep ahead of the Time Eater. But things are looking tenuous as the Tallus, the device transporting Blink and the crew through time and space, is cracked and operating unreliably. The first two issues jumped from universe to universe, gathering and adding to our motley crew of heroes just before the Time Eater, well “ate” each of their universes, respectively. The Exiles are a team without homelands. They don’t understand how or why they are thrown together and they are doing their best to get a handle on what’s actually happening.

What I like about Exiles, and liked from the start, is that each character brings a unique personality and contribution to the team. Blink brings the institutional memory of the Tallus and how it all seems to work. Khan brings the quiet anguish of loss and the determination that comes with fighting through pain. Iron Lad brings to life a genius before he ever chose a path, good or evil. Wolvie’s childlike innocence provides levity to the group and a bold reminder that innocence and openness of spirit is always needed. Valkyrie provides the warrior energy and willingness to protect and fight for those in need. Where will PeggyCap fit in with such an amazing crew already formed? I’m intrigued to see how she adapts and what she brings to the story.

Exiles #3 hops, skips, and jumps its way through three distinct universes this month. Without giving too much plot away, keep your eyes open for armed dinosaurs, a groovy Namor, a young Nick Fury, and a spunky flirt of a a girl named Becky. You are welcome.

The unbalanced feeling of tumbling through universes gets played for maximum effect this month. We are working just as hard as our characters to keep up with where we’ve been, where we are, and where we might be going. The Tallus, even in it’s broken state, seems to have a plan and these heroes are at the center of it. As long as they can keep their feet under them, and stick together, there’s a chance they’ll figure out the bigger picture. Plus, they ALL have footwear appropriate for battling foes AND falling through time and space as universes collapse around them. Glorious!  

The artistic team of Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Chris O’Halloran, and Joe Caramagna get to play with all the crayons in the box this week. One of the first things I noticed about Exiles #3 was the shift in color and tone from the first two locations to the last. Big and trippy, the first two locations bounced like a kaleidoscope riot of color and energy. By the third time/space/universe jump, I was left feeling tipsy and off balance. Contrast that with the darkness and focus of the New York location. The entire scene is set against a backdrop of darkness or night. The situation was darker, more dire. Red Skull does tend to encourage taking a situation seriously.

One page, in particular, knocked my socks off. Our Exiles have wandered into a mission with Captain America leading the charge. Of course this means Red Skull, planes, weapons of mass destruction, and time running out. The intense action and emotional punch is created by a very clever use of a vertical panel and seven horizontal panels. The left panel gives the reader an aerial perspective as they launch their assault on Red Skull. The right side of the page switches gears quickly by documenting the stages of the fight in a series of seven horizontal panels.  It’s a treat to just sit and look at it. I think I’ve gone back to that page at least four or five times since picking up the book today. It’s almost cinematic.

Obviously, I cannot end my review without going back to PeggyCap’s introduction to the series. When the cover art dropped on social media awhile back, it was Dustin Marquez and Justin Ponsor’s rendering of her that literally took my breath away. Everything about her was on point and made me believe she was capable, that she was Captain America. Breaking it down, her powerful and inspirational stance and the way her uniform was fit and showcased strength and stability was the first thing I noticed. Of course Peggy, being a proper Brit, has a tidy shirt and tie under the uniform. Perfect. Then I saw her face. That determination and confidence (how do you do that in a few strokes of a pencil and ink?) made me so excited. Finally, she wields that shield like it was always meant for her. Beyond the cover, her actual introduction to the story impressed me as well. She’s herself, she’s not a rip off of Steve Rogers, but she has the elements of the character down pat. She’s very much a leader and to see how she becomes part of the team is something I cannot wait to see unfold. If they all survive, that is.

Exiles #3 delivers the fantastic art, smart character moments, humor, drama, and big action one would expect from a solid Marvel team up. It’s time to pop over to your local comic shop and pick up the first three issues of Exiles. Trust me, you will love it. It’ll hook you and get you excited for what’s to come; even if you don’t have a picture of the Exiles #3 cover on your fridge at home.

Rating: 5 of 5 patriotically gleaming shields

 

I’m a curious, creative, comic(al) woman. I am unapologetically Team Cap, but not HydraCap because there is a line in the moral sands of the universe and that whole thing is on the other side of it. I teach high school students all about the joys of mythology through comic books, graphic novels, and films. I wandered into the comic book world in 2015 and is a proud member of the #DoYouEvenComicBook gang.

I'm a curious, creative, comic(al) woman. I am unapologetically Team Cap, but not HydraCap because there is a line in the moral sands of the universe and that whole thing is on the other side of it. I teach high school students all about the joys of mythology through comic books, graphic novels, and films. I wandered into the comic book world in 2015 and is a proud member of the #DoYouEvenComicBook gang.

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