EXILES #4 / 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 / June 13, 2018
Blink and the crew takes on the 1760s Caribbean slave trade in Exiles #4, a swashbuckling solid gold adventure if ever I saw one. Saladin Ahmed and the artistic team led by Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, and Chris O’Halloran keep the stakes and the energy high in what continues to be one of the best titles out there.
Exiles continues to impress me as it balances the complexities of storytelling that jumps and stumbles through time and space (whatever the multiverse actually is) while developing five very unique leads and weaving a cadre of Marvel characters through it all perfectly. Exiles #4 exemplifies this on nearly every page. It’s the little character moments that make the book special for me. Wolvie crying on the beach, and feeling bad about being small and weak plucked at my momma heartstrings. Despite nearly constant action, we see our leads develop and grow. My favorite action scenes do that and I’m glad to see it happening here.
Last month we had Captain Peggy Carter, a.k.a. Captain America, and her Howling Commandos make an appearance. This month, we’ve got the very best showing up to the fight. As the multiverse starts to stumble and falter, characters are finding themselves moving through time, just like our Exiles. Some choose to stay put, not returning to their own time, including our three pirate captains fighting the good fight against slave traders. I won’t spoil it here, but I totally enjoyed their reveal as the story unfolded.
The story, as layered and engaging as it really is, shines so brightly because it’s built on a strong artistic foundation. There are a number of panels, full page spreads even, that drive the story forward beautifully in Exiles #4. I knew I was in for a good read from page one this month. I’m not kidding. The Unseen transitions the reader into the story through his narration and it’s cleverly framed on the page. Each time the Unseen speaks, the placement of his words leads a downward spiral for my eye, mirroring Blink’s tumbling down through space from the bomb explosion in Captain America’s NYC to the palm tree lined beach where she wakes. In a story with a shifting multiverse, little visual cues like this pull the reader along, creating that awed feeling of ‘where are we going next?’
The artistic team doesn’t just stop there though. I loved the layout of the panels and how each panel is delineated by chains. Chains bind the Unseen and keep him but the chains also separate out the individual collage of images, some of him as Nick Fury, some of Blink moving through space. The idea that all these things, memories from the past and what’s happening now are symbolic chains, they keep us connected. The chain of time. In a story where Time Eater is destroying the chains, I found that visual metaphor powerful. As the intro to the issue, this page hits all the right notes. Kudos to Rodrigues, Lopez, and O’Halloran for going deep on what’s really the first page of the story.
The strongest panel, in a book chock full of amazing art, details an epic battle between the freedom fighting slaves, Capt Blackbeard, his partner captains, their crew, and the Exiles team on one side. They take on the slave traders, reinforced by their secret weapon of colossal proportions! Take the time to really look at that two page spread. There’s a feast there. It’s going to satisfy you, even after multiple readings. Initially, I didn’t know where to start. Follow the words? Follow a character? It’s like a giant Where’s Waldo but with a cadre of heroes punching, kicking, and chatting their way through the melee. Love it. Finally, the picture frame panels superimposed over the raucous action telegraphs the very cool ending of the story.
Exiles #4 needs to be on your pull list. The first arc is coming to a close with Exiles #5 so if you don’t have the gold coins to find all the single issues, go preorder that trade. You will get so much out of this book!
Rating: 5 of 5
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.