EXILES #6 / Writer: Saladin Ahmed / Guest Artist: Rod Reis / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Cover Art: Mike McKone / Publisher: Marvel / August 8, 2018
One would think Marvel heroes might frolick at Disneyworld after a multiverse-saving win, but not the Exiles. What’s next for our delightfully mismatched, yet strangely effective, crew of heroes? Thankfully we don’t have to wait long as Saladin Ahmed, with guest artist Rod Reis, send us spinning off into the Wild West on a fresh arc of the wildly entertaining Exiles series.
Exiles #1-#5 were about saving the multiverse and Exiles #6 is about saving friends. And, since most comic book teams/friends are variations on ‘found family’ this is welcome, if familiar, territory. Blink feels a need to find her old friends, to find out of they survived the multiverse. Of course Valkyrie, Iron Lad, and Wolvie want to help. They are a team after all. It was charming to see the team taking the time to mourn Khan and find some semblance of peace before being launched off on another adventure the reader knows is inevitable.
Just as the Doctor has the TARDIS and Marty McFly has his DeLorean, our Exiles have their Tallus. The wristwatch/time travel device had a mind of its own on the first arc of the series as it pulled together, seemingly at random, our crew of heroes from their own places in the multiverse to form the Exiles team. I’m glad to see Ahmed adds another dimension to this gadget’s capacity to impact how the story unfolds. In a clever twist, the Tallus launches the Exiles team through time and space to the crazy strange wild west complete with a dusty main street, wooden buildings, horses, spurs, men in cowboy hats and women in long dresses. Rod Reis recreated admirably the real Wild West of my childhood, learned from watching Wild, Wild, West, or the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies my dad seemed to enjoy.
The story really shines as the pieces fall into place in the Wild West. There’s an evil gang in town making life difficult for everyone. Except this time, the bad guys sure do look a lot like a few X-Men we all know and love/hate. How did these rather famous baddies get to an old west town anyway? Seems the crumbling multiverses have had some lingering side effects, not all for the better. Blink and the crew, of course, step in to protect the innocent townspeople and get themselves in a hot mess of trouble, losing one of their own in the process. How can they get out of this? How can they save their lost friend? Well, there’s a mighty strong guy new to town looking to wrangle up a team to help him wipe out the evil gang. The characters stand out so much, their energy, look, and tone, all of it a perfect blend of what I’d expect from a Quicksilver or a Scarlet Witch living in the old Wild West. It hooked me more than I thought it could, seeing as how I don’t hold often for western entertainment.
The art is beyond engaging in Exiles #6. Beyond. Guest artist Rod Reis develops a curiously clever visual strategy that takes my appreciation for the story to the next level. The concept of a “collision” of people and worlds from different universes gets gently reinforced in the story by the mixed visual styles on each page. Our Exiles team is slightly bolder in color where the townspeople are more washed out.
The biggest visual contrast is how Wolvie is portrayed on the page. He has always been slightly jarring in his cuteness. Honestly, the little man stands out in any issue because he looks like he should be co-starring in a Powerpuff Girls crossover event. That dissonance is even stronger in Exiles #6. This both shows Wolvie is not of that world, that he carries some of his original universe with him. I liked that.
The introduction of the Magnus Gang also stands out. What would Magneto look like as a Wild West villain? Quicksilver? One look at each of the gang and you know exactly who they are, it’s a lot of fun to see. Rod Reis deftly mashed up our expectations for what these characters look like (everyone keeps their signature colors) with what they might look like as Wild West villains. The lighting bolt shape down the center of Quicksilver’s vest and the way Magneto’s costume projects a western villain and classic Magneto styling simultaneously is not something anyone can just do easily. Reis really impressed me with his take on these classic characters in a new setting.
Beyond how characters were created and brought to life, there are a number of great panels that looked so much like an old Western movie. The showdown between good guy and bad brought to life with the ever-classic staredown. The focus on the hand at the hip, wonder who will draw first. All of these Western beats make their way into Exiles #6 and keep the story exciting and fun to read.
If you missed the first arc of Exiles, now is a great time to jump in and follow the new story. Exiles #6, in particular, will bring you back for multiple readings on Rod Reis’s art alone.
Final note: In a classy move, there’s a four page memorial to legendary Steve Ditko immediately inside the front cover.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars
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.