Posted by: Brian Hibbs on July 11, 2008
Every now and then, I go back to books I’ve dropped and re-evaluate them. It’s my way of trying to keep an open mind, because as a critic (especially a comics critic) it’s way too easy to go from this:
So with that in mind, I found myself picking up the latest issue of a series I’d stopped reading over a year ago.
The nice thing about Marvel comics in general is the handy recap page that kicks off every issue of practically every series. Case in point: I hadn’t even been remotely interested in the events of NEW EXILES since I dropped the book, but even though we’re eight issues into the reboot, the plot was totally accessible. Well, insofar as it pertains to the series itself, anyway. I’ll get to that in a bit.
NEW EXILES #8 is part two of a story where the French and British Empires are at war, and and the Exiles intervene because this particular reality is crucial to a whole section of the multiverse. Meanwhile, Psylocke is having dreams of Slaymaster killing about two dozen alternates of herself. And then she meets OGUN (emphasis Claremont’s).
Yes. Ogun. The magical spirit guy that likes to possess women’s bodies. Last seen in 2001, but, of course, it’s really Ogun from the 1985 KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE, written by… well, I’m sure you can guess.
Strike one: obscure characters busting out of the Claremont Historical Archive to remind us all why we were happy to see them leave the first time around.
We abruptly jump into a five-page monologue by an Atlantean Gambit who sounds like a preteen Aquaman on speed. It’s absolutely painful to read: dense, overly verobse, obvious, using a hundred words to beat into the ground a concept that could be communicated in ten. So much of comics is about “showing”, but Claremont seems to think he’s getting paid by the word here, because all he does – all he does – is “tell”. Atlantean Gambit just goes on and on about how lovely the water is, and how weird New York technology is, and how he’s lucky his body is super-strong so he can survive cannon fire… ugh.
Strike two: Blah, blah, blah. Yes, Psylocke, I can see Ogun got the drop on you, Tom Grummett’s art is helpfully depicting him whooshing behind you and grabbing your arm – I don’t need a mid-chokehold thought bubble telling me “He moved so fast, I never even saw him coming!”
Now, I’ll give Claremont credit where it’s due, since that happens so rarely: it’s nice to see an alternate reality scenario that takes its cue from “real” history as opposed to Marvel history – the high concept here is that the French won the Napoleonic Wars. Oddly enough, such a huge change in the history of the world has nevertheless produced Storm, Ka-Zar, Emma Frost and “Force-X” (eww).
Strike three: to quote Maxwell Smart, missed it by thaaaat much. Claremont can occasionally come up with seeds of interesting concepts, but they never, ever turn out to be everything they could’ve been.
So… yeah, the reasons I dropped the book are still pretty much in effect here, and there aren’t any visible signs of improvement on the horizon. CRAP, and I guess I’ll just wait for the next guy to come along.