Exiles #40 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: King Hyperion: Conclusion

Written by: Chuck Austen
Penciled by: Jim Calafiore
Inked by: Mark McKenna with Rick Ketcham
Colored by: Transparency Digital
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe
Assistant Editors: Cory Sedimeier & Stephanie Moore
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Comics’ most ridiculous statement…

The following is from the small print on the first page of the newest issue of Exiles.

”Exiles…published monthly except semi-monthly in February, March, April, July, October, and November…”

So it’s published once a month except for six times a year? Right, that makes sense.

This right here sums up a lot of the problems I have had with Marvel recently. Marvel has been going for that world-conquest thing again. They’re cluttering up the sales charts and racks with loads of issues. In just about six months to the day, Marvel has released twelve issues of Exiles. I like this comic, but there has been little writing, artistic, or any other form of continuity in that time. It’s simply ridiculous to have to spend twice the amount of money on a title then you should have in any given period of time.

To top it off, if Marvel’s future solicitations ring true: there’s another issue shipping this month and two more in February. That’s fifteen issues in seven months. Clearly this is too much of a pretty good thing.

Do I have another point to rant on? Of course I do! In the last year Marvel raised the price of the book by .74 cents. I buy about fifty titles a month, and it’s just insane how much more Marvel is causing regular readers to spend to collect a comic. Factor this through much of their line and you’ll see that Marvel is draining the pockets of their faithful. It’s just another way to try and steal business from the rest of the comic market.

Is Chuck Austen the new regular writer?

Exiles is Judd Winick and Mike McKone’s book in my opinion. The unfortunate part is that both, more than a year ago, signed long-term deals with DC. Judd had a bunch of scripts in the can so it wasn’t a problem until Marvel started burning through all of them. As it stands, although no official comment has been made, it looks like Judd’s stuff has been spent and Chuck Austen is the man now. The book’s hasn’t been as good when Judd hasn’t done the writing, but I admit it’s still holding up fairly well.

Chuck Austen wrote two previous arcs and concludes “King Hyperion,” his third this month. Austen brought in one of the now popular members of Squadron Supreme (Hyperion) and has given him an evil spin that has worked out very well. This arc actually focuses on the “Weapon X” Exiles team. They’re not the regular team, but a second group that has showed up from time to time in between arcs.

Austen uses Hyperion as a somewhat divisive force for the team; he worked similar magic with the character of Magik with the main Exiles group. Austen’s biggest contribution to the book thus far has been totally changing the dynamic of the book and the teams, while maintaining the general feel of Winick’s work. His efforts haven’t been magnificently successful, but overall he’s done a good enough job.

The big finish…

Each storyline in Exiles comes to a fairly epic conclusion. Since these characters are almost always alternate universe versions of Marvel Universe favorites journeying to even more out of whack worlds, characters live, characters die, and worlds do the same. These are great What If? or Elseworlds styled stories with a continuing cast. I always liked these types of stories, and getting them on a monthly basis with continuing characters has been a real boon.

As a whole this issue was fairly good. It would have been excellent had the first 10-12 pages not meandered about serving as nothing more than filler. The final battle though comes together quite nicely. Hyperion goes on a rampage that would make Dr. Doom proud and wraps up an entire universe in malevolent fashion.

The deaths of two of the “Weapon X” team, allows for two new cast members to join on at the end of the story. As is usually the case we get twisted versions of old characters; this time it’s Hulk with the weirdest haircut you’ve ever seen (he looks a lot like an American Indian—hey I didn’t write it), and a very sexy version of Firestar. Of course since “Weapon X” isn’t the regular team, who knows when, or if, we’ll see these two or their new partners again.

Regular art direction?

Since Mike McKone left (he’s now on a book you might have heard of: Teen Titans, several artists have plied their trade in these pages. Tom Mandrake, Clayton Henry, and most regularly Jim Calafiore. Calafiore’s style fits the book very well and it’s been nice to see a fairly steady string from him. If there’s one thing I like on a comic is artistic and writing continuity.

The next two issues are actually feature writing and art by Jim Calafiore. I’m interested to see what he’s got planned. Then following that it’s back to Chuck and Jim together. Hopefully the current situation will now calm down and Austen and Calafiore will take the steady work on and put out some good monthly Exiles stories for the remainder of the year.