Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: World Tour New Universe Part I of III
Written by: Tony Bedard
Penciled by: Paul Pelletier
Inked by: Rick Magyar
Colored by: Wil Quintana
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The idea of the Exiles team hopping from universe to universe has always been rife with possibilities. The team can go on the occasional humorous mission (fighting Fin Fang Foom using Red Ronin) or dramatic mission (lots of casualties from world to world) and the presence of some problem that threatened the fresh universe always kept the stories exciting. After the revelation that the Time Broker was a fraud all that could have all changed. But an excellent first arc followed by a new objective for the team certainly has maintained the book’s edge, perhaps even improving the dynamic. The idea that self-interest is now the team’s sole motivator might even make things more interesting; the current endangered team member is easily the largest and most complex threat the team has had to pursue.
The team’s current destination is equal parts retro-flashback and gritty established reality. The New Universe apparently originated as a stunt for Marvel’s 25th anniversary. The idea of creating a separate universe for new characters under the same publisher had never been attempted in that way on that scale before. Since then, Marvel has had other short-lived experimental lines (Marvel 2099) and acquired and strip mined other publishing house’s properties, eventually ignoring them or folding them into the more mainstream Marvel Universe (see the eventual assimilation/demise of Malibu comics) and recently succeeded in a far more mainstream manner with their Ultimate line. The only appropriate question: can a smart writer like Bedard make a long ignored reality still entrenched in 1987 interesting?
The answer is a conditional yes. The accoutrements of the period are well done (Reaganomics, the music and fashion scenes) if a bit blatantly placed. The idea to set the story in the beginning of the imprint’s publishing run was another really good idea. The Exiles, an experienced team of heroes drawn from a multitude of imperiled realities, contrasts well with the quarantined metahumans of the Clinic. (Please make your token STD or Pretender quip now, so I can continue with the review.) It’s also fun to run into a hero who is rightfully paranoid about his newfound powers, as the Exiles team confronts and fails to win over Kenneth “Starbrand” Connell. And since that plot folds well into the Exiles mission to destroy Proteus/rescue Mimic, the issue is a success overall even though the New Universe characters sort of get the Reader’s Digest treatment.
The art team just keeps improving. The setting is well done, which is to be expected considering how vanilla the architecture of the period is and how the fashion trends of that day still linger in this newer century. The Exiles seem to be rendered better and better as Pelletier continues his run on the title. The interlude detailing the resolution of the Beak/Angel/House of M component of World tour is touching and cheerful. Lack of experience with the heroes/villains of the NU prevents me from making any offhand comment about them. But they don’t hog their panels or distract the reader from the Exiles’ overall mission, so there are no real complaints to be found.