Exiles # 99
Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Clayton Henry
Inker: Norman Lee
Since I reviewed Booster Gold # 2 last week I figured I should take a look at where Exiles is currently as well, since they both have a similar premise, except B.G. bring more tongue in cheek. This is currently the biggest name writer and highest profile cast they’ve had on Exiles, so I came in hoping for a good read. Chris Claremont is a hugely important author to the X-Men mythos, having penned almost every major event and being responsible for the franchise’s rise from obscurity to popularity during the 70s and 80s. He’s a writer not without his tics, particularly when it comes to heavy expository dialogue and an over-reliance on certain central themes; but for all that he is still very successful.
The cast features two hugely popular Age of Apocolypse (basically the biggest X-Men crossover Claremont didn’t helm) holdovers : Blink and Sabertooth. That Claremont didn’t create or ever write these characters before, makes his treatment of them particularly interesting. A third character, Morph, is played in his Age of Apocalypse role, although he is apparently from a different reality. He’s considered a big name due to his prominence in AoA and his recurring role in the 1990s X-Men cartoon. Longshot, a former X-Man from the Mojo-verse and long missed character (of me personally) is also in the cast. 1990s standout and Claremont favorite Psylocke allows for an easy out for any of Claremont’s pet mind-control stories. Spider-Man 2099 is the major character from the early 1990s 2099 imprint and a fun addition. The cast is rounded out with Thunderbird -an original Exiles holdover- and a Shadowcat alternate (who has long been another of Claremont’s long time favorites).
Besides these last two, all of these are intended to draw in the early 1990s fan who may have moved on from X-Men. Those readers were mostly teenagers at the time, including me, so let’s see how the material and cast has held up. These 1990s holdovers go on dimension hopping adventures, saving alternate universes as possible.
Sabertooth, Blink, Morph, Spider-Man, and Longshot are scattered throughout time at the start of the issue, with the rest of the cast attempting to find them. This issue is made up entirely of showing the first four on new worlds and the rest of the teams simply showing up and retrieving them. There is one token action scene but no drama throughout. No one’s personality is separated enough for me to care about them in the slightest and the expository dialogue is absolutely terrible, particularly at the issue’s start. The Characters become lost, they interact a bit with their new surroundings, they are found, and the issue ends. There is no point to be found here, except to leave one character behind, without anything being accomplished. One potentially major plot point is dropped in the middle of the issue, but even that doesn’t go anywhere and is engulfed in the sea of pointless information that makes up the rest of this issue. There is no thematic link, no characterization, and no discernable plot structure.
This isn’t early 90s comics writing, it’s just bad.
The art on the other hand is great, everyone looks distinct and has good body language without looking posed; still, it’s given no depth to convey so it remains just pretty, not realising its full potential. I want to say how good it looks, but the nonsense that this issue is makes me want to never discuss this book again.
Hopefully Claremont has more left than this, but I won’t be sticking around to find out.