Exiles #11 Review

by Charles Martin on December 19, 2018

Exiles #11 Review
Writer / Storyteller: Saladin Ahmed
Penciller / Storyteller: Javier Rodríguez
Inker: Álvaro López
Colourist: Muntsa Vicente
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Old Woman Khan is back for a more antagonistic tumble with Blink's Exiles.

This issue wastes no time getting down to its high-concept business. Kamala's team is assembled out of perfect counterparts for Blink's, and their initial fight takes full advantage. It doesn't just introduce the new baddies, it also reveals plenty about the heroes by mirroring them.

It's probably not an accident that my favourite match-up is also the most abstract and meta-textual: Wolvie's counterpart is X-2/3rds, a shallow glimpse of what Laura Kinney would have been like if she had been developed from her cartoon roots by always taking the darker and grittier path.

Exiles #11 reinforces lessons learned earlier in the volume about how this team is best used: Focus mainly on an issue-sized problem and let action drive character expression rather than the reverse. It's a lot like #4, the title's first really outstanding success.

Yes, that means this issue is outstanding, too. The first fight pulls our heroes down into a dark valley, but they rally magnificently for the rematch. And their eventual victory fills them with hopeful energy for the bigger showdown waiting in the wings.

Artistically, this issue attacks a formidable problem with great skill. Because of the one-to-one relationships between the Exiles and their new adversaries, each fight demands a lot of detailed attention on individual matchups. Dense layouts deliver all the necessary focus without sacrificing readability.

The colours help considerably, using a realistic timeline for the issue's events to do remarkable empathetic scene-setting. The first fight is a late-night affair with heavy shadows and varied over-tints. The recuperating interlude is soaked in a pink dawn palette that emphasizes how this issue is set on Blink's adopted Earth. And the finale unfolds in the bright light of a Caribbean morning, setting aside the moodier reverses of earlier scenes for pure, clear heroics delivered with high-intensity colour.

I may have overstated things when I said action always drives characterization here. The key turning point, emotionally and narratively, comes when Wolvie says A Very Wolvie Thing to Kamala. It's an observation any of the Exiles could make (okay, maybe not Becky), but the creators recognize it has the most impact coming from Wolvie. And they make an impressive and successful effort to deliver it in the most organic way possible.

Exiles #11 succeeds by sticking to a clearly-defined scope of action and detailing it out with swift, confident storytelling. It carves out insightful roles for all of its characters and immediately pays off the short-term story by rolling it up into the bigger picture. This title is headed for a crescendo, and if the next issue is handled as skillfully as this one, it will be a must-read.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I loved all of the evil Exiles, but we really coulda used a little more X-2/3rds and a little more Killmonger.