This issue of the most recent Exiles relaunch sees the team of alternate-universe X-Men characters trapped in a world where robots are in charge. Still a fledgling group, the Exiles are only just beginning to bond, and still confused about their place in the multiverse — and it doesn’t help that they appear to be flying blind.
Throughout the series, Parker has played with the audience’s patience quite deliberately, but hasn’t managed to cross the line into “frustrating” yet. If you’ve been following Exiles from the start, Blink’s ongoing protestations that something feels wrong with their missions can be clearly read as a reference to her earlier “Exiles” experiences that are, for whatever reason, being kept secret — though if you’re not an Exiles fan, she functions equally credibly as a genuine voice of doubt. This issue is the first time we get anything close to an explicit reference to her past, and in doing so, Parker actually manages to set up a new mystery — that is, why doesn’t Blink, herself, know what’s wrong with the Tallus?
Plot-wise, Parker manages to pull off two fairly good twists during the course of the issue, with the final page revelation being a development that you can’t help but speculate about. If that doesn’t bring fans back for another issue, nothing could. It’s a twist with an unusual level of gravitas for what has, up until now, been a fairly light-hearted book.
Although Parker’s dialogue and character work is good, the Exiles concept has a built-in need for exposition that rarely pays off in any long-term fashion. A two-page spread explaining the history of this robot dimension feels unnecessary. It appears to add very little to the story that’s in motion, and it won’t be long before the team visits another world and needs this treatment all over again.
Still, the concern is a minor one, since something about the Exiles formula clearly appeals to people. Given that it originally launched in 2001, it’s doing remarkably well to keep going, but with writer’s like Parker, it’s not hard to understand the title’s appeal.