Exiles #1 by Writer Saladin Ahmed and Artists Javier Rodríguez, Álvaro López, and Jordie Bellaire
Marvel has brought back its reality hopping super-team because (surprise, surprise) something is eating the multiverse. An entity referred to only as the Time Eater is devouring alternate Earths, one after another, and so a mostly reluctant Blink has to return and assemble a team of heroes from other worlds to try to set things right again.
I hopped onto this comic mostly for its promise of an alternate future version of Kamala Khan (do not call her Ms. Marvel), a surviver of the war between the X-Men and Inhumans that apparently did not end but saw mutantkind’s decimation of the Khan’s people. The comic didn’t disappoint in that regard…mostly. I find myself a fan of this gruff, hard-bitten, old soldier version of one of my favorite heroes. It is a strong departure from the character we know from her own title, but it’s not a (pun intended) stretch. One can easily imagine a character of Kamala’s strength, optimism, and resolve having all the positivity beaten out of her, or potentially set aside, during a decades long war in order for her to become the leader her people need.
This issue also answers the question: where has Nick Fury been since Original Sin? On the moon, in case you were wondering, chained to the spot unable to more than watch the events of Earth unfold. Fury’s punishment for killing Uatu and taking his eyes is to be himself cursed to watch. Also to wear some silly black robes and to monologue dramatically to no one about what he sees. In fact, you would not have recognized him as Fury unless another Fury from another reality showed up on the spot to die and drop the Tallus in Blink’s reach…if it sound a tiny bit convoluted, it is.
All-in-all, I think this comic is working with some potentially interesting subject matter, but the pacing is way off. This issue in particular has to split time between setting up the plot, giving us a quick (but not succinct) look at what Blink’s been up to, shoe horn her into the adventure, pick up the new old Kamala Khan and jump off to the next new team member before the end. Maybe Ahmed already has a limited number of issues to work within, but this story would really benefit from spending some time in each world, getting us to care that whole realities are being devoured in the first place.
Oblivion Song #2 by Writer Robert Kirkman and Artist Lorenzo De Felici
Much of issue #2 focuses on the suffering borne by those who were not caught in the cataclysm and those who were rescued. Starting in a memorial museum to the people who were lost in the event, this issue explores the lingering pain for those people trying to recover their lives and cope with this new reality after the trauma of such a horrendous event. Kirkman begins to form the various coping methods of the people who were affected by the event, focusing on Nathan and Bridget’s struggles to maintain intimate relationships. A particularly promising revelation of this issue is the fact that these characters have a lengthy and storied relationship with each other, meaning that there will be plenty of information–not yet revealed–to deepen the emotional connection readers have with these characters.
However, one of the major drawbacks for me in this issue is Kirkman’s reliance on arguably commonplace genre tropes to establish the character dynamics in the story. While reading this issue, I began to feel I was reading an issue of The Walking Dead. Characters’ lives were thrown off course by an unimaginable event, and now they must pick up the pieces and figure out how to live in a world that no one would have ever thought they would live in. This gripe may just be an unavoidable feature of the post-apocalyptic nature of the story, but I do hope that Kirkman has some aces up his sleeve for the future of the story.
Even with that complaint in mind, I am still excited by this series, and trust in Kirkman to build upon these tropes as a means of tearing them down. As with any good creator, I feel excited now for what is to come for the series, but I can’t deny that this issue certainly left me wanting something more–something a little different.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #31 by Writer Ryan North and Artist Erica Henderson
Tears was not what I expected out of the final issue of Erica Henderson’s run on Squirrel Girl. This is, of course, foolish of me, as this creative team has consistently delivered thoughtful issues without the adding import of closing out a 3 1/2 year partnership on the book. No fears, squirrel scouts, the series will continue with Ryan North and new artist, and former Jughead collaborator, derek Charm taking over.
This issue finds Doreen and Nancy zapped with a ray from a villain who streams his heists online (a la Twitch or YouTube), hitting all the characters beats of your usual online personality. He is presented immaculately. The ray sends the friends into hyperspeed, meaning they see everything in slow motion. It also means that they are aging incredibly quickly considering the time difference between their bodies and the world around them. However, in true Squirrel Girl fashion, the two stay positive and use the opportunity to make New York perfectly safe while they try to figure a way out of their situation.
North really pulls out all the stops on this book with writing that is not only charmingly hilarious–his typical MO–but also heartwarmingly (breakingly?) endearing. Throughout the book, North presents a seemingly real take on this unreal experience, as it is clear that North took the time to think about the mechanics of a world that moved painfully slow. Seconds take weeks for Doreen and Nancy, so a variety of tools that we take for granted are not viable for them, including computers. It is a lot of fun seeing how Nancy and Doreen work around these issues. Also, of course, the book is full of humor and jokes that will make reading it a pleasure.
And then you get to the end of the issue, and North and Henderson decide to leave you with a punch in the gut. I’m not going to say anything else, as it is well worth reading without any thought to how it will end. I will simply say that as I came to the last page, I was fighting tears and the urge to wrinkle my face up for a good old ugly cry. Really, North and Henderson nail the ending.
Considering all of these factors, Squirrel Girl #31 makes for the perfect ending to an outstanding collaborative team. While I am certainly excited to see how a new artist interprets the world of Squirrel Girl and company, this issue will be a lasting reminder of how good North and Henderson were as creative partners.