Some more old trade re-read thoughts
Exiles: Point Of No Return
I think everyone probably has one comic that they loved and which was cruelly ended far too early for their liking. This is probably the biggest one for me. Jeff Parker’s revival of Exiles is excellent in the way it balances the need to be a fresh start for a new audience without screwing over the original series and its fans. He assembles a new team of Exiles which includes Blink, who, anyone familiar with the original series will quickly realise from fairly subtle clues, is “our” Blink, playing dumb as part of this new team to steer and guide them. Morph is recast as the Timebroker for this new team, which somewhat hammers home the connection to the original book, but if you’re unfamiliar with that, he just seems like a wacky taskmaster.
Parker assembles a nice team of slightly alternate X-Men (and the Black Panther) and throws them into some interesting alternate realities. It’s impressive how quickly the book hits a nice groove, the only flaw being perhaps how much the realities are explained and rationalised in their differences from the norm.
But then it’s cruelly curtailed with the sixth issue, where Parker is at least able to hurriedly execute the end of his long term plan, drawing in more elements from the original series and giving a decent sense of closure to the new guys.
The trade gets bonus points for including scripts for aborted future issues, which have some cool alternate realities (one where the various Marvel pantheons prevented industrial scale science in the 19th century, leading magic to dominate for instance) and a longer running arc with the imposter Wanda. Such a shame.
Resurrection Man: Dead Again
And then, almost in opposition to Exiles is New 52 Resurrection Man. When the New 52 was announced, I don’t think anyone was expecting a new Resurrection Man, but I sure was happy. It even had the original writing team, Abnett and Lanning! And yet…
The writing is a bit flat through-out here. It doesn’t quite achieve the same charm and immediacy as the original series. This isn’t helped by an oddly disjointed story break from issue 4 to 5, where Mitch is seemingly killed by an angel trying to claim his soul, only for him to somehow end up being admitted to Arkham Asylum. This isn’t explained and we don’t see the angel, the Body Doubles who were also chasing him and the rando super-villain guy he’d befriended again (in this volume at least). There’s no mention of them at all. Mitch is just off and away on other tangents and it feels oddly sloppy for DnA.
But what really doesn’t work (for me at least), and this feels emblematic of the New 52 generally, is that this is a complete reboot of the character. The original Resurrection Man series explored various parts of Mitch’s history and did answer some questions about him. But there was still plenty left to go over, enough to frame this new series around, with the stuff from the past series simply mentioned, when needed, as backstory. Instead, it’s a complete do-over with liberal changes: Mitch ran the company responsible for creating his tektites, worked with Hooker (his nemesis from the 90s run) and employed the Body Doubles, who are now able to constantly heal themselves (which isn’t a bad addition). Most of those aren’t really improvements and the Body Doubles end up quite bland compared to their original versions.
None of this is helped by the art, which is credited to Fernando Dagnino. I have my doubts about that, as his work varies heavily between pages, let alone issues. There are odd lapses of continuity (for instance, the Body Doubles use an instantaneous teleporter and somehow Carla’s hair gets put in pig-tails and Bonnie gains her glasses between disappearing and reappearing, Mitch is suddenly fully dressed between panels with no chance to go find clothes), which have me suspicious that it’s actually being done by a studio and credited under one name.
Regardless, Dagnino’s work is far from stellar. He draws nice characters, but his story-telling is obtuse at times, his panel layouts needlessly baroque and there seem to be misunderstandings (due to language barriers?) of the script at times. Still, the modern redesign of Mitch is pretty good.
This is a real missed opportunity and I can see why it didn’t keep an audience to survive long-term.
Doctor Who: The Forgotten
There were two selling points for this when it started in 2008 - it was a multi-Doctor story of sorts, a novelty for the time, and it had art by Pia Guerra from Y The Last Man.
Unfortunately Guerra was only able to do the first couple of issues (I think due to health issues, I can’t remember) and the replacement artists don’t match up. The first one is especially bad and even gets snarked at by the script for drawing the 4th Doctor’s scarf too short.
Writer Tony Lee does a clever job starting with the IDW standard of 10th Doctor and Martha and then gradually revealing the inconsistencies of that with where the show was at the time, which works well. He also gets the voices of the previous Doctors and companions down suitably. Unfortunately, the episodic nature of the flashbacks feels a bit humdrum and when, near the end the faux-Martha TARDIS projection goes into “shuffle” of previous companions, it all becomes a bit of a banal nostalgia by numbers piece. Still, there are some fun ideas in here and the 8th and 9th Doctor elements are especially interesting in light of later retcons to those eras by the TV show.