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The ’90s Revisited: All New Exiles vs. X-Men #0


90srevisited

allnewexilesvsxmen000X-Over

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciller: Ken Lashley
Inker: Tom Wegrzyn
Letterer: Patrick Owsley
Color Design: Shannon Blanchard
Interior Color: Malibu
Cover: Dan Panosian
Editors: Chris Ulm, Jerald Devictoria, Bob Harras, Ben Raab
Published by: Malibut Comics
Cover Date: October 1995
Cover Price: n/a (promo/mail-away issue)

I’ve long sought this issue…based on the cover date, it’s safe to say I’ve had at least SOME level of interest in this for 19 years. From what I recall, this was a send-away promo issue. Mail in some bound-in coupon from an ad along with $10 or so, and receive the issue in the mail once it shipped. Simple…but very, very EXPENSIVE…especially for a then-14-year-old. As such, the offer passed me by and my life moved on none the worse for it.

This copy, that I’m covering this in mid-December 2014, came from finding the issue loose in a 25-cent bin this week, and in remarkably good condition for its age and rarity. Of course, I say rarity as I cannot recall ever before coming across this issue in any sort of bargain bin. While it’s not a particularly expensive issue, it’s been expensive enough–more than “just” a couple dollars–that I hadn’t acquired it before now.

Unfortunately, this issue’s had nearly two full decades to build my anticipation of the reading experience…which made this the obvious let-down that one really ought to EXPECT from the situation. This is a one-shot, in-continuity for the Exiles characters but not so much the X-Men side. It was published as a promo outside the regular numbering of the post-Black September All New Exiles series. And it’s no “key issue” of any sort that I can tell…a fact that adds to the sense of disappointment. So let’s leave all that aside.

The cover feels a bit odd to me with the two teams’ logos seeming strangely small on the cover. Granted, each logo individually would usually fill the top space of a cover and it’s not likely anyone wanted to crowd out the image with logos. But these logos being so small and the image being what it is, the logos kind of get lost in the viewing. The image itself, though–of X-Men Storm, Beast, Iceman, Rogue, and Gambit standing in front of some sort of poster of the Exiles–works quite well for me despite the visual style seeming vaguely manga-esque and cartooney to me (particularly compared against some of my favorite Age of Apocalypse-era X-books from early 1995).

The interior art is not bad, and carries a definite ’90s “feel” to me. I recognize Lashley‘s name from Excalibur (and the title’s Age of Apocalypse iteration X-Calibre), so there’s that air of “authenticity” on the X-Men angle for me, even if Excalibur was never a “core” X-book to me growing up. Characters look pretty good throughout this issue with only moments of difference to me where something doesn’t look quite “right.” I do attribute this to the art not being Kubert, Lee, or someone I’m more consciously (and nostalgically) familiar with far more than I do any particular artistic fault. I’m not unimpressed, and other than the conscious analyzing for this review, the art remained relatively unnoticed and simply “there” as I read the issue.

The story isn’t anything fancy…it has a lot of potential but seems rather rushed. Of course, that particular fault I’d attribute to contemporary comics and the drawn-out 4-6 issue story arcs and lack of done-in-one single issues…especially something with only 22 pages, that isns’t even an over-sized/extra-length issue.

We open on Charles Xavier–founder of the X-Men–frustrated at his inability to locate the Juggernaut (Cain Marko, his step-brother) anywhere on Earth. Having picked up on their mentor’s frustration, the X-Men join a physical search, enlisting the aid of Gateway to check other dimensions. Once in another dimension, they find themselves face to face with the Juggernaut and others, where a fight breaks out. The two groups are then distracted when a creature attempts to come through the portal Gateway had opened, and they’re forced to work together to stop it. Ultimately, the status quo is restored with the X-Men returning to their dimension and the Exiles left on theirs with no way to follow the X-Men without re-energizing the creature they’d just stopped.

There’s not a lot of room for any characters to have actual characterization given how many are here and how few pages, along with the story being set up and moved along. Again based on contemporary standards, something like this seems like it would be best served existing as a 3-4+ issue mini-series. Crammed into one issue, we pretty much need to be familiar with the characters to get anything out of this. Familiar or not, everyone’s pretty much to be taken at face-value, with limited dialogue to contextualize things.

I would expect more of this issue–as a singular, special thing. Given its length and publication, this feels more like I picked up a random issue of All New Exiles that happens to guest-star the X-Men…something rather akin to what I picture of random crossovers in “indy” comics…that is, one side or the other takes more out of the story and the other property seems to have no reference to it other than the character(s’)’s existed in the given issue.

Despite my expectations and relative disappointment…for the 25 cents I paid, this was a very good issue and well worth my having bought and taken the time to read. It does also lift my interest in delving into the All New Exiles…though that particular reading project is quite a ways off yet as I seek to complete my Ultraverse collection.

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