Comics : Exiles #81

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This story is part of an Arc: "World Tour: Heroes Reborn"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

The Exiles have met Kevin MacTaggert, aka the reality-bending mutant known as Proteus, which resulted in his possession of Mimic's body. Using his abilities, Proteus traveled to the alternate dimension known as the New Universe where he discarded Mimic's withered husk for that of John Tensen, aka Justice. After his defeat by the Exiles with the help of Longshot, Proteus' next stop was the 2099 universe where he found the perfect body: Hulk 2099! With the help of Spider-Man 2099, the Exiles were able to get Proteus to leave that dimension and proceed on to the next. After a quick stop in the Squadron Supreme universe and reluctantly picking up Power Princess as a member, the Exiles traveled to the alternate future where the Hulk, as the Maestro, ruled, to stop Proteus from getting Maestro's infinitely powered body. During the resulting fracas, Morph faced Proteus alone which resulted in his loss of the metal implant in his head that allowed Proteus to take over his body.

CURRENT EXILES:

SABRETOOTH (Victor Creed): Enhanced senses and healing.

BLINK (Clarice Ferguson): Teleportation.

MORPH: Shape-shifting. (DECEAED?)

SASQUATCH (Dr. Heather Hudson): Super strength and senses.

LONGSHOT: Agility and luck powers.

SPIDER-MAN 2099 (Miguel O'Hara): Spider-like powers and talons.

POWER PRINCESS (Zarda): Super strength and flight.

In Detail...

Exiles #81
Jul 2006 : SM Spin-Off App
Summary: Spider-Man 2099 Appears
Arc: Part 1 of "World Tour: Heroes Reborn"
Editor:  Mike Marts
Writer:  Tony Bedard
Pencils:  Jim Calafiore
Inker:  Mark McKenna
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Using the Crystal Palace's equipment, Heather was able to disorient Proteus when he tried to teleport back home, to the altered House of M 616 reality. However, since that reality has been shifted back to normal, Heather misdirected him to the solar system's 10th planet (at the time this issue came out, Pluto was still a planet) known as Counter Earth. He lands and finds New York flooded, wondering what happened while fending off some Atlanteans who tried to attack him to prevent him from finding a missile they have set up directed at Attilan above. The Exiles take advantage of his confusion to debate a plan, Blink usurping Power Princess from leadership but saying her plan relies heavily on her. In the meantime, Heather informs the team about Attilan and the Young Allies who reside there trying to make the world livable again.

On Counter Earth, said Young Allies await Lady Dorma's arrival from Atlantis to negotiate a deal that will supply the refugees of Attilan with all the fish they'd need to survive. What they get instead is Proteus arriving with the Statue of Liberty in his thrall, holding the Atlanteans' bomb and confirming the Allies' suspicions of a double-cross. In return for helping them with their enemies, Proteus asks for the same with his own.

In the universe of the Squadron Supreme, Zarda and Spidey appear as Nighthawk works at dismantling the last of the brainwashing chairs with the rest of the Squadron out rounding up the holdouts in favor of the Global Directorate. Nighthawk questions their presence, and Zarda tells him the thinly veiled lie that they beat Proteus. Knowing he knew she was lying, Zarda knocks 'Hawk out and they set to steal one of the brainwashing devices for Blink's plan.

On Counter Earth, Bucky gives Proteus the run-down on their world; how it was created by Franklin Richards to save his world's heroes before they died, and how it was saved by Doctor Doom by removing it from its pocket universe into the real one. Since then, it's been an apocalyptic nightmare the Allies have been trying to fix ever since. Meanwhile, Longshot and Sabretooth have infiltrated Attilan and try to find Proteus. Sabretooth manages to lock on to Morph's non-scent and follows him...right into the Allies' trap set by Kid Colt's teleportation powers. Toro and Jolt take out Sabretooth and Longshot respectively, while the other Exiles blink in. But with Longshot down, nothing can stop Proteus' warping power. The Allies realize they may have joined up with the wrong side just before Order and Chaos appear above them.

They try to recruit Proteus to take part in this final judgment of the world, but he wants no part of it. They will not take no for an answer and whisk him away. While the heroes try to gain their bearings and find out why they can't raise Heather, Heather learns that Proteus' presence was the tipping point in the destabilizing force of Counter Earth. The recommendation: destruction of that world.

In General...

The stakes are raised as once again an entire world is in peril, and the Exiles are seemingly stranded there. Plus, as this series has shown no Exile is safe from death, which increases the suspense drastically. Any or all of them could die at a given time, only to be replaced by someone new. While the Heroes Reborn universe was a highly demanded one for the team to visit, I can't help thinking most readers might have been disappointed that it was the version we saw at the end of the Heroes Reborn one-shots and Dr. Doom mini-series that came out in the late 90s and not the one from Heroes Reborn itself with all the heroes. But, if that is a reason for disappointment hopefully the excellent storytelling will more than make up for that, as this ride just gets better and better. Also, the way the previous parts seem to play a role in the final confrontation adds a sense of unity and adds another dimension to the overall story. This is no series of random events, this is a story where everything has a point. Let's not forget the best use of the Statue of Liberty since Ghostbusters II (and a lot less gooey). I only wish we got to see what else Proteus did with Lady Liberty off-panel.

The best part of this issue was the return of Jim Calafiore on art. While Pelletier is a great penciler, Calafiore was there for many of the Exile's crucial moments and it's almost like getting back a favorite member of the team.

The only negatives with this book lately seem to come from something in production, be it art or coloring. In this case, when Proteus morphed into Cap his red parts were more of a golden orange. Now, if that was intentional because there was no Cap on his world or not, or a simple mistake, that's unknown. But that's really the only major glitch in an otherwise outstanding issue.

Overall Rating...

4.5 Webs. Each issue is better than the last, and gives fans what they want that no mainstream book realistically can. If you're not anticipating the end of this arc, you damn well should be!

Footnote...

Hello, I'm afraid Morph can't come to the comic right now, seeing as he's been possessed by an evil mutant. So, without further ado, we present: PROTEUS' MORPHS!

PROTEUS' MORPHS: Mermaid tail, man-shark, Heroes Reborn Captain America