Staying Focused on Character, No Matter Where and When You Go, in Exiles 3

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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One thing you can’t accuse Exiles of is a lack of imagination — or of decompressed storytelling, I suppose. The title flies through new ideas and worlds almost faster than readers can keep up with them. Sometimes I honestly wish it would just slow down and spend some time actually exploring the worlds it takes us to for more than a few pages, and thankfully, Exiles 3 does exactly that, spending over half its story in one scenario (a WWII-era battle with Peggy Carter’s Captain America), and ending with a legitimately shocking cliffhanger, one that finally isn’t the Time-Eater showing up yet again. I feel like this book is really starting to find its footing.

More importantly, though, no matter what era it travels to or how quickly things change, creators Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez always keep Exiles focused on what matters most: its characters.

Ahmed and Rodriguez have assembled a fun cast, one diverse not only in gender, race, and nationality, but in personality as well. Each character’s base traits are well established and quite different from one another’s — it’s easy to tell which character is speaking at any given moment just from their speech patterns, word choices, and perspectives alone. While Exiles 3 doesn’t focus on any one member of the cast, everybody is given a chance to shine and have their character explored a little more.

For example, I’m fond of this brief sequence that finds something for everybody (except Valkyrie) to do. Saladin digs into what makes Iron Lad special outside his intelligence, allows Wolvie to be in his cheerful element for once, and finds an interesting rapport between Blink and Khan. Both have seen a lot and are world-weary in their own ways, but while it’s only made Blink appreciate the kindness of people like Nate all the more, Khan’s been completely jaded as a result. The tension between the two runs throughout the issue, but Saladin makes sure to ground it in their similarities, not just their differences, which makes for a complex and rewarding relationship.

This sequence, meanwhile, demonstrates Rodriguez’s uncanny ability to demonstrate movement and the passage of time even throughout one static, mural-esque panel. It not only digs more into Valkyrie’s rather open sexuality, but also gives poor Wolvie, who has been criticized by Khan throughout the issue for being useless in a fight, something important to do. Maybe he doesn’t wanna Snikt his way through bad guys, maybe he doesn’t even know what killing is, but he’s still got his enhanced senses, and those can be quite useful.

By the end of Exiles 3, I feel like I’ve been through real adventures with these characters, and know them that much better for it. Maybe that’s the advantage of moving through so many ideas so quickly. We’ve seen these characters react to a plethora of scenarios, and that helps us to know them all the better.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Staying Focused on Character, No Matter Where and When You Go, in Exiles 3

  1. Staying in one place was a big improvement. I think that now that the group is together, things will finally settle. Especially as the damage to the Tallus also seems to be improving the plot a lot by letting the characters take control of the narrative. Because yeah, the character dynamics are much better, creating a unique, fun team that are bouncing off weird and wonderfully settings to create classical adventure. It now feels like we have a great team to go through whatever wild, crazy adventures they want to go through.

    Great team, other than Valkyrie. I’m not a fan of how Valkyrie is being handled. I kind of wish they just did what we all thought they did and just gave us Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie from Ragnarok. Though I can understand how the complexities of how character, whose character is so closely related to the wounds of colonialism and her parallels to the pains of indigenous people and the diaspora suffered by them from colonialism is a bit more complex for a book that is intentionally a throwback to simple, broad storytelling.
    But I think making her ‘basically Thor’ is a much more boring approach that makes her a big let down. You could at least stick with the Asgardian Bounty Hunter part from the movies. Have her as Space God Han Solo.
    Instead, where characters like Khan, Nathaniel and Wolvie get development and complexity, Valkyrie feels superficial. I’d love a scene which isn’t just generic Thor moments and something that develops her, hopefully by showing how she is different to the traditional Thor

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