by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Since the very first issue of Exiles the Tallus, an interdimensional, time-traveling gauntlet, has been calling the shots, pulling our heroes from reality to reality with its own agenda in mind. In many ways, it’s the true mastermind behind the defeat of the Time Eater, having charted a path towards victory and collecting heroes and allies all with vital and specific roles to play in its plan. Early on in the series this sometimes felt like it robbed the characters of their agency, but as we reach the finale of Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez’s story in Exiles 5 that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s interesting to see the role each Exile has to play, but far more interesting to see them all embrace their roles enthusiastically and of their own volition.
While many of the minor characters’ (Sabretooth, Ben Grimm’s pirates, the alternate reality Blinks) roles are simply to provide guidance or support, each main character has a vital role to play, and embracing those roles not only helps save the entire multiverse, but provides them all with some much needed growth as well. Nick Fury quickly picks up on the Tallus’ plans for him and is willing to follow it to his death; he’s last seen with the Unseen, his heroic death sparing him the fate of his Earth-616 counterpart. Khan likewise willingly sacrifices herself to protect the Tallus; by doing so she not only finds some peace, but rejects the hatred she’s been carrying in her heart for so long, choosing to protect others rather than pursue her grudge against Sabretooth. It’s Iron Lad who discovers how to restore the lost universes, but only because he accepts that he can be a hero and stops beating himself up over his connection to Kang the Conqueror.
By the end of the issue the entire team has embraced their role as inter-dimensional exiles, no longer ruled by the Tallus but by their own sense of duty; this is a bigger leap for Wolvie than anyone else. Introduced mainly as comic relief and useless in a fight, his true capabilities have been unveiled slowly and casually by Ahmed and Rodriguez. Exiles 5 debuts perhaps his most impressive power (he’s indestructible), but what’s more impressive is that Wolvie finally decides to use them.
I don’t think this means that we’re suddenly going to see a violent Wolvie, but it does mean that he’ll be taking a more active part in missions rather than helping out almost inadvertently, and that should be an interesting change to witness.
The fact that there’s so many important roles to be played in the Time Eater’s defeat also highlights his greatest weakness: he’s all alone (which Wolvie incisively points out early in the issue). He may quite literally contain the power of the entire multiverse, but he’s still only one man; even when he eventually calls for help he just enlists copies of himself, and silent, subservient copies at that. The Exiles, meanwhile, have as many allies with as many skills as possible, all willing to put any and all concerns aside to save everything that’s ever mattered. That kind of loyalty, bravery, work ethic, and diversity of skill and experience are truly the key to any victory.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?