The Exiles are back under the pen of Austen. How does he
measure up to Winick?

General Information

Title: Exiles Vol. 5: Unnatural Instincts

Author: Chuck Austen

Illustrator: Clayton Henry

Original Publication Date: September 17, 2003 reprint of material
first published earlier this year.

ISBN: 0-7851-1110-7

Cover Price: $14.99 US, $24.00 Can

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The Exiles have a new teammate, who seems better suited to
the Weapon
X team. Meanwhile, they need to deal with a dimension in which
Magnum is destined to kill the Avengers, and an evil version of
in the regular continuity Marvel Universe.

This collects Exiles #26-30. It also has X-Men Unlimited #41, an
entry from the anthology series by Chuck Austen and Skottie
Young. (I
haven’t read that one yet, and won’t include it in this review.
all, most people are buying this for the Exiles issues.)

High Point

The reasons to doubt the reality of their situation.

Low Point

Austen’s version of Morph is even more focussed on sex than
version. He just doesn’t write the character as well as Winick
particularly in the first story arc.

The Scores

The addition of Magik is pushing the title in new and
original directions. The new information about the
Timebroker is equally promising. This may have been a fill-in arc,
but it has implications. I suspect Judd Winick was involved in the
plotting. I give it 6 out of 6.

The artwork is quite good. Wolverine looks a bit odd,
as do
some of the other odd characters around the X-Mansion, but the
generally look great, as do Moses Magnum and Namorita. (I
don’t think
I’ll like the art in that X-Men Unlimited issue, based on my
at it, but I’m not counting that, just as I don’t rate DVDs based on
their bonus material.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is better written than anything else I’ve
seen by
Chuck Austen. Maybe he’s not the “bad to mediocre” writer I
he was, but instead someone capable of highs just as extreme as
lows. Perhaps his work would improve across the board if he just
wrote fewer comics each month so he could spend more time
with each of
them. This set has some major implications, and some
events. The early Morph dialogue didn’t really work, but he got a
of that fixed by the end of the issue. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization of Magik was excellent. Of the
characters, only Morph had problems, and those were mainly
caused by
his deviations from the established character. (Had Austen been
introducing him too, this version would have been interesting.) I
give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was very good, but that
might be for
personal reasons. To begin with, I was expecting a lot worse
Austen, so this came as a pleasant surprise. Secondly, the first
superhero comic that ever impressed me was the third issue I’d
read; it was the Classic X-Men reprint of the story
inspired the first story arc here, so that held some personal
resonance for me. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow was very smooth. The only part that threw
me off a
moment was a comment that implies the team was on another
between this one and their last appearance (which is common for
title.) I hadn’t read the previous issue in a while, so it took me
some time to realize that I hadn’t forgotten a story arc. That’s my
problem, though, and not the writer’s or the artist’s. They did their
jobs, and did them well. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a nice collection of issues, and it’s worth
picking up if you’ve gotten a bit bored with the title. It opens
new doors and moves in new directions. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Exiles Vol. 5: Unnatural Instincts receives
35 out
of 42.