by Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Carmine Di Giandomenico (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: As they run wild, we learn that everything we thought we knew about the history of the Disir is wrong.

The Review: While Journey into Mystery is one of favourite books, I’ll admit that I’ve not been too high on Exiled as of yet.  However, after the genius twist at the end of last week’s issue of New Mutants, things are definitely coming together with this issue.  As the Disir cause mayhem, it seems that the prior issues were only awkward because it was Gillen and DnA getting the pieces in place so that we could get to the story that is told this month.

This issue’s big reveal is, basically, that everything we thought we knew about the Disir is wrong.  Frankly, I love it when writers pull things like this, particularly given that Gillen created the Disir anyway.  The best part is that this sudden reveal about the Disir’s true history makes them far more sympathetic, which completes a slow-burn effort Gillen has been working towards throughout his run; since his run on Thor, the Disir have gradually become more sympathetic and this reveal is all of that reaching its fruition.  It’s a lot more tragic and it makes a lot more sense than a bunch of women randomly deciding to take up cannibalism in a cave.  It’s a great story by Gillen that serves to truly flesh out the Disir, putting the reader in the odd position of feeling a bit bad for the monsters as they rage around and tear the city up.

Quite honestly, that flashback tale/retelling carries the issue and it alone makes this by far the best issue of Exiled thus far.  There are other things to like, however.  Dani Moonstar really shines this month as the souped-up Valkyrie action hero, courtesy of Hela.  The last page is also a pretty bold move by Gillen and DnA, bringing back a very, very powerful character who is suddenly extremely relevant to this story.

The weak part of this issue is still the art.  Di Giandomenico’s work is still too quick and unpolished for my tastes.  His rendition of the Disir is also frustratingly inconsistent.  At times, they’re rendered as faceless monsters who are all teeth and shadows, all of them looking the same.  Then, in other panels, they look like the zombie girls we all know and love.  I also fear that I’ve given Andy Troy a hard time unnecessarily in previous reviews, blaming the ugly “blotchiness” in the art on him.  This month, we get a different colorist on the art, Chris Sotomayor (a guy whose work I generally enjoy), and it’s just as blotch as it was under Troy.  Thus, I can only think that this has to be a product of some strange shading technique that Di Giandomenico employs that continues to muddy the artwork.

Conclusion: While the art still isn’t my favourite, Exiled is really coming together now with this issue featuring another clever game-changer.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans