New Exiles Annual #1

Issue Date: 
February 2009
Story Title: 
Flight of Angels?

Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Vicente Cifuentes (inker), Wil Quintana (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer), Michael Horwitz, Jordan D. White & Charlie Beckerman (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The Exiles find themselves off course, on a world where a rogue member of a god-like race called the “Makers” has decided to wreak havoc. The Maker transforms five humans into their evil incarnations and they basically destroy Manhattan. The Exiles arrive after the fact and defend Valeria Richards and Rosetta, two survivors of the horrendous destruction. It turns out this Valeria is the same one Morph and Psylocke met several missions ago. They all leave together to find sanctuary. Once relocated, Mystiq tries saving Rosetta’s life, but she dies as a result of her wounds. The Exiles decide to help this world even though it wasn’t their intended mission so they take the fight to the bad guys, beating them rather easily. This is when the Maker decides to appear and instantaneously transports the Exiles to his base located on a second moon orbiting Earth. He successfully transforms all of the team into evil versions of themselves, except for the impervious Psylocke. This effect rids Morph of his conditioning and Proteus’ personality reemerges. Cocky guy he is, Proteus goes after the Maker by himself only to get his backside handed to him. Morph, whose consciousness managed to survive this whole time, offers to add his strength to Proteus’. Together they defeat the Maker and everyone returns to normal. In the end Morph and Proteus decide to call a truce and share Morph’s body. Some time later, after the world is on its way back to normal, the Exiles depart for their prior mission, promising Valeria they’ll look her up again one day.

Full Summary: 

Unknown Earth

Five people have been chosen across this Earth, chosen and transformed into its harbingers of death (Norman Osborn- Gold Goblin, Johann Schmidt- Blood Skull, Fatine- Black Baron Dormammu, Victor Von Doom- Doom, Erika Lensherr- Magneta). The entity responsible is a member of a group who call themselves the “Makers.” Unfortunately, this one has gone quite mad, and instead of bringing order to the Omniverse, this one revels in chaos. He figures the more bedlam he creates, the more fun it is to watch.
Manhattan- the Empire State Building and Heroes’ Tower

The day starts off like any other. That all changes when a hundred-story tidal wave approaches, courtesy of Doom, a scaly, red amphibious creature with control over the oceans. Just like that the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is gone as is the Statue of Liberty. Doom laughs as the waves crash down wiping out the shorefronts of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
However, he isn’t alone. The female member of this crew, Magneta, levitates just outside Heroes’ Tower and uses her awesome magnetic powers to dismantle the steel core of the building causing it to collapse into ruins.
Further uptown, Blood Skull stalks the streets looking for survivors. With his crimson energy sword in hand he has killed many, but is never satisfied. He always wants more.
Black Baron on the other hand doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. He transforms the people he finds into demon-troopers and sends them out to continue the slaughter. Men and women alike are transformed into truly terrifying creatures.
The Gold Goblin rides his hover jet also seeking out those who attempt to flee. He finds joy in pumpkin-bombing any who attempt to resist him, but shows mercy to those who don’t resist. He figures there’s no point to conquest if no one’s left to rule.
By the end of the day the battle for the city is pretty much over. Those who’ve survived fear what tomorrow will bring, having always thought their heroes would keep them safe. It’s the costumed bodies of those heroes, bodies impaled on spikes that drives the truth home. There is no hope for tomorrow.
A few heroes did survive the day’s attack, two of them making their way stealthily into the park. Rosey, wearing a blue hood and cape, is badly injured and tells her compatriot, Valeria, she can’t continue. They take cover in a small tunnel where Valeria explains she sent out an SOS assuring Rosetta help is on the way.
“Bowwooo!” a blood-curdling cry rings out. Rosey sarcastically asks Val if that’s what she had in mind. “Hunters!” Valeria realizes, and turns to find a few ugly looking creatures stalking their way. Valeria throws up a force field bubble just in time. Two demons leap toward them, but bounce off harmlessly. Val extends her arm to punch the red one in the face and then wraps her arm around the green one’s neck and then tosses him into his buddy.
Valeria doesn’t notice the third, a purple, bird-ish looking one, leaping at her from the side. It snatches her and seems ready to bite, but is knocked away by a flash of blinding light. Valeria is also knocked to the ground. She looks up and eyes Mystiq roundhouse kicking the purple creature. Valeria doesn’t recognize him. Then she spies Gambit delivering a powerful uppercut to the red one. She thinks he’s cute. Next, she sees Rogue knocking out the green one. Lastly, she watches as Morph, someone she actually recognizes, gather the three unconscious demons and tie them up.
With the brief skirmish ended the Exiles regroup. Gambit and Mystiq aren’t convinced they’ve arrived in the right dimension and ask Morph if that’s ever happened before. Morph recalls the time they found Mystiq and Rogue as the only other instance.
Psylocke says she’s going to scout the location from the air. Morph looks up at her as she flies away and reminds her Sabretooth put him in charge. This prompts Gambit to ask about contacting Creed back at the Palace. Morph says he’s been trying off and on since they arrived, but has had no luck. He assures Gambit the Palace will eventually find them.
Morph notices Rogue staring at something and asks what’s up. Rogue says she saw movement under the bridge. The group heads over to check it out and finds Valeria Richards and Rosetta huddled against the tunnel wall. Psylocke returns from her surveillance and recognizes Valeria immediately. She praises Val’s father for keeping her alive.
Morph still isn’t following, thinking Valeria is just an analogue of the one they know. Psylocke doesn’t think so, and Val confirms it with a warm greeting. Psylocke asks how she got there; it isn’t her world after all. Morph gets a bit testy about Psylocke taking charge again, but asks Val the same question anyway.
Valeria explains that after the Exiles left her world she wanted to find out where they went. She proceeded to use the technology they left behind with the stuff her mom stole from her dad until she finally got it. Morph is shocked, but before any more questions can be asked Mystiq interrupts, requesting a new location to see to Rosetta’s urgent medical needs.
damaged skyscraper

The questions continue. Valeria chalks her inter-dimensional doohickey prowess to the fact that her dad is Reed Richards and her mom is Sue Storm. And it’s mostly because her mom is out trying to conquer worlds that she wanted to contact the Exiles. She wanted to see if her mom was succeeding.
Morph asks if her father knows about this, but before she can answer Psylocke guesses she ran away. Morph asks Betsy how she can know this. Psylocke points out that most teenagers feel like running away at some point in their lives.
Mystiq walks in from another room, wringing his hands with a towel. Val asks how Rosetta is doing. Mystiq says there’s nothing he can do at this point and apologizes. He tells Valeria, Rose is asking for her.
After Val leaves to check on her friend Morph brings up the fact they’re not where they’re supposed to be. Psylocke asks how he knows this. Gambit interrupts to point out these people need their help and they can’t just walk away.
The conversation ends when Valeria comes back, tears streaming down her face. She announces Rosetta’s death to the room and says it’s weird meeting a version of herself and then having her die.
That settles it for Rogue. She doesn’t care where they were supposed to be. This world needs them and being Exiles, being heroes, means they need to take their shot.
city streets

The following morning, at just about sunrise, the villains gather to celebrate their total annihilation of the city. All the better to beat them to a pulp it would seem as the Exiles, with the addition of Valeria, arrive to stop their wave of destruction once and for all.
It’s a royal rumble of the highest degree as the heroes and villains collide. Doom delivers the first major attack, punching Mystiq so hard he goes flying into the ocean. Doom leaps in right after him and follows him into the briny depths. They go hand to hand, but despite Mystiq’s bravado he’s a bit outmatched.
Gambit arrives and finds the two grappling. He comments that he’s arrived just in time. “The devil you say?!” exclaims Mystiq who tells his teammate he’s doing just fine. Gambit wraps Mystiq around the waist and whips him around, releasing him toward the surface where he explodes from the water flying toward the Gold Goblin and his hoverbike. Mystiq’s not too mad realizing there’s enough bad guys to go around anyway.
While in the water, Gambit begins making short work of his adversary, delivering a powerful blow to Doom’s face. Doom backs off and summons some sharks, telling Gambit the oceans are his to command. Gambit shoots him back a confident look and asks, “Wanna bet?” Doom’s eyes go wide as the sharks turn to face him instead. Gambit explains sharks have an awareness that transcends the rules of space and time and they know what is true and what is false. As the sharks close in he tells Doom he’ll have to face the consequences.
Over on dry land Magneta lifts a bunch of debris into the air and prepares to destroy Valeria with it. Psylocke rushes over and uses her TK to keep the metal at bay. She’s surprised by the sheer force believing this woman to be as good as the Magneto she knows.
Morph sees her struggle and immediately rushes over to help. Blood Skull takes a swipe at the elongated Morph and slices through part of his body. Where the devil did this guy come from?! Morph asks himself. As the pliable mutant collects himself back together Blood Skull moves in for the final blow. Despite the pain he’s in, Morph manages to swing out his left arm and knock Blood Skull topsy turvy.
Rogue, meanwhile, is fighting in the air with Dormammu. She decides to finally finish it and tosses the Black Baron towards Mystiq who is currently battling the Gold Goblin on the ground below. Mystiq ducks just in time and Dormammu and the Goblin collide. Mystiq is impressed and asks Rogue is she has anything planned for an encore. Rogue quickly retrieves the two villains, and carrying one in each hand flies them over to Blood Skull and rams both their heads into the Skull’s.
Nearby, Psylocke orders Valeria to box Magneta in with one of her force fields. With that accomplished Psylocke moves in and knocks the magnetic queen unconscious. All the villains are down for the count, including Doom who’s unconscious body has just been flown in by Gambit. It’s never that easy for the Exiles, though, as the ginormous Maker appears with his eight mechanical tentacles flailing about.
The Exiles out knocked out instantaneously and before they can even hit the ground the Maker transports them to his sanctum on a second, smaller moon that orbits this world.
As the Exiles float helplessly within the base confines, the Maker voices his disgust over the failings of his first iteration of doom bringers. They were defeated so easily, he muses. Upon further analysis he notes the Exiles’ core structure is vastly different than those of Earth, a potential in their genome that is analogous to his own. He wonders if they’re nascent immortals.
Psylocke decides she’s done hanging around and asks Valeria to synch her force field with her TK. Betsy goes on the offense while Val handles the defense. At first Morph cheers Psylocke on, but then his face turns nasty. He slips into a Scottish accent and the Exiles’ worst fear is realized; Proteus’ personality has regained control. Proteus tells Psylocke if she survives the Maker she’ll be facing him next.
Psylocke doesn’t even seem to hear Proteus’ threats. Her mind is focused on the Maker. Nobody seems to be coming to help them and Betsy can barely hold off his electric attacks. Though while Psylocke is immune to his power, Valeria is most certainly not. The Maker is able to slip strands of energy through her defenses and soon after transform Valeria into an evil doppelganger. Realizing this too late, Psylocke is caught off guard. Valeria blasts her with some energy discs and Psylocke is knocked silly.
The Maker turns his attention toward the rest of the Exiles, whom he’s already transformed into evil versions of themselves. He thinks he may be able to permanently lock them in their new forms if he has them all help kill their teammate Psylocke. Proteus, however, has other ideas and begins attacking each Exile one by one.
Starting with Mystiq, Proteus extends his arm and punches him out. Next, he wallops Gambit, but unexplainably finds himself apologizing for the attack. Proteus is confused. As he moves onto Rogue he finds himself promising not to let her down, despite the uppercut he connects with her chin.
Proteus finally realizes Morph’s consciousness still exists. The two personalities begin talking with each other, Proteus telling Morph he’s nothing, but a ghost. Morph doesn’t argue the fact, but asks Proteus if he really thinks he has a chance against the Maker on his own.
Nearby, Psylocke gets the drop on Valeria, karate chopping her in the neck and knocking her out. However, it’s the Maker who gets the last laugh, nailing Betsy with an energy blast from his hand.
Back at the main event, Proteus is intent on proving Morph wrong and, being the only conscious one left, takes the fight right to the man. He turns one of his fists into a large block and smashes the Maker in the face. The Maker is shocked. He can’t believe a mortal could hit a god. Proteus proves his point again, morphing his hand into the front of a bulldozer and connecting with the Maker once more.
The third time is not the charm as the Maker snatches Proteus’ hand on his next attack and yanks it sideways, sending him careening into the wall. Proteus doesn’t even have a chance to move before the Maker takes his fist and pounds Proteus into the ground. Proteus tries lifting the ginormous hand off his body without success. He can’t break free, and the pain is horrible. Proteus panics, thinking he’s going to die.
That’s when Morph appears at his side, though in a pinkish, hazy form normally reserved for Proteus. Morph tells him to take his hand. Proteus does and feels his strength increase tremendously. He pushes himself and not only breaks free, but ends up flipping the Maker onto his back.
Proteus doesn’t stop there, leaping at the giant god-like creature and popping him in the face. The Maker calls him an arrogant fool and lashes out at him with one of his tentacles. Proteus gets that evil grin again and grabs the tentacle, squeezing it tight. For the first time the Maker seems really worried, unsure of what’s happening. Proteus uses the tentacle and begins spinning the Maker in circles before taking his momentum and using it to slam him into the ground. Morph rushes over to his fallen enemy and stands proudly on his chest. He agrees with the old paradigm, how the bigger they are the harder they fall.
Then Proteus grows to twenty times the size of the Maker. He holds the demi-god in the palm of his hand and stares down at him. Proteus guesses the Maker never thought he’d be on the losing side.
Something weird happens and Proteus loses his balance for a moment. He regains control and asks the Maker if he’s scared. He adds that he has that effect on people, starting with his mother. Oddly enough he then brings up how he’s never scared his friends. Proteus gets mad at this and begins arguing with himself, saying he’s never had friends. He starts rubbing his forehead trying to figure out why he feels so strange.
This time it’s Proteus’ form that separates from the body and appears all pink and hazy. Confused, Proteus asks what’s happening. Morph tells him it’s simple, he’s not alone in his body. Fact is, Morph adds, he can sense there’s a part of Proteus that wants something better and Morph thinks that together they can find it.
Proteus asks Morph why he isn’t dead. Morph can only guess that when Proteus took over his body, his mind just shut down, thanks in part to his intangible physiognomy. He further guesses that when his friends tried to reprogram him they created an environment where he could reassert himself.
Proteus asks Morph if he’s going to “evict” him. Morph doesn’t think it’ll be that easy. The way he sees it they are a part of each other, and wouldn’t be whole if they separated. Morph thinks they have a chance to learn from each other’s mistakes and do things better. He chalks it up to a second chance… if they’ve got the guts to take it.
Proteus can’t believe Morph would trust him. Morph holds out his hand saying he trusts him as much as he trusts himself. Proteus looks at the hand just hanging there. He pauses for a moment before reaching out his own. As their hands intertwine the two beings are surrounded by a bright flash of pink light. When it dissipates the Exiles find themselves returned to Earth with the Maker unconscious and reduced to standard human size.
Morph sits cross-legged next to the Maker’s lifeless body. Psylocke approaches Morph, a bit wary of what he’s become. Morph senses her apprehension and tells her he’s alright. Psylocke isn’t so sure. Morph asks her to read his mind. Psylocke reminds him she can’t read minds anymore, but she can read bodies. Morph asks what the verdict is. Psylocke steps forward and gives him a passionate kiss on the lips. When she pulls back Morph is dazed.
top of a skyscraper

Some small while later, after reconstruction efforts are underway, those enchanted by the Maker restored, and the Maker turned over to what this world’s version of Dr. Strange refers to as the “higher authority”, the Exiles are ready to resume their journey. Unfortunately for Valeria the Exiles are a bit reluctant to have her join them. Morph asks if her father knows about this. Valeria claims she cleared it with him.
Psylocke brings up a better point, namely, what if they run into Val’s mother. Valeria rather testily tells Psylocke to never refer to that woman, the same person who locked her in a cage, as her mother. Morph tries relating with her, telling tales of his youth and how his own mother used to lock him up on Muir Isle. Even though she said it was for his own protection, he explains it still made him feel like a monster. Getting back to the point Morph tells Val she shouldn’t have any part of it, because whatever Empress Hydra’s done she’s still Val’s mother and he firmly believes if anything happens to her under Val’s watch it will haunt her for the rest of her life.
Psylocke tells Val they’ll contact her when the conflict is over and it’s safe. Val looks sad so Morph wraps her up in a hug and tells her to take care and he’ll see her soon. Val smiles and says he’d better. When she backs away Morph realizes she’s looking at him a bit weird. When he asks why she says he looks different. Morph asks in what way. Val isn’t sure, but says she likes it. Morph smiles back at her and says he likes it too.
With that, Morph waves goodbye. The Exiles gather around each other and disappear.

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Morph/Proteus, Mystiq, Psylocke, Rogue (all Exiles)
Valeria Richards
The Maker
Unknown Earth

Rosetta Stone
Norman Osborn/Gold Goblin, Johann Schmidt/Blood Skull, Fatine/Black Baron Dormammu, Victor Von Doom/Doom, Erika Lensherr/Magneta

Story Notes: 

Are the Exiles in their intended reality? Or course not. They will finally arrive at their intended destination in New Exiles #14.
Psylocke was skewered by Hydra Wolverine in Exiles (1st series) #94 and nearly died. Thanks to the Reed Richards of that reality Betsy was back to her old self again. Valeria is the daughter of this Reed Richards.
Morph was taken over by Proteus way back in Exiles (1st series) #80, during the infamous “World Tours” storyline.
Earlier in the issue, Psylocke guessed Valeria ran away from home and Valeria didn’t deny this, but at the end Val claims she has her father’s blessing to join them. Which one is it? The world may never know…
Valeria was held prisoner for years by her mother, Empress Hydra, as revealed in Exiles (1st series) #93.

Issue Information: 
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