Oh good, just what we need, another X book. With the recent cancellations at Marvel I had held out some hope of Marvel permanently slimming down their line of mutant books. However, since it has been proven that any title with the number 1 and an X on the cover will sell I suppose this was a little too much to expect. The mutant titles multiply like an infection and only serve to weaken the host that is Marvel comics.
The latest entry is called Exiles. Marvel has gone outside of the current continuity to bring the reader a new team of mutants. Here’s the catch: these mutants exist in alternate dimensions and are brought together by someone calling himself a Timebroker. There are “hiccups” in the time stream which have changed some past event and now has to be put right. All of the members will be erased from existence unless they put right what once went wrong.
The team members include some old favorites and new soon-to-be-favorites that will probably be spun off into their own series before too long. Nightcrawler’s daughter Nocturne and Magnus, son of Magneto and Rogue, join Mimic, Thunderbird, Morph, and Blink to form a new team. Their first assignment takes them to a world where mutants have been hunted down and locked away (where has this been covered before?). Our new group is told find their greatest teacher so they go to free Professor X. When they do however, he goes on a rampage and kills roughly a quarter million people before the Exiles realize they should have freed Magneto instead. Magnus sacrifices himself to free Magneto and things are put right again. That’s the bad news; good news is the Timebroker sends them a new recruit three pages later in the form of Mariko Yashida aka Sunfire. They are all whisked off and find themselves present at the classic “Trial of Phoenix” storyline.
What is good about this series so far? I like the idea of seeing old characters act and behave in new ways. Seeing Professor X leading a Brotherhood of Mutants is an interesting twist on the old and seeing him die at the hands of Mimic is an added bonus. Magneto is a reluctant hero who is finally convinced that it is his duty to train and lead the mutants.
The art is crisp and refreshing. Mike McKone does an excellent job of handling the art chores. Best yet is that he has no problem handling the subtleties of emotion as well as action sequences. Mark McKenna does a great job on the inks. I like the fact that there are no flat surfaces in this book. Everything has layers of color, which give the surfaces a nice, rounded look that is often missing from the pages of comics.
I also like the concept. I liked the concept when it was originally thought up back in the TV series Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula. It is essentially the same thing. They will uncontrollably leap from place to place putting right what once went wrong and hoping that the next leap will be the leap home. I am also intrigued by the concept of new members jumping in as old ones are taken away when their timelines are fixed. This can lead to some great new characters.
What is bad about this title? I don’t think writer Judd Winick has learned to pace himself yet. What could have taken two or three issues done properly has been badly condensed. Within the first twelve pages he has introduced all of the team members AND explained what their purpose is. Slow down and take time to unfold the events. What strikes me as odd is that they all accept it and just move on. I am sure that they have all seen some weird things but surely there should have been some discussion about whether to trust the Timebroker — at the very least.
This is a good title for people who would like to jump into the X-world without having to buy up all of the back issues or every title since 1990 just to understand what is going on. If you are an X-fan or would like to give this little corner of the Marvel Universe a try this, is a great starting place. If you are like me, however, you would like to see Marvel pare the X-titles down to two or three good ones and make them the best they can be instead of having umpteen team titles plus individual titles, plus miniseries, plus one-shots.