Can anyone defend the Exiles? I've always heard high praise about the book , but when I checked it out on the Marvel App I was lost almost every issue. Each issue seemed to start in a different place in an arc, be it the one that was being written last issue or a whole new one. Also when there was a cliffhanger, it was never immediately picked up on in the next issue, the story just moved on. Now I get that the Exiles went on a bunch of missions in-between issues and that is fine, but not in-between the stories that are happening from issue to issue. So can anyone make sense of this series? Judd Winick, Chckc Austen, Tony Bedard, Chris Claremont, take your pick or pick em all, make this series make sense, defend why this series was so highly praised in the early aughts. please!
Post by BlackScorpionIII on May 12, 2015 10:45:13 GMT -6
Dozo: I'm answering your direct issue at the bottom, but wanted to lay a general defense for the series here first. See the italics below for your issue with abrupt beginnings and endings.
Exiles is one of my all time favorites. I actually think that one of the strengths of Exiles is its ability to jump on board about every three issues. Quickly, here's the premise for the uninitiated: X-Men from various dimensions and timelines have been plucked into an interdimensional crystal fortress. While there, the team is told by an entity called the Timebroker that they must leap repair holes in the timestream or all reality may unravel. They hop into all kinds of forgotten worlds of the Marvel U, and into some that are invented for this series. Quantum Leap? Rip Hunter/Booster Gold? Suicide Squad? It's like those stories, which means that the plots and settings change every few issues and the cast changes...unexpectedly.
Who's involved? Blink, ThunderBird (-or "War"), Hyperion, Sabretooth, Mimic...a loooooong roster that I don't wanna type out (-and too many spoilers in those lists, too). It's an amazing lineup with some characters that were never really canonical X-Men and some that only appeared in one-offs. I grew up in an era where T-Bird and Mimic were quickly-killed off. Morph was a character from the first episode of that X-Men cartoon. The characters that we see are often vaguely familiar from a single story arc or forgotten X-Men lore.
Why is it awesome? Some of our favorite Marvel moments have either been retconned away, oversaturated, or forgotten. This series allowed us to play with some of the great- and not so great- aspects of Marvel's history. Things like the Legacy Virus, Squadron Supreme, and even Atlantis are all things that had great potential but had a hard time functioning as dedicated attractions of the Marvel U. Exiles allowed Winick to hop into those environments or interact with those characters without trying to push those things as top selling properties. It means that we get to see our dead heroes shine one more time, we get to find out what some of those old storylines were like that we only heard about, and we're not stuck with a bad storyline/cast for a year. In this "What If" world, Judd Winick was able to pitch storylines that are suspiciously similar to Marvel arcs that would emerge years later.
How do I get on board? AVOID LATER ISSUES! Judd Winick seemed to have a lot of freedom when he started this title. That meant that the first years of this series (-50ish issues?) allowed him to write 1-3 issue arcs without having to force big Marvel events. It was told in primarily self-contained arcs, I'm told, to act as a "What If?" safe space for Winick to write. By issue #18 they begin to label on the cover "Part 1 of 3" so readers can jump on board. I warn to "avoid later issues" because it stopped being an independent title. Issue #69 is a House of M crossover. After it's "final" issue, Exiles was brought back as a title...I think 3 more times. As the series had writer changes and interactions with the Marvel U, it couldn't recapture the magic and find a rhythm.
Where to I get on board? Avengers Forever #31-#32 What if Captain America hadn't worn chain mail around his neck during WWII? Then Baron Blood would have bit his neck, infecting him and creating the Earth's Mightiest...vampires. It's up to the Exiles and Union Jack to take down Rogers in his quest to become the Vampire King. With An Iron Fist #23-#25 What if Tony Stark responded to global instability and mutant conflicts by becoming the sole sovereign of Earth? It's Tony Stark in a Doom cape and the Exiles have to take him down. King Hyperion #38-#40 It turns out that the reality-hopping Exiles aren't the only ones doing work on repairing dimensions. A more ruthless team ("Weapon X") is tasked with killing all the mutants on Earth. ...But their newest member, Hyperion, prefers to rule the Earth and leave at least SOME mutants alive. Legacy #20-#22 What if the Legacy Virus had not been contained, but instead mutated? Well, we'd have a world of robot-infected mutants. It's the Borg! (PS this predated Marvel Zombies by 2 years...) There's plenty more that I liked. Big Marvel Monsters (-Fin Fang Foom!), Phoenix Saga, Proteus, the Mojoverse...It covers a lot.
What won't I defend? I won't defend this as the cutting edge comic that was robbed of Eisners. This was a fun comic that let us play around in the Marvel U. It wasn't meant to be a breakthrough in writing or change the legacy of our characters. I also won't defend this series as it entered the later issues. I believe one of its rebrandings was "New Exiles" and it didn't fit the mold of short reality-hopping arcs. When the series slows down, it suffers. When the arcs are too long, it suffers. Both of those things were problems in the later issues.
I've always been a sucker for Elseworlds and What If lines. I'm really not an X-Men guy, but Winick really used their template to keep me on board with this.
Dozo: I want to address your problem with abrupt beginnings and unfinished endings. I think there are 3 things going on here. 1. This was Winick's baby, so when he started doing work elsewhere it's likely that other writers were filling in while he was calling dibs on wrapping up some big events. 2. I think it could be an intentional part of the format. Keeping these stories in 2-3 issue arcs meant that some of the larger plotlines had to unfold over time. The comic's pace is meant to get readers to look at an individual story. 3. We're on board with the Exiles themselves- they get plucked somewhere and don't know what's going on. The comics follow that.
I think that the series made readers accustomed to this. I'd pick up an issue and start reading, then just assume things are going to sort out later. They started printing titles of each arc with "Part 1 of 3" across covers, I think, to help out readers that felt confused. All you need for each story arc should be present with "Part 1" of whatever you pick up.
Alright BS3, I can agree with you about later issues, I only read them because I could read every issue on the Marvel app. I would say it's good to read the original series to its conclusion if only because threads get tied and there is a growth from the beginning where the heroes had no sea what's going on, to being more in control of their destiny. Although some things should have been cleared up more cleanly. Thanks for defending the book