The Exiles are transported from world to alternate world with missions to set something right. All they know about the controlling entity sending them on missions is imparted via a short bald man dressed as a butler that they refer to as the Timebroker, and since Tony Bedard began writing the series the Timebroker has become increasingly grumpy, manipulative and vengeful. The Exiles made a breakthrough during Age of Apocalypse, and Timebreakers explains what’s been going wrong, along with giving the so far undisclosed background and purpose to the entire series.

It’s surprising, clever in places, and certainly well removed from anyone’s predictions about what’s been going on. The clever aspects concern just who’s now pulling the strings, the person who can possibly pull the fat from the fire, something predicted a while ago in Earn Your Wings, and their method of doing just that. The revelation, however, may be unpredictable, but it’s also incomplete and open-ended, although Bedard does address what may seem an obvious plot flaw concerning prediction of the future. Once the dust has settled the effect is to re-boot the idea of the Exiles. They’ll still have to trip through the dimensions from one world to another fixing problems, but they’ll have control over the process, and greater resources in managing their work.

Timbreakers is split easily into two different stories, presenting four chapters drawn by Mizuki Sakakibara and three by Jim Calafiore, who’s on better form. His section involves an interesting explanation of the old Marvel giant monsters, Bedard connecting them with Japanese Kaiju culture, and Calafiore’s versions of Krakoa and Fin Fang Foom hit the spot. Sakakibara’s work by contrast is dragged down slightly by virtue of her story being set entirely in locations where the backgrounds are very limited.

Bedard keeps readers wrong-footed throughout, and there’s quite the turnover of Exiles from start to finish. By the end of the book some team members have certainly changed a little, and the omens are good for World Tour next. It’s combined with this in the bulkier paperback Exiles: Ultimate Collection Book 4.