Reversing the artistic balance of Earn Your Wings, Jim Calafiore draws almost the entire book with only the single chapter illustrated by Mizuki Sakakibara. That is, however, a whimiscal highlight sandwiched between two cosmic tales. The mission the Exiles have is to buy the last pastry from a New York bagel shop. While completely nonsensical, it’s also a simple mission. Has something gone wrong? Should they even attempt it? Bedard cleverly constructs everything around the theory of a butterfly flapping its wings in South America beginning a chain of events with unimaginable consequences. Sakakibara hasn’t quite refined the style that would later do so well for her in Japan, but there’s a greater delicacy and subtlety about what she draws compared to Calafiore. His work is the usual strange-headed people with pinched faces.

It’s a shame, because Tony Bedard comes through with the other two stories here also. The first involves a planet Earth that becomes a living entity with a sentient intelligence, and the second sees Manhattan transformed into a barbarian kingdom. In greater or lesser ways, key to both stories are children. The balance is good also. In the opening story the mission is relatively clear cut, as long as the Exiles avoid a misguided team of alternate Avengers allied with Doctor Doom. The Manhattan mission is different, requiring some unpalatable allies to restore the lesser evil, with Bedard uniting Marvel’s more monstrous superheroes and throwing in a big surprise for the final chapter. It promises problems in Age of Apocalypse.

Bedard’s imagination is fine on some entertaining stories. If only they were better drawn.