Review by Ian Keogh
In Timebreakers Tony Bedard fundamentally shifted the premise of Exiles by explaining exactly why the team of outcasts had been pulled from their alternate worlds, and how they were shifted to others. They’re uncertain if they’ll continue to fix what may or may not be broken timelines on alternate worlds, but have agreed to return Beak to his Earth. Unfortunately, while he’s been away much has changed.
The Exiles dropping in to the House of M era on Marvel’s primary Earth, itself an artificially maintained alternate timeline, is only the start of Bedard’s two volume tour of Marvel’s more familiar alternate Earths. This collection also features a visit to the 1980s ‘New Universe’. They’re a contrasting pair of adventures, the House of M segment over-populated with Marvel’s mutant characters, now society’s royalty, while the entire premise of the New Universe was that barely anyone had super powers, so the hundreds blessed with them really stood out. Paul Pelletier draws both, a clear superhero style exactly what’s needed, and he particularly enjoys dropping back to the appalling fashions of the mid-1980s. Those with a mortal fear of mullets and MC Hammer’s pants should look away.
Bedard drops the Exiles into the periphery of the House of M storyline, a world changed where no-one has any memory of that being the case, except the newly arrived Beak. His wife Angel is now a top model who enjoys the trappings of her status, and has no recollection of any liaison with Beak. Into this Bedard throws an old, but not often seen enemy of the X-Men, a terrifying individual almost impossible to stop. While that’s the case, for most of the three chapters this is a relatively ordinary piece that only steps beyond in the final pages, when Bedard pulls a couple of big surprises, shifts the balance of the team and ups the suspense considerably.
A fair chunk of the second story is sustained by the irrational anger of Star Brand, as Bedard needs to have the villain at work while the Exiles are occupied elsewhere. It’s an artificial solution, if enabling Pelletier to go through his paces, and far better is the method Bedard devises to send the villain on their way. Not as satisfying is leaving the team relatively depleted by the end. A series mainstay is obviously not to Bedard’s taste, and in Exiles, there’s generally only one way out.
This opening chunk of World Tour has a couple of good ideas, but is mainly average. Will the trip to the world of 2099 opening the next collection will be an improvement? Thjis is also available combined with the previous two offerings in the bulky paperback Exiles: The Ultimate Collection Book 4.