EXILES brings together six X-Men from different realities and sets them loose on missions to correct time-lines in still other realities. Mission: Impossible with mutants with a twist of "Marvel What-If". A mysterious being known only as the Time-Broker gathers Blink (born in the Age of Apocalypse), Nocturne (daughter of Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch), Thunderbird (another incarnation of John Proudstar), Magnus (son of Magneto and Rogue), Mimic (another incarnation of Calvin Rankin), and Morph (who comes with pratfall humor and is an incarnation of a character inspired by the X-Men cartoon series) and reveals their assignments. If they have any hope of returning to their different time-lines and altering the terrible events that took place there, they must straighten out various other time-lines first. Two different time-lines are presented in this graphic novel. In the first, the Exiles take on the most powerful evil mutant in the world: Charles Xavier. And in the second mission, they have to destroy Dark Phoenix instead of helping rescue Jean Grey.
Judd Winick was on MTV's "The Real World" and a good friend of Pedro Zamora, who later died of AIDS complications. Winick took up the lecture circuit regarding AIDS as he'd agreed to do for Zamora, and later did a book about the friendship called PEDRO AND ME. While on the show, Winick also launched a weekly comic strip, NUTS & BOLTS, and a later spin-off, FRUMPY THE CLOWN. He did ROAD TRIP, an Eisner nomination, and THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY WEEN, BOY GENIUS. Working with DC Comics, he has been writing the GREEN LANTERN monthly title, a ten-issue backup in Detective Comics, JOSIE MAC, and has upcoming projects for Vertigo and a Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover. Mike McKone has worked on several X-Men titles, VEXT with Keith Giffen, SUPERMAN, MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER, HULK, PUNISHER, THOR, SPIDER-MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, and many others.
EXILES gathers the first four issues of the monthly comic series into a graphic novel that stands well on its own. The story is familiar to many fans of comics and science fiction, and it's interesting to see the different way worlds and characters could have gone. Winick's handling of Morph, the team funnyman and pratfall king, stays just this side of going over the top. The two worlds revealed in the graphic novel are interesting. Featuring Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men, was a given, and the rewriting of the Dark Phoenix saga wasn't too surprising. Where the book really succeeds, though, is in Mike McKone's art, especially with long-time pal and partner Mark McKenna laying in the inks with Cannon and Jimmy Palmiotti. The panels explode off the page in color, vibrancy, and immediacy. Another nice touch is that no one in this series appears to be safe. One of the main characters is killed halfway through the graphic novel, only to be replaced almost instantly with another twisted version of someone near and dear to the X-universe. The potential of the series is great and can bring about the same sense of wonder that powered the WHAT IF series.
Given the overall framework of the comic series, these first two stories lack a little. They're not overly original and despite the premise, there isn't enough real tension or development of character. Of course, Winick is trying to introduce his characters and the concept at the same time, and even kills off one of the major players. There is also a tad bit of long-windedness from time to time that covers over the beautiful artwork.
Regular readers of Marvel's X-books will definitely want to take a look at this spin on their characters and their worlds, and Mike McKone's artwork is absolutely worth collecting for any comics fan.