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I feel I should warn you, I have written a little about the series first in order to introduce each book so you can read them independently it feels like cheating but I promise its well intended!
The Exiles are an offshoot of the original Age of Apocalypse story in the X-men comics. In essence it is similar to a science fiction TV show from years ago called Sliders, it has a little Quantum Leap and a touch of Marvels classic What If series (without the Watcher) Each of the original characters in the series are former X-Men, but from different universes. With a multi-verse of characters to select the headcount kill throughout the series is brutal, and the majority of the characters do not survive without some major trauma.
With lots of independent stories that rarely depend on the other X titles, Exiles is a great standalone series, personally I like seeing the alternate universes and the alternate character development, some of the stories are better than others but as a whole series its a compelling and enjoyable read, there are a few storylines that develop over a longer period, and some of the short stories included are reliant on some background knowledge, but generally each book is a fairly self sufficient story, and they mostly conclude in each graphic novel (so do not panic buy them all - you can take you time!)
<Spoiler Warning - Some Plot/Story details>
The Exiles return from their god awful last mission, and the story starts to get interesting again, better still they visit a world utopia that is ruled by Dr Doom. In this world the ever narcissistic Victor Von Doom leads the Fantastic Four (with a Bruce Banner Hulk powerhouse) Spiderman 2099 meets a Gwen Stacey and Sabretooth gets it on with Susan Storm. Best of all Reed Richards is the Mole man, and has thousands of cloned tiny Ben Grimms.
It's a good story, with a good ending, though in reality the sacrifice made is probably slightly larger than expected to stop one man.
Of course the Exiles are scattered again in their exit, but this enables Chris to remove the old team and bring in his own. Another huge concern is that the story appears to end in another book (one I haven't read!) X-men Die by the sword, suddenly we are back into the final issue of this run of the Exiles and some deep soul searching by the remaining Exiles. Its fairly obvious from the front cover, Blink leaves, technically none of the originals are left. The worst thing of course is that this was actually a reasonable story and I can't decide if I want to start buying the new Exiles books based with Chris Claremont at the helm, sure I'm weak and I'll probably have a look but it just won't be the same.
The final story in this book is actually really good, probably because Chris hasn't written it, it's a sort of retelling of the legend of the exiles and is a great part of the overall mythology created by the team. There are some great characters and revisiting some of the Exiles saved worlds. Quentin Quire (Omega Telepath/kinetic) is back, Julie Power from Power pack is in here! And Wiccan and the Cuckoos too. Quentin goes on a journey to find the Exiles revisiting their worlds and manages to pick up the Tallus left by Gambit when he killed Hyperion way way back. There are various worlds visited, we even get to see Codename Spitfire from the Starbrand universe. A new Exiles team is formed and it all looks great, there is a classic one liner in here about Tony Stark / Iron Man that makes buying the book entirely worthwhile.
It's a sad end to a series that had monumental peaks of enjoyment, it ends with the beginning of a new series but that series has clearly jumped away from the original platonic ideal of what the comic was trying to be, which is quite sad really.
For me personally when the writer has himself drawn into the comic as a plot line with his intention to save their universe its border line messiah complex. Only Grant Morrison has ever done it well with his appearance at the end of his run on Animal Man (which was cool, I might go and write about that!)
I'm hooked enough to want to get the next one, perhaps I could wean myself of this awful comic habit with a less addictive series (oops it's all gone a bit Trainspotting)
My initial reaction to the Exiles as a series was aggressive and dismissive, the sheer complexity of the age of apocalypse was far to confusing for me and frankly I was glad to be back in the normal universe, if it hadn't been for Grant Morrison's magic run on the X-men, I might even have given up. The Exiles are a good example of classic x-men relationships, problems and best of all teamwork battles, I have found them to be very enjoyable and would wholeheartedly recommend them.
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