I first started collecting comic books in 1990, at the tender age of 10. What got me into the hobby was the Marvel Trading Cards series that was released that year. I remember how all of the kids in elementary school went crazy for those cards, and if you had one of the special holographic cards, then you were crowned king of the playground. So naturally, my affinity went towards the Marvel side of the comic spectrum, because of all of the character information I had become privy to.
Collecting has been my hobby almost non-stop for the past 19 years. I say almost because there was a time around 2000 when I fell out of it. I had found myself spending so much on comics a month that it broke me, mentally and financially. I didn’t have the heart to go to a comic shop and pass over so many titles that I felt I needed. So I stopped going altogether. My absence lasted about two years, but within those two years I missed quite a bit. One of the most note-worthy events was Grant Morrison’s phenomenal run on the X-Men, which I am still in the process of finding the back issues for. But there was one title that I hadn’t heard of before; one that intrigued me to no end. The Exiles.
I was interested in the Exiles mostly because of Blink. I had been a fan of Blink since the Age of Apocalypse storyline. What got me about her was that she is a fragile character, and a badass to boot. So seeing her in a new monthly title was just the kind of thing I needed to drag me back into my old hobby. But there was so much else that kept me coming back. Morph’s poorly-timed comedic interventions. The aspect of parallel worlds. Seeing familiar characters with vastly different personalities. There was enough material in the Exiles to grab me and hold me.
Until the series ended.
Well, the series didn’t end. It was rebooted.
Before the end of the first series, Chris Claremont was brought in to write the book. He got rid of a few of the current characters, and brought in some new ones, one of whom was the X-Woman, Psylocke. Here is my first sign of annoyance. Since Claremont came back to writing for Marvel, it is clear that he is in love with Psylocke. Like, seriously in love. Claremont has brought Psylocke back from the dead I don’t know how many times, but so far she is putting Jean Grey to shame. And to bring her aboard Exiles was just strange to me. I have never had a problem with Psylocke and I think that she is a good character, but Claremont was just overusing her and it became noticeable.
Another problem I had with Claremont’s run, especially the New Exiles title, was Sage. Sage had been a constant with the X-Men for quite some time, and a regular during the Claremont title X-Treme X-Men. Now, here she comes to the Exiles, and most of the time she is battling with herself and the effects of Roma’s memories that have been imprinted on her brain. This happened so often that it was just too much, and quickly brought the title down even further.
I wasn’t surprised to find that New Exiles had been cancelled. But I was surprised, and happy, to find that Exiles had been rebooted again. This time, Jeff Parker had taken over the writing chore, and he brought back the fun of the original series. Once again featuring Blink, as well as the Beast, Polaris, and other mutants, their first mission was to stop Magneto and break up the Brotherhood of Mutants and the X-Men. Finally, after more than a year of Claremont and his heavy stories, the Exiles were back to being fun, with the reappearance of my favorite character and the strange incarnations of the alternate worlds.
So, imagine my sadness when I finished the fifth issue and discovered that #6 would be the final issue of the series.
I have to say, I blame its short run on Chris Claremont, despite not working on this series. When the first series of Exiles hit the stands, it became a quick hit, even garnering a “Must Read” rating from Wizard Magazine. And although the series waxed and waned during its 100 issue run, the positives outweighed the negatives. Blink and Mimic’s romantic relationship. The addition of a sadistic Magik. Sabretooth from the Age of Apocalypse taking the helm as team leader. Even Hyperion and his mission to control the entirety of the Multi-verse. A Many good stories came from the Exiles. Until Chris Claremont came aboard. They rebooted the series, gave Claremont control and it lost readers. Now, a few months after the final issue of New Exiles, another series is given a shot and it only lasts half a year. Why? Because fans have been soured by Exiles stories. They tried Claremont’s stories, didn’t like them, and are afraid of what’s to come. I can understand where they are coming from. I was hesitant of buying the new series at first, but it was worth it. Unfortunately, not everyone saw things the way I did.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Chris Claremont is a great writer. He had some of the greatest story-arcs in X-Men history. But when he came back to the X-Men in the early 2000’s, it just wasn’t the same. But I do love what he is doing on X-Men: Forever. I think putting Chris back with his hey-day of mutants, in the time period after Magneto “died” on Asteroid M, was a stroke of genius. It’s really working out and I’m happy for it.
But he screwed up the Exiles. There is no other way I can put it. I just hope that Marvel gives the team another shot. I am sure there are plenty of writers who can do it right. If they want more drama in the arcs, they should consider Matt Fraction as the writer. Or maybe even Joss Whedon. Whedon has done wonders with the X-Men, as can be seen from his run on Astonishing X-Men.
But to give up on the Exiles altogether is a shame. I really hope Marvel decides to give it a new chance. Hopefully, with a writer that can make things right.