Then, Now, And Tomorrow

Long Running Series "Exiles" says goodbye with a final one-shot.
It's the end of an era for the Exiles, but at least Marvel had the good taste to send the old series out with a bang after a subpar final issue.
Exiles “Tales of Then and Now” features the cast of Exiles up until this point arrayed on the cover, as if for a curtain call. The story itself, though, casts off continuity and returns to the basics of Exiles, following the adventurers of an alternate version of Quentin Quire (a Grant Morrison creation) as he becomes unstuck in time and traces the paths of the previous Exiles team, only a few of which will be returning next month for the launch of “New Exiles”.
While a little light on freewheeling fun, Mark Raicht's standalone book has the balance of action, character and good old-fashioned “what-if” that made Exiles an instant favorite of many. It can easily be read on its own, but contains nods and references to the high points of the story so far. In a way there was no character better than Quire to show off the original premise of the Exiles: Quire defines wasted potential. That was what he stood for in his original appearances in New X-men, and now we're presented with a world where things turn out a little better for him. Kudos to Raicht for choosing a lead for this book which so well encapsulates what intrigues comic fans about “What-Ifs” in general.
On a side note, the book manages to make an alternate version of the hero Nighthawk seem cool. Considering that the character was designed as a tongue-in-cheek Batman ripoff, and an alternate version of him was played for laughs in an earlier “Exiles”, this is quite a feat.
Dividing this book into chapters almost seems to be a wasted gesture, since the comic is barely longer then normal size and the “chapters” themselves are only pages long. Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist. Some of the styles, particularly Zach Howard's gothic lines, are quite pleasant, but only Carlos Ferriera's seem to really add something special to the narrative of his chapters.
All in all though, this work was worth the cover price and ought to be a balm for Exiles fans who are nervous about the direction veteran X-writer Chris Claremont plans to take his new team of Exiles next month. The amount of books that serve up a complete story every month rather than a fraction of a trade paperback seems to be getting less and less every week, and this comic definitely felt worth the cover price to this reviewer.
Compare it to last month's “Exiles 100,” which was not so much a chapter of the Exiles story as an overlong epilogue to a separate crossover miniseries, and it's hard not to feel that this was a better farewell to the long running comic.
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