X-Treme X-Men #1: A New Twist on ‘Exiles’

A cool idea gets a second chance, with a narrower focus and a godawful title, but still some fun ideas.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

XTreme X-Men #1

Back in 2001, folks at Marvel came up with a cool idea to exploit the fact that people really enjoyed crazy alternate realities where familiar characters were radically different. The book they created was Exiles, and it featured a cross-dimensional band of heroes brought together to protect the fabric of reality from unraveling by jumping from world to world to put right what once went wrong, a la Quantum Leap. Ostensibly a vehicle for bringing the popular Age of Apocalypse version of Blink back to the fore, it became a very fun revolving door of wild ideas and interesting takes on characters, and Nocturne (aka Talia Wagner), the daughter of Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch, I believe made it to the 616 and is still running around somewhere. If she doesn't show up in X-Treme X-Men at some point, I'll be sorely disappointed.

She's a natural fit for the new series from Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia, because this horribly, horribly named book is a bit of a jumpstart for that great Exiles concept. This time, it's a vehicle for the oft-underused Alison Blaire, aka Dazzler, someone for whom Pak seems to have quite an affection for, as he brings her some charisma and humility while amplifying the fun she always had. The set-up for this new book has spun out of Pak's recent issues of Astonishing X-Men, and you may be a little confused if you haven't read them (as I haven't), but he's not shying away from the weird. We open with Kid Nightcrawler coordinating with a hundred floating severed Charles Xavier heads to teleport an entire world's population onto a new planet in an alternate reality before their old one explodes, and the result is that they broke something in the multiverse. Thus, its up to Dazzler, Kurt Waggoner from Brooklyn, the last of the floating Xavier noggins, Emmeline Frost-Summers of the New Albion X-Society and Former Governor General of Dominion of Canada and Viceroy of Her Majesty's Expedition to Shangril-La James Howlett to try to fix things by killing ten new alternate Xaviers in ten different realities.

So it's Exiles, with an X-Men focus. So let's dash any hopes of getting Spider-Man 2099 in on this action right now by shedding a solitary tear. But Exiles is awesome, so let's let this baby fly for a while.

Segovia's art is X-TREMELY busy, and it feels cluttered and exceptionally toothy at times. It's great in spots, but it's not always easy on the eyes. There's a lot going on in the story so far and it certainly isn't the easiest-to-follow #1 issue we've ever seen. However, the concept is a great idea that is nearly unique to the comic book medium, and Pak has earned enough stripes that we know he's going to embrace this wholeheartedly – one issue in, Floating Xavier Heads and a giant Xavier-Brain-Squid. You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts!

A highfalutin Wolverine will be a lot of fun to watch, and Emmeline makes it seem like we'll be in for a double-shot of haughty pomposity. The hope is that they will play off each other well, and make for a veritable feast of witty bon mots.

But X-Treme X-Men is a horrible name for anything. Much less a comic book we really want to perform well.