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Marvel's New Exiles Series is Classic Claremont X-Men Meets What If?

The myriad realities of Marvel Comics' Multiverse are rife with possibilities, where literally anything can happen. Of course, threats often arise that imperil one, several, or all of the worlds in the Multiverse, and when those dangers rear their heads, the Exiles are the ones to confront them straight on.

Introduced in a self title ongoing series that debuted in 2001, the Exiles are a team composed of alternate reality versions of Marvel characters that were both familiar and refreshingly different. The original volume of Exiles ran for 100 issues before being relaunched with a new series that came to a close in 2009.

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This April, an all-new incarnation of the fan-favorite, reality-hopping team unites for a new volume of Exiles by writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Rodriguez. Which classic team member is returning to lead them? What familiar Marvel icon will give them their marching orders? And how will their members be similar and different to the Marvel Universe counterparts they resemble? For the answers to these questions and more, CBR spoke with Ahmed about his cast and his plans for the book.

CBR: I imagine part of the appeal of writing Exiles is the freedom you get with characters and story, but how does that freedom translate into writing the book? When you have so many options is hard to decide on what exactly to do?

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Saladin Ahmed: Yeah, it is. I've been a fan of superhero comics forever, but I've only been working with Marvel for about a year, and the thing you don't realize when you're new or not part of the industry is that all of the decisions about books are mapped out months in advance. Plus, a lot of those choices depend on like 80 other moving parts just within the comics world, let alone the other media. So you might have a brilliant story idea for, say, Captain America, but that doesn't matter if it contrasts with something already planned for him, or if it's similar to some stories that are coming next year

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It's like that with all the heroes. So it's never as simple my brilliant Iron Man idea or knowing how I would do Spider-Man. With Exiles, though, it sort of is. Basically they're a team from all over the Marvel Multiverse, and you can make up any version of anybody that you want. There is some editorial oversight, but you have a pretty free hand. So it was a big, daunting and wild task. The path to this book was not a straightforward one. [Laughs] It's quite a long story that can't be told now.

There were some pieces of the team in my mind already when the concept started to cohere. So I had some sort of anchors, but yeah rather than asking, “Who's available here and there?” like you usually do with superhero comics I got to ask, “What sort of roles do I want to be filled on this team?” I was interested in dramatic roles, personality roles, and power set roles. The RPG nerd in me wanted to make this balanced team. [Laughs] You can't have all tanks or stealth characters, right? Another element people don't often think about is the visual aspect. A team has to look cool together.

So all of that was in play, and I think we came up with a pretty cool mix for at least what is our beginning team.

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