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

Exiles can be very plot driven because there's a focus of what problem are we out to solve this arc or this issue? From your descriptions of Khan, Wolvie, and Iron Lad though it sounds like this series will also be very character driven as well.

Absolutely, one of my inspirations for this book is old school Claremont X-Men. There are a number of reasons why those stories are so popular and meant so much to so many people, but a lot of them were stories about personal dynamics and people's personalities. They examined how those things came together and clashed. We also got to watch the characters develop and discover more about them. They seemed to be one way, but had this other dimension to them.

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That all had a tremendous influence on me as a writer, and I think that's a team book at its best. So that's absolutely a big part of what's happening here, amid all the time traveling pyrotechnics.

EXCLUSIVE: Art form exiles #1 by Javier Rodriguez

Rounding out your cast is a character that appears to be the Marvel Universe version of Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok. What can you tell us about this incarnation of Valkyrie and the world she hails from?

This version of Valkyrie is inspired by Tessa Thompson's performance as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok. Visually, we attempted to capture Ms. Thompson's sort of brawn. She's not a big woman, but she really had this physical presence right next to Thor and all the other characters. She occupied more space than she actually does physically. So, really, my challenge to Javier [Rodriguez] was to draw this character in a way that made that literal. So this version of Valkyrie is a very big, brawling woman.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe does have its own designated Earth, and she is technically not from that reality. So she's technically not the MCU Valkyrie, but certainly the look and her boisterous, sort of drunken warrior appeal [Laughs] is definitely a tribute to that performance.

Valkyrie character design by Javier Rodriguez.

Plus, the version of Asgard she's from is a bit different. She's from an Asgard without Thor. She's known as the lone defender of Asgard. We won't know a lot about that, but we know that she seems to be not a Valkyrie, but the Valkyrie.

You mentioned artist, Javier Rodriguez, and I imagine a lot of what you've been doing on Exiles has been made easier and more enjoyable because of his design and storytelling skills.

Absolutely! This is a book that's sort of about pulling in every kind of crazy reference you can think of, building in different time periods, building little easter eggs, and drawing in different art styles. Sometimes I'm asking him to draw in 3-4 different art styles per issue. He responded to that like a fish to water.

It's funny because ostensibly there is a language barrier. He speaks English, but he is from Spain and was very apologetic when we first started talking. He didn't understand some of the things I was saying, but then it was just automatic. I would suggest an alt version of a certain character referencing a '70s storyline, and he would know it right away and have his own details to add to make that version even better.

So it's been great working with him. I'm really excited.

Can you leave us with some hints and teases about the worlds Javier will bring to life and the antagonists your cast will be up against?

[Laughs] I'm not sure how much I can give away. I think a lot of the fun of this book is going to be the surprises. So I'm holding a lot of them pretty close to the chest.

I think sort of between epic fantasy Asgard, cartoon land, and post apocalyptic Jersey City the first couple issues will have plenty of cool things. And there's a lot more coming.

Sounds like you've got a lot of fun ideas and surprises to fuel this ongoing series.

Yeah, if there was a book you could keep doing ideas for this is it. I should say that I'm indebted to Judd Winnick, who is the person who came up with the Exiles concept in the first place. I heard rumors that the original version of Exiles came out of discussions about rebooting What If? That's totally what I'm doing here. This is my What If? spliced with a Claremont X-Men book. And yes, [Laughs] I have lots of ideas for it.

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