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Too Awesome To Miss: EXILES

Each week, we'll take a look at a story, series, or any aspect of a comic that new readers may have missed out on and let you know the details.

As a comic book fan, you can't read everything. It's impossible. Hundreds of books come out every week, and sometimes, a classic may slip through your fingers. Maybe you got into comic books AFTER something awesome came out. Don't worry, we plan on getting you caught up on some series or a concept that may have slipped through your fingers.

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This week, we delve into the first collected volume of a series near and dear to my heart, and one of the comic books that reignited my passion for comic books: The first collected volume of Exiles: Down the Rabbit Hole.

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In 2001... wait... 2001? Has it really been 11 years since Exiles came out? Apparently so... Anyway, in 2001, a comic came out that blew me away. It was called "Exiles." The series ran for 100 issues before it was cancelled. The first collected volume of this series came out in 2002 and contained issues 1-4.

These four issues consisted of a dynamite creative team, and some people say it was the best team the book ever had: Mike McKone on art (Uncanny X-Force starting with issue 25) and Judd Winick as the writer (Batwing, Catwoman). These first four issues also feature Mark McKenna on ink.

It was this insane mixture of the traditional super-hero comic with incredibly familiar science fiction elements. For me, it stood above the rest. Exiles mixtures a time-tested, classic team comic book, filled with memorable characters with multi-dimensional travel.

What's most appealing about this first volume is the sense of familiarity most Marvel fans will have with these characters. The original team, within these first four issues, consists of Mimic, Morph, Blink, Nocturne, Thunderbird, and Magnus. Now, all of these characters come from different universes from within Marvel, and none of them are from Marvel's main universe, 616.

This comic brought back a fan favorite character from the realm of Age of Apocalypse, Blink. As well as what looked like to be Morph from that same time line, which you quickly find out that there are an amazing amount of parallel universes and from time-to-time, character will recognize each other with out ever having truly met. Fans will also be familiar with a few of the world's and tasks these characters have to accomplish, since they were once major events or stories in the Marvel U.

All these characters follow the "guidance" of a character called the Timebroker, who readers know little to nothing about for most of the series. The goal of this team is to travel to other universes and fix something that has gone wrong or that universe will cease to exist. If the team does not comply, it will affect their universe or their lives drastically, and in most cases, said character will die.

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One idea that readers will get accustomed to right away is that no one is safe from death... no one. Because none of these characters are from the 616 Universe, it gives this book more leeway to do whatever they want with these characters.

The book is a lot more than a group of people accomplishing goals. The book deals heavily with character's pasts and their ability to cope with the human experience, even if they are super-human. Friendships are made, some that blossom into romances. Friends and lovers accomplish great feats, and others perish in battle.

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If I could say anything about this book, it's that it's Marvel's grand experiment to do whatever they want with characters and stories, with minimal fan repercussion. While Down the Rabbit Hole may not get heavily into these topics, there's a wonderful set-up to future story lines, and a brilliant set-up to how this book works. I won't reveal much, but as a set-up to an on-going series that breaks most standard comic book rules, it's four issues that will keep you hooked.

All-in-all, it's a trade that will get you hooked to a series featuring characters new and old you'll quickly fall in love with. While the series had it's up and down moments, this first collection, along with the rest of Winick's run on this series, is fantastic and worth checking out.

Exiles: Down the Rabbit Hole is a brilliant mixture of super-hero comics you are familiar with and science-fiction, blended together into one of my personal favorite Marvel series of all time. This is a trade that is too awesome to miss.

Have you guys read Exiles: Down the Rabbit Hole? What do you guys think?

Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a comedian, writer, and host of the internet show no one watches, Barely Watchable. Follow him on Twitter: @inferiorego