Exiles Annual #1

Issue Date: 
January 2007
Story Title: 
Rules of the Game

Tony Bedard (writer), Tom Raney with Mike Norton, Tim Smith & David Nakayama (pencilers), Scott Hanna with Gary Martin, Norman Lee, Tim Smith & Terry Pallot (inkers), Sotocolor’s A. Crossley with Gina Raney (colorist), Tom Raney & Wil Quintana (cover artists), Rich Ginter (production), Sean Ryan, Nathan Cosby & Mark Paniccia (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

On Earth #33629 Manhattan is partially destroyed due to the efforts of the Wrecking Crew. The Exiles are there to stop them and they do, but it’s the original team of Exiles?! Heather watches all of this on one of her view screens and calls in the team. After some debate they decide they should check things out. They arrive shortly after the other Exiles placed the Wrecking Crew in their holding cells. Their stealth is short-lived as the Timebroker and his Exiles reappear. The Timebroker mentions a wager he has on the outcome of a battle between the two Exiles teams and so they end up battling. The Exiles are defeated by their counterparts, but Longshot remains free following a botched teleportation. The alternate Exiles split up to search for him while the Timebroker heads to the meeting room. Sabretooth takes the opportunity to place doubts in other-Blink’s head about the Timebroker. In the meeting room the Timebroker communicates with the Grandmaster, with whom he has the bet. Other-Blink spies on him and heads back to Sabretooth to get more details. Meanwhile, Nocturne and T-Bird run into Longshot who bests them both. Later he battles Morph and gets the upper hand on him too. Back at the cells other-Blink decides to take matters into her own hands. She frees the Exiles, the Wrecking Crew and contacts her teammates for a rendezvous. They interrupt the Timebroker’s meeting (who turns out to be an alternate Grandmaster himself). The Grandmaster relates his past and how the original Exiles messed up a wager he had by freeing the enslaved mutants on his native Earth. He set this all up to get his revenge. The Exiles refuse to fight so the Grandmaster kills them all. This upsets the native Grandmaster and he and the other Elders of the Universe appear. The native Grandmaster revives the dead mutants and allows them to beat the pulp out of the Timebroker/Grandmaster. Later, the Exiles reflect on their adventure.

Full Summary: 

Earth #33629

Downtown Manhattan

Parts of Manhattan lie in ruin. Smoke billows as tall as some of the buildings. The cause of it all is the Wrecking Crew. Amidst the smoke and debris and fleeing citizens the Wrecker stands out. He explains to anyone that’ll listen that the Mayor refused to pay them off so now they’re going to kill everyone. The other three members of the Crew stand behind him, ready to inflict more destruction.

Blink appears out of one of her teleportation holes in front of the Wrecker. She informs him that playtime is over. Grossly outsized, she asks if he has any last words. They all start laughing as the Wrecker asks her if she really thinks she can handle them all by herself. Blink asks why he would think she’s alone. With a snap of her fingers the remaining Exiles appear: Mimic, Morph, Thunderbird, Nocturne and Magnus?!

The Crystal Palace

Blink orders the Exiles to attack, only they’re not really the Exiles. Their actions are being viewed on the various monitors at the Crystal Palace. Heather stares in amazement as this team of Exiles puts down the Wrecking Crew. She screams for Blink and the whole team comes running in (Morph dressed in clown/fireman gear).

They ask Heather what’s wrong and she tells them how she was prioritizing the upcoming missions when she came across a team of Exiles on Earth #33629. She shows them the team on one of the video screens. Longshot doesn’t get it, so Morph explains that the each of those guys was a member of the original Exiles team, of which he and Blink are the only survivors.

Sabretooth asks what the odds are of this just being a coincidence. Heather admits there’re trillions of universes out there, but the fact that they call themselves Exiles makes her wonder. She thinks something’s up. Spider-Man suggests it may be an echo from one of their earlier missions caused by some gravimetrical distortion. Blink tells him that’s impossible as Magnus was killed on their very first mission, and it wasn’t against the Wrecking Crew.

Power Princess is tired of the questions and chalks it up to a cosmic coincidence. She wants to know if they’re supposed to repair that reality or not. They were supposed to go there and stop the Wrecking Crew from destroying the UN building, which would prompt a World War III, but these other Exiles did the job for them, Heather explains.

Earth #33629

Deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean

The Wrecking Crew are locked up in their cells inside the other-Exiles underwater headquarters. The Wrecker, who’s seen better days, demands to know what’s going on. Blink tells him to make himself comfortable. Wrecker demands a lawyer, but his requests fall on deaf ears. The Exiles walk away from him and pass the cells of other bad guys they’ve captured.

During their walk Blink asks Morph and Mimic what they think’s going to happen with all of these prisoners. Mimic tells her she’d have to ask “you-know-who”. Morph slides over to Blink’s side and sweeps her off her feet. He asks her for one last “roll in the hay” before she does something foolish like that. They then share a passionate kiss to which Mimic expresses his distaste. Morph tells him he’s just jealous. Blink tells Morph not to rub it in and suggests they go back to her room before they get another job. Blink does her teleportation thing, leaving Mimic to walk alone.

Shortly after, the real Exiles teleport in to the detention center. The Wrecker can’t believe there’re more of them. Piledriver thinks they may have just brought more prisoners. Power Princess walks over to Wrecker and asks him if he’s ever seen or heard of the Exiles before their battle. The Wrecker responds with an emphatic “Hell, no”.
Sabretooth eyes up a captive Doc Ock and informs the team that he can pick up scents from more prisoners than he can count.

Heather reports back to Sabretooth that these Exiles stop a new threat every week. She tells him it’s much too often to be a coincidence. And if it is on purpose it has to be by someone extremely powerful, but why would they do it, she asks. Sabretooth’s only guess is that somebody wanted to get their attention and get them to check it out. The Timebroker, with the other-Exiles team behind him, tells Sabes he’s smarter than he looks. The Exiles are stunned, especially Blink who exclaims, “The Timebroker...?”

Crystal Palace

Heather points accusingly at one of the Timebreakers and questions them on whatever tricks they’re up to. The Timebreakers tell her that this Timebroker is a real being and that he has extreme power levels. Heather orders them to teleport the Exiles back quickly.

The Timebroker’s enlarged mug fills up the view screen. He looks right down at Heather and tells her nobody will be interfering. She’s taken aback and asks to no one in particular if he was really just talking to her. Then the view screens start shutting down. Heather wants answers. The bugs explain that the quantum signal is jammed and the transdimensional contact is severed.

Earth #33629

Other-Exiles Base

The Timebroker takes note of the substitutions made to the Exiles lineup, but comments on the lack of improvements. He says it will make things more interesting. Blink asks him what he means by that and he mentions a wager he has going. He explains that if they beat his Exiles in battle then they are free to go, otherwise they will give up their dimensional travel apparatus and begin serving him.

The other-Exiles start asking the Timebroker questions, but he brushes it off and tells them he’ll explain later. Morph is very confused, as the Timebroker doesn’t really exist. Spider-Man tells his crew to calm down so there’s no trouble. Other-Morph tells them they shouldn’t have arrived when he was about to get it on, then. And with that the battle begins.

The matchups are as follows: Mimic vs. Sabretooth/Nocturne vs. Spider-Man/Blink vs. Blink/Power Princess vs. Thunderbird/Morph vs. Morph/Longshot vs. Magnus. They start off pretty even at first with the most interesting battle coming from the Blinks who continuously teleport to get the best shots at each other. Also, right from the get go Longshot is in trouble. Magnus takes advantage of the steel blades Longshot carries to pin him up against the wall.

The Timebroker tires of watching the current stalemate and orders his Exiles to put them away. Magnus wraps Longshot up in some of the metal flooring. Mimic calls for his teammates to switch opponents. He blocks an attack from Sabretooth with his metallic wings and sends a ricochet optic blast to knock Spider-Man out of the sky. Thunderbird keeps pounding away at Power Princess and her shield, clearly taking the advantage. Blink decks other-Blink pretty good and tells her teammates she’s getting them out of there. Nocturne leaps at her, intent on preventing that from happening.

Sabretooth gains the upper hand on Mimic and wallops him some more. He tells Mimic that he was always a pain in the butt. Other-Blink yells at Creed to get away from him and throws a teleportation shard at him, hitting him in the back of the neck. Blink also throws a teleportation shard, but at Power Princess?! Other-Blink asks the Nocturne-possessed Blink how she fits. Nocturne replies, “Like a glove.”

Morph is next to get teleported, leaving only Longshot. He asks the Blinks where they sent them. Other-Blink tells him his friends aren’t hurt. Behind the Timebroker, the previously empty cells are filled with his teammates. Nocturne-Blink tells Longshot he should feel lucky they’re so nice. He smiles coyly in return and tells them he will. And he too is teleported away.

Other-Blink tells Nocturne it’s time to uninhabit her host. She pouts and asks for some more time, she likes teleporting. Plus, they can give Morph a night to remember, she adds. Morph turns all Hugh Hefner and comments that it sounds good to him. Other-Blink tells him it’s not funny. Timebroker ends their debate by ordering Nocturne to release Blink’s body and to get her in a cell. He won’t win his wager until they’re all locked up, he explains.

Nocturne pops out and Blink’s body falls lifeless to the ground. Nocturne and Mimic both ask about the bet again, but the Timebroker ignores them. Thunderbird picks up Blink and carries her to her cell. He wonders out loud why they have a Blink and a Morph on their team. Other-Morph suggests they’re Skrulls. Nocturne calls him taffy-brain and reminds him that Skrulls don’t teleport and that Blink felt human to her.

Magnus notices an empty cell and asks which one of them is missing. Nocturne tells him it was the cute one with a mullet, but she knows she teleported him in there. The Timebroker wants to know where he’s hiding. Sabretooth guesses he must have used his luck powers to get sent somewhere else. He laughs as he points out that the Timebroker’s bet isn’t settled yet. The Timebroker orders his team to split up and search the whole place from top to bottom. He leaves and tells them he’ll be in the meeting room and to intercom him when they find him.

Sabretooth gets other-Blink’s attention commenting on how their Timebroker kept them in the dark too. She asks him what he’s talking about. The Timebroker, he responds. He tells her how he messed with them for months before they found out what he really was. He then relates the origins of their team and how they had to do missions. He asks her if any of it sounds familiar.

Other-Blink doesn’t believe him, and with a hint of sarcasm asks if they came here to save the world then. Sabretooth tells her they came to see why there was a copy of their team. She tells him he makes less sense every time he speaks. As she walks away Sabretooth warns her she’s getting used, and that she just hasn’t found the truth yet.

The Timebroker enters the meeting room and turns on the view screen. The Grandmaster appears. “Well?” he utters. The Timebroker tells him that it hasn’t happened yet, but soon. The Grandmaster reminds him of the time limit, that he could only remain if he honored the rules (at this point other-Blink enters the room and hides behind a pillar). The Timebroker tells him he doesn’t need a lecture about rules. The Grandmaster tells the ‘Broker to stop posturing and to have the decency to talk to him in his true form. The Timebroker obliges, much to the surprise of other-Blink.

Thunderbird and Nocturne are in a separate part of their underwater base looking for Longshot. Thunderbird can’t believe they still can’t find him and asks Nocturne if she felt anything weird when she teleported him. She admits she might have underestimated the difficulty in “blinking” people.

Thunderbird moves over to an open bay of water that leads out to the sea. He asks Nocturne if she thinks he might have tried to swim away. She jokes that he doesn’t have gills. She heads into one of the rooms to inspect it and receives a swift kick to the face. She’s found Longshot, though not the way she wanted to. She grabs onto his leg as she falls back. He lands on top of her and throws one of his blades into the submarine stationed near the water port. It explodes, knocking Thunderbird into the water. Longshot heads over to the control panel and presses the button to seal the water entrance. The portal closes on him, leaving T-Bird’s upper half trapped underwater with his legs sticking out in the air. Nocturne charges over and decks Longshot.

Back at the holding cells, the Exiles hear the explosion. Sabretooth surmises they finally found Longshot. Spider-Man takes the opportunity to ask about Blink’s status. Morph explains she’s ok, that whenever their Nocturne possessed someone they were usually unconscious for a day or so.

Other-Blink teleports into the holding cell hallway. Sabretooth, relaxing on his bed, tells Blink she looks like she’s seen a ghost. Blink tells Creed to tell her everything he knows.

Back at the scene of the explosion, Thunderbird finally manages to break free and get topside. There, dripping wet, he finds Mimic holding Nocturne’s unconscious body in his arms. Thunderbird is bent on vengeance, but asks if Nocturne is okay. Mimic says she’s fine and points out that Longshot could have killed her if he wanted to. Mimic asks Thunderbird what he thinks about that. T-Bird tells Mimic he thinks too much.

Back at the cells, Sabretooth finishes his explanations. Other-Blink still doesn’t get it as the Timebroker didn’t turn into a “smart bug”, but a tall, thin guy with blue skin and white hair. Power Princess interjects with a story from her past. She tells them of a guy named the Grandmaster who forced her team to fight their enemies, the Institute of Evil, on a bet.

Other-Blink tells her that’s probably it. She explains that he and the guy he was talking to kept talking about rules and time limits. Morph, in carnival strong guy form, points out the obvious, that it comes down to a fight between the original Exiles and the new ones. The only question left, he states, is how he found out about them in the first place, as they’ve never been to this reality before.

Other-Blink begins to doubt their entire purpose. She thought they were doing good, but questions whether or not the bad guys they defeated were purposely sent against them. She declares they won’t be used for entertainment anymore, and teleports all of the Exiles out of their cells. She asks what the next step should be. Power Princess points out the Grandmaster is so powerful he could think them dead if he wanted. Wrecker speaks up from his cell and asks her if they’re counting everyone that has a grudge against him.

Elsewhere, Longshot’s on the run. He makes his way along a metal catwalk above some giant boilers. A hand forms from out of a beam in the bridge and grabs Longshot by the ankle. Other-Morph maintains his hold as he reverts to his natural form. He turns his right fist into a mace and swings it at Longshot. Longshot ducks and other-Morph hits a circuit box, which sends many volts of electricity coursing through his body.

Luck seems about run out on Longshot when a still-dazed Nocturne, Thunderbird and Mimic arrive. Thunderbird’s ready to so some damage, but Mimic gets a call on the radio from other-Blink who tells them to leave Longshot alone and meet them at Junction 3.

The two Grandmasters are still discussing things in the meeting room. The Grandmaster on the view screen warns the Timebroker/Grandmaster that he has less than a minute to go. Timebroker/Grandmaster speaks with confidence that his Exiles will report success at any moment. Right then both teams of Exiles, as well as the Wrecking Crew, teleport into the room. Other-Blink tells him they quit.

The Grandmaster gets out of his chair, totally taken by the turn of events. Power Princess takes one look at him and reports that he’s not the Grandmaster she remembers. Timebroker/Grandmaster tells her he remembers them and goes into an explanation of who he is and how this contest all came to be.


The Grandmaster explains his status as an Elder of the Universe along with the Champion, who likes to fight, the Collector, who acquires living things, the Runner, who races across space and the Gardener, who works his garden. He explains that he likes to play games, hold contests and make wagers.

One day he and the Collector found a planet called Earth where mutants were presenting themselves. The Collector wanted to take some of them for his collection, but the Grandmaster wanted a bet instead. The Collector thought the mutants would rule the world, while the Grandmaster thought all super-powered beings would be jailed.

The Grandmaster proved right, the humans were jailing all those with powers. He would have won his bet, but a team, that turned out to be the Exiles, came and freed the mutants. The Grandmaster tells them he lost his bet and that’s something he’ll never forgive. However, he was intrigued by their presence so decided to study them instead of killing them right there on the spot.

After the Exiles had left that reality he went to Magneto and took the information from his mind explaining who and what the Exiles were. The Grandmaster then traveled across dimensions looking for a reality where all six of them existed in forms very similar to the ones he encountered. He then disguised himself as the Timebroker and started his own team of Exiles to lure them into a trap.


The Grandmaster admits this may be his crowning achievement. The only tough part was convincing the Grandmaster of this reality (he points his thumb back at the view screen) to let him do his thing. The native Grandmaster points out that he doesn’t like people meddling in his universe either.

Spider-Man speaks for everyone when he says they won’t be fighting each other anymore. The Grandmaster looks peeved and tells them they’re no fun. A bright light emanates from the Grandmaster and everyone else screams in agony, until they all die that is.

The native Grandmaster is angry. He proclaims their deal is broken. The other Grandmaster replies, “So what?” The native Grandmaster tells him that nobody breaks a deal with them, and the Timebroker/Grandmaster suddenly finds himself surrounded by the remaining Elders of the Universe.

The Champion gets up in his face, ready to start a fight. The Grandmaster backs off a bit fearful. He resigns his fate to being beaten to death by his fellow immortals. The native Grandmaster tells him that’s not quite it. A bright light emanates from him this time, which brings everyone back to life. He tells the Timebroker/Grandmaster that they will administer the beating, pointing at the newly revived mutants.

The Crystal Palace (24 hours later)

Heather is finishing up explaining what happened on her end during their ordeal. Blink can’t believe she slept through everything. Morph points out (in zombie form) that at least she wasn’t killed and then resurrected.

Spider-Man rubs his head as he ponders the existence of immortal beings who can give or take life on a whim. He’s always amazed at the things he learns on this job. Power Princess says she’d trade all that in for another round with the Grandmaster. Blink asks what finally happened to him. Sabretooth tells her the Collector put him in his private zoo. Creed hopes he’s forced to play “tic-tac-toe for the next zillion years.” He also tells her Earth #33629 is in good hands now.

Earth #33629

The Exiles are in a conference room going over their next order of business.

Characters Involved: 

Blink, Heather Hudson, Longshot, Proteus/Morph, Power Princess, Sabretooth, Spider-Man (all Exiles)

Blink, Magnus, Mimic, Morph, Nocturne, Thunderbird (all #33629 Exiles)

Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, Runner (all Elders of the Universe)
The Timebreakers

Timebroker (Grandmaster in disguise)
Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball, Wrecker (all Wrecking Crew)

Blood Brother, Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, The Fallen, Green Goblin (all prisoners)

Various citizens of New York City


Earth #712 (Squadron Supreme reality):

Dr. Spectrum, Hyperion, Nighthawk, Power Princess (all Squadron Supreme)


Reality of the first Exiles mission

Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, Runner (all Elders of the Universe)

Chamber, Human Torch, Juggernaut, Magneto, Sub-Mariner, Charles Xavier

Story Notes: 

The Squadron Supreme did indeed battle the Institute of Evil in a wager between the Grandmaster and the Scarlet Centurion. The Squadron Supreme was victorious, and they were also the team backed by the Grandmaster.

During their individual battle, Morph refers to Longshot as “Loverboy”. He’s referring to the leather-clad 1980’s Canadian rock band.

The Exiles visited the Grandmaster’s (the one that hates them) reality during their first mission in Exiles #1 and #2.

In #616 the Elders of the Universe (that appear in this issue) first appearances are:

Collector - Avengers #28

Grandmaster - Avengers #69

Gardener - Marvel Team-Up #55

Champion - Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7

Runner - Defenders #143
As the Exiles are dying Spider-Man’s mask is firmly in place. Later, his mask is nowhere to be found. When they’re resuscitated Spider-Man is masked once again!

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