The Marvel multiverse is on a scale that allows for all kinds of improbable threats and dangers to present themselves. For some, like the Watchers, it is important to steer clear of the elements and events that can define the course of events on a truly massive scale.
But for other species, it’s more important to actively make up for past mistakes. Take, for example, the Timebreakers, the mysterious race of insectoid beings introduced into exiled #62 (by Tony Bedard, Mizuki Sakakibara, JC, and Dave Sharpe) who formed the Exiles in an attempt to undo the damage they inflicted on the multiverse.
Who are Marvel’s timebreakers?
The first Timebreakers were an insectoid race of multiversal explorers who, on their travels, came across an abandoned facility outside of space and time that would eventually be called the Crystal Palace. Within the pocket dimension was the ability to observe the entirety of the Marvel Multiverse, and in keeping with their history as explorers, the Timebreakers decided to map each reality. However, these acts of interference resulted in a cascading effect on the stability of the multiverse. Seeking to repair the damage they had done, the Timebreakers devised a plan: monitoring the multiverse from the Crystal Palace, they would recruit various heroes from all dimensions and send them to damaged realities, ensuring that these worlds would ultimately go their predetermined path.
To hide their identities, the Timebreakers used a hologram to create the Timebroker, a typically friendly humanoid figure who could help their chosen heroes accomplish their mission. They also helped create the Tallus by using shards of the M’kraan crystal to serve as a communication device and a means of travel through the timelines. This led to the formation of the Exiles, a band of multiversal mutant heroes who ventured from world to world, helping to ensure the stability of the multiverse, as well as their deadlier counterparts, known as Weapon X. Anyone who fell for the line of duty would remain within the Crystal Palace, hoping to prevent further damage to the multiverse. Unfortunately, this habit ended up coming back to haunt the Timebreakers, and pretty much the entire multiverse.
Marvel’s Timebreakers and Watchers are very similar
One of his recruits for Weapon X, who would later call himself King Hyperion, was a truly despicable version of Powerhouse, the last survivor of his world. After apparently being killed by the Exiles, he was taken to the Crystal Palace, where he had time to heal and finally break free. Taking control of the Timebreakers, Hyperion manipulated the Exiles for a while before they discovered the truth and helped save the Timebreakers. In turn, the Exiles worked more openly with them for a period, with Earth-3470’s Heather Hudson serving alongside them in the Crystal Palace. The Timebreakers would then decide to leave and be replaced by other scouts, including a Kang variant, and the most recent iteration of the Exiles didn’t incorporate the Timebreakers into their mission at all. But the insectoid race remains a compelling contrast to another race of multiversal observers.
In many ways, the Timebreakers are similar to the Watchers, the ancient species that watched over the timelines of the entire multiverse. Like the Watchers, the Timebreakers interfered with a timeline and saw the results of their work. But while the Watchers chose to stand by as a result of his actions, the Timebreakers chose to do something about it. It silently suggests that they may be more fallible than the Watchers, but that they had a greater sense of duty to right the wrongs of their mistakes. While the Watchers largely abhor interference, the Timebreakers were more willing to undo the damage they’d done, even if it meant tricking a series of intermediaries who could perform the tasks they couldn’t.
It makes the Timebreakers more manipulative than the Watchers, but potentially more heroic, as their actions helped ensure the multiverse’s continued survival. It also means that the Exiles can take on the Watchers, as they did in the third volume of exiled — potentially setting the stage for eventual conflict with the Timebreakers now that the Watchers are more willing to watch their own actions and participate in the larger events of the multiverse.