It’s an exciting time to be an X-Men fan. Every single new book out of the six new series has a unique identity and focus. Excalibur might be my favorite of the bunch, thanks to the tight writing, gorgeous art, and a subtle story of accepting humanity even when your nation is rejecting them in more ways than one. Betsy Braddock is in a tough situation — she’s Captain Britain and the protector of her nation, but also a mutant. She’s currently on her way home in the opening pages to help Rogue, save her brother, and also figure out her new role amongst mutants and as the hero Britain deserves.
This is a strong second issue that continues to play with Apocalypse’s (aka •┤Ȧ├•) role as the supervillain-turned-ally in the new future of the mutant race. This factors in midway through the issue, but steals your attention as he pushes Betsy to head to Otherworld. Likely Apocalypse wants her there for selfish reasons, but his domineering nature hangs over Betsy and others in the story. That includes Jubilee, who appears to be having nightmares about Apocalypse. It was always suspicious HOX and POX brought the supervillains into the fold and it appears writer Tini Howard is exploring that sudden change. You get that vibe from the very start when we see Apocalypse allow two mutants to die simply because they didn’t have the means to save themselves. He’s coldhearted and believes in a harder stance when teaching and leading.
Outside of Apocalypse, this is also Betsy’s story, which tracks well with the first issue that firmly established they are the main characters of this book. Howard explores the tricky situation Betsy is in, be it with her mutant party or her own personal journey she undergoes in her sleep. The magical realms are explored quite well in this issue, with Druids and other elements featured. Again, this book feels wholly different from the other Dawn of X books.
The art by Marcus To, with colors by Erick Arciniega and letters by Cory Petit, continues to look clean and so very pleasing to the eye. An opening fight sequence plays out clearly and excitingly thanks to the pacing of the fight and smart cuts to specific characters. I love the use of color to create energy fields, from Apocalypse’s visage as he speaks to Betsy through his mind to Betsy’s sword. It looks magical and extraordinary. The final cliffhanger page is an excellent splash too. It not only sets your imagination aflame but sets up quite a battle for issue #3.
At this point, I read Excalibur hoping it won’t drop the ball, because it is fast becoming my favorite series. Issue #2 does not disappoint, playing up the juxtaposition of Apocalypse and Betsy, progressing the plot nicely, and infusing all sorts of magic into the narrative. An exciting, intelligent, and darkly rich story of magic and mutants.
Listen to the latest episode of our weekly Comics podcast