It’s hard to catch my attention with magic related plot lines when it comes to the X-Men, but Tini Howard continues to blow my expectations out of the water.
This issue of Excalibur deals with a very real problem that Betsy and her team would eventually have to face: Mutants are messing with magic.
The Priestesses of the Starlight Citadel have had enough of the mutants entangling themselves with magic. With Jamie Braddock sitting on Morgana Le Fay’s throne, and Apocalypse working alongside the X-Men, they are ready to fight for what they believe will restore balance to the magical realm. The way magic is illustrated by Marcus To is both beautiful and powerful. You can feel the energy of these priestess glowing right off the pages of the comic book.
There are some incredibly emotional moments in the issue that had me both covering my mouth in a gasp and screaming “HOLY SH*T.” It’s been many, many years where I have felt that level of emotional investment in comic books, but in Hickman’s world of X-Men, these writers know exactly how to pull the right heartstrings.
The first moment comes when Betsy senses her brother Brian is nearby, and she runs out of the lighthouse where her team is residing to go find him. There is a moment where they both see and sense each other, but Brian doesn’t respond, he simply drives away — and Betsy is left standing in the rain, missing her twin brother which is described as “Longin’ for you other half like that.” It’s this beautiful moment in which Betsy shows that her heart aches for brother to be in her life, especially as she has taken up the mantle as Captain Britain, formerly a responsibility and costume once dawned by Brian. Ugh, my heart.
The other moment comes during Jubilee riding Shogo in his dragon form when the Priestess of the Starlight Citadel shoot Shogo right out of the sky (Think Game of Thrones). The rage that overcomes Jubilee from someone severely hurting her son is intense, and all of the X-Men can only watch as she descends from the sky toward her enemies. With one single blow, Jubilee creates a nuclear explosion upon landing. I screamed. It’s about damn time Jubilee got to use her omega-level powers since Generation X. It was both gratifying and terrifying to see — and like everything with Jubilee, that moment of high-intensive power comes straight out of the love she has in her heart for her family. Beautiful and terrifying at the same time. You go, Jubilee!
Excalibur was not a title I thought I would fall in love with considering my experience with previous titles of the same name, but this team under Betsy Braddock’s lead as Captain Britain has quickly become one of my favorite X-Books.