I really wanted to love Excalibur #13. I love the premise of X of Swords. I love Braddock Family Drama. I love parallel universes. I love when high fantasy gets mixed up with my superheroes, too. Every individual piece of this story is something that I should love. Together, it should be great. But it isn’t.
That isn’t to say it’s bad, to be clear. Tini Howard and R.B. Silva latest’s issue of Excalibur is just . . . okay. There is nothing objectionable to it, but okay does not a great comic make.
Excalibur #13 is the latest part of the drawing of the swords, so to speak, as the X-Men gather the weapons to fight Apocalypse’s wayward children of Arakko, with the fate of Otherworld, if not the Earth, at stake. Jaime and Brian Braddock go to meet their sister and Saturnyn at the Starlight Citadel, bringing the Sword of Might as the prophecy commands.
(Incidentally, the issue earns a point for having Jaime continue to wear Sinister’s cape.)
Jaime, Brian, and Betsy fight with each other and with Saturnyne, until the rogue Captain Britains created by Jaime several issues ago – that is, Captains Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee, and Rictor from parallel dimensions – intervene. They fight, the Captains and Betsy lose, and they’re all locked up in the Starlight Citadel. It takes some trickery by Brian and Jaime for the Sword of Might and the Starlight Sword to be taken from Saturnyne, and returned to Krakoa.
It feels like a Dungeons & Dragons session, but a session where most of the party wasn’t able to make it. It was just the DM and one player, and the whole session revolves around that one player’s character. And, let’s be clear, Betsy is a fascinating character. She has some deep strands to explore. But this is a series with Rogue and Gambit, Jubilee and Rictor.
The themes that this issue explored would have worked well with that cast. How do Brian and Jubilee, both characters with young children, play off against each other? How about contrasting the relationship between Apocalypse and Rictor with the relationship between Saturnyne and Brian Braddock? How would Gambit think of the version of himself that is vested with the ultimate authority?
To be clear, I’m not saying that “oh this comic doesn’t have my favorites, thus it’s bad.” I love Brian and Betsy much more then I like, say, Rictor. But the thematic complexity of the issue would be improved by having the rest of the cast in it.
R.B. Silva’s art is, of course, magnificent. I have no complaints there. This is not a bad comic by any means; it’s just not nearly as good as it could be. This may be the first disappointment in all of X of Swords.
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