One of the best things about the Krakoan era of the X-Men is that the mutants aren’t on the verge of extinction anymore. That’s not just because I like my favorites to have a good time, but it lets the mutants do something else. For a long time, there was one X-Men story: the mutants were on the brink of being wiped out, and they had to get Hope Summers/undo the mutant vaccine/stop Norman Osborn/beat up Wanda Maximoff/what have you.
But remember the classic days of the X-Men? Chris Claremont’s X-Men had a lot that wasn’t just about the mutant metaphor. The X-Men fought the Brood, beat up demons, and were turned into D&D LARPers, along with fighting Sentinels and Friends of Humanity. Of course, those sorts of stories have occasionally happened since the Claremont run, and Tini Howard’s Excalibur has had a fantastic emphasis on fun, multiverse spanning stories.
Excalibur #17 is a delightful return to the days of Alan Davis’ Excalibur, in a literal cross-time caper, while also following up on the return of the Captain Britain Corps and the mysterious disappearance of Betsy Braddock back in X of Swords.
After a brief opening where Pete Wisdom trades barbs with the new leader of the Coven Akkaba, Betsy finds where exactly she is. She has apparently appeared in place of a Betsy Braddock, who is not only a telepathic mutant and Captain Britain, but also the Queen of England. The Betsy Braddock of that dimension is also, apparently, deeply in love with the man who she once dated in her world, Warren Kenneth Worthington III. Deciding that she needs to make her way back to Otherworld through the Braddock Lighthouse, Angel decides to call in some backup for Betsy – his ex-wife.
His ex-wife, Kwannon.
It goes just as well as you’d expect. Betsy Braddock, as much as I love her, is not the most tact or delicate person, and Tini Howard writes the best Betsy Braddock in maybe ever. Howard is very aware of just what sort of person Ms. Braddock is, and the interactions between this Kwannon – one who isn’t the one that shares Betsy’s history, but who Betsy still feels compelled to apologize to in a way that she won’t to 616’s – and our Captain Britain are uncomfortable, in the most interesting and compelling way.
There’s also some stuff about Rictor going up against magicians and Pete Wisdom hating flowers, too.
And oh my god, this art. Marcus To’s art is expressive and clean, with an almost delicate, flowing sense in the pencil stroke. You get emotion in every panel, and I’d wager that if you gave this comic to someone who didn’t speak a word of English, they’d understand the emotional beats on the art alone.
Mahmud Asrar’s cover, as well, is gorgeous. Betsy Braddock, in the regalia as Queen of England and as Captain Britain? I want that cover as a poster, stat.
Run, don’t walk, to buy this book.
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