Mystical sword tournaments, high-tech grandmas, piracy, and space stations aside, it’s the little domestic thrills of the Krakoan Age that most delight me, if only because the niceties of security have always eluded the mutants. It’s nice to have moments of sweetness sprinkled into the background.
Moments like Rictor carrying Shogo around in a baby sling, apropos of nothing, with no ties to the narrative of the issue. There is absolutely no reason to bring it up in this review other than to illustrate that the folks working on all these books are deeply aware and invested in the minutia of mutant life just as much as the big turning wheels of plot and conflict. It’s a little bit of joy underneath all that drama.
The domestic situation at the Lighthouse, and its “Uncle Rictor, Auntie Rogue” implications aside, this issue dives into the uncertain state of Captain Britain—the others want to know where she’s been (see the last issue), and whether or not she is really herself.
Rogue is the concerned party, seeing as she’s been pals with Betsy since the way (way, way) back. The concern is that Betsy’s been too quiet, which seems a little insensitive to fret about when the person in question has just inter-dimensionally come back from the dead, but, hey, this is Excalibur. This stuff is all pretty second nature at this point.
The concern is not unfounded, of course—narratives need conflicts, and Betsy’s whole deal is conflict. She’s got shadowy dealings to get up to, and she can’t have Rogue—or her brother, Brian—getting underfoot. What those shady dealings are, exactly, we’ll have to wait and see. A showdown that has been begging to happen—and was nodded at as early as issue one of the series—must be built up to.
The Betsy/Kwannon conundrum is a piece of X-Men history that needs to be explored (or exploded), and after the brief flirting of that conflict with an alternate reality Kwannon last issue, we’re fully primed, now, for the real thing. Being in a more conscientious place as a society, it’ll be interesting to see how concerned with the deeply problematic nature of body-theft the narrative will be. Certainly, after the flare-up of discourse on a similar matter following the release of WW84, that bag must be unpacked at some point. Probably not, I imagine, right now.
Tini Howard is building the Magical Mythology of the Mutants very adeptly, giving us small snippets of history too big for us to see, as well as slowly sniffing around the basics of how Krakoa even works as it does. Excalibur is a vital book of this new era of X-Men, and issue #18 moves us, very mysteriously, forward.
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