Between new titles such as Immortal X-Men, X-Men Red, and the upcoming X-Terminators, the next phase of the Krakoan era is in full swing. Tini Howard’s and Bob Quinn’s Knights of X begins as part of this new lineup perhaps in name alone, as it keeps with the premise of Howard’s Excalibur. Knights of X #1 will certainly please anyone who enjoyed Excalibur — it is a solid first issue that manages to introduce a vast array of narrative components with ease.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Knights of X #1!
Issue #1 of Knights of X essentially begins where Excalibur left off — due to the destruction of its gate by Coven Akkaba, the connection between the Otherworld and Krakoa has been severed. Captain Britain — Betsy Braddock — has trapped herself in Otherworld to fight the forces of Merlin, whilst the rest of the team remain on Krakoa, unable to reach her. If the first issue is anything to go by, much like Excalibur, Knights of X is still very much Betsy’s book. If you’re a Betsy fan, then this is no problem. However, if you’re coming into this new series hoping for a shift in focus towards other members of the team, then maybe don’t get your hopes up. Knights of X #1 is filled to the brim with Betsy — multiple Betsies, in fact.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Howard still clearly has no idea what to do with Jubilee. In Excalibur, Jubilee served little purpose besides being the mother to a baby who can conveniently turn into a pretty useful dragon. Knights of X is no different. The text borders on self-awareness of its use of the character, as she quite literally disappears halfway through the issue.
The rest of Knights of X’s cast get at least a few good lines in each. Howard always captures Gambit’s voice well, and the new additions of Bei the Blood Moon and Rachel are sure to keep things fresh going forward. Ultimately, I hope that I am wrong in expecting the series’ narrative to remain focused on Betsy. Knights of X has an interesting array of characters, and there is a lot to explore for each of them. When Excalibur paused to look at other members of the team personally, it did so only when it led back to Betsy. If this is the case for Knights of X, things may get very repetitive very soon. Plot points like Rictor and Shatterstar’s relationship and the place of Bei on the team should hopefully be explored without Betsy being at the center. It would be a great waste not to.
While the character balance may be slightly rocky in Knights of X #1, the plot itself is strong. The narrative passes along nicely whilst fitting in a lot of the necessary exposition required to establish the premise of the series. Artists Bob Quinn and colorist Erick Arciniega create a beautiful, storybook atmosphere that sets the tone for the team’s journey ahead. Quinn should also be commended for his battle scenes, which show off each character’s talents on the field, even when they are not at the forefront of the action.
If Knights of X #1 is indicative of the series to come, then fans of Tini Howard’s Excalibur will certainly be pleased. Howard is a consistently strong writer, whose talent is matched by Quinn and Arciniega. Anyone expecting something different from Excalibur, however, should perhaps not hold their breath. Though well written, Knights of X #1 shows signs that, like its predecessor, the series may become too focused on Betsy Braddock, as the rest of the team is pushed to the sidelines.
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