Knights of X has been running at a fever-pitch—quests bestowed, the party gathered, legends drafted, the book has already split the party, invaded a city, and spurred on a riot. This is, you’ll be surprised to note, only the third issue of the series.
This issue brings us to a bloody and potentially fatal climax, but that’s only after vampire assassinations, an attempted prison break, and a major plot revelation, not to mention a tender, loving character beat. And all of this leads to the world’s most famous wizard riding a manticore.
If that all sounds like too much to cover in twenty-six pages, the cynic in me would agree with you. In the hands of this creative team, however, there is never a dropped moment, never an un-finessed character.
Writer Tini Howard, 30 or so issues into her incredible work with these characters, continues to prove herself to be one of the visionary forces in the X-Stable. Despite the overwhelming action that hurtles our story along, she somehow finds ways to carve out definitive moments for characters who, perhaps, haven’t been quite as successfully spotlighted elsewhere.
The primary examples of the issue are Shatterstar and Rictor, who get a sweet moment (in a sewer) in which to express concerns and love for one another. It’s amazing to note that Shatterstar—a genetically engineered, trans-dimensional Murder Hunk—might be one of the least toxic boyfriends in the history of comics.
But Howard doesn’t even need such a break to seed import for a character. In this issue, two NPC-types rush out to Rachel shouting, “Askani! Askani!”, linking Rachel’s sometimes neglected future/past as religious leader and freedom fighter (and, sorta, trans-dimensional brother-raising) Mother Askani to the wider, wilder fantasy of Otherworld. Somehow, her incredible work in a far-flung alternate hell future to the magics which pervade her present.
Then there’s the simple inclusion of our boy Kylun. He doesn’t do as much in this issue as in the last issue, but, man, it sure is nice to see him.
It’d be foolish not to take a moment to praise artist Bob Quinn and colorist Erick Arciniega, who have been managing the hard task of making this fantasy look more vivid and solid than our moments on Krakoa—in the quote/unquote “real” world. Their work on these characters sells Howard’s turmoil, while also making the swirling tempests of raw magic feel just as solid as those trapped within them.
Knights of X continues something special, both in the X-Franchise and in superhero comics as a whole. It often feels that, in this mad-dash action, more is being done for the characters than we might see elsewhere.
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