Portals have been opening up all over the world, beckoning mutants to come to Krakoa. Yet, when one opens where no one expected it to, the new mutant nation may have invited something they didn’t expect. Your Major Spoilers review of Excalibur #1 from Marvel Comics can be found, after the jump.
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: Erick Anginiega
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2019
Previously in Excalibur: The mass immigration to Krakoa is drawing in mutant kind from all over the world. Apocalypse himself has found himself on the council of leaders for Krakoa. Elsewhere, in Otherworld, Morgana Le Fey is in charge of Camelot, meaning she commands all her subjects, including Captain Britain.
TIME FOR A CHANGE
In Otherworld is where our scene is set at the beginning of Excalibur #1. Camelot is under siege. The queen regent, Morgana, is preoccupied with something else though. She and one of her knights look into The Pool Of Avalon, where they see on of the Krakoan gates. On Earth, Betsy Braddock is packing up and getting ready to make the pilgrimage to Krakoa. She says farewell to her brother Captain Britain and travels to Krakoa. On the island nation, Apocalypse, with his new Krakoan name, is pondering the nature of a mysterious gate. Deep in their lair, a group of witches are visited by Morgana who has a simple ultimatum: until the portal that “taints” Otherworld is destroyed, no one may use magic from Avalon. Back on Krakoa, Betsy is brought to the chambers where mutants are being reborn where it’s revealed that her lost brother Jaime has returned, to Betsy’s great displeasure. Apocalypse arrives and informs Betsy that the portal he’s been studying is from Otherworld but they can’t traverse it without Captain Britain’s amulet. Betsy goes to her twin just as he’s about to leave. She warns him it may be a trap and goes with him. Morgana ambushes the two. On Krakoa Apocalypse realizes something is wrong and summons Rogue, Jubilee, and Gambit, believing that they can utilize their powers to find Betsy. In Otherworld, Morgana has used her powers to corrupt Captain Britain. Apocalypse contacts Betsy and tells her that she needs to use her powers to disrupt the portal. She does so, shattering it in the process. The aftermath leaves Rogues encased in vines and flowers and Betsy trapped in Otherworld. A corrupted Captain Britain manages to pass his amulet to his sister who uses it to escape Otherworld. The issue ends with one of the witches from before doing something quite drastic.
A GOOD FIT WITH THE STATUS QUO
Excalibur #1 continues the trend of being a book that is designed to focus on a specific thing associated with the new direction of the X-Men and mutant related series’. For Excalibur, that specific thing seems to be magic. Also, just like the other X-books so far, this issue deals with themes of new beginnings and rebirth. The way Tini Howard shuffles around the dynamic of The Braddock Siblings emphasizes this. With Betsy assuming her twin’s old role, Jamie being reborn, and Brian playing the bad guy, we’re seeing that a new beginning doesn’t guarantee it’s a good thing. What sets this book apart though, is that it’s more connected to the wider Marvel Universe than we’ve seen from the other books. It’s a nice reminder that while everything feels brand new for the mutants, the world they existed in before is still there.
THAT’S SOME SODERBERGH COLOR THERE
The portion of the art that caught my eye above all else was the swapping color palettes based on the location. This issue takes place in three distinct settings: Otherworld, Krakoa, and England. The scenes in Otherworld drift more towards blues and greens, while on Krakoa there’s a lot of peach and purple, and in England, Erick Arciniega chooses a more standard palette. It reminded a bit of how the movie Traffic utilized color. It wasn’t a necessary choice, but it made Excalibur #1 a more enjoyable read.
BOTTOM LINE: Works Great As An Addition and A Standalone
It’s easy to think of Excalibur #1 as just a smaller part of the larger “X-Men Framework”, which it functions wonderfully as. But, it holds up on its own merits as well. There would be enough here for a compelling story even if it was just a story about The Braddocks, it just so happens that that there’s all this mutant stuff in the periphery to really spice things up. 4 out of 5 stars.
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While Excalibur #1 does come off a little as simply “How do the mutants now deal with magic” there’s a deeper family drama brewing. One that touches on the themes that have been paramount to the x-books as a whole.