Excalibur #21 by Tini Howard

Excalibur #21 (Excalibur (2019-))Excalibur #21 (Excalibur by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what an issue! The Hellfire Gala continues to deliver in spades!

And let’s cut straight to the chase, the most inspired part of this whole, wonderful issue, was Britain wanting to leave its deal with Krakoa. They’re doing Krexit. Krexit. That’s…just…so exactly what our government would do. Maybe the Tories are actually all evil druids working for Clan Akkaba?

There were so many other wonderful moment in this issue though…most of them long overdue reunions. Such as Meggan and Kurt! And the hint at Meggan’s “condition”… Then we had Rachel and Betsy and the insistence that Rachel visit the lighthouse more often. Yes please! She’d be a welcome addition to this team…and maybe she could also get a better codename while she’d at it?

And last, but by no means least, Rictor was reunited with Shatterstar at last!

And then we have poor old Pete Wisdom’s fate… Let’s just say it’s a good thing that mutants can be resurrected else I’d be very cross indeed.

But, seriously, this entire comic was a delight from start to finish!

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Excalibur (2019-) #20 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #20Excalibur (2019-) #20 by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one’s a treaty for long time X-fans as we finally get an origin story for Malice, who hasn’t really appeared too much over the years, and has, at times, possessed various X-Men and made them do some fairly terrible things. She’s never had a body of her own, and in this issue we learn why.

She also, by the end of the issue, gains a body…which seemed like the obvious solution to the problem of Malice. Of course Professor X would have rather just thrown her in a pit…which begs the question: Yo, Charlie, what’s wrong with you? And there is definitely something wrong with Charles Xavier, I have no doubt about that now. Whether it has something to do with the Maker from the Ultimate universe, or the Shadow King, or just his desperate need to get this life of Moira right, as it’s their last chance to save the future of mutantkind, I don’t know. But he’s definitely been strangely comfortable with Beast’s excesses, and now this… Hmm…

But overall this is really about Betsy Braddock and Kwannon, and them working out their issues with each other and body swapping, and it really resolves that very well.

The art is as good as it always is, and while some might complain that this is currently more of a Captain Britain book than an Excalibur book at the moment, I really don’t mind that.

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Excalibur (2019-) #19 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #19Excalibur (2019-) #19 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everybody, needs a body, everybody needs a body, right…Betsy back alright!

I actually toyed with writing this entire review to the tune of Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), so be thankful that I decided not to.

Anyway, the Captain Britain Corps has been working hard to track down Betsy Braddock’s consciousness, which has been bouncing around the multiverse since her body was shattered in X Of Swords, and they’ve finally caught it. It’s always fun when the Corps appears and I particularly like this new Betsy Braddock incarnation of it. Including, and perhaps especially, the goose.

This issue manages to both be a lot of fun and also a deep dive into the complex relationship between and history of Betsy Braddock and Kwannon. Because it ultimately falls to Kwannon to put Betsy back together again. Which involves her first welcoming Betsy into her own mind, which isn’t exactly easy as Betsy had previously, albeit unwillingly, inhabited Kwannon’s body…for, like, all of the nineties and beyond. Significantly, Kwannon also gets a new costume here, one that has shades of the classic Psylocke swimsuit, but is at the same time infinitely classier and, if it sticks around, will be instrumental as establishing this Psylocke as a character in her own right, rather than just Betsy’s “sexy” new/old body. The history of Betsy/Psylocke/Kwannon is deeply messed up and I welcome this attempt to address that.

And, finally, there’s the thing that happens at the end…which I won’t say too much about as I don’t want to spoil it for people. But I’d completely forgotten about that character and there are some interesting ways they could take them being on Krakoa in.

The art is gorgeous and the cover, by Mahmud Asrar is epic (gotta love how he draws Betsy as Captain Britain). This continues to be one of my favourite X-books.

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Excalibur (2019-) #18 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #18Excalibur (2019-) #18 by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Betsy’s back, but she’s not Betsy…or is she? Rogue certainly doesn’t think she is…

What’s going on? I guess time will tell.

The best stuff in this issue, however, isn’t the stuff with Betsy, it’s the stuff with Rictor inheriting Apocalypse’s legacy…which is an interesting development. Rictor has always been something of a neglected character who didn’t have a clear place in the X-verse, so it’s good to see him finally getting some attention here.

The art is gorgeous, both linework and colouring.

However, this team still hasn’t really clicked for me, and it’s telling that Rachel Summers keeps ending up hanging around…because what this book needs is more connections to the original Excalibur book. Nightcrawler’s not really doing anything and Pete Wisdom could definitely join the team. And, I’d liek to see more of Brian and Meggan too,

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Excalibur (2019-) #17 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #17Excalibur (2019-) #17 by Tini Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Betsy Braddock as Queen of Britain in an alternative reality?

Pete Wisdom visiting Krakoa for the first time and being a sod?

Jubilee being confused about where cats poop?

These are a few of my favourite things.

The only negative thing I have to say is that I’m kinda confused as to why Gambit and Rogue are on this team…and Rictor feels like a weird fit too. But, still, the team can’t just be Betsy and Jubilee (and Pete Wisdom?)…especially when Betsy might not actually be our Betsy…

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Excalibur (2019-) #16 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #16Excalibur (2019-) #16 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Is that accent fake?! It sounds fake.”

Just want to throw something out there before I get into it. The “Corps” in “Captain Britain Corps” is pronounced “core” and not “corpse.” It’s the same with the Green Lantern Corps. Just so you all know. Got that? Ok. Let’s continue…

See, this is Excalibur. You’ve got Brian and Meggan and their precocious daughter, Maggie. You’ve got Otherworld and the Captain Britain Corps. You’ve got a weird mystery that needs to be solved. This is Excalibur.

You also have mutants combining their powers to do something they otherwise wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. Clearly another use of the mutant technology that was explained/explored in S.W.O.R.D. #1. It’s certainly encouraging to see that kind of synergy across the X-line. We also had a reference to Jamie Braddock gaining possession of Mr Sinister’s cape, which happened over in Hellions, and as someone who’s reading all of the X-books, I enjoy those little references. Also, Sinister supplying Jamie with a clone of Betsy can’t possibly lead to anything but trouble.

Personally, this is right up my street. I’m enjoying the slow burn of many of the X-books right now. These writers are in for the long haul and they’re clearly in no hurry to tell the stories they’re going to be telling over the next few years. The art, by Marcus To, is as lovely as ever, and I particularly like that this book has such a consistently great artist drawing it.

All in all, this is my kind of comic, and I love it.

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Excalibur (2019-) #15 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #15Excalibur (2019-) #15 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bei is bae.

All hell has, quite literally, broken loose…well, not hell, exactly, but Amenth. Apocalypse’s near defeat of Genesis, and her subsequently donning the mask of Annihilation has led to, well, the gloves being taken off, so to speak, and all out war breaking out between the champions of Krakoa and the hordes of Amenth.

And, of course, Bei chooses love over war, because, as I said, Bei is bae. And I love Doug and Bei, they’re so sweet. (And, yes, it’s unrealistic for people to fall in love so quickly, but it’s also unrealistic for pretty much everything else that’s happened in the story to happen…and people fall in love in movies this quickly all the time, so just shush and enjoy it).

Speaking of love, has all this really been a pretence for Saturnyne to weave a love spell to win back her Captain Britain? If so, she’s out of luck…

This is wonderful, and all that’s left now is…the end?

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Excalibur (2019-) #14 by Tini Howard

Excalibur 14 Excalibur (2019-) #14 by Tini Howard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not actually sure what I just read…but I definitely liked it.

A Krakoan dies…another gets married…

And…yeah…none of that played out how I was expecting.

And…I’m pretty sure the person who died is going to be back…because they didn;t really die, they shattered…

More please!

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Excalibur (2019-) #13 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #13Excalibur (2019-) #13 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is a twist at the end of this which basically calls all of the characters’ interactions throughout this issue into question. How much was genuine and how much was just an act? We will, perhaps, never know.

What I do know is that seeing the Braddock twins get one over on her Whyness, the Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnye, is deeply satisfying. It also feels good seeing Brian finally get over himself, come to terms with the fact that he’s no longer Captain Britain, and embrace a new role…Captain Avalon.

But let’s go back a step and address an issue others seem to have a problem with: Saturnyne’s powers. Throughout this event the Omniversal Majestrix has displayed certain powers that, supposedly, she has not had before. As far as I can tell, there are three possible explanations for this:

1) Satrunyne has always been a fairly mysterious being. It’s entirely possible that she’s always possessed these powers and abilities but we’ve simply never seen her using them before.

2) The powers are derived from the Starlight Citadel. You have to consider: What’s different about Saturnyne compared to her previous appearances? Well, she now controls the Starlight Citadel and that may well have bestowed certain powers upon her.

3) There is a story yet to be told regarding how Saturnyne came to be in possession of these powers.

What’s not likely is that Tini Howard is unaware that Saturnyne hasn’t previously displayed any powers and has made a huge error.

(Anyway, that’s enough of me responding to the criticisms of other reviewers).

Literally my only complaint here is that Brian’s costume inside the book is not the one he’s wearing on the cover, because the one he’s wearing on the cover is a lot better. But, talking of the art, RB Silva’s work here is sublime, but mention should also be made of the colourist, Nolan Woodard, who really brings the Starlight Citadel to life, in all its glowing, ethereal beauty.

X Of Swords continues to be one of the best crossover events I’ve ever read. Long may it continue (or, you know, at least for another thirteen parts..).

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Excalibur (2019-) #12 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #12Excalibur (2019-) #12 by Tini Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This felt like a dip in quality for a series which has been consistently great, but maybe that’s because it was very exposition heavy. And most of that exposition was about the Externals, who have never been interesting. Plus I found myself thinking, “But isn’t Cannonball an External?” the whole time. Either that’s been forgotten about or retconned away since.

I have to confess that despite all of the exposition I still found it really hard to follow exactly what Apocalypse is up to.

I’m hoping for a return to form next issue.

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