Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Marcus To
Color Artist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson
Rating: 9/10 Krakoan Mimosa Trees
A new dawn couldn’t have been forged sooner with the long-awaited release of Excalibur to be drawn from my local comic shop. The Braddock’s became favorites of mine early on when I purchased a Marvel Encyclopedia for X-Men during a grade school book fair. It was paper route money well spent as I was introduced to Psylocke, with her awesome psychic powers and sword. From there I learned that she was the brother of Captain Britain, who to a young me, was a cooler magic-powered Captain America from the place with double-decker buses that I really wanted to visit. They’ve continued to be favorites ever since. So, yes, I have been very excited to read this and break down the start of something magical. Spoilers lie ahead.
With the mutant nation of Krakoa opening, it’s gates to all mutants who wish to join their fellow homosuperiors, Betsy Braddock shares a goodbye with her brother Brian (the current Captain Britain) and his wife and child before stepping through the gate to our next issue number one from the Dawn of X that features mutants celebrating. For good reason. While Tini Howard issue sets up simultaneously with growing conflict arising from a place called Otherworld and a certain witch who’s unhappy about a gate popping up on her turf, we have plenty of great tension to look forward to Krakoan side.
Towards the end of Hickman’s HoX/PoX run we witnessed something unbelievable happen as Professor X and Magneto welcomed all mutants to Krakoa, good and evil. Among them, Apocalypse, who always strives to see mutants as the fittest to inherit the world. Howard gives you the good sense that there are those that haven’t forgotten who he is and Marcus To does an amazing job expressing that completely in some of the exchanges in here. There are quite a few interactions in this issue that To has with and without dialogue that really display the emotions conveyed. Guilt, shame, fear, are just some of the interactions that came from this first issue between some characters that have me anxious to see what will come from those moments later on.
The juicy character confrontations between fellow mutants can wait as Captain Britain is needed in Otherworld (coincidentally where Apocalypse is looking into due to the gate being there) to answer it’s summons. With Betsy by his side, the siblings can take down anyone. Unfortunately they can’t take down each other as Morgan Le Fay, the witch queen. takes control of Brian but not fast enough before he passes the torch (or amulet in this case) to his sister and sending her back to Krakoa, as the new Captain Britain.
There is so much about this issue I enjoyed. It was one that blew my expectations out of the water. Howard’s writing gave such a strong issue with setting up what the challenges Excalibur will up against, the challenges they have among themselves as well as the ones they have yet to become aware of. The dialogue throughout the story never felt too serious outside of moments that had big emotional impact on our characters. The rest kept an easy and fun quality to it that makes you feel like it should be read to enjoy.
Marcus To’s art in this was so beautiful. Whether it’s magic or a secret mutant power they have, the work in this between both his characters and the background environments it’s beautiful. Arciniega ups the magic even more with their colors. Using lots of blues, pinks, reds, and oranges for Krakoa and most of the story, along with darker colors of blues, blacks and greens for Otherworld.
This an amazing start for Excalibur and I am as excited for the next issue and what’s to come as much as I am for seeing both Tini Howard and Jonathan Hickman pronounce Apocalypse's preferred name.