X of Swords is over, and the Reign of X is upon us! One of the key titles, Excalibur, returns this week for its first post-X of Swords entry, and it finds the team down a member. What role will the series play now that the event it played an important role in setting up is over?
We’ve got a review of Excalibur #16, plus a Rapid Rundown of other new Marvel Comics titles for the week, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Written by Tini Howard
Art by Marcus To
Color Art by Erick Arciniega
Lettered by VC’s Ariana Maher
Design by Tom Muller
Cover by Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson
Reviewed by Zoe Tunnell
X of Swords is over, and a new day has dawned, but with the team’s leader missing in action following the event’s end, what role does Excalibur have in the Reign of X era? Judging from Excalibur #16, it is a fascinating one.
Excalibur’s role as the single most vital title leading up to and during X of Swords left a lot of questions as to how the series would fare once it’s big year-long epic had ended. Luckily, Tini Howard is a hell of a writer and seamlessly shifts the magic-focused X-title into its next stage of existence. With no Apocalypse or Captain Britain to guide them, Jubilee, Gambit, Rogue, Rictor, and new member Meggan Braddock are suddenly Krakoa’s foremost magical experts with little practical mystic experience between them.
As someone whose personal favorites on the team are Rogue, Gambit, and Jubilee, I am very excited to see them taking a more substantial role in the story rather than merely being players in the Betsy and Apocalypse show. I don’t doubt that Betsy will be a significant part of the book in the near future; the final pages all but guarantee that, and I will be happy to see her return, but after the heavy focus on her family and destiny, it is nice to see the rest of Excalibur get a bit more time in the sun for once.
The shift in focus from Apocalypse and Betsy, who undeniably were the two leads of the title’s first 15 issues, to the rest of the team works wonders for breathing new energy into the title while not breaking momentum. Between Rictor coping with the realization that Apocalypse left him without a word and the Braddock clan struggling to deal with Betsy’s absence in their own ways, several compelling plot threads are put in place right out the gate, and Howard’s track record makes me feel confident every one will pay off in spades.
Marcus To‘s art is rock-solid as always and helps maintain the identity of the book post-XoS. There are certainly flashier artists working on the X-Line, Rod Reis‘ powerhouse performance on last week’s New Mutants comes to mind, but To is easily the most dependable hand in the line and delivers clean, expressive superhero comic art that pairs beautifully with Erick Arciniega‘s colors.
Honestly, there just isn’t much to complain about with Excalibur #16. It provides a clear, exciting new chapter for the title to excite existing fans and provides an easy jumping on point for new readers post-XoS. Even one of the more common complaints (one I personally disagree with) regarding the titles’ use of magic and symbolism being obtuse and hard-to-follow is aided by the renewed focus on the teammates who know barely more about magic than your average comic book fan. Howard’s time in the spotlight in X of Swords may have come to an end, but Excalibur #16 proves her work is just as satisfying and engaging as ever.
Final Verdict: BUY.
- King in Black #2
- The first issue of this event was kind of a dud, but I was hoping that with the table-setting out of the way, the team would be able to move on and tell the crazy story they’ve been hyping up for months now. While there’s a little bit more time to breathe with the various assortment of characters coming together to formulate a plan, this just read as a tie-in blueprint with a build-up to a final page which didn’t really have any impact whatsoever because… come on. We’ve all read comics. The art is good but not Ryan Stegman’s best, decidedly looking not as sharp as his previous work on the Venom title, or even Absolute Carnage. At the same time, it’s frankly just tiring reading another Marvel event that’s just following the same formula over and over again. I feel like every event since War of the Realms has felt the same with their giant armies and unstoppable villain. So far, King in Black has done nothing to differentiate itself from Marvel’s recent output. —HW
- Spider-Woman #7
- While the latest issue of Spider-Woman may sport the branding of a King in Black tie-in, the crossover event is mostly just a backdrop for the ongoing saga of Jessica Drew and her search for a cure to what’s killing her and the rest of her family. Karla Pacheco, Pere Perez, Frank D’Armata, and Travis Lanham bring their A-game, crafting an issue that’s a great jumping-on point for those who haven’t been following the series, and one that’s full of fantastic character-driven action and drama. If only all event tie-ins were this good. —JG
Next week, Wolverine celebrates 350 issues, and the Avengers come face-to-face with the Phoenix!