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Oct 31

Excalibur #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are from the digital edition.

EXCALIBUR: This is the fourth volume of Excalibur. The first volume ran from 1988 to 1998 and featured a British-based superhero team initially made up of Captain Britain, Meggan and some X-Men who had been separated from the main team (Shadowcat, Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers / Phoenix). It tended to go in for lighter antics than the rest of the X-books. The second volume is a largely-forgotten four-issue reunion miniseries from 2001. The third ran for 14 issues in 2004-5, and involved Professor X rebuilding in the ruins of post-massacre Genosha; aside from being an X-book, it really has no connection with the previous series. There’s also New Excalibur, another UK-based team, which ran for 24 issues in 2006-7.

This version of Excalibur features no members of the previous teams; the connection lies in Psylocke, Captain Britain’s sister.

COVER / PAGE 1: The team pose for us. Left to right, that’s Gambit, Jubilee, Apocalypse, Psylocke / Captain Britain II, Rictor (who doesn’t appear in the story) and Rogue. The background seems to be Krakoa, but in the foreground is what looks like the Otherworld scrying pool from the issue.

PAGE 2: A data page, with the text of Apocalypse’s message to the world’s most powerful magicians, sent on the same day as Professor X’s message to the world in general. Apocalypse seems to be claiming that Krakoa will not only be a rebirth and a fresh start for mutants, but also for magic.

Magic: While magic hasn’t been central to the X-books, there have always been a few prominent magicians around, like Amanda Sefton and, well, Magik. Jonathan Hickman has dropped several references to the demon-based Inferno storyline from the 80s, and evidently that side of the franchise is going to be Tini Howard’s focus in Excalibur.

Apocalypse as a sorcerer: Apocalypse’s established origin story has him as a mutant from ancient Egypt who later gets additional powers and resources from Celestial technology. He’s not normally portrayed as a magic user, but House of X and Powers of X seem to be setting up a retcon of his history to turn him into a mythical figure from the dawn of time. Having said that, Apocalypse “introduces” himself to his fellow sorcerers here, which implies that he isn’t already part of their community. And we’re not told here that Apocalypse is a particularly notable or accomplished magician – merely that he is one, and that he’s been around since a time when magic was more prominent in society. Of course, the hostility to conventional technology on Krakoa creates a space for magic that might not otherwise be there.

The sorcerers whom Apocalypse contacts aren’t identified here, but note that it’s a small group rather than magicians in general. And why is he contacting them – simply to stake a claim to part of the world of magic, or with something more in mind?

Apocalypse’s epiphany: Apocalypse says that while he used to believe that the persecution of mutants made them strong, he now believes that Krakoa is going to bring them true strength and bring a new flowering of magic. Some of this seems to be the typical damascene conversion that so many characters appear to have undergone upon being exposed to Krakoa – and we can’t assume that everything Apocalypse says here is necessarily true. But it’s worth remembering that in Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts, Apocalypse did seem to undergo a genuine conversion of some sort, after being compelled to live as a father and flower-power guru for a while.

“It is the domain of the Superior”: Homo superior, ie mutants.

PAGES 2-4. Camelot, in Otherworld. Arthur is missing and Morgan Le Fey is in charge, with the castle under siege by “the White Witch”. Morgan’s scrying pool has become clogged with “weeds” – Krakoan flowers.

Camelot and Otherworld: In the Marvel Universe, Camelot used to be a real place in the normal world (as seen most obviously in the 1950s Black Knight series), but after its fall, it was transported to Otherworld. The X-Men haven’t generally had much to do with Camelot, but the Siege Perilous was an Arthurian concept, and the redshirt in Powers of X was called Percival, apparently in reference to the knight.

Otherworld is principally a Captain Britain concept. Though his first origin story simply had him choosing a magic artefact and getting powers (more of that later), a later retcon made him and his siblings half-Otherworlder, with Otherworld itself run by Merlyn and his daughter Roma. Otherworld has been portrayed in an assortment of inconsistent ways. For a while it was mainly an omniversal hub associated with the Captain Britain Corps, but more recently it’s also been used as a repository of British myth and suggested source of all magic. In other words, by moving to Otherworld, Camelot is transformed from a real event into a collective myth.

The Marvel Universe King Arthur similarly started off as a regular old pseudo-historical king, but he was brought back in Otherworld to be the ruler of Camelot – after all, it’s not the mythical Camelot without him. This all happened in the Black Knight strip that ran in the Marvel UK Hulk comic circa 1980. As best I can tell, Arthur’s last non-flashback appearance was in Journey into Mystery #641 (2012), when he was indeed still running Otherworld’s Camelot.

Sir Gaheris: Gaheris is indeed one of the traditional Knights of the Round Table – he’s Arthur’s nephew and Gawain’s brother. Morgan refers to his “pretty wife” and “precious babies” – as best as I can figure, the mythical character did have a wife (Lynette), but the kids seem to be an invention. Then again, if they’d been around since Arthurian times they wouldn’t be babies, would they?

Morgan le Fey: Another character from Arthurian legend who was imported into the Marvel Universe decades ago. Morgan is Arthur’s half-sister and almost invariably a villain in the MU. She had a long run recently ruling a kingdom on Weirdworld, but I believe she was last seen (outside flashbacks) in the second Marvel Rising miniseries, where she made it back to Earth. That series is only half-complete on Marvel Unlimited and I’m certainly not buying the rest just for this, but presumably it leaves her free to return to Otherworld at the end.

White Witch: Morgan’s name for the person in charge of the attacking forces, who we don’t see. Of course, she might be attacking precisely because the villainous Morgan is regent, but Gaheris seems to accept that she’s a genuine threat to the realm. The best-known White Witch is a villain from Chronicles of Narnia, but that doesn’t seem terribly likely.

PAGE 6: The usual recap and cast-intro page.

PAGE 7: Credits. The title is “Verse I: The Accolade of Betsy Braddock”. An “accolade” is the ceremony where the monarch gives somebody a knighthood by tapping them on the shoulders with a sword. The small print reads “As above, so below – greater secrets exist.” More of that later.

PAGES 8-9: Betsy Braddock says goodbye to the Braddock family before heading through a portal to Krakoa.

The Braddock Academy: A school formed by Brian Braddock to train young British superhumans to become heroes. It was introduced in the 2013 series Avengers Arena, and it’s barely been mentioned since.

The Braddock family: Other than Psylocke herself, we’ve got Brian, his wife Meggan, and superhumanly precocious infant Maggie. Maggie was introduced in last year’s X-Men Gold Annual #1, and yes, she’s meant to be drawn like a baby while talking like a much older child.

“The Eat-Pray-Love conversation”: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006), or the poorly received 2010 movie, in both of which a rich woman goes on a journey of spiritual self-discovery. Or that’s the idea, anyway.

“I never thought I would see the Betsy I grew up with again.” You almost certainly know the back story already, but it’s not explained very clearly in the issue and it’s essential to understanding some of the scenes, so:

Psylocke is Brian’s twin sister, and like him, she started off caucasian. In Uncanny X-Men #250 (1989), the remaining X-Men, including Psylocke, decided to disband and went through the magical Siege Perilous to start new lives. In Uncanny X-Men #256, Psylocke reappeared in Hong Kong where she was transformed into an Asian ninja by the Hand; the precise mechanics of it were left vague, since most of the issue was a surreal dream scene. Then, in the early nineties, somebody appearing to be the original Psylocke showed up alleging that the ninja version was an impostor. Eventually, after some back-and-forth retcons, it was established that Psylocke actually had her mind swapped with an assassin called Kwannon, though they also had their minds mixed up a bit as well, explaining Psylocke’s personality change as a ninja. Kwannon then hung around for a while as “Revanche” before conveniently dying of the Legacy Virus in X-Men vol 2 #32 (1994).

This remained the status quo until the recent Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor miniseries, in which Psylocke’s body was destroyed and she re-created herself in her original form – a plot development that came out of nowhere in what seemed to be a filler miniseries, but may have been part of the pre-House of X deck-clearing. Soon after, apparently as a side effect, the ninja body reappeared too, seemingly a resurrected Kwannon. It’s all tremendously convoluted – but this is what Brian is referring to.

Jamie: We’ll come to him.

Ibiza: I’m not sure what connotations Ibiza has to Americans, but in Britain it’s heavily associated with nightlife and dance music.

Pete Wisdom: The guy in the black suit handing around on page 9 seems to be Pete Wisdom, a member of the original Excalibur from the Warren Ellis run.

PAGES 10-12: While Psylocke arrives on Krakoa, Apocalypse and Trinary investigate the strange gate from Krakoa to Otherworld. It’s not entirely clear whether this gate appeared spontaneously, or whether Apocalypse engineered it somehow. Apocalypse somehow knows that the gate connects to Otherworld but believes that the people on the other side have built a barrier wall, which they’ll “need a champion” to get past.

Krakoa: Looks as much like an excessively-perfect Elysian field as ever. The vibe of trying too hard is strong. Visible in the crowd, other than major X-Men characters we already knew were there, are Maggott and a wolf-like character who’s probably Wolfsbane, back from the dead.

Trinary: A technopath from X-Men Red, whom we saw briefly in House of X. Her powers aren’t exactly well suited to the all-organic Krakoa, but she seems to have found a niche as Apocalypse’s lab assistant and PA. To be honest, her role here is pretty generic compared to her X-Men Red character.

Apocalypse’s name: Apocalypse now wants to be called… er, however you type that. Given his speech at the start of the issue, it’s understandable that he would want to disavow the “Apocalypse” name, but note that Psylocke also talks about her name as soon as she arrives on Krakoa. There’s also a standard magic trope of names having power. (Because symbols have power over reality, and names are symbols and… basically, a lot of this stuff boils down to the observation that labels and presentation and rituals and such forth affect the way people see the world and the way they act, and this is one way of affecting reality.)

Apocalypse seems to suggest later that he’s changed name before upon “a new evolution”.

Gambit: He’s conspicuously sceptical about Apocalypse, particularly when he’s making grandiose speeches about the superiority of mutants. Gambit was briefly a Horseman of Apocalypse circa X-Men vol 2 #183 (2006), and as you can imagine, it didn’t go well.

PAGE 13: Another data page, this time about Krakoan magic.

“As above, so below.” This phrase is commonly associated with magic, and seems to have originated in the Emerald Tablet, a popular text among alchemists. In Isaac Newton’s translation, it includes this: “That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below.” The point is meant to be that everything repeats on different scales, and that the patterns seen on a cosmic scale will be replicated in events on a mundane level – hence things like astrology, where the patterns of the stars supposedly allow predictions about individual lives. Tini Howard’s explanation, however, takes the phrase rather more literally, as being about rotational symmetry – thus allowing the claim that there is some great magical symbolism in the very-symmetrical X, accessible to mutants (and only mutants) following the “paradigm shift” in House of X.

Removing the surrounding circle from the X-logo is also somehow supposed to increase its powers – though at least on the cover, most of the team are still wearing traditional X-logos.

PAGES 14-16: Morgan appears to a coven of worshippers in Yorkshire and tells them that they need to destroy the gate to Otherworld or she will not allow them to channel Avalon’s magic again. This is, as the coven try to explain, a completely unrealistic request.

Witchbreed: Mutants, obviously. The term comes from Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602.

The Matter of Britain: This is the name of the story cycle in which King Arthur and Camelot appear; what exactly it means to be “committed in service to” it is unclear. One view would be that the stories of Arthur are part of British identity.

PAGES 17-20: On Krakoa, Psylocke is unexpectedly reunited with the revived Jamie Braddock, and Apocalypse asks for her help in accessing the Otherworld portal.

Kwannon: The woman who walks past Psylocke at the start of this scene and doesn’t say anything is evidently meant to be Kwannon, given dialogue later in the issue – though she’s not very recognisable from the art, since she’s got rid of the purple hair. Incidentally, just to her right in the second panel is a woman who seems to be former X-Force member Feral – if so, she’s been restored from back-up, since she was murdered by Sabretooth in Wolverine vol 3 #54 (2007).

Jubilee: One of our regular cast, though she doesn’t get much to do in this issue. Before the reboot and Age of X-Man, Jubilee was a teacher at the X-Men’s school; she was a vampire for a good few years, but that was cured during the last run of Generation X. The kid she’s carrying, Shogo, is an orphan who she adopted in early issues of Brian Wood’s X-Men from 2013; through the miracle of Marvel time, he’s still in a baby carrier six years later.

Goldballs: Now calling himself Egg, obviously in reference to his role in producing the eggs that are used to regrow bodies for dead mutants. It’s a step up from “Goldballs”, at least.

Jamie Braddock: The older brother of Brian and Betsy, who was a supporting character in Captain Britain dating back to 1976. Originally he was the roguish businessman and race car driver who ran the family company, but he became more and more criminal over time until eventually winding up as an imprisoned slave trader. In the original Excalibur, his mutant powers to control reality emerged and instantly drove him mad, leading a string of stories where he stumbles around playing with his surroundings randomly. He was more stable in later appearances, and seems relatively balanced here.

Jamie was last seen in the X-books in Uncanny X-Force vol 1 #23 (2012), an Otherworld story in which Betsy killed him in order to stop the universe from unravelling. However, he also showed up in last year’s Infinity Countdown: Black Widow one-shot, and got killed again there. Interestingly, that story was by Gerry Duggan (writer of Marauders and so part of the X-books’ loop), it acknowledges that Jamie’s meant to be dead (“I dreamt that my sis killed me… maybe she did”), and it shows him taking an interest in black magic.

For most purposes, Jamie is a demented liability – but he was listed as an omega level mutant in House of X #1, which probably explains why he’s been prioritised for return. That issue gave his codename as Monarch, a name he’s never actually used in a story.

“After mum and dad died…”: The Braddock siblings’ parents were killed by Mastermind, a computer that James Sr had created, as shown in flashback in Captain Britain vol 1 #14 (1977).

“Psychic interference can affect the eggs”: Might be worth making a note of that, mightn’t it?

Captain Britain’s amulet: The Amulet of Right, from Captain Britain’s origin story. Until the Otherworld retcon, this involved Brian Braddock fleeing baddies who’d attacked his workplace and being offered a choice between the Amulet of Right and the Sword of Might. Later stories establish that all new Captain Britains are presented with this choice – they become Captain Britain either way, but choosing the sword dooms them to a rather less pleasant life. This story seems to assume that Brian carries the amulet around with him as a source of power, but that’s not how it’s normally shown. In fact, it was last seen in Captain Britain & MI-13 #2 (2008), when it was treated as being a magical artefact stored in Otherworld and used to empower new Captains. This looks like a continuity error.

PAGES 21-23: Psylocke returns to Braddock Academy to tell Brian that Jamie is back, and finds him heading off to Otherworld to help the other side.

Like pretty much every non-mutant we’ve seen, Brian is a little surprised that the X-Men are so relaxed about hanging out with A-list villains these days.

“The woman whose life I stole”: Kwannon, obviously. But this isn’t really fair; none of it was Betsy’s choice, and she always claimed to be a transformed Betsy Braddock. Betsy is on more reasonable ground worrying about the consequences for Kwannon of things she did during their body swap, though even on that count, there was only a brief window between Betsy learning about Kwannon and Kwannon’s death.

PAGES 24-26: Back on Krakoa, Rogue, Gambit, Trinary, Apocalypse and Jubilee gather at the other side of the gate.

Rogue & Gambit: Coming to us direct from the pages of Mr & Mrs X, where they got married and Rogue obtained the power-dampening bracelet that she mentions here. Rogue was powered-up during that series and started absorbing people who were just in her general vicinity, but if she’s not wearing the bracelet here, she must have got that under control again. Rogue is suggesting that they have children, in accordance with the third law of Krakoa from House of X #6 (“Make more mutants.”) Since she’s not willing to bring her power-dampening bracelet onto Krakoa (perhaps because it’s technology), this might suggest that Rogue and Gambit have held on to their apartment in New York.

Gambit (and Jubilee) show little interest in working with Apocalypse; Rogue is much more on board, and is even willing to call him by his unpronounceable name.

PAGES 27-34: Psylocke and Brian fight Morgan, who enslaves Brian; Betsy destroys the gate, and Brian is able to give Betsy the amulet so she can become the new Captain Britain. And something comes through the portal to do weird things to Rogue.

Psylocke as Captain Britain: She’s been Captain Britain before, in the 1985 Captain Britain series. It didn’t last long, and it didn’t work out well for her – she was blinded, and stayed that way until Mojo gave her new eyes.

Rogue: There’s a definite fairy-tale / Sleeping Beauty vibe to Rogue’s coma, though she also seems to go pale blue for some reason. No doubt we’ll find out more in issue #2.

PAGE 35: Coven leader Marianna Stern joins Coven Akkaba.

Marianna is the leader of the coven from earlier in the issue, and she evidently killed the others in a sacrifice to Morgan – we saw them with her in the previous scene. She’s carrying some sort of glowing magical thingies in her bag, but it’s not clear what they are. However, Apocalypse was using some of them to try and test the Otherworld gate earlier in the issue.

Coven Akkaba: The “Coven” bit is new, but these are worshippers of Clan Akkaba, the cultists normally aligned with Apocalypse. But based on the next page, they seem to be on Morgan’s side here…

PAGE 36: Data page about Coven Akkaba. The thrust of this is that humans are the real magicians because they can experience “the humility of the powerless”, while mutants are “cursed” to lack that humility and thus never to know the magic of Avalon. The gist of all this seems to be that you can only become a great magician (in their view) if you start from a position of weakness, and mutants are too inherently powerful to really do that. Obviously, this is not a view to which Apocalypse subscribes, so what this lot have to do with Clan Akkaba is a bit of a mystery.

PAGES 37-38: The trailer reads: “NEXT: SEE THE GREAT FLAME BLAZING”

Bring on the comments

  1. Mark Coale says:

    Perhaps unfair to the creators, but my first thought was “I wish Paul Cornell was writing this.”

    The only WhiteWitch is the one from the Legion, so I don’t think it’s her either. 🙂

    I always had a soft spot for Captain Britain going back to his MTU appearances so this one will at least keep my interest for the first arc at least.

  2. Joe says:

    The best I can manage without getting into unicode is . -iAi– . In my head, I say Eye-ay. But someone needs to drag Howard onto a podcast soon. At least before Miles is forced to make his own guess.

    Further. Meggan is a mutant. I don’t remember seeing her on Krakoa. Maybe she was in the background somewhere, or just stayed at home with her family.

  3. SanityOrMadness says:

    > Perhaps unfair to the creators, but my first thought was “I wish Paul Cornell was writing this.”

    I… certainly don’t. I thought MI:13 was a deeply overrated series, based far too heavily in a sense of British identity that was very… “little Englander”.

    > The best I can manage without getting into unicode is . -iAi– .

    With Unicode, best I can do for now is ·╍Ị̇Ạ̇Ị̇╍·, but that has some inconsistencies (depends on how the font renders the I in particular, but ̣̇| doesn’t seem to show the dots)

  4. Paul says:

    Meggan is at home with Brian. She shows no interest whatsoever in going to Krakoa, probably because she has a family.

  5. Evilgus says:

    Well, I enjoyed it much more than I expected. But I’m a sucker for Psylocke and Captain Britain 🙂

    I’ve seen a few other reviews complaining this means heavily into continuity in a way the soft-reset other books might not. I don’t mind that, though – it’s why I continue to read X-Men. There’s a few odd choices though. Wasn’t Brian the King if Otherworld in his most recent status quo? Whatever happened to his ultra hipster beard and high fade haircut? (The most un-Brian haircut ever, btw, even though it wouldnt look out of place in London. Brian is an upper class square!). And this series seems to reduce Otherworld to British fantasy land, rather than Omni dimensional nexus… But hey ho, I’ll let it slide and just go along with the story. The Dawn of X event has enough capital with me to overlook initially odd things. I suspect lots will be explained as we go.

    Meggan – she never ever wears shoes! Bah. But I liked the subtle touch of her hair changing blue in pleasure at receiving the
    blue dress… small details!

    I am still not down with Betsy blaming herself for the body swap. It sounds too much like Marvel apologising to the readership, to me. And Kwannon remains a cipher, which is almost more insulting in its way. But again, benefit of the doubt – if Kwannon can be fleshed out in Fallen Angels, I’ll be content. But not keen on Betsy losing her butterfly power insignia… I guess it’s just that Psylocke/Betsy Braddock has had some terrific prominent stories in the last few years (Dark Angel Saga; fighting Magneto; leading teams; Astonishing X-Men against Shadow King). So Marvel seems to be having their cake by splitting her back in two and headlining two books. I would love to understand the corporate decision making as I suspect it’s marketing and reputationally driven, rather than plot driven. I read on twitter that they didn’t know where they were going by returning Betsy to her Caucasian body, which is precisely the kind of long term planning problem they brought Hickman on board to address.

    White Witch = it would be too much of a stretch to be Emma. But Sat-yr-9/Courtney Ross…?? That’d be a nice continuity deep cut, and perhaps offer some resolution.

    Rogue seemed to abruptly shift to being blasted by an explosion to naked and poised in a coma… But the sleeping beauty thing is a fun idea. It’s fairy tale and plays into the problems of Rogue being kissed.

    And I liked Gambit’s distrustful attitude towards Apocalypse.

    I’ve read elsewhere Jubilee may be concerned as her baby is human… Invite only onto Krakoa and where does he fit on brave new world? Or is it ressurected Synch (who she always had a crush on) being with Monet…?

    I do like how Jubilee, Gambit and Trinary referred to Psylocke, Betsy, and Miss Braddock… Each reflecting their level of closeness with the character.

    I appreciated the Wisdom cameo. It does make me wonder about Faiza Hussain, and Excalibur, and how that might fit.

    I liked Jamie Braddock lolling around in the egg. And like everyone, with a flower in his hair. The conversation with Betsy did capture a lot of their history in a short time… The bit about the parents was callous. Will he just wander round in a towel rather than the off-putting loin cloth?

    I also noticed the back of Marrow’s head alongside Maggot. I appreciated her and Psylocke’s relationship in Si Spurrier’s X-Force. Marrow calling Psylocke ‘Duchess’ never failed to amuse me…

    And I’m pleased we have room for Trinary too, as an interesting new character from X-Men Red.

    Anyway! Perhaps this is coasting by on goodwill from me. 🙂

  6. SanityOrMadness says:

    Hmmm… “• ┃̣Ȧ┃ •” is technically closer, but having trouble combining the dots above and below the ┃….

  7. SanityOrMadness says:

    Okay, that didn’t really render at all. I’ll just go with “• ••Ị̇Ạ̇Ị•• •” for now.

  8. CJ says:

    Someone made a Krakoan TrueType font, and yesterday I added a few glyphs so that we can type En Sabah Nur’s new name in all its glory:

    Even though Betsy is now restored to her original form, it’s been so long since we’ve seen this version of her that I don’t remember what she was like–and that is a problem, since she has gone through so many changes that I don’t know who she is as a character. Hopefully this will give Betsy a direction (something I think every few years or so).

    Given that last week, Kitty wants to be Kate and Apocalypse wants to be called [insert ancient Unicode symbols from the dawn of time], I’m surprised Betsy hasn’t demanded to be called “Elizabeth” by now.

    I’m enjoying this more than I thought I would, so far.

  9. Chris V says:

    Is Meggan a mutant? I thought she was a member of the Neuri race.

  10. SanityOrMadness says:

    > Even though Betsy is now restored to her original form, it’s been so long since we’ve seen this version of her that I don’t remember what she was like–and that is a problem, since she has gone through so many changes that I don’t know who she is as a character. Hopefully this will give Betsy a direction (something I think every few years or so).

    Well, she didn’t have any memories or anything reset, and her powers haven’t changed – she’s still TP/TK, and she never had TK before 2000 (and Claremont’s… odd… power swap with Jean). So I’m not sure “what she was like” pre-bodyswap is really relevant.

    [The bizarre thing is her using an arming sword & shield now rather than a katana. All her sword training – first hand or via Kwannon – was with Japanese swords, no? The bodyswap doesn’t change that.)

    I’m hoping Fallen Angels will explain WHY Kwannon is up and around anyway. The Revanche thing ended with her ripping all traces of her personality out of Betsy before dying, and that body was confirmed dead in the HFW mini before the stinger (plus, Betsy was briefly swapped back to her original body in Fraction’s run, and the Japanese body didn’t get up and walk about as Kwannon then).

    > I’m surprised Betsy hasn’t demanded to be called “Elizabeth” by now.

    Actually… Apocalypse uses “Elizabeth” this issue, but wasn’t she always “Elisabeth” with an “s”?

  11. CJ says:

    Her name was spelled alternately with an “s” and a “z”, and it’s gone back and forth a lot. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why she’s “Betsy”–harder to misspell.

  12. Col_Fury says:

    I really liked the Braddock family stuff here, and it was good to see Betsy and Brian have some real conversations. Too bad that it looks like Brian won’t be around much.

    I’m a sucker for Captain Britain. I first “met” him in the Claremont/Davis Excalibur series and can pretty much only picture him as drawn by Alan Davis. One of my favorite Marvel stories is Captain Britain vs. the Fury (it kills super heroes), and still love the Cross-Time Caper Excalibur story, and the Davis-returns era of Excalibur.

    I was hoping for a Betsy and Brian series here, but Brian’s been (basically) taken off the board again (remember Britannic? If you don’t, good for you). ~sigh~ At least his terrible haircut/beard is gone.

    Other than that, I enjoyed this first issue. At least some people are uncomfortable around Apocalypse (who’s apparently Prince now, what with his symbol for a name). Hopefully things go better for Betsy this time around as Captain Britain. 🙂

  13. Dave says:

    “This remained the status quo…”,
    Heh, I guess. They sure did like to mess with the details regularly, though. Crimson Dawn shadow powers, having Shadow King trapped in her mind which nerfed her telepathy, swapping powers with Jean off-panel, dying, being recreated by Jamie (but not in her original body)…I’d forgotten about the brief body re-swap in Fraction’s run.

  14. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I really rather liked it. The issue was surprisingly dense with a lot of setup and character work. I like this handle on Betsy and I was surprisingly quickly convinced by the mentor/sage-ish take on *[A]*. I would prefer if the rest of the team had a purpose in the story beyond ‘they were standibg nearby’ – though it wouldn’t bother me if Marauders hadn’t gathered together in similar (even more random) way just a week before.

    But those are minor issues. Otherwise – I’m very interested in what this will lead to. The magic/mutant conflict

  15. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    That’s what typing on the phone gets you.

    Regarding the mutant/magic conflict – I wish the team included a character previously associated with magic. Illyana’s busy in another book, but Pixie’s free and relegated to standing in the background. Or it might be ibterestibg to involve Beast – he’s Also busy in another book but I would be curious to See his present, older self going back to the magic studies he undertook in his All-New X-Men teenage years. Months. Weeks. However long the sliding timeline says it was.

  16. Taibak says:

    I’m pretty sure nobody’s ever straightened out whether or not Meggan was a mutant or not. When she was first introduced, Alan Moore implied that she was changed as part of the Jaspers Warp. As her background was fleshed out, she was a mutant whose powers manifested at birth. Claremont then suggested that she was something more and implied that she had some kind of connection to fairies. He also suggested that she had some Earth elemental powers, which Warren Ellis emphasized later on.

    The Neuri connection came when Alan Davis was writing Excalibur. Meggan and Rachel met a Neuri, who gave a little more information about Meggan’s powers and her past, but he never said that she was a Neuri.

    And somewhere in there she also ruled a small part of Hell.

    Either way, I don’t think it’s ever been conclusively decided whether or not Meggan is a mutant. It’s certainly not central to her identity and I don’t think she’s ever called herself that. She’s never really shown much of an interest in the X-Men’s mission other than thinking that peace and harmony would be nice – and it would be *quite* out of character for her to leave her daughter behind and run off to Krakoa.

  17. Adrian says:

    This is the only one of the three launch books so far that I liked. Dense read but some good character writing. Never read any Excalibur books but I did not feel like I could not follow. The important thing was that the relationships were established. Particularly Betsy and Brian.

    The issue was undermined by Krakoa for me though. Is this really where we are going with this concept? A weird Woodstock paradise where everyone gets high and has babies? A big frat party? Bizarre.

    This issue did a better job than Marauders with setup as it can deal with the magical aspect of whatever this Krakoa history is while sidestepping Hickman’s sci-fi setup (which only Hickman can really deal with).

  18. Chris V says:

    This was the first “Dawn of X” comic I really did not enjoy.

    It seemed completely out of place with the Krakoa set up.
    It seemed like a C-list X-title that would have been launched randomly amidst a bunch of X-books in the 1990s, rather than serving any real purpose with the new status quo.

    It is starting to seem like this Krakoa story isn’t really an unified concept.
    It is starting to seem more like it’s just a jumping off point for other X-titles that could have existed at any point in X-history.
    (Even Marauders, with what we saw, it was a team of mutants going to rescue other persecuted mutants.)

    Apocalypse as a sorcerer now? Why?
    That doesn’t seem to fit with anything we’ve seen from Apocalypse during this event.

    Howard’s writing isn’t that great. I found it clunky.
    At times, I felt like I was reading the script for a RPG game.
    “Where was Betsy seen last?”
    “With Jubilee.”
    “Let us go talk to Jubilee now.”
    “Jubilee do you know anything about Betsy?”
    “Yes, I did talk to her. She did not give me much information.”
    “Would you care to join our party Jubilee?”
    Jubiless joins your Excalibur team!

  19. Gary Halpin says:

    I think Megan being a mutant or not is now settled as she was brought into the Age of X-Man

  20. Ken Robinson says:

    Paul, great job summarizing Psylocke’s messy history so cleanly and concisely, all things considered.

  21. new kid says:

    Excalibur: the sword is Drawn explicitly states that Meggan is a Mutant when is introduced.

  22. Taibak says:

    new kid: Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn can’t be the last word on the subject. The Earth elemental powers, her being a fairy, and the bit with the Neuri all came later.

    Gary: You’ve probably got me there. I didn’t follow Age of X-Man. That said, there’s really no reason she has to be a mutated human.

    And to think all this happened because Alan Moore needed someone to deliver some exposition.

  23. Gary Halpin says:

    Haha, @Taibak.

    We could all just say she is a mutant whose power is to be an elemental fairy

  24. Evilgus says:

    I find it interesting this thread hasnt exploded in the way some of the other books have.

    Maybe because it feels more like X-business as usual? But is that such a bad thing?

  25. Adrian says:


    Although I liked the issue, I do agree with your point. Krakoa was not necessary for this set up as was Marauders. AlanL was right about how narrow the scope of this story is. People cannot address Krakoa directly without treading on the mysteries Hickman has plan to unveil. They seem to be trying to write around it while not ignoring it completely.

    I am not surprised that it is not a unified concept. I actually think that is better. The Krakoa idea is not particularly interesting or well laid out so far so I am happy for it to be window dressing.

  26. Paul says:

    Meggan’s been claimed to be all sort of inconsistent things in the past. In theory, she could be both a mutant and something else – Warlock was supposed to be a mutant Technarch, for example, and we’ve seen mutant Skrulls as well. Whether the Krakoans would regard that as falling under their definition of “mutant” might be another matter.

  27. Chris V says:

    Adrian-It just screams failure for a major relaunch of the X-books…yet again.

    The writers seem to be treating this as a cross-over event. They want to tell a certain X-story, but it’s set in the same period at the Krakoa event, so they’re forced to quietly work their way around the editorially mandated set-up and get on with telling their usual, everyday story.
    Except, “Dawn of X” isn’t supposed to be “Axis” or some other annual cross-over event that Marvel is forcing on the line.
    I find this a real problem.

    It probably bodes badly for the future of this as the new status quo for the X-Men.
    Probably in another year, Marvel will have moved on to the next X-event after the sales fall off for this one.

    I’m also sort of reminded of Hickman’s Secret Wars by this too.
    There’s the major concept….Battleworld or Krakoa.
    There are core book that touch on the main story-line.
    Then, there a bunch of ancillary titles that are telling their own little stories off on the margins of the major concept.

    I don’t want everything completely unified, as in telling one big story, about Krakoa.
    I just wanted to see an established new status quo for the X-books.
    The fact that mutants now have their own island-nation being important, not just a change of scenery, while the writers launch comics that could have existed at any point in the X-Men’s history.

    If this was already the new status quo and a few years down the line, Marvel started putting out more X-titles doing their own thing, that would be fine.
    This is supposed to be the launch of “Dawn of X’, where Krakoa is supposedly supposed to be important.
    Not just window dressing.

    The fact that there also seems to be very little continuity used between books is also a major problem.
    Apocalypse is a sorcerer in one book and a mastermind behind the Quiet Council in another book….that seems like a major problem too.

  28. Chris V says:

    Evilgus-I’m afraid that the mediocrity may have begun to set in already.
    Hickman’s story seems to have gotten people talking, either in the positive or negative. It seemed like an important event in the history of the X-line.

    Now, the new books coming out (sans Hickman) seem like more of the same.
    There’s very little to get excited by, and the writing is pretty pedestrian.

    It’s a bad thing if this is reflected in the sales figures, because Marvel will probably be waiting to see if they need to start planning for “X-Tinction is Coming!” next year.

    I enjoyed X-Men quite a lot.
    I thought that Marauders was cute, but not much else. I felt willing to keep buying it, for the nonce, but it didn’t grip me with excitement.
    I found Excalibur uninteresting with uninspired writing.
    I don’t see a book like Marauders or Excalibur lasting long in today’s comic market.

  29. SanityOrMadness says:

    Rich J said that all the books were meant to be 12-issue series, but they’re reconsidering after the initial sales were stronger than expected.

  30. Chris V says:

    SanityOrMadness-Was Hickman’s X-Men also originally meant to be twelve issues?
    So, this really does seem like it was a big event, rather than a new status quo.

  31. SanityOrMadness says:

    @Chris V
    “I’ve been told that the numbers are way above Marvel’s early expectations. And that originally the plan was for the first wave of the Dawn Of X books to run twelve issues before a multi-book weekly crossover, kicking off a new wave of titles starting from issue one. Apparently some of the upcoming wave two books more like half-waves, even shorter mini-series, such as X-Corp.

    But the sales success so far may have changed or restructured that. Because, while so much of these books have been planned, there is plenty of wiggle room to reward success.”

  32. Paul says:

    I believe Hickman’s referred to the current X-Men story as 12 issues, but also said that his overall run is planned to be multiyear. There’s been references before to several waves of titles being planned, and I don’t think we’d want them to just keep expanding. Within reason, I’m all for short-run titles.

  33. Chris V says:

    The problem with Marvel paying too much attention to current sales figures is that Hickman was making sure to point out that sales on both House and Powers had increased as the series went along.
    Retailers are ordering the “Dawn of X” line based off of how well House and Powers were selling.
    There’s nothing to suggest that a reader who loved House of X is going to have any interest in Excalibur or Fallen Angels.

  34. Adrian says:

    I agree that the existing titles out the gate are weak. I view the order differently from you though. X-Men 1 was the worst of the bunch for me. Duggan and Excalibur at least tried to show us what life on Krakoa was like. Twelve crossover issues and one X-Men issue and Hickman still cannot give us any real context about Krakoa day to day.

    On Apocalypse: He feels more like Age of X-Man Apocalypse. He is literally two different characters across the line.

    I really think this is already a missed opportunity. There is nothing suspenseful about Krakoa. I know it is going to fall apart because of the ridiculous alliances. It is too implausible to even be remotely interesting. Hickman would have been better off playing Krakoa up after a big event a la Morrison in his first issues.

    I also wonder if the new status quo of the X-Men needs to play down the whole anti-mutant prejudice thing and integrate them into the Marvel Universe more. The real draw for me with the X-Men was never the mutant prejudice angle but the character dynamics. Hickman is not Morrison. He cannot do good character work within the framework of a larger high concept. The most memorable moments of Morrison’s run were some of the character centric issues.

  35. JCG says:

    Lots of jumping to conclusions here I see, yet only half of the new titles have gotten their first issue out at this point!

    Might be a *tad* too soon to judge how well it will comes together and what the main plots will be.

  36. Joe Iglesias says:

    Hang on, is Apocalypse’s new name just… an ASCII drawing of his belt?

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