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Jan 31

Excalibur #6 annotations

Posted on Friday, January 31, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

Once again, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are by the digital edition. This completes Excalibur vol 1, so a fuller review will follow.

COVER / PAGE 1. Captain Britain kneels before Apocalypse in the throne of Otherworld. Which doesn’t happen in the book, but makes the point about what’s really going on.

PAGE 2. Apocalypse is raised from the dead.

So, as I suspected last time, Apocalypse was sacrificing himself to complete his mystical ritual, in the confident belief that he would simply be resurrected. And indeed he is – as he confirms later, he was put to the head of the queue because of his position on the Quiet Council. This, of course, is cheating at magic, and in stories about magic, that sort of thing tends not to go well.

Professor X is evidently not impressed with these shenanigans, more because he considers it a misuse of the Resurrection Protocols. This has been presented as a quasi-religious thing, after all – or at least, that’s how the Krakoans are trying to portray it. Professor X does, however, address Apocalypse by his preferred name. Since I can’t type it and he still uses the old name when dealing with outsiders, I’m going to stick with Apocalypse.

Jamie Braddock is already lined up to work with Apocalypse, clearly another part of the plan that he already had in place.

PAGE 3. Data page on “conquered Avalon”. The map shown here is obviously based on Devon and Cornwall, but we’re told that it represents features of Otherworld. This page is weirdly placed, since it explains the status quo after this issue. Essentially, Apocalypse has installed Jamie Braddock as king of Avalon in place of Morgan Le Fay. Le Fay, of course, was herself a regent, standing in for the missing King Arthur, as she mentioned back in issue #1. However, this page consistently describes Jamie as the King (in contrast to Morgan as Queen Regent). We can probably take it that Arthur will be showing up at some point to reclaim the throne, though.

We’re told that since Otherworld is shaped by thoughts and ideas to start with, a reality-warping mutant like Jamie is especially powerful there. This is presumably why Apocalypse wants to put Jamie in charge, given the obvious downsides of handing over Avalon to a raving lunatic. Apocalypse evidently figures that Jamie can be steered acceptably.

The invasion of Avalon by the “White Witch forces”, which we saw in issue #1, is still an ongoing battle. The data page refers to a “Battle of Imbolc Eve”. Imbolc is 1 February; it’s the feast day of St Brigid of Kildare. This is being posted on Imbolc Eve! See, it’s not late, it’s topical.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits. This is “Verse VI: Watch the Throne” by Tini Howard and Marcus To.

PAGES 6-11. Excalibur arrive in Otherworld and confront Morgan’s forces (which are already busy with the White Witch). Apocalypse and Morgan agree on a duel between their respective Captain Britains.

The White Witch. We still don’t know who this is, but Morgan seems quite emphatic that she’s a false witch and “but a woman hidden in a tower.” It’s somewhat odd that Morgan both uses “witchbreed” as an abusive term for mutants, and insists that she herself is a true witch.

Shogo. Again, he becomes a dragon as soon as he enters Otherworld. Jubilee says they’ve learned from their experience and won’t be damaging the fabric of reality with any of his dragonfire. How anyone is communicating this to the toddler mind of Shogo isn’t entirely clear.

Rogue and Gambit. Gambit is understandably concerned about Rogue, who still looks like Apocalypse and has presumably taken on some of his personality. Rogue, in turn, is very happy and seems less interested in him than usual.

Rictor is played up heavily as some sort of earth spirit, which is evidently where we’re going with his earthquake powers in this series. (His vibration powers aren’t earth specific, but whatever.)

Apocalypse. Strangely, Captain Britain says that the revived Apocalypse is “barely standing”, and he does indeed have a walking stick. This isn’t how resurrection normally seems to work; people have emerged in the past in perfect physical health. Is something different here, or is he just faking?

PAGES 12-18. Betsy wins the duel. Jamie Braddock becomes monarch and uses his reality-warping powers to revive Brian.

Rogue. She thinks that Apocalypse’s plan was for the best, even if it wasn’t shared with her – she apparently needed the time in the coma to process all the energy she picked up in issue #1. She describes it here as energy from Krakoa, not from Otherworld, which is strange. At any rate, Rogue is tentatively on side with Apocalypse, in the same way that Rictor is.

“Britain may be your home, and Krakoa mine…” Not exactly the ideal sentiment for a Captain Britain.

The thing with the sword. The art really doesn’t convey this very coherently at all. The idea seems to be that Betsy dispels her psychic sword in an attempt to get through to the brainwashed Brian. He comes at her anyway, she wrestles him to try and get the sword out of his hands, and in some incomprehensible way she ends up running him through with the sword. Jamie’s intervention plays in somewhere, at least by distracting Brian, but… bluntly, it’s very difficult to make sense of the visual storytelling here.

“Every thread of reality on your loom…” In the original Excalibur series, Jamie was shown as perceiving the world as threads of energy. Apocalypse chucks in the information that Jamie is also powerful enough to control the damage from Shogo’s dragon fire. No doubt he is, but this still involves trusting to Jamie to show some sort of responsibility.

PAGES 19-20. Rogue and Gambit in a Krakoan hot tub.

Rogue’s appearance and personality are back to normal.

Babies. “Make more mutants” is supposed to be the first law of Krakoa, though not one we’ve heard much about so far. Rogue gives us an understandable speech about how she doesn’t want to have children, but in theory, at least, the social pressure on Krakoa should really be quite intense – at least if people are taking those laws seriously.

PAGES 21-23. Brian Braddock quits as Captain Britain.

Brian has a dream in which he repeats his origin story but chooses the Sword of Might instead of the Amulet of Right. We’ve seen before that you can make that choice and still get a version of the Captain Britain powers, but Brian considers himself permanently damaged by his experience in Otherworld, due to his anger at Morgan. He also doesn’t want to compete with Betsy. We’re clearly shown, though, that he could turn into a version of Captain Britain if he wanted to – he simply refuses, if it has to involve the sword.

PAGE 24. Jamie finds Apocalypse experimenting on Morgan le Fey.

Apocalypse promised Morgan exile, but he hasn’t lived up to the deal. Jamie is already being treated as a puppet king, though that seems awfully risky given Jamie’s insane power levels.

PAGE 25. Data page. Some half-comprehensible notes from the grimoire of Apocalypse. Basically, his dissection of Morgan Le Fay has identified something called “Component Y” which is “an active threat to Otherworld” and has to be contained. What it’s a component of… well, we’re not told. A footnote tells us that Component Y’s potential source is discussed in something called “Notes upon an Ancient Darkness, c. 1200 CE”.

Apocalypse also seems to conclude that the magic he’s trying to use depends on strength of community, and that he needs more people to form a coven. Presumably this is what drives him to try and work with Excalibur.

There are three words written in Krakoan, in his “updates to previous methodology”. The word after “Include at least one Omega Level Mutate” – and note, “mutate”, not “mutant” – is MONARCH, i.e. Jamie. The word after “Include mutate assistant of advanced age” is EXODUS, referring to Magneto’s long-time worshipper – who is roughly the right timeframe for 1200. And the “components” which he needs “to protect and sanctify Magica Superior” are components of KRAKOA.

PAGES 26-27. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: THE HUNT.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> Apocalypse. Strangely, Captain Britain says that the revived Apocalypse is “barely standing”, and he does indeed have a walking stick. This isn’t how resurrection normally seems to work; people have emerged in the past in perfect physical health. Is something different here, or is he just faking?

    I think the idea is meant to be that Rogue still has most of his power, and coming back from the dead hasn’t undone his being drained. Why the hell that would be, since it’s an all-new cloned body from backed up memory… you got me.

    Either that, or “⋅  ╌̣̇Ị̇Ạ̇I ╌ ⋅” was sabotaged on purpose by The Five. (As you note, characters have tended to be brought back from the dead healthier, if anything – the Synch data page in this week’s X-Men #5 is explicit about that, although also notes some post-mortem stress disorder)

  2. Michael says:

    I’m really not grokking all of this wibbly-wobbly magic handwavey stuff. It’s a weird take on the X-Men,and it requires us to take a lot of developments on faith (as well as the new directions taken with Apocalypse, Rictor, and even Betsy and Brian to a degree.)

    Sure, magic weird stuff isn’t completely out of the X-Men’s field of expertise, but it’s pretty fringe for them.

  3. CJ says:

    What an annoyingly misleading cover.

    When Brian transformed again, because I don’t know enough about his powers or recognize his costume, I assumed he was becoming something different altogether, which seemed interesting. Are there examples of magic warriors who chose sword over amulet?

    There were a lot of nice moments in this issue: Betsy and Brian, Rogue and Gambit talking about kids and the tension about moral obligation, Apocalypse getting scientific about magic like some sort of evil Merlin Einstein.

    But it’s hard to take a story seriously that depends on Jamie Braddock behaving appropriately. I keep on having trouble with stories about magic where the rules can be broken multiple times an issue.

    So now there’s a Component Y, presumably with “Y” as some kind of opposition to “X”. If true, I wonder why it wasn’t a “+” as show in issue #1 (I think).

  4. Bengt says:

    @CJ Another person who picked the sword was, Brian has the lion on the chest to link their costumes but not much else it seems.

  5. Evilgus says:

    Sorry to sound like a broken record on this. While there’s lots of good ideas, and some good character interactions (Rogue/Gambit in particular), it just doesn’t cohere into a whole. And the art, while pretty, isn’t conveying what the writer is describing. So that’s a fail for me.

    Also: did Betsy actually take any direct action herself in these six issues that changed the plot? It was entirely driven by other characters, it seemed to me. She was like a passenger.

    I’m up for Jamie running around Otherworld, but didn’t we cover this before in Remender’s Uncanny X-Force? It wasn’t the most popular arc, but I enjoyed it for the unusual art, Betsy-as-Captain-Britain, and the ultimate denouement. It’s frustrating it’s not more explicitly touched on, especially for new readers. Oh for editor boxes…!

  6. neutrino says:

    Did Jamie actually give Betsy the victory? That’s even worse cheating at magic, not to mention breaking his word.

    With Apocalypse’s resurrection, aren’t there two copies of his consciousness around, one in the new body and the other in Rogue?

    Is Morgan Le Fay actually the good guy? Her realm was invaded by Apocalypse and Excalibur is acting as his allies.

  7. SanityOrMadness says:

    CJ> When Brian transformed again, because I don’t know enough about his powers or recognize his costume, I assumed he was becoming something different altogether, which seemed interesting.
    Bengt> Brian has the lion on the chest to link their costumes but not much else it seems.

    It’s a take on his original costume, (as opposed to the Alan Davis costumes which have formed the basis of most of his costumes, as well as Betsy’s current one), with more “armoured” layers and anime hair.

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