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Jun 10

Excalibur #10 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Captain Britain in front of a burning Houses of Parliament, with a Krakoan gate in the foreground. As we’ll see when we get into the story, this isn’t actually our Captain Britain.

PAGE 2. The recap page… which, unfortunately, doesn’t actually recap some of the things you need to know for the story to make any sense.

When we left off, Excalibur were in Otherworld, and Captain Britain was trying to track down Opal Luna Saturnyne. One of the reasons for that was to find out the current status of the Captain Britain Corps, which was meant to have been largely wiped out. For reasons not yet revealed, Saturnyne seemed to be blocking Captain Britain from reaching her. After Excalibur fought some of Saturnyne’s followers, the issue ended with Saturnyne concluding that Krakoa and Excalibur were escalating their war with her, and saying that she would “destroy whatever I see fit” in order to “put a stop to whatever madness threatens the balance of the Omniverse.” The art showed her picking up a small bag, and an image of Jubilee, Gambit, Rictor and Rogue as Captain Britains, the significance of which was less than clear.

This story establishes that those four “Captain Britains” are counterparts from a pocket world, and explains how they came about. The “real” Excalibur don’t appear in this issue, but that only becomes apparent about halfway through.

PAGE 3. Credits. This is “Verse X: A Crooked World” by Tini Howard and Marcus To. “Crooked World” was an early-1980s Captain Britain storyline by Alan Moore and Alan Davis, better known as the “Jaspers’ Warp”. It’s the story which introduced the Captain Britain Corps and Saturnyne in the first place, as well as coining the name “Earth-616” for the Marvel Universe (originally intended to convey that it was nothing special, and just one more Earth among hundreds of others).

PAGE 4. An info page in the form of a public information poster warning Londoners about the threat from mutants. This isn’t remotely like anything that you’d see in terms of government communications today, but it’s intended to evoke 1940s posters of the “Keep calm and carry on” variety.

As we find out later, Jamie Braddock has deliberately set out to make the authorities on this world believe that Krakoa is firing missiles at them, so the fear of a war with Krakoa is seemingly justified. The anti-mutant tone is obviously intended to be excessive even allowing for that.

The Minister of Information is identified as Reuben Brousseau, who has previously been shown as a major figure in Clan Akkaba, and (at best) a reactionary bigot. The Ministry of Information hasn’t existed since 1946, but it was the name of the department responsible for propaganda during World Wars I and II.

“Protect & Survive” was a public information campaign on how to survive nuclear armageddon. It appeared near the start of the Thatcher government, but it had been under preparation during the previous administration.

In practice, no modern government would ever invoke the memory of “Protect & Survive”, which was notorious for its combination of apocalyptic bleakness and demented optimism that you might be able to do something about it. Narrator Patrick Allen reprises his role on “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (“I am the last voice you will ever hear. Do not be alarmed.”)

PAGES 5-10. Excalibur find themselves in a London under rocket attack, and hunted by British forces.

For some reason, Captain Britain still seems to think that “In the name of Queen and Country” is something that British people say. She also seems curiously to believe that if Britain was at war with an island thousands of miles away, then all boats would have been commandeered.

Excalibur are confused, which (on a first reading) is presumably meant to seem as if it’s due to the discontinuity with the previous issue. We’ll find out later that this isn’t the real Excalibur; the implication at that point is that Jamie has copied Excalibur into a “broken” universe, and the copies have filled in the gaps for themselves, perhaps creating the world that they expected to find.

The gates to Krakoa don’t work, apparently because of magic – though since this is a pocket dimension, it’s also possible that there simply isn’t a Krakoa there.

PAGES 11-14. Excalibur hitch a lift with Kitty Pryde in a giant flying ship.

Kitty and Rachel were part of the original Excalibur, presumably explaining why they’re being used here rather than the regular Marauders. Kitty, of course, is currently dead over in Marauders. Rachel is wearing her Excalibur-era costume.

Pete Wisdom, as always in this series, shows no interest in Krakoa and regards England as his home. He remains highly unusual among mutant characters in rejecting any sort of Krakoan identity.

PAGES 15-16. Jamie explains his plan to Morgan Le Fey.

Morgan has been stuck in this lab ever since Jamie deposed her in issue #6. She was supposed to be given safe passage to exile, but, well, Jamie and Apocalypse lied.

“There’s just the one Captain Britain, but time was, there were hundreds.” The annihilated Captain Britain Corps. Basically, Jamie wants to replace the Corps, and in order to do so, he’s going to create a bunch of divergent realities and empower some Captain Britains in them.

“You could even go to that Citadel and meet them.” The Starlight Citadel, discussed extensively in the previous issue.

PAGES 17-19. Jamie confronts Excalibur and reveals his plan. Sort of.

As Captain Britain points out, there’s no terribly obvious reason why Jamie needs this world to be in a state of war – on the face of it, any parallel universe would do as a spawning ground for new Captain Britains. Jamie seems to suggest that these characters are duplicates of the real Excalibur and that the precise nature of this reality is dictated by their hang-ups – so that the war between Britain and Krakoa is something to do with Betsy’s internal dilemmas about her competing national identities playing out on a large scale. (If so, then presumably Betsy is imagining a war between Britain and Krakoa, and then rationalising that neither of them would have started it without some outside manipulation. Jamie might not be directly responsible for the missiles appearing to be Krakoan.)

PAGES 21-23. Jamie fractures the reality and creates four new Captain Britains.

The idea seems to be that Jamie kills Captain Britain in a way that splinters his pocket reality into four further timelines – in each of them, a different member of Excalibur picks up her amulet and becomes Captain Britain in her place. And since the Captain Britain Corps are dimension-hoppers, Jamie can bring them all together again shortly after. The data page at the end of the story makes this all a little clearer.

PAGE 24. Saturnyne tells her followers that this new fake Captain Britain Corps must die.

The second panel focusses on two priestesses we saw talking in the previous issue. The woman with glasses was named in that issue as Cristabel. The man with red hair wasn’t named.

PAGE 25. Data page on what Jamie’s up to, which basically confirms that he’s splintering off “fractured” realities from existing ones, which then fill in their gaps based on what the inhabitants remember. The original reality, we’re told, “largely” doesn’t notice the change.

Incursion. This is a loaded term in the context of a line driven by Jonathan Hickman, since it was used repeatedly in his Avengers run to refer to realities colliding with one another.

PAGE 26. Coming Soon. The publication schedule has now been updated, and the next X-books won’t be out until the start of July. (It seems Marauders is going to go over two months between issues.)

PAGE 27. The “next issue” text. The Krakoan reads NEXT: OPENING GATES.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ben says:

    I was so desperate to read some new comics I checked this out again after dropping it however many issues ago.

    Very confused.

    I still hate that Betsy feels like a completely different character now.

  2. Michael says:

    “I’ve plucked these four alternate Captain Britains from parallel timelines.”

    There. Problem solved. No need to spend an entire issue faffing about with Jamie Braddock and splintered realities or whatever.

  3. monkeyking says:

    I have to admit that I don’t often look at creators’ names when reading. But after reading this issue after just having sampled (suffered?) the first few issues of Avengers Strikeforce, I’m starting to think that Tini Howard is not a writer for me.

    She seems to have some pretty grand ideas and a scope of worldbuilding that’s interesting, but the execution leaves a lot missing on the page. I missed a bunch of stuff from your description above, especially the last bit. When Jamie says “look, it’s breaking,” I thought it meant reality was returning to normal, but then a data page (and I hate those in principle) does say there is a “second incursion.” But why should we think the second incursion creates four timelines over four alternates in the same timeline?

    Some of this is worse in Avengers Strikeforce, in which you have to read the recap page to understand key plot points that occur “between the panels”, in this case, between panels of different issues.

    I would like to see a raw script from Howard, as my suspicion is that there is a ton of stuff showing up that simply cannot translate well into the sequential artwork of the medium.

  4. Daniel says:


    I also hate data pages on principle and was surprised to see little if any blowback around here when Hickman started hanging the entire revamp on them. They just take the “show, don’t tell” concept and beat it to within an inch of its life. Really bad way to tell a story in my opinion.

  5. Evilgus says:

    Agree with @monkeyking: it feels like a grand idea and in the spirit of classic Excalibur, but is really lacking in execution.

    Are we meant to go back and read the last ten issues looking for the reality ‘breaks’? As even so, it’s still dreadfully muddled. There’s just such a lack of grounding as to geography of each scene, and reason for characters to be there (compare to other comics where reality shifts – didn’t the recent Astonishing run by Charles Soule make a good fist of it?). I’m going to use the dreaded ‘fanfic’ word, as that feels like where this has come from… (A literal Kitty/Rachel ship? Please). It’s enthusiastic but needs to be so much tighter.

    Also agree @Ben, this Betsy feels like a new character. She’s so unconfident. And the artist has to backflip to avoid using her butterfly insignia. Which makes me wonder just what her powers are, anyway.

    I do like the art itself though – Marcus To is very crisp.

  6. CJ says:

    My favorite thing about this series remains the art. I enjoyed the first one, but the time gap hasn’t helped this at all.

    Splitting up Psylocke into “Betsy” and “Kwannon” reminds me of splitting Fantomex into 3 versions at the end of Uncanny X-Force: something that was more interesting in theory than in practice.

    The idea that Apocalypse has been a magician was weird but interesting. I’d rather get back to that than the recent subplot with Bloodstone and this one.

    And why is Jubilee here again?

  7. Voord 99 says:

    It remains really odd to me that anyone would think that the “British X-book” should be given to someone who I’m afraid does not seem all that familiar with Britain. I mean, it’s not as if there isn’t an overabundance of British comics creators. Throw a stone and you’ll hit three of them, dementedly eager to write about their takes on the dilemmas of British identity in the current moment.

  8. Karl_H says:

    Agreed — there is some connective tissue missing in the writer’s works. I re-read the prior issue before starting this one… There’s a scene where the team comes within sight of the Citadel, and decides to make camp and hunt for rabbits. How did they get there in such a manner that this was necessary? It didn’t feel very well thought out or explained.

  9. Loz says:

    So many of the stories in this title have been so difficult to figure out even when not delayed by reasons that are not it’s fault and set in a country that I can’t even recognise as a parody of the U.K. that I am swiftly moving from ‘not caring’ about this book to ‘actively disliking’.

  10. Chris V says:

    Yes, it’s a shame that Excalibur didn’t follow up on the legacy of the best runs on this title; all of which had British writers.
    Claremont was born in England. Alan Davis and Warren Ellis.

    There are a lot of great British comic talents not doing anything currently…I’d love to see a Paul Jenkins version of Excalibur right now, just as one example.

    Hickman does seem to be a great fan of Howard though, considering that Hickman chose Howard to co-write the first Krakoa era X-crossover.

    I think Howard is better writing her own creator owned titles rather than corporate properties.

  11. neutrino says:

    Hickman seems to regard himself as a mentor to Howard.

  12. “as well as coining the name “Earth-616” for the Marvel Universe (originally intended to convey that it was nothing special, and just one more Earth among hundreds of others).”

    Heh, it’s Alan Moore, of course there’s something special. 616 was the original Number of the Beast, before the more popular 666 came about.

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