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Nov 26

Excalibur #15 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #15
“X of Swords, Chapter 21”
by Tini Howard, Mahmud Asrar, Stefano Caselli, Sunny Gho & Rachelle Rosenberg

COVER / PAGE 1: Shards showing the various contest participants; in the centre of the frame, Apocalypse’s shard is held by Saturnyne. (Honestly, you can tell it’s her from the shape of the sleeve, though it’s largely obscured by the logo.)

PAGE 2. Epigraph by Saturnyne. The claim here is that magic can be directed with willpower; therefore, magic will respond more readily to true desperation, but not so much to things that you merely desire. This ties to the advice to spellcasters on the data page about love spells later on.

As we’ve seen throughout this storyline, Saturnyne is very, very keen to have Brian Braddock restored as Captain Britain. She’s been trying to exploit this crisis to bring that about, and while she either can’t or won’t ultimately interfere with the outcome of the trial, she was willing and able to rig the contest to make it appear that the Krakoans would lose, plus get Betsy out of circulation, all in the hope of getting Brian into the role again through a mixture of magic and pressure. As seen in this issue, that didn’t work, and magic doesn’t ultimately give her Brian back. But it does give her a new Captain Britain Corps to face the invaders – all of them Betsies. So she doesn’t get what she desired, but she does get what she needed to defeat the Arakkii invasion and restore balance or whatever.

PAGES 3-4. Credits and recap.

PAGE 5. Ryl brings the shards of Captain Britain to Saturnyne’s chamber.

Ryl is the fish-woman who appears repeatedly as an aide to Saturnyne. The women running in the first panel are Priestesses of the White, basically Saturnyne cultists. Betsy was shattered into shards in the previous issue. The creatures outside the window are monsters from Amenth, some of which have heads vaguely resembling the Annihilation mask.

PAGES 6-8. Genesis and Apocalypse continue to fight while the Arakkii army attack.

Genesis/Annihilation is raving in traditional lunatic fashion, until Storm shuts her up with a lightning bolt. Apocalypse is evidently quite upset by being reunited with Genesis after so long, only to find her in this condition. Understandably, Cypher’s attempt to lighten the mood by mentioning his random marriage to Bei in the previous issue goes down badly.

PAGES 9-10. The White Sword and Bei both break ranks.

The White Sword never liked the Arakkii forces in the first place, and only signed up when he was promised “anything” (if his side won). Even that seemed to be of interest to him more as a symbolic concession. He’s done what he signed up for, and he shrugs his shoulders and heads home with his men.

Bei clearly takes her marriage to Cypher from the previous issue a lot more seriously than he does, and sets out to retrieve her man.

“They are down to what, a half dozen?” Krakoa has lost Captain Britain (shattered), Gorgon (dead) and Cable (injured and off the battlefield, as we see in X of Swords: Destruction). In fact, with the loss of Summoner, White Sword, Death and Bei, the Arakkii swordbearers are also down to six – but they’ve got an army.

PAGES 11-12. Saturnyne and Shogo start on the Captain Britain mosaic.

“Moonward escadrille.” An escadrille is just a squad or squadron. The priestesses here are armed with shields but, being devoted cultists, seem to regard them mainly as convenient devices to keep the rain off Saturnyne.

PAGES 13-15. Bei retrieves Cypher.

Self-explanatory, really. She’s not swapping sides (yet), she’s just taking her new man back home with her.

PAGE 16. More of the mosaic.

Dragonfire. Previous issues of Excalibur have established at some length that Shogo’s dragon fire damages the reality of Otherworld. The suggestion seems to be that once the mosaic is reassembled, Shogo’s dragonfire and Saturnyne’s magic will restore Captain Britain to life.

PAGE 17. Magik decides to get Cypher back.

Understandably, Storm isn’t too keen on being down yet one more person. The Krakoan dialogue is:

STORM: Hold fast!
APOCALYPSE: Never surrender!

PAGES 18-19. Jubilee and the Priestesses of the Green arrive to help.

We saw Jubilee with these Priestesses in the previous issue; as established in earlier issues of this series, the Priestesses of the Green are a less dogmatic group of Saturnyne followers. They regard themselves as serving what she really wants on their interpretation, even if it’s not what she thinks she wants – a relevant point here.

PAGE 20-22. Cypher persuades Bei to switch sides.

The problems here are pretty obvious. Cypher clearly doesn’t perceive this as a real relationship, but he’s appealing to her sense that it is one.

Imbolc. Imbolc is a traditional Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring, on 1 February.

PAGES 23-25. The Captain Britain Corps is reconstituted.

As the closing data page clarifies, Saturnyne was trying to cast a love spell to “restore the heart’s true protector”, which she evidently expected to be Brian. She needed a “pure heart shattered in time of greatest need” as an ingredient for that spell, and evidently she was hoping to kill Betsy as that source material. Instead, her spell – possibly coupled with Shogo’s reality-melting effect, which was mentioned earlier, but which we never actually see – has restored an entire Captain Britain Corps templated on the Betsy Braddock version of Captain Britain. And that’s something that only serves to reinforce the fact that Betsy isn’t coming back.

Confusing matters even further, the blacksmith Betsy who appears on page 23 and again in the closing panel looks an awful lot like “our” Betsy – but apparently isn’t our Betsy, since X of Swords: Destruction has a data page that states outright that our Betsy, “Captain Britain Prime”, is still missing.

Bluntly, this sequence is so obscure on a first reading that the intended impact doesn’t work.

The outcome of Saturnyne’s spell seems to imply that Betsy is the “true protector” of Saturnyne’s heart, not something that seems remotely supported by any of their interactions to date. Of course, taken literally, a “heart’s true protector” is not necessarily a love interest.

PAGE 26. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: THE END.

Bring on the comments

  1. CJ says:

    I really needed the annotations on this one, because I had absolutely zero idea what happened at the end of this issue despite reading it twice.

    All I could tell is that “Our Betsy is gone. A new Betsy is here or something.”

    It all feels like the worst kind of magic: arbitrary and inscrutable. I wish I didn’t have that reaction to this comic overall, but this issue doesn’t help that assessment.

  2. Ben says:

    I had absolutely no idea what was going on with Saturnyne and Betsy.

    It was inscrutable.

    This is a bad comic.

  3. Pablo says:

    Another fairly incomprehensible comic by Tini Howard. Especially the end with the magic and what not.

  4. K says:

    The idea of the spell was that all the broken pieces included pieces of the Starlight Sword. Saturnyne wanted Brian to take the sword and become her knight. Since he refused to voluntarily take the sword, the love spell was supposed to put the sword symbolically and literally in his hands.

    The dragonfire had nothing to do with the love spell. It’s used in the next chapter.

    Note that the first step of the love spell was performed in Stasis, when Saturnyne threw something off the balcony.

  5. Taibak says:

    All this and they’re making Betsy’s character even more complicated, huh?

  6. SanityOrMadness says:

    Making Betsy the root of the reborn CBC is something for a smeg-you-Saturnyne ending, but it’s horrible long-term plotting. She’s far too new and – from an out-of-comic POV – far too insecure in the role.

    If she was still Captain Britain in a decade, maybe they could have pulled this off. As it is, it’s just… forced.

    PS: Why did all the alternate Betsies have purple hair or other defining biological attribute? It’s more likely that she would be a dino-person than that she would leave her hair blonde, really?

  7. CJ says:

    Yeah, the last thing Betsy needs is yet another twist in her backstory. From “telepath replacement” to “purple mutant Elektra” to “random shadow powers” to “one-shotted by Vargas” to “junkie addicted to action” to “back to Caucasian body”. And I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out.

    She’s been in her current body for what, a year and a half? And Captain Britain for one? Does anyone actually want to do anything with Betsy Braddock at this point?

  8. K says:

    If anything, this is back-to-basics since Betsy was Captain Britain before literally all of the developments listed above.

    You could skip everything in the middle and it would still more or less make sense.

  9. Chris V says:

    Betsy needs to be blinded then, as she was Captain Britain for two issues.
    She was blinded in her second issue as Captain Britain, and was no longer Captain Britain.
    It’s not a large, nor glamorous, part of her backstory.

    Also, her hair changing from blonde to purple occurred first.

  10. Dave says:

    The only part of this issue’s writing I found particularly inscrutable was:
    “But when the citadel calls, Captain Britain must answer.
    For the sword was in the hand of Betsy Braddock…and there it would remain.”

    How is the second line a ‘response’ to the first? Is it responding to the art of the completed mosaic? Or to Saturnyne’s “No.” ?

  11. Allan M says:

    Having Blacksmith-Betsy look identical to 616 Betsy was a baffling choice. Just give her a noticeably different haircut! Maybe draw her as bulkier since she’s a blacksmith. Do something to communicate visually that this is an alternate Betsy. Or add a “Earth-43389” caption. And extend that sequence by another page to it’s clear that Captains Britain are being summoned before the splash reveal. One page with just two CMs, one of whom looks just like normal Betsy, and one of whom is a bird, was just confusing. With all the padding in this crossover, would an extra page of montage have killed anyone?

  12. Evilgus says:

    I read this book out of order (online reading lists have it ahead of X-Men for chapter 20!). I think it says something about how poorly information is often conveyed that when the data page says “Apocalypse beats Genesis and Annihilation goes nuts” that my first reaction was “wow, I am so angry they skipped that and used a data page, but oh well”. And then read on for a bit before double checking.

    As ever, there’s a germ of a good story here. But it’s so damn hard to follow. Where does the problem stem from? Editor, writer, artist?

    Completely agree with CJ, Ben, Pablo..
    “All this and they’re making Betsy’s character even more complicated, huh?”
    Well now they’ve doubled down on making her Captain Britain, that’s that. Farewell Psylocke, you had a good last ten years at least… Given how difficult Marvel has found it to push Captain Britain as a brand, let alone into wider media, does this make sense?

    The review also picks up on the art. It’s beautiful and grandiose, but lacks the sense of fun that Davis would have brought (the best Captain designs mimic his). The swan becoming Cap should have been funny, instead it seemed curiously overwrought…!

  13. Alan L says:

    There are a lot of people weighing in here very frequently about Tini Howard writing terrible comics, especially insisting the comics are incomprehensible. Paul also suggests the ending is inscrutable, and it doesn’t work. I just feel very different about this.

    One of the things I really enjoy about Tini Howard’s Excalibur is that it moves extremely fast from story beat to story beat. As somebody pointed out in a previous issue, the action runs at a clip more common to comics of the 80s, and I feel that is really to Howard’s credit. As for the inscrutability of the ending of this comic, it seemed quite clear to me. Saturnyne wants her Brian-Braddock-inspired Captain Britain corps to fight for Otherworld. She casts her spell––which we’re told involves very changeable ideas like “want” vs. “need,” and the idea that the spellcaster pays for every spell in some way––implying that, as far as magic is concerned, a kind of sardonic sense of fate may take a hand. This comes to pass. Saturnyne gets her Captain Britain corps, but pays for it in not being able to have it be the one she actually desires–instead of a Brian-based corps, she has one made up of reflections of the woman she sought to depose and banish. This is all pretty consistent from the beginning of this Excalibur series. Right from the jump we have this idea that Betsy is not the “right” Captain Britain. It should be Brian. Saturnyne wants it to be Brian, and what is Captain Britain supposed to be if not the seneschal of the ruler of Otherworld? The people of England don’t accept her, either. Her previous track record as Captain Britain speaks against her. She seems often unsure where to lead her team, and sometimes she seems simply a patsy for Apocalypse. But at every point, something reaffirms that she is, in fact, the right Captain Britain for the moment, and here in this story we get this reinforced as a kind of ultimate affirmation. Betsy seems to be dead, Saturnyne has the deck cleared to have a Captain Britain corps remade in Brian’s image, with Brian by her side, and whatever will is behind the spell that is cast, some form of providence decides that, in spite of what Saturnyne wants, it is Betsy who is the true Captain Britain for the moment––even when she loses her duel, even when she isn’t there to speak for herself. Saturnyne’s scheme against Betsy is foiled, and the comic leads directly into the next issue of the miniseries, where the new Captain Britain corps charges into battle for Otherworld against the horde.

    The small logical or illogical intricacies of the story at this level don’t seem to me to be of much value to quibble about. Many of the same people who hate the arbitrariness of magic in Tini Howard’s book seem far more willing to extend the “it’ll all make sense 100 issues from now” defense to Hickman’s issues––but the Hickman issues are, by contrast, plodding, and drained of life. They have little character, little atmosphere or feeling, and very freaking little happens in any single Hickman issue. Even in his HoX/PoX event, which packs new story information much more densely than the average Dawn of X issue, most of Hickman’s action happens behind the scenes, in flashback or flash-forward, or is described to us in data pages. By contrast, stuff is always happening on the page in Howard’s writing, and it moves along at a breathtaking clip. What’s more, the action is motivated by character desires and choices, not by “let me tell you an ancient tale in a slightly different way from what you’ve heard two issues ago, contradicting everything you assumed before” cod-postmodernism. That’s Hickman’s approach, and I find Howard’s exuberance much more involving.

    As for magic, that is the main thing I am willing to let be arbitrary in a story, since, one ought to admit, it’s presence in the world exists only as a fiction imposed on life by its so-called “practitioners” or erstwhile believers. I choose to take magic and treat it purely as a literary device, in which case, its function is to let the author enter her story and assert her will most baldly before the reader. That it is used here in service of underlining and advancing the key thematic thrust of the Excalibur series does not take me out of the reading experience at all. Rather, it reinforces the feeling of a steady hand on the tiller, the idea that the author has a clear plan and is executing it. This is something I only sort of feel with Hickman––in fact, on an issue-by-issue basis, I don’t feel it with him at all; only in the broad strokes does he come off as having a plan. Howard’s writing is in a way the exact opposite; she has a general thrust of the story, and on the level of a single issue, she is very clear on delivering emotional character motivation, swift and meaningful action, a sense of tension and danger (this issue is the first in the series so far where it seemed as if the X-men participating in the tournament were genuinely in danger), and the kind of excitement I for one want to have when I read an issue of a superhero comic. This is stuff that I think Duggan and Percy sometimes deliver, and which I think Hickman rarely does at all. In Hickman’s last issue the stakes still felt very remote, far away from his object of concern. But with Howard, I feel that these are the characters I know and recognize, and that they’re in trouble, and that they’re struggling to wiggle their way out of it. Particular characters, too, with particular approaches to the events of the narrative, which the author is aware of and indicates. As such, the Howard issues have had more substance than most of the other ones I’ve read in the Hickman X-men era. They don’t always make perfect sense, in terms of connecting one plot point to another. Frankly, that’s a lesser concern for a reader like me. I don’t need flawless logic so much as I need a lot of feeling in the text, and a vivid identification with what I’m reading, and I think Howard provides that in spades (Zeb Wells is doing a pretty good job of it on Hellions, also; I hope they give him more projects in the X-office). So I prize those elements Howard delivers more than I value the approach I guess a lot of people are looking for. But for me this issue was one of the very best of the miniseries––one where I felt genuine identification with characters, where I felt a powerful sense of a plot in motion, leading somewhere. I think it had vitality to spare––a rare thing for this miniseries in general. And also rare for the series, it had a sense that the things that were happening would actually go on to affect the stories that emerged from the wake of X of Swords. Storm and Wolverine getting drunk and trying to make out doesn’t seem like it will lead anywhere. I’m sure once Bei ends up on Krakoa, she will fade into the background as Cypher often does. But I’m pretty interested in where Betsy Braddock is, and what she’s been doing. I’m interested to see what the Excalibur team will do without it’s major rudders, Betsy and Apocalypse––assuming they continue the book. Those are things I actually want to get to the bottom of; the rest of this series I mostly just want to put behind me. But this issue was good to me, and good in ways that I see frequently in the Excalibur comic. So I think of Howard as a decent writer, one who is concerned with characters advancing and changing, and who devotes a lot of her writing to seeing that through. If she has a personal take on magic that holds that magic is whatever the writer wants to make it be, well, that’s a theory I subscribe to as well.

  14. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I missed the fact that the Blacksmith Betsy wasn’t our Betsy – I thought she was identical. Otherwise it was… well, it wasn’t straightforward, but at the end of the issue I thought things were pretty clear?

  15. Evilgus says:

    That’s a very impassioned defence of Howard, and I do agree with a number of your points. Re-reading Excalibur really does come together as a whole arc, rather than single issues, and she definitely brings momentum to the story. But working in single issues does bring its constraints, and sometimes the pacing and logic isn’t there.

    Howard also gets the character voices. Rogue, Gambit and Jubilee all feel like themselves to me, and behave appropriately. (Though why have we saddled Jubilee with a baby…!!). It’s probably also testament to Howard that the Apocalypse in XofSwords feels true, with emotional resonance and consequence – largely as a result of what she’s done in Excalibur. I’d never have said that of the character before.

    It’s just a shame that Betsy herself is so unsure of herself, and stripped of a lot her iconic visual trappings (where’s the butterfly?) probably more due to marketing fiat then anything else. We’re being continually told she is the rightful Captain Britain – I’ve not seen anything on the page to yet demonstrate that to me, as a reader. She’s buffeted by events and not a driver in her own story. But maybe that comes next…??

    I also think you’re right that the benefit of the doubt is extended to Hickman in a way that isn’t with Howard.

  16. Gary says:

    I am not a fantasy person so this run was never going to appeal to me, but I do like the characters.

    My problem with this run is that Tini has great ideas (I love the Betsy Corps) but she has so many of them that she has to squeeze them in and then expect us to treat them as indisputable facts that the characters we know so well would die for. Too much tell, not enough sell.

  17. Ben says:

    I do give Hickman a tiny bit more credit, because he’s actually written some comics I thought were good.

    Most of his Avengers and X-Men stuff I’ve had huge problems with.

    Excalibur and Strikeforce are just mediocre at best. I dropped both.

  18. Mat says:

    I really like Howard, I thought Strikeforce was great.

    I am quite excited by the notion that Captain Britain may turn out to be a more enduring concept than, um, Britain, given that Britain as we know it seems to be on the way out. I spent my adolescence reading British comics writers’ impassioned and fantastical views of the USA, so it’s kinda fun to read a US take on the UK which bears no relation to reality, but sort of gestures to Britain as “that place Harry Potter probably comes from”.

  19. Chris V says:

    I think that, so far, both Hickman and Howard are failing when it comes to the X-Men.
    Although granted, they are in good company, because I feel like the last time that a writer didn’t end up failing trying to do something interesting with the X-Men was Mike Carey.

    On the other hand, House/Powers was the most excited I’ve been about the X-Men concept since Grant Morrison. If only Hickman had turned House/Powers in to twelve parts each and written a definitive ending.
    It’s been all downhill since Powers of X #6, and right now, I’ve given up caring when Hickman is going to address anything of interest from House/Powers.

    Hickman usually gets more benefit of the doubt because he has had more success in the comic industry to this point over Howard.
    I haven’t been impressed with any of Howard’s comic work at this point, while I feel that Hickman has written a number of very impressive comics.
    His run on FF was one of the strongest periods on Fantastic Four, which is another comic which struggles to find new, engaging stories.
    Hickman has his faults as a writer, and his writing may not be to everyone’s tastes, but I feel he is a superior writer to someone like Tini Howard.
    Maybe Howard will grow as a writer and become a name I look forward to reading on a comic in the future, but right now, her comic work doesn’t impress me.

  20. Taibak says:

    FWIW, I have no strong opinion on Howard’s writing. It doesn’t sound like a story I’d enjoy so I haven’t been reading it.

    But I do agree making Betsy into Captain Britain was a mistake.

    Granted, Captain Britain is probably one of the few Marvel characters but it’s not a good fit for Betsy, especially at this point in time. I think swapping her and Kwannon back into their original bodies was a good idea. For better or worse, Psylocke is probably Marvel’s most prominent Asian character, but it was always uncomfortable hearing people say, “but she’s really English”. The body swap just rips the bandage off and, done well, let’s Marvel keep telling stories with both characters.

    But the logical follow up would be to tell stories about both women coming to terms with their identities. The recent Fallen Angels series may have been a failure, but at least it tried to do that for Kwannon. Betsy, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be getting that. Instead, she’s tossed into the role of Captain Britain, something more closely associated with her brother. No matter how well she does in the role, she’s always going to seem like an imitator as long as Brian is still around. Hell, I read Paul’s reviews and I still think Brian whenever I read “Captain Britain”. There are potential stories out there involving Betsy taking on the mantle, but this doesn’t seem like it’s it. After all this time living in somebody else’s body, being tied to somebody else’s identity, it’s just too soon to have her take on a role that’s been defined by her brother.

    Instead, it might have been better to look back at where the character was in the 80s. At the time, one of her defining character traits was that she was a liability in combat. That’s no longer the case. If 80s Betsy wanted to be a warrior, 2020 Betsy has long since become one. Put her in a variant of her armored costume (one of my all-time favorite superhero costumes, FWIW) only tweak it so she looks like a knight instead of a wizard. Give her some time to settle into her new look, let her come to terms with how she’s changed.

    And then let Betsy decide what’s next for her, on her own terms.

  21. The Other Michael says:

    I agree with Talbak that Betsy’s hooded, armored Outback-era outfit was pretty damn cool, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it make a comeback.

    However, I’m not entirely opposed to her taking on the mantle of Captain Britain–if only to provide a thematic callback to the first and last time she was called upon to fill the role. I don’t recall offhand if, in this current run, any mention was made that the previous time she took the role, she was blinded by Slaymaster.

    In short, last time she was Captain Britain, it was to step in after Brian vanished, she wore the adapted suit of a man she killed in self-defense (after the Brian doppelganger assaulted her), and she only lasted a few months before being crippled.

    That’s a lot of baggage to bring to an identity…

  22. CJ says:

    Like others, I have no real feeling about Tini Howard’s writing. On this book, it’s been just fine.

    No, the problem is the fusion of Hickman’s and her weaknesses in plotting this issue.

    Take Saturnyne. She’s a character of unbelievable mystic power, and even _that’s_ been amplified recently. But she can’t have Brian and that’s all she really wants. So far, so good.

    The problem here is that the reader has no clue what Saturnyne can actually do and when she’s just being inscrutable for the sake of it. This reminds me of how some feel about Hickman: “Is that a plot point or a lazy error?”

    When it became jarringly clear that this miniseries wasn’t going to be a series of Kurosawa-style duels, where each battle is symbolic of some kind of narrative tension, we instead needed to focus on Saturnyne, who is playing 5-dimensional chess and smirks at us. Again, sounds like a common Hickman complaint.

    This is why I think the dinner banquet issues were the best overall: they make an effort to give the poor Arakkii some personality, and Wolverine directly confronts both Brian and Saturnyne. Motivations I can understand! If you’re going to have a lot of arbitrary magical rules, at least give me that! Set up the magic rules at the beginning, but stick to them; don’t tell me during checkmate that we were actually playing checkers all along.

    I respect that for others, arbitrary magic rules driving a story is less important than the feeling induced along the way. I think it’s just HoXPoX gave me that sensation, and I can see that others would feel 180 degrees opposite. In fact, I have a lot more empathy for those for whom this status quo feels cold and arbitrary.

  23. Loz says:

    Some time in the last few issues the Amanth side of this war seems to have dropped from ‘effectively infinite’ to ‘a huge number which our heroes could conceivably defeat with a little luck’. I know that, as heroes, luck has to be with the X-Men so they win or that’s the comic and the planet over, but it’s just annoying, especially when, as usual, Storm, Apocalypse and Majik aren’t acting as strong as they have in the distant past.

  24. Taibak says:

    Wait… since when does Saturnyne have mystic powers? In the past, she’s been portrayed as cunning, ruthless, and manipulative, but she was never portrayed as a sorceress, AFAIK.

  25. GN says:

    This is conjecture on my part, but I believe Saturnyne got her new magical reality-bending abilities when she became the Omniversal Guardian of the Starlight Citadel. She used to be a regular human who was the former Omniversal Guardian Roma’s assistant back before Secret Wars. After Secret Wars and the collapse of the Captain Britain Corps, she now has Roma’s station and has had a huge boost in magical ability, so it makes sense to me that those two things are connected.

  26. Dave says:

    “But the logical follow up would be to tell stories about both women coming to terms with their identities.”

    I’d say they need to establish an identity for Kwannon, first. She’s Psylocke now, but Psylocke has only ever been Betsy. It’s quite a bit bigger an issue for me than Betsy having to get past not being the ‘real’ Captain Britain.

  27. YLu says:

    I think what makes the ending confusing, to whatever extent it is confusing, is the question of “Where did all those other realities’ Captain Britains come from?” It’s been established previously in Excalibur that Betsy was the last lone member of the Corps now. Plus, if they already existed, there’s no reason Saturnyne would be surprised that they’re Betsy instead of Brian because she’d already know.

    No, clearly we’re meant to understand that Saturnyne’s magic ritual *created* all these other Captain Britains right in that moment. The problem is, it doesn’t come across that way at all in the summoning scene. Instead, everything about how blacksmith Betsy and swan Betsy are presented makes it seem like they’re pre-existing Captain Britains who are only just now hearing the summons. It would have been clearer if the scene, say, showed a regular swan minding her own business suddenly transform on-panel into Captain Britain, making it clear she only became one in that moment.

    I get how that would make the scene… louder, in a way that would clash with the more subtle, sorta poetic approach the whole thing is going for. And that wouldn’t be good. But it would certainly have made events clearer.

  28. Evilgus says:

    “I’d say they need to establish an identity for Kwannon, first. She’s Psylocke now, but Psylocke has only ever been Betsy. It’s quite a bit bigger an issue for me than Betsy having to get past not being the ‘real’ Captain Britain.”

    That about sums up the issue for me too.

    But there’s something interesting here about legacy characters inheriting a mantle very strongly identified with an another (usually male) character. This new Psylocke is literally in the same body but the established character has vacated – you need to be doing some solid character work there to mark the difference for the reader. At the moment, and based on marketing, it’s kind of being handwaved away.

    I suppose it’s as jarring for those reading the X-books when Psylocke changed body in the first place.

  29. Taibak says:

    @Dave, @Evilgus: I think they need to do both simultaneously. If Kwannon is going to be the new Psylocke, we need to establish her identity, as you said.

    But it’s been thirty years since Betsy was in her original body. Marvel needs to establish what that means for her, not just shunt her into an identity associated with another character.

    And the elephant in the room is the persistent rumors about a Captain Britain movie. Presumably, that’s going to use Brian and if that happens, it makes even less sense for Betsy to wear the costume.

  30. GN says:

    @YLu, I agree with you on the confusing aspects of the ending. Like you, my reading of it was that at the point of her shattering, Betsy Braddock 616 was the only Captain Britain in the Multiverse. (Brian Braddock 616 was Captain Avalon, all other Brian Braddocks had died at the hands of the Beyonders and the Excalibur Captains Britain that Jamie created were aberrations). Hence, it was Saturnyne’s magic ritual that empowered and knighted all the available Betsy Braddocks in the multiverse and her drawing of the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ tarot card that teleported them to the Starlight Citadel.

    Hence, like you said, they should have depicted it as if the Betsy Braddocks were being transformed into Captain Britain. On the other hand, maybe the intention was the spell would go backwards in time, maybe months before X of Swords and transform them into Captain Britain then so by the time Saturnyne casts her spell, some 23 million (564430 pages x 40 names per page) Captain Britains were established across the Multiverse, ready to be called to defend the citadel. I think this can be resolved if (or when) the members of the new Captain Britain Corps actually speak about their experience in future issues of Excalibur.

  31. David says:

    I dropped Excalibur after the first couple issues, but I wound up picking it back up when X of Swords started and I read the whole thing in a few days. I agree that it’s actually a good book and holds together pretty well, but the confusing (and sometimes just bad) storytelling issue definitely comes up again and again.

    I would say I like Tini Howard overall, but she needs to work on clarity. The Excalibur issues were honestly the worst parts of XoS, especially this issue where pretty much everyone (myself included) struggled to follow. Marauders probably had the weakest tie to this crossover and still managed to produce the best crossover issues. That really should have been Excalibur.

  32. neutrino says:

    The trouble with Excalibur is that the were acting like lackeys to Apocalypse. With X of Swords they look railroaded to advance the plot. As for Betsy’s affirmation as the “true” Captain Britain, Excalibur should show, not tell why she’s worthy. Otherwise it seems like it’s just a replacement name for her.

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