Summary

Betsy confronts Lady Satyrne, Apocalypse's plans come to fruition, and Gambit makes a hard choice.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing
Art
Colors
Letters

Review: EXCALIBUR #12 Is Bigger Than Any Of Us Expected

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On September 16, Marvel Comics released Excalibur #12. Writer Tini Howard, artist Marcus To, color artist Erick Arciniega, and letterer VC’s Ariana Maher bring Apocalypse’s long-term plans into focus in this “Prelude to X of Swords.”

spoilers ahead

Writing

Howard does a good job of bringing together a couple of threads from previous issues while setting up X of Swords. This is no easy task as Excalibur may be one of the most surprisingly complex X-titles. Thus far, Howard created a new Captain Britain in Betsy Braddock, addressed the discontent that both Britain and Otherworld feel for her, created a plot dealing with a bunch of alternate realities created by Jamie Braddock (that readers were in no way eased into), all while having Apocalypse lurking in the background setting, crafting his plans that will now come to fruition in X of Swords. It’s all been a bit difficult to follow at times from issue to issue, but as a trade, I’m sure it will flow more smoothly.

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Also, while Apocalypse’s plans for opening a portal out of External bones are revealed in this issue, the full purpose of this portal is revealed in X-Men #12 (review coming soon).

Art & Colors

The gem that Gambit grabbed in the last issue is revealed to contain the life force of Candra, one of the External’s, whose power Apocalypse needs to finish his gate. There is definitely a moment of tension in this issue. Readers know that they can’t trust the Externals, but trusting Apocalypse also seems out of the question and could potentially spell future ruin for Krakoa and Otherworld.

There was definitely a moment when I was rooting for Candra, knowing that Apocalypse’s plans will probably bring plenty of headaches to the X-Men, so there was building tension throughout the issue as Gambit decides what he’s going to do. With this page, drawn by To and Arciniega, as Gambit decides and everything looks like it starts going to hell, as there is a moment of pause before the ground violently shakes, the art team captures this moment very well.

Letters

As with most of the X-titles, this issue does rely on its prose sections to fill in readers about certain details that the comic doesn’t have room for. Honestly, these are growing on me. They do allow a brief explanation about, for instance, the Externals rather than making a reader go back and read hundreds of back issues to learn the complex history of all the X-lore.

Maher does have an opportunity to do some unique things with the lettering, particularly on the prose page that lays out and explains the design of Apocalypse’s portal gate and the different components it requires. The explanation, I think, needs explanation, but it still allows for some original design work on Maher’s part.

Conclusion

It’s here. The event that has been teased for months now. X of Swords has arrived, and a vital piece of the groundwork has been laid in this issue. It will be interesting to see if X of Swords will address any of the plot threads revolving around Betsy’s role as Captain Britain or if those will be put on pause. Either way, Howard, Hickman, and the entire X-office are setting up an all-encompassing epic that will be bigger than any of us expected.

What did you think of Excalibur #12? Tell us in the comments below!

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Matthew Brakehttps://www.popularcultureandtheology.com
Matthew Brake is the series editor for the book series Theology and Pop Culture from Lexington Books. He is also the co-editor of the forthcoming Religion and Comics series from Claremont Press. He holds degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies and Philosophy from George Mason University. He also writes for Sequart and the Blackwell Popular Culture and Philosophy blog.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well, the story is fine. BUT I say enough for the multiple retcons that has this stuff. First, the gem of Candra was destroyed years ago by Storm in a short story. So, how appears again intact? Second, the externals in this story are stated that when their bones become stone ‘no way’ for resurrect. But this was retconned before with the legacy virus or removing their hearts…I doubt this was their last death…until some editor rescues them. Third, Selene around the same time is the antagonist of Captain America… This story has more retcons than the Scarlet witch and her memories of her sons in West Coast and Disasembled…

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