From longtime X-writer Tini Howard (Excalibur, Catwoman) and artist Bob Quinn (Way Of X, Captain America) comes a tale of Krakoa’s mutants becoming stuck in a D&D campaign in Knights Of X #1. With Erick Arciniega on colors and letters from Ariana Maher, this issue offers a dense yet fresh opening for both up-to-date X-Fans and new readers alike. With an inventive script and on-brand brilliant visuals, this is the perfect comic for readers who like their mutant tales with a bit of RPG in them.
“THE QUEST BEGINS HERE, WHERE MUTANTS ARE HATED AND FEARED ONCE AGAIN! The gates to Otherworld are closed — and Captain Britain is trapped on the wrong side! Usurpers Merlyn and his right-hand man, King Arthur, are now in control of Lunatic Citadel. Furies the size of Sentinels raze villages to the ground in their hunt for the “witchbreed.” Cutoff from Krakoa, Betsy Braddock is Otherworld’s only hero — and to save her people, Betsy must recruit a round table of her own. The Knights of X gather to restore the rightful order and rescue desperate mutants — but their quest is about to get so much bigger than that. This is the era of destiny…and the fate of Otherworld lies at the center of mutantkind’s future.”
Writing & Plot
In many ways, Knights Of X #1 is a prime example of the kind of unbound creativity that can be found in comics. Tini Howard’s script combines the political and ethical ethos of the rest of the Krakoa era X-books but then combines them with the genre trappings of a fantasy RPG. Much like her run on Excalibur (this book’s predecessor), Knights is a thoughtful Marvel-flavored take on Arthurian legend. This time around though, the story takes the form of a party-based quest rather than a tournament of champions. It’s an X-Men title for readers who want a bit of a change in scenery and scope, with a concept and plot that is the perfect blend of tongue-in-cheek comic storytelling and genuine stakes. Howard perfectly blends the thematic weight of the X-Men saga with these mythical concepts and characters. We’ve returned to a setting where mutants are an abomination to be feared (branded as “witchbreed”), separating the plot both literally and thematically from the tenuous prosperity of the Krakoa era. I can’t help but sense a lot of similarity with Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert’s Marvel 1602. Some of the ideas present in that series rear their head here, but obviously in completely different settings.
I’m pleased to report that you can jump right into this comic without reading Excalibur first. Howard does a great job of filling the reader in on the where’s, who’s, and why’s of Otherworld and the many details of events past. This makes for a very wordy comic with a lot of expository dialogue. What’s almost funny about this element though is just how well it works. Normally exposition in a comic is something to be sneered at, but in Knights it just feels right. This whole comic reads almost as if Howard herself is DM-ing an X-Men D&D game and reminding us veterans and newcomers what the score is. This all being said, you should definitely at least be caught up on some more mainline X-Men titles. Not knowing what Krakoa is or how mutants keep dying and being resurrected would really throw someone for a loop. In any case, Howard’s sense of pacing and storytelling personality make this comic a dense but thoroughly entertaining read.
Aside from their insane plot threads, the current era of X-books is best known for their consistently stunning visual style. Thanks to artist Bob Quinn, Knights Of X #1 is here to deliver more of just that. Just like the other X-books, Quinn’s work here is clean, crisp, and beautifully composed. His penciling is highly detailed, with characters and environments all matching the distinct design language of the current era of X-Men comics while still allowing Quinn’s own style to come through. He easily navigates the winding path between the more “conventional” (if there is such a thing) X-Men styling and the magic & fantasy elements on display in this comic. His conversation sequences and explosive actions scenes are equally complex and thoughtfully directed, with no detail getting lost in the shuffle. Note too that there is a LOT going on in this book at any given time, so the fact that Quinn juggles every element so gracefully is a true testament to his skill as a visual storyteller.
Erick Arciniega’s colors craft a dark, mysterious, and moody tone that really completes this particular magic-infused X-comic’s atmosphere. While our team of mutants and certain magical settings are their necessary bright selves, because of the medieval/fantasy dark age we get here, the shadowy tones are a great choice and really nail the feel of this comic. Lastly, Ariana Maher’s lettering is right on par with the solid readability of the rest of this era’s X-books. She uses the current house font to great effect with fluid, natural changes to tone of voice and highly effective SFX lettering. Overall, Knights is every bit as great looking a comic as you would expect from an X-comic from the Krakoa era.
Knights Of X #1 is a dense yet but highly entertaining start to this book of mutants and magic. Tini Howard’s script has a lot going on, but her careful use of exposition and the personality that shows through her writing helps keep this comic stay engaging. The visuals from Bob Quinn and Erick Arciniega are every bit as gorgeous as you’d expect, with excellent composition and design that is right on par with the other great X-books of the era. If you loved Excalibur, be sure to grab this issue when it hits shelves on April 27th!