Collects Excalibur issues 1-6 (2019)


Writer: Tini Howard
Artists: Marcus To
Publisher: Marvel
Publishing year: 2020

I’m a huge fan of Claremont and Davis’ run of Excalibur which started in 1987. This isn’t that comic. I haven’t read Howard before so I didn’t know what to expect. However, the low ratings on Goodreads had me preparing for the worst. But this was fine, for the most part. The team is pretty haphazard but so was the original Excalibur team (Marvel-wise, of course, not the original Knights of the Round Table.)

Appropriately enough, the comic starts in Avalon. In Marvel comics, Avalon is in a world called the Otherworld. King Arthur and Queen Guinevere have mysteriously vanished and Morgan le Fay is the Queen now. However, a mysterious force is attacking Avalon (I don’t think we every found out who) and at the same time, the Queen’s scrying pool is growing strange plants. Morgan blames the witchbreed, which she calls mutants. She reaches out to her coven of witches and commands the three people in it to kill all mutants. Their leader promptly kills her followers and sets out alone.

Meanwhile, Betsy Braddock is visiting her twin brother Brian in England. Betsy is back in her original body and doesn’t really want to go by Psylocke anymore. Brian is living his happily ever after with his wife Meggan and their kid. Betsy returns to Krakoa island where she finds out that Egg has resurrected her older brother, Jamie who is mad and has reality-altering powers. Betsy’s not happy.

Betsy returns to England but doesn’t tell the news to her twin. Instead, Brian is called to the Otherworld in an emergency and Betsy decides to go with him… to Morgan Le Fay. Morgan enchants Brian to attack his twin. Brian has just enough time to give his amulet to Betsy, making her Captain Britain.

On Krakoa, Apocalypse knows the portal which leads to Otherworld. He knows Betsy’s in trouble but needs Rogue’s help with the portal. Gambit is against it. Still, Rogue takes off her gloves and touches the portal… and promptly falls down, unconscious or sleeping, covered in vines. Betsy returns to Krakoa as Captain Britain.

Of course, the team needs to rescue Brian and Rogue. Betsy, Gambit, and Jubilee travel to the Braddock lighthouse but is has been destroyed. However, when Rogue is brought to the spot, a new lighthouse grows from the ground.

Apocalypse wants to help the team but both Gambit and Betsy are against it. However, in the end Betsy must bow to the inevitable and accept his help. Apocalypse also finds Rictor and adds him to the team. The team adventures mostly in Otherworld.

I mostly enjoyed this. While I’m familiar with Morgan as Avengers’ villain, I don’t think I’ve ever read a story set in Otherworld. Of course, all the characters have long and convoluted backstory, the Captain Britain Corps not the least among them. Rogue is unconscious for most of the story and Gambit is very concerned about her, which is understandable, of course. The story line even has a dragon! The ending really shook up the status quo in Otherworld. I’m not sure if it will affect any other Marvel books but I’m intrigued to find out. Also, Apocalypse isn’t a hero. I’m sure the team will have to turn against him at some point. We’ll see.

We did get some nods to us old fans in the way of cameos, which I quite liked.

However, I wasn’t happy with the inclusion of Rictor. I’ve only seen him before in New Mutants/X-Men crossovers so he felt like a really strange addition. Also, I think he has vibration powers, not earth control. Also, Rogue already learned to control her powers in the Mr. and Mrs. X series, issue 9. Yet, at the beginning of this series she again has to use the power-dampening bracelet. I guess her out-of-control powers are just too great for writers to let go. She also got a power upgrade on that comic, allowing her to absorb powers from a distance. Oh well.

So, story wise this was entertaining but left a bit to be desired in character department. Of course, I’m hoping Howard will improve.