Among the numerous X-Books to come out and make-up this Dawn of X, Excalibur was one of those which really sticks out for what you don’t know about it. We know the weapon, we know this is the name of the team, but what we don’t know is where this team finds importance in the new world of mutants. Right now there is that expectation that all of these new books with fill some sort of role as a cog in the wheel which keeps the mutants at the top of the food chain. Aside from this, who doesn’t love a book where someone is finally mixing swords and sorcery with X-Men?
If anything they definitely had me at this book touching upon the worlds of the fantastic and magic. Most readers will have that one kind of story they will jump at, and this was it for me. The only question was how we jump into this world. Though before that, we always have to ask ourselves how accessible this book is to new readers. It will always go without saying that a first issue must always read like one. So you don’t want someone who never read House of X/Powers of X to pick this up and have no clue as to what’s happening. With that said, I believe the transition was great. They were quick to address where and when this takes place, and it is good to know that for the most part everything is picking up exactly from that point where the world is adjusting to that move from the human world to paradise.
Where all readers might find some challenge, is with the approach towards explaining the world of magic from the perspective of the mutants. It was without a doubt bold. And I don’t want to exactly call it a challenge as if it was hard to consume, though to be specific there was much to actually consume. That was why at the same time I appreciated that even with a book like this they have kept the style consistent in using pages with strictly text. So far I still find this a welcomed development because most creative teams do tend to run into trouble when they decide that all this text needs to be mashed together with pictures. Because then the reader is struggling to figure out which one they are paying attention to most. Let me not get too ahead of myself, in general it was all engaging. All this came down to really was understanding and being reminded of where the world of Camelot stood in the Marvel Universe, and how it is now better connected to the real world through the Krakoan gateways.
The cast of this book was what I found most interesting. A character like Betsy was understood completely, though the others you would not normally put together aside from Rogue and Gambit. Most of this first issue actually focuses on Betsy, and I couldn’t argue with this because I don’t think enough of us have seen what her life has been like since getting back into her original body again. For once she is more intune with her actual family heritage. Not to mention core powers. From there it was pretty cool how the others came together. I loved that someone out there picked up Trinary, that Jubilee still finds relevance, and that Rogue is still useful despite the circles her powers have taken her over the years.
As for what is going to bring this new team to the Otherworld? That reasoning was straightforward, and surely enough we can all appreciate the fact that a villain is being used who we honestly don’t get to see more of. Especially since in most cases she has been lost to the realm of Weirdworld.
The art team of Marcus To and Erick Arciniega were an excellent choice for this book. We are in a phase of the X-Books where Marvel needs to now bring out the quality art teams, and this was certainly one of them. Marcu To’s pencils were great for the detail that he is able to put into these characters and settings. I was honestly blown away by that first panel where we stepped into Krakoa. Did not skip a beat there, or in our first scene in Camelot. Full renderings make a big difference. What also does is the new costumes which some members of this team picked up. Nothing drastic, but definitely an upgrade for those like Jubilee who may have needed to look a bit more distinguished. Arciniega in particular I found a welcomed addition to the artists for these X-Books because right now you want artists who have a strong pallet for the exotic beauty of Krakoa. Not every book will set the story on that island, but when they do? You want those colors to astonish. Not only that you want those colors to pop even when there is a gateway on the other side of the world. Where his colors were most welcoming was in the way they captured the fantasucal atmosphere of ventureing to the Otherworld. When the story involves magic, you want your colors to be out there and vibrant.
Just like Marauders, Excalibur #1 embarks us on a new journey that takes mutants where they dare not go. Magic and mutants have never mixed too well in the past, but in this Dawn of X, it’s a bold new world where there is no ruling out anything that could give mutantkind a further edge over their competitors. The big takeaway from this first issue is that the creation of the Krakoan Nation did not just ruffle the feather of those on Earth. That tells you enough about the heads this move will turn.