Writer: Tini Howard
Art: Marcus To, Erick Arciniega, VC’s Ariana Maher, Tom Muller, Matthew Wilson, and Mahmud Asrar
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Release Date: July 14th, 2021
After the HELLFIRE GALA, so much has changed for EXCALIBUR. The United Kingdom fractured its agreement with Krakoa and went out on its own. Plus, Rogue was elected to the new X-MEN team. And worse over, Pete Wisdom was murdered by a coven of anti-mutant witches and warlocks to free Morgan Le Fay. With the rest of the team scrounging to make sense of what remains for them after X OF SWORDS and the GALA, where does that leave the rest of EXCALIBUR? Let’s dive into EXCALIBUR #22 by Tini Howard to see what’s next for this transcendental mutant team.
Howard finally gets the series back on track after the events of X OF SWORDS and the HELLFIRE GALA partially derailed her story. A new villain has risen, a new team is formed alongside EXCALIBUR, and a new antagonist from the Round Table joins the fold. Plus, Howard dangles a future storyline/ issue involving Saturnyne that’s been hanging in the back of readers’ minds since EXCALIBUR began. All of this kickstarts what appears to be a new era for the series moving forward.
However, as straightforward and comprehensive as EXCALIBUR #22 was, it simply lacked the excitement and grandeur that surround the series before X OF SWORDS. Overall, the issue was bogged down with dialogue and supported by quick, underdeveloped plights that came across as too simple and flat. At one point, the remaining members of the EXCALIBUR team manage to infiltrate and escape Meryln’s Tower in a mere five pages. Shouldn’t that have been at least an entire issue or more?
Lastly, Howard does a fantastic job with her portrayal of Captain Britain. However, it comes at the expense of the other EXCALIBUR team members, especially Gambit and Jubilee. If they aren’t forgotten, these two are merely overdramatized characterization of what they should be with simple, funny retorts and/ or Cajun quips. There is so much more to these characters than sarcastic wisecracks. Where is Remy’s cunningly smart and crafty disposition?
Plus, think about what Jubilee has been through in the last decade? She lost her powers, became a vampire, adopted a kid, was hunted, and given her powers back by a shard of the Phoenix Force. Jubilee has been through a lot. Yet, we hear nothing about it. She’s changed so much over this past decade, possibly more than any other mutant. Moreover, she’s persevered, endured, matured, evolved, and grown more than most mutants ever have. She very well could lead this team but is seen more as a throwaway side character. So, where is the strong, seasoned, and courteous Jubilee? Not here.
Marcus To and Erick Arciniega continue to deliver illustrations and colors that are vivid, bold, and pristine with a delicate twist. To’s pencils flow wonderfully while Arciniega’s drastic and sharp color changes from dark to bright help make strong distinctions in the artwork causing clarity within each panel. Plus, Arciniega’s colors mixed with To’s artwork give readers an extremely vibrant story. Overall, whenever I read EXCALIBUR, I get this feeling of warmth and contentment. The look of the series is just always so welcoming and easy on the eyes. This artistic team is no doubt on point and should be commended.
Before X OF SWORDS, I was not a fan. EXCALIBUR was the X-book I had to slog through each month. However, then came EXCALIBUR #18. The series felt like it was finally changing with a new direction and purpose. The story was focusing more on Betsy and it felt like the team was falling to the wayside. Four issues later and it seems like we’re back to the old EXCALIBUR formula with Howard at the helm.
There is still so much magical confusion mixed with partial plots and underdeveloped character voices. And frankly, I think the stories have way too many characters for Howard to handle at one time. In order to save this series, we need a new creative team or a new focus centered around Captain Britain. Now, even though EXCALIBUR #22 offers an intriguing setup with Merlyn, Saturnyne, and Captain Britain for the future, I can’t help but feel like this series is on thin ice. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God bless!