Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Marcus To
Color Artist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller
Covers: Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson; Tomm Coker & Michael Garland; Mike McKone & Morry Hollowell
Release Date: January 22nd, 2020
As war rages in Avalon, Betsy Braddock must fight to free her brother Brian from the spell of Morgan Le Fay. But will a reborn Apocalypse fight with or against the team? Let’s find out in Tini Howard’s EXCALIBUR #6!
The book begins with Apocalypse being reborn on Krakoa, and welcomed back to life by Professor X. In a neat twist, “A” reaches his hand up which is grasped not by Xavier, but by Jamie Braddock. The dialogue indicates the two are in cahoots. It’s a great opening page, promising intrigue to come… which is ruined by the very next page. Yes, it’s a Hickman X-position page, but it’s not the wordiness that hurts the story (this time). There is a map, and under the diagram it spells out that Morgan Le Fay has been defeated, and Jamie Braddock is the new ruler of Avalon. None of this has happened yet. It does in the following pages though, basically spoiling the appearance of Jamie, as well as Apocalypse proclaiming him king. These pages are bad enough when they bring the story to a screeching halt, but spoiling your own book seems unforgivable.
As for the rest of the issue, Tini Howard does a good job balancing bombastic battle scenes with quieter character moments. Excalibur vs Le Fay’s army is fun, and even the cliché of one soldier from each side determining the winner has added stakes since it’s a possessed Brian Braddock against his sister Betsy. Howard seems to have the voices of the characters down (other than “A” at times), and the intimate scene between Rogue and Gambit might be the best of the book. Brian and Betsy’s heart-to-heart towards the end borders on melodrama, but the closing page will make readers forget any previous sappiness. Oh wait, the closing page is actually more X-position gobbledygook— sigh.
Art-wise, whether you like the team of Marcus To and Erick Arciniega or not, at least they are consistent. It’s pretty refreshing to have the same team for six issues nowadays. Sometimes the art feels a little too clean, but any small quibbles pale to the consistency you get from EXCALIBUR.
In the rollercoaster ride that has been EXCALIBUR, issue #6 is one of the high points. It still has its bumps, the most glaring being the self-inflicted spoiler on page 2. However, the consistent art and improved storytelling from early issues make EXCALIBUR #6 worth a look.