Exaclibur has grown into the series I always wanted it to be. Across issues 9 and 10, Tini Howard, Marcus To and the creative unit have built up a saga of multiverses, alternate realities, and an all-new Captain Britain Corps that both fits into the legacy of Marvel’s Exaclibur dating back to the late 80’s, and provides our first serious glimpse into alternate realities in Dawn of X.
Today I’ll answer:
- How do all the pieces of Excalibur build to this moment in Excalibur #10
- Who’s causing the alternate realities in the Dawn of X?
- What does the re-emergence of Hickman’s Secret Wars era Incursions mean for the X-Men?
Potential spoilers for discussed comics may follow!
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Excalibur #10 opens in the thick of a London fully at war with the nation of Krakoa. We’ve seen these tensions building throughout Excalibur, particularly relevant with Betsy Braddock’s new role as Captain Britain (and the question of her allegiance to either Britain or Krakoa), but this is a dramatic escalation we’re throw right into.
The feared and hated metaphor is executed flawlessly with a poster screaming “See a mutant? Tell a human” and “The human race is in peril.” London has registered missiles from Krakoa, and the fear and anger this generates means it’s open season on all of mutantkind.
While I’m sure it was written prior to the current moment of protesting rampant racism and police killings, there’s no denying the contemporary, haunting power of an armed guard telling Betsy and team “We’re shooting Krakoans on sight” and the seething assertion that “It’s not your country, mutant.”
Bestsy and team attempt to gather themselves, only to find The gates of Krakoa burn amid effigies of Professor X and Jean Grey. I found this imagery extremely powerful, and again, achingly believable. Remember, to this point we’ve seen resentment of Krakoa’s new place in the world, but as a whole, it’s predominantly a world that accepts their exports of truly remarkable Krakoan drugs.
I appreciate, too, that the roasted gate and prevention of planting a new gate isn’t made overly simple – Howard is careful to point out Coven Akkaba magic is responsible for the prevention of further gates in the region.
It wasn’t until Kitty Pryde showed up in a flying ship that I realized we were probably in a nightmarish alternate reality, and this is only because Kitty’s pretty publicly off the table in the pages of Marauders.
I also definitely appreciate the nods to Kitty and Rachel Summers as crucial members of the OG Excalibur, and of course to the relationship between the characters, one of the longest running queer ships in X-Men lore, here literally memorialized on a giant ship.
Of course, the ultimate reveal is the long anticipated heel turn of world’s worst brother, Jamie Braddock. Hot on the heels of my last Krakin’ Krakoa analysis exploring the possibility of alternate realities in the Dawn of X, and the omega level mutants who could cause them, omega-level creep Jamie steps up to give us the latest entry in Excaliburs long history of nightmarish alt worlds.
Crown King Jamie soliloquies to the deposed, captured Morgan Le Fay, lamenting the absence of all the Captain Britains and the realities which they came from. As the reality bending Jamie puts it, “No matter. We can make new ones.”
Jamie informs the Betsy we’ve been watching that she’s actually the product of the new reality he’s created, confirming that the London vs. Krakoa war is not officially a part of Earth-616, although certainly still not far from what could be.
Jamie still kills Betsy for attempting to attack him, resulting in the fracturing of this alternate reality. I love Marcus To and colorist Erick Arciniega’s use of literal splitting pages, like the lightning folds of reality splicing the scene into disrepair as Betsy fades.
Thus, we get the revelation of how the Excalibur/Captain Britain Corps revealed at the end of Excalibur #9 came to be, with Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee, and Rictor in their killer Captain Britain costumes. Particular shouts here to Jubilee’s Captain Britain shades.
All the dots are connected with a throwback to Saturnyne and the Starlight Citadel, with Saturnyne calling these Captain Britain Corps members of Jamie’s making “rebels” that must die.
Again, as a reminder, Excalibur has recently revealed the presence of Saturnyne on Otherworld, the omniversal majestrix currently without her own Captain Britain Corps, presumably still due to the Corps being wiped out during the incursions of 2015’s Secret Wars.
Tini Howards use of Incursions to describe Jamie Braddock’s new realities is a deliberate throwback to the Hickman Avengers and build to Secret Wars, and obviously it’s music to my ears.
There are a number of intriguing elements to what Jamie’s doing. For starters, he isn’t creating realities from scratch. Instead, Jamie’s using Earth-616 as the foundation, but then changing details and allowing that new reality to “backfill” justifications for why it exists. So in the Excalibur #10 example, Jamie seems to be responsible for the bombing of London, but everything else is virtually in tact.
This is all as part of some effort to restore the numbers of the Captain Britain Corps, although through Jamie’s “unprecedented” measures, the Corps can now be made up of just about anyone. Again, as the data page notes, historically, the Corps is made up of Braddock family members across the Omniverse (usually Brian), but by the time we get to the second incursion, there’s a new corps of Gambit, Rictor, Rogue and Jubilee. I’ll admit, I’m generally unclear why Jamie would be interested in restoring the Corps beyond his own chaotic quest to assemble an army to disrupt Saturnyne’s hold in Otherworld (which does seem in line with why Apocalypse might have placed him on the throne to begin with!).
Speaking of, the biggest question I have following Excalibur #10 is where Apocalypse is throughout all of this, and how this fits into his schemes. Apocalypse is the one who planted Jamie Braddock on the throne of Otherworld, and I don’t think for a second Apocalypse would be taken by surprise when Jamie uses this freedom to yet again toy with reality.
Somehow this is building to X of Swords, since Excalibur #12 marks the first event tie-in issue. So effectively there’s one more issue in the series to explain Apocalypse’s machinations prior to the launch of X of Swords. I can’t wait!
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