As we near the end of the first story arc of Excalibur things are becoming more clear. Apocalypse has been pulling strings in a manner not so becoming of heroes. Gambit loves Rogue dearly. Jubilee’s baby is way cooler as a dragon! You know, simple things. In this fifth issue, a major turn brings back Rogue and sets in motion a cold plan indeed.
If you were annoyed Rogue was taken off the team early and put into a sleep fear not as she comes back in a big way in this issue. I’d wager she comes back stronger than ever as Tini Howard writes quite an epic journey for her here that turns out to be an awesome reveal to end the book. It’s an issue that builds from a bit of confusion and chaos–largely thanks to the rest of the team fighting off monsters–and begins to set in motion something entirely different. It’s an exciting issue thanks to these big beat moments.
It also continues to be a strong character drama. Gambit and Rictor open the book literally falling down a crevice with no end in sight which speaks to how poorly Gambit has things planned out. That pulls through by the end showing with a little faith you can get things done. Captain Britain aka Betsy Braddock follows up this scene in London as monsters attack her people and there’s some nice back and forth between her and an agent. Howard is good at infusing a bit of playful banter that is leading somewhere while letting Marcus To bring the world down on them in the action.
To does a good job with key scenes in this issue. The final full-page splash is epic and should have fans dying for more while the scenes with Rogue peppered in the issue have a nice dreamlike quality. There is an impressive panel with Betsy, Jubilee, and Apocalypse fighting off snakes and beasties and the detail is quite cool. It’s easy to miss since your eye will be moving across the page, but there’s quite a tentacled monster coming out of a portal int he background adding a lot of stakes at the moment.
Color artist Erick Arciniega continues to push the greens with Rictor, the pinks and purples on Krakoa, and the reds when Apocalypse’s gate and plans are on the page. There are visual cues going on here with colors that are fun to pick up on.
Likely this is the penultimate issue and you can tell by way of the amount of action and twists in the narrative. Howard and To are preparing us for a whole new adventure as the characters come together and fight as a (nearly) a full team.
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