The new members of Excalibur arrive on the Cornish Coast, seeking out the eponymous lighthouse, only there's just one problem: it's nowhere to be found.
This issue was a considerable improvement over the inaugural attempt at a launch. There were still problems, but for the most part, it was a fun, well-considered piece of work. I’ll begin my review with the biggest problem that I had with the story: Rogue has been reduced to a plot-point and, worse than that, she’s become nothing more than the (very pretty) emotional motivation for a male character’s emotional growth. I’m a bit disappointed with Howard, because of this. The first rule of feminism is that you don’t sacrifice a female character only to further a male’s emotional development. The second rule is that you shouldn’t require women to be defined by their motherhood. And guess what’s happened to Jubes? While I am unspeakably glad that her character hasn’t been regressed (she’s still a mojito-swigging party-prone adult, and her relationship with Betsy is intact) she’s definitely been shoehorned into the ‘mom’ role. There has to be a balance, right? It’s not impossible to allow a female character the nuance which is thoughtlessly given to fictional fathers all the time, right?
But there’s room for this to improve in future issues. Thank goodness.
Now for the considerably longer list of stuff I really liked. First, the idea of Apocalypse’s former human servants entering a power-hungry rebellion against him is wonderful — as was the retrofitted origin of The Lighthouse. Rogue’s metamorphosis into magical beacon was a beautiful homage to the fantasy and general weirdness of the Excalibur stories (though, again, it is possible to achieve this without reducing a female character to a literal object) and the hidden nature of the druids was a further tie to the history of the brand.
The tone was much more consistent, and the pacing was generally much more on-point than it was in issue one.
And can we please talk for a minute about the very good boy we were introduced to? Magic talking Psychopomp-Fox is my new favorite character in the book.
I also loved the fact that Shogo is revealing himself to be something more than just the annoying baby. Dragon is a good look for him. But (again) did it have to come at the expense of his mother’s autonomy?
As for the art, I’m a much bigger fan of Erik Arcineiga’s coloring than I am of Marcus To’s bland line-work. The colors, the shadows, were issued with an excellent, almost numinous balance of shadow and light. It was a paint-job worthy of high fantasy. And it’s certainly not his fault that To can only seem to draw one female face.
However, despite the flaws I’ve mentioned, if the series continues to work in this trend (with, perhaps, a little more consideration from the creators on the part of the female characters) it will be a very special book indeed.
Vibrant colors and a dark, beautifully fantastic tone to Excalibur #2 (Howard, To), combine into a story that, despite its (many) flaws, is shaping into something very special indeed.
Excalibur #2: Druids in the Woods
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
Art - 6/106/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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