If the thought of what it would be like to have a classic feeling sort of X-Men story mixed with fantasy ever crossed the mind, well Knights Of X is that idea manifested into a reality. Hated and feared spurred on by hateful powerful beings lashing out at mutants crossed with swords and sorcery as well as the added danger of death meaning one will be completely lost even with mutant kind’s handy dandy resurrection protocols.
Having Excalibur and the X Of Swords event preceding this series (setting up all the groundwork and getting things to this status quo point) continues to be a massive benefit to this book as it just flows and gets right into things. No need to spend tons of time explaining things, outside of giving enough information to help any potential new readers have a basic idea of what is happening.
There is a massive cast in this book, between the knights of the title and their allies and their foes, but Tini Howard seamlessly juggles it all. Not only do all the characters get their moments but even bouncing from one setting to another rapidly doesn’t feel off-putting in any way. Gambit leads a group of the Knights to save Jim Jaspers (who was the subject of Merlyn’s wrath despite his financial heft in the Crooked Market because he’s a mutant/witch breed) while making it clear that while they might dislike Jaspers he still deserves to not be a prisoner or executed by the Furies of Merlyn.
Those that know me well know that Gambit was never a favorite character of mine in the past, in fact, I thought he was kind of a dirtbag, but ever since the Rogue and Gambit miniseries years ago I’ve come to appreciate the character more. Howard keeps that going as I really enjoyed how he had ties to the market and cared about the people as he bounced off others like Meggan so well.
There are so many little nuggets in this issue that were fun and illuminating and many of them are sure to pay dividends later in this run. Including a data page to lay out what the Siege Perilous is and what it can do and what it means to the X-Men’s history was a great call since it’s not an item that comes up all that often since those original stories so long ago.
Also, I continue to love the way that Howard handles the addition of Shogo in these stories. Sure he’s a big powerful dragon but he’s still a baby and while Jubilee was there to make sure that was remembered in Excalibur, Betsy easily picks up that responsibility to protect her friend’s son in being adamant to Roma that while he needs training he is a baby and not a knight. Many times this sort of storyline would have ended up with a child shot up to teenage years or adulthood, but instead, here we’re given a focus on this responsibility and respectful approach to a very young child being pulled into the sort of world that the X-Men inhabit regularly.
All of this comes together so beautifully on the page from Bob Quinn and Erick Arciniega. I have to say once more that Quinn was truly made for this book as his work holds all the right fantastical energy necessary as well as perfectly captures every bit of action. All the fight scenes and there are a ton here, are so smooth and energetic and even when they are crowded with combatants they are easy to follow and keep track of what is happening. There are pages here where the Furies are doing their best Sentinel impression again and they feel truly imposing and huge with some great perspective choices we’re given as the Knights attack and fell their enemies in spectacular fashion.
There is an inherent darkness and heavy use of blacks in many places as Merlyn’s darkness continues to take hold everywhere, which is paired so well with the really bright popping but still darkened colors that Arciniega brings to the affair. Even with that darkness that is always present each of the realms of Otherworld that we visit here has its own energy and flavor, thanks not just to the visual differences but also to the use of different color palettes for each area. The Lavender Keep is brighter as it’s where the heroes are holed up while the Crooked Market is a bit more drab compared to the darkness & oranges of the Lunatic Citadel or the brighter and cooler tones of the Floating Kingdom of Roma.
All of this is matched by the SFX provided by Ariana Maher alongside the rest of the great lettering work that she always brings to a book. Their colors can be bright or dark and match a lot of the color palettes on the page while having their own energy at the same time. Alongside this is the great dialogue work where we always get a great sense of the tone/volume of every interaction thanks to things like the use of sentence case or allowing screams to be huge taking up space and even bursting out of the standard bubble format.
Knights of X #2 is now available.
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