2020 is going to be a thrilling year for the X-Men. Dawn Of X is in full force, and while the quality of titles varies, there’s no shortage of big ideas to be explored in the future. This week’s X-books, X-Men and Marauders, highlight the incredible potential of the new status quo established by Jonathan Hickman, establishing mutants as a formidable political power on the world’s stage. Excalibur occupies its own distinct space as the series where the fantasy genre intersects with superheroes, with writer Tini Howard, artist Marcus To, colorist Erick Arciniega, and letterer Cory Petit exploring how mutants fit within the mystical landscape of the Marvel Universe. Under the leadership of Betsy Braddock, the new Captain Britain, Excalibur is the Earth’s main line of defense against threats from Otherworld, a realm of magical creatures ruled by the sorceress Morgan le Fay. But there’s also some weird shit going on with Apocalypse, who has taken a strong interest in this group to advance his own mysterious agenda.
Part of Apocalypse’s plan involves Rogue, who has been stuck in floral stasis for the last three issues. Given the prominence of fantasy imagery, it’s fitting that Rogue would end up as a sleeping beauty, and it’s time to find out what’s going on with her in next week’s Excalibur #5. This exclusive preview begins with some delightful banter between Betsy and Pete Wisdom, the horn-dog secret agent whose alliance rests with his home country of England rather than the new mutant nation of Krakoa. To and Arciniega’s artwork is animated and energetic, with crystal clear detail and robust characterizations that enrich Howard’s scripts. The layouts and coloring change dramatically for the Rogue scene, reinforcing a shift in consciousness as we take a journey into Rogue’s mind. Rogue’s costume here pulls from her previous looks to give her a flowing garment with a strong princess vibe, and one of the coolest things about this series is how it folds these fairy tale elements into the new mutant world order.