Now that Betsy has returned to Earth-616, what does this mean for Excalibur? She’s acting unusual for Betsy, so how can they be sure that she’s actually their Betsy? These are questions in search of answers in Excalibur #18.
Erick Arciniega (colors), Mahmud Asrar (cover), Ariana Maher (letters), Tini Howard (writer), Tom Muller (design), Marcus To (art), Matt Wilson (cover)
February 10, 2021
This review contains spoilers for Excalibur #18
One thing I find incredibly endearing about this book is that as Betsy is acting despondent and melancholy, her teammates immediately jump to “Is she possessed?” rather than “Is she depressed?” Or course this isn’t without real-world parallels, where friends would much rather assume things are fine, and their pal is just a little down than move into the tricky subject of actual depression. In the real world, this is stuff like “Oh they’re just stressed about their job” or “They’re having a bad week.” In the Marvel Universe, it’s a small jump from “Betsy’s not acting like her usual self” to “It must be Malice.”
One interesting thing to note is that while Betsy is back, the opening segment with Saturnyne makes it seem like she’s not currently acting as Captain Britain. That coupled with the revelation by Psylocke at the end of the issue does raise more questions about what exactly is going on, but truth be told, I’m still certain it has more to do with Betsy’s mental state than her actually not being in control, despite what Rogue and Rictor think. I also think that while it is the real 616 Betsy’s soul and memories, part of the issue is that she’s in the husk that Jamie had created by Sinister and that may be affecting something.
There is a lot at play in this issue, but also a lot of it is expository to build to future issues. Little hints that may not seem like much right now, but when we pick up on those threads in future issues their importance will become more evident. There are bits with Jamie’s captive Morgan le Fay, that will surely come back to bite him soon; and also with the continuation of Apocalypse’s intent for Excalibur to learn magic. It’s in this latter part that Rictor remains defensive of A’s actions, despite the actual harm that they did to members of the team. He is extremely dismissive of Rogue’s concerns, even when she brings up how poorly she was treated by him when he used her as nothing more than an inert power source.
But the true stars of this issue are the rest of the Braddock family, and of course, especially little Maggie. Little Maggie steals every single scene that she is in, and that remains unchanged in this issue. From her popping through the gate and seeing her aunt to her returning with her father who demands to see his sister, everything is perfect. I am especially fond of both “I’m not afraid. I’m cross” and “We’re having a confrontation.” The only thing that makes the latter better is Meggan’s deadpan “Oh dear.”
So while the next issue is set to resolve some of the twists of exactly what’s going on with Betsy, this Excalibur #18 laid a lot of the groundwork for it.