Sadly, Pete Wisdom did not have the decency to stay dead for more than a single issue, as he is one of five resurrections performed in Excalibur #22.
Erick Arciniega (colors), Mahmud Asrar (cover), Ariana Maher (letters), Tini Howard (writer), Tom Muller (design), Marcus To (art), Matt Wilson (cover)
July 14, 2021
This review contains spoilers for Excalibur #22.
We came really close to something worth celebrating as the issue opened with Beast joining Excalibur in an excursion to Otherworld to do some research, and Sherrif Whitechapel having a shoot first, ask questions later approach to law enforcement in her realm. Sadly, she took aim at Gambit instead of Beast, but luckily everyone’s favorite trash heap deflected the shot with his mutant power and won’t come back different.
The meat of the Otherworld plot involves Merlin’s vocal racism against mutants as Excalibur engineers a heist to free prisoners held by the wizard’s authoritarian regime. His steampunk fascist dystopia looks cool but is just a frightening change from how the character once was portrayed, which Betsy comments on. The heist sequence has some fun moments, most of them hinging on Gambit just having the time of his life. From finally using the tarot cards he stole to powering a steam engine, Gambit’s the absolute star of this issue, and it’s refreshing. Some time away from Rogue seems to be doing him a lot of good.
The other plot of the issue revolves around our sadly no longer departed secret agent. He is resurrected only to find out that he was killed by Coven Akkaba to free Morgan Le Fay in an effort to drive mutants out of Britain. Things escalated immediately after the Gala beyond even what we saw in the last issue. Gates are being destroyed, mutants are completely unwelcome, the Braddock lighthouse is just ever so tantalizingly close to Britain but no longer a part of it. As Wisdom is resurrected Meggan tells him of these developments, and he lets out a guttural, primal scream that echoes across Krakoa.
Wisdom spends the remainder of the issue moping around the two islands that are not the shitty island that he wants to mope around while thinking of ways to undermine the British authority. Parts of his master plan are revealed at the end of the issue as he has four other mutants resurrected. These mutants were minor supporting characters in the original Captain Britain series, and all of them have been dead for at least the last forty years of real-time.
Now, none of these characters were identified as mutants when we last saw them, that’s an entirely new development for Excalibur #22, but they did have close ties to both Brian and Betsy Braddock. We still don’t know much about their new roles, other than a final data page that aligns each character with one of the classical humors of traditional alchemy. Each of the characters is assigned the humor that matches their hair color and a codename to match. Now, this is very likely meant to play into the alchemy angle, as this is the book about mutant magic, but given the book’s less than stellar track record in dealing with the racism that’s tied to British colonialism, it’s worth pointing out that those four colors grouped together do have a different meaning to many people, a meaning that is a couched in racism and hatred, and one that is good for them to call out.
I’m positive that that wasn’t Howard’s intention, but her recent track record makes this a touchy subject at best. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt to continue the story, but I understand others that are not willing or able.