A new dawn is breaking for Marvel’s mutants. Now that the 12-week event comic series House of X/Powers of X (by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva) has concluded, we’re starting to see what that new dawn looks like. X-Men and Marauders, the first of six initial titles from the Dawn of X line, hit stands earlier this month and showed how classic X-Men characters are adapting to new roles. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine are hanging out on the moon (and possibly carrying on a polyamorous relationship, if certain infographics are to be believed) while Kitty Pryde is putting together a pirate crew to rescue mutants across the world and bring them to the new mutant nation-state of Krakoa.
In other words, there’s a lot going on with mutants right now. The part of Dawn of X you’re most looking forward to probably depends on your favorite element of HoX/PoX. Any readers who were particularly impressed by Apocalypse’s heel-face turn will probably be excited about Excalibur, which launches later this month from writer Tini Howard and artist Marcus To. Though Apocalypse was formerly one of the X-Men’s greatest villains — he famously took over the world in the ‘90s storyline “Age of Apocalypse” — the mutant known as “En Sabah Nur” has now joined with the X-Men on Krakoa to defend mutants rather than conquer them.
He’s a big part of the new Excalibur team, alongside Captain Britain, Jubilee, Rictor, and the recently married Rogue and Gambit. Howard describes the new Apocalypse as “a big mean man who I like a lot.”
“He’s always been concerned with the ascension of mutants and it’s not that he feels as though his work is done now. It’s quite the contrary; it’s that his work must change,” Howard tells EW. “He was a general when he had to be a general, and now that the fight has changed, his tactics have changed. We’re gonna see an Apocalypse who’s a scholar and is someone who is able to work for the greatness of mutantkind as a thinker, as an artist, as a priest. We’ll see him in these roles we’ve never seen him in before.”
Howard continues, “I’m very, very proud of what we’re doing and where we’re going with Apocalypse. I’m working very closely with Jonathan on what we think and feel about him and what his journey is. It’s really interesting to give a character like that a journey. Whether it’s a hero’s journey or whether he’s Walter White will be something we’ll see as it goes on. But he’s fighting for his home too.”
Apocalypse’s change of heart carries through his design. Out with the classic bulky blue armor with various tubes sticking out of it; in with a new, comfortable-looking outfit that gives Apocalypse the air of a sage mystic.
He’s not the only one going through a big redesign. The mantle of Captain Britain, previously held by Brian Braddock, has now passed to Brian’s sister Betsy. For years, Betsy’s consciousness was fused with the body of the assassin Kwannon; together, they were Psylocke. But they were recently-separated. Kwannon now exclusively holds the mantle of Psylocke (readers will see what she’s up to in Fallen Angels, another Dawn of X book launching next month from writer Bryan Edward Hill and artist Szymon Kudranski).
In the pages of Excalibur, Betsy is now coming into her own as Captain Britain. She’s even got an amazing new costume to show for it.
“She’s been divorced from a body that was not her own. It was important to me to acknowledge that Betsy has a lot of complicated feelings about that. Her and Kwannon will, at some point, have to have that talk,” Howard says. “But Betsy needs to stand on feet that are actually her own. When we see her at the beginning of Excalibur #1, she is kind of adrift. She’s crashing at her brother’s place. She doesn’t really know what she’s doing. She doesn’t know if Krakoa is her home too. In issue #1 we see her go from being a baby deer to a great white stag.”
Howard continues, “Developing the Captain Britain design was a lot of me sending Marcus everything from like Waterhouse paintings to anime girls with swords, like Revolutionary Girl Utena and Sophitia from Soul Calibur. We really wanted her to have this quality where it looks like she just rode in on a white horse to save the day. She’s the knight of not just Britain but Krakoa as well.”
Excalibur #1 hits stores on Oct. 30. Above and below, check out exclusive preview pages illustrated by To.