This article contains spoilers for Excalibur #6.
The X-Men have just conquered Otherworld. Tini Howard and Marcus To’s Excalibur has been one of the highlights of the relaunched X-Men range. The creators have charted a fascinating story in which the X-Men have been drawn into a Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings-style adventure featuring everything from dark magic to dragons burning holes in the fabric of reality itself.
The X-Men have been drawn into the affairs of Otherworld, the mystical realm that serves as the collective subconscious of the British Isles. This is a pocket dimension adjacent to Earth, and has frequently been considered the source of all magic, a key location in the Multiverse from which other dimensions can be accessed. With King Arthur missing, Morgana Le Fey had ascended to take the throne of Otherworld, and her object seemed to be to destroy the “witchbreed” – mutants – whose ascendance on Earth was affecting Otherworld according to the principle of “as above, so below.”
The conflict finally comes to an end in Excalibur #6, with the mutants successfully conquering Otherworld. It seems that the entire war between Krakoa and Otherworld was orchestrated by Apocalypse, in order to place a mutant on the throne of Otherworld. His chosen monarch is Jamie Braddock, the Omega level brother of Betsy Braddock and Captain Britain. Braddock is able to manipulate reality itself by tugging on the quantum strings that bind the Multiverse together, and he is naturally the only one who can restore the damage done to Otherworld by Dragonfire. He’s also a psychopath, who reveled in the idea of having power over others even before he learned he was a mutant; Jamie Braddock was introduced as a gun runner and a slave trader. Worse still, there’s always seemed to be a direct correlation between Jamie’s mental instability and his use of his powers. This is the last person you’d want to be ruling a dimension that can be shaped by the imagination.
Xavier’s Krakoan Dream has involved embracing every mutant in the world, with the Professor insisting that every mutant is worthy of trust. Bluntly, Excalibur #6 tests that theory to destruction, revealing Apocalypse has used the trust he has been given to conquer an entire dimension in the name of the X-Men. The issue features a scene in which Xavier chastises his fellow members of the Quiet Council. “I don’t know what I expected,” Xavier observes. “But I am hoping that you are still with us. I am trusting you.” Apocalypse, for his part, offers no hint of an apology, instead, continuing with his plans without a second thought.
And yet, it’s clear the conquest of Otherworld is only the next step of Apocalypse’s grand scheme. The self-appointed Priest of Krakoa appears to have detected something in Otherworld, a mystical threat that he last encountered millennia ago, in c. 1200 CE. This may well be an event hinted at in Powers of X #4, where the living island of Krakoa was torn apart in ancient times, unleashing a demonic invasion that Apocalypse and his first Horsemen repelled. It will be fascinating to see what’s next for Apocalypse – and why he needed to take Otherworld in order to achieve his objective.
Excalibur #6 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.