Everything about ‘Knights of X’ is just a winning combination as the series continues to develop these characters on their quest, and brings a truly important and much-needed moment to beautiful life. This new era of X-Men stories was about making big changes and bringing new stuff to the line and titles like this fully embody that notion and show just what is truly possible and needed with these characters that we love so much.
As a reader, it can sometimes be hard to play the waiting game when a comic series is playing the long game and slowly building towards things, as was part of the case with the recent series Excalibur. All that waiting though paid off when that series came to an end and was followed up with the wonderful Knights of X, and in the penultimate issue of this series, something so many have been waiting for finally became a glorious reality.
There is tons that happens within the pages of this fourth series issue, but what will be the most rightfully talked about thing for weeks and years to come was the moment where Betsy Braddock and Rachel Grey-Summers finally kissed. Tini Howard was seeding this relationship through much of Excalibur and the first three issues of this series, and to see it finally clearly stated how they feel sealed with a kiss is a tremendous moment. Comic books are an uphill battle for representation for the LGBTQIA+ community, and so many other marginalized groups sadly, so to see a creator be able to pay this off and keep pushing till they can make it happen is a powerful moment.
There are a lot of powerful emotions on display through this issue as the team must deal with the loss of Gambit, and what his sacrifice has opened to them while coming to grips with their own fears and possibly desires as they actually find themselves within Mercator which itself is the Siege Perilous that they had been searching for. While Excalibur was about the build-up in many cases with room for character moments, this series is a swords and mutant fantasy quest but also is chock full of vast emotional character moments that resonate so much.
That moment between Rachel and Betsy is brought to stunning powerful life by Bob Quinn and Erick Arciniega alongside all the moments of this great issue. What they’ve done with this book is just beyond words. Quinn’s level of detail and attention makes sure that every bit of space is used and needs to be taken in, while also making such great paneling choices. In the Siege Perilous/Mercator we see Rictor reaching for the hand of –|A|– (who remains fully unseen) only for the next page to turn that hand grab into that of Meggan reaching for the Siege-created image of Brian Braddock.
Another thing that is great is how stated before there is tons happening in all the pages, as there is a lot of action and frantic moments of this quest happening, and it’s overwhelming as it should be without being actually overwhelming. What I mean by that is that you can feel the chaos and pressure of these moments on the page with all that is happening yet it’s very easy to follow and by the time it’s over you feel like this was a double-sized issue by how much is packed in there.
We’ve seen a lot of different color palettes in play through this series as the various realms are wildly different, and we see that still in play. The Crooked Market has got some brightness to it but is very heavily shadowed now that Merlyn and the Furies have taken it over, but then we go to Mercator/Siege Perilous and it’s so red and dark and feels so ominous to match what the characters are going through. Arciniega’s colors feel loose and smooth but at the same time feel heavy with a powerful weight to add to the overall artistic vision.
One doesn’t have to go far these days to find an issue with the lettering work of Ariana Maher, and a quick glance at her work will immediately showcase why she’s got so much work and is one of the best letterers around. All the energy and emotion and personality that is brought by the artwork is reflected and enhanced within the dialogue and captions and even the SFX. Distinct emphasis is placed whether through increased size, different font, or even colors.
I bring it up every time, but I love how she uses sentence case in this series because it feels so natural and makes the normal tones clear and then saves the all caps or bigger fonts to really emphasize louder or softer volumes/tones. The same goes for changing bubble shapes, making it for example more bumpy or misshapen when a character is stressed or exhausted to really make that clear. Every element of a comic helps to set the tone and make it clear what we’re meant to take away from the pages and lettering is very important in that aspect.
Knights of X #4 is now available from Marvel