Blending swords/sorcery and the world of mutants continues to be a winning formula for ‘Knights of X’, as the stakes of this massive quest continue to become more clear for the audience and knights alike. This is such an entertaining, emotional, colorful, and beautiful series that adds so much to the tapestry that is this era of X-Men.
Undertaking fantastic quests can bring great joy and fun as well as swashbuckling types of danger, where heroes can rise up and showcase just why they are heroes. Another aspect that comes hand in hand with those is that many quests reach a point where sacrifice is required. Such a point has come for the Knights of X.
Swords & sorcery continue to be a great companion to the X-Men and their stories, sprinkling in familiar characters and concepts (both fantasy and more X-Men/Mutant-centric ones) to create a really enjoyable recipe. Through the last few issues, Tini Howard has done such a marvelous job juggling the massive cast and giving them all not only something to do quest/plot-wise but giving them great character moments. One critique that I had at times with Excalibur, the series that preceded this one, was that often the rest of the cast could feel somewhat background to Betsy Braddock who took the spotlight. That’s not the case here at all.
Splitting the party last issue helped the Knights a ton as they tackled saving two different people, but the team led by Gambit had a bit more trouble so Betsy’s team rushes in to help. Despite the solicit speaking of sacrifice and Roma & Saturnyne telling Shogo at the start that someone in their group would be lost as a sacrifice, the end of the issue still came as quite a blow. I say this as someone that spent most of the 90s and 2000s not being a fan whatsoever of one Remy LaBeau/Gambit.
The Rogue and Gambit series a few years ago and its successor Mr. & Mrs. X changed that, as well as the work that Howard has done here. I really liked him so far in this series and I would hate to see him gone, but I’m intrigued to see where Howard takes this. Especially since we know that dying in Otherworld is pretty much-assured death for Mutants as what is resurrected is going to be a totally different version.
What truly makes this mutant fantasy story work is the truly beautiful and amazing work that Bob Quinn and Erick Arciniega are putting in every single issue. The action is smooth while the character moments are clear and distinct as the emotional elements are nailed. There is a ton going on within every single page, but it feels smooth and detailed, and while it might feel overwhelming, as it should with some of the battles, its always in a good way that is perfect for the story. There is never a moment where keeping track of what is going down is unclear or hard to follow.
Arciniega uses a lot of heavier and darker tones, especially with the shadows that dominate the sides and bring a perfect weight to everything, but also provides so many brighter pops of color that help those fantasy elements and superhero elements. This is a fantasy story with a quest, but it’s got a major heaviness to it (especially with the forces they are facing and the ‘sacrifice’ this issue) and this is reflected in the way that Arciniega colors it all. Every realm has its own color palette, so it looks different from others, some brighter and some murkier or darker, which makes sure that there is varied life to this giant varied realm.
Rounding out the great team is the incomparable Ariana Maher who brings such a distinct, fun, and creative energy to any lettering work. While the art and colors have their own energy and personality, so too do the letters. Whether one is talking caption boxes or dialogue bubbles or the variety of SFX, they are all colorful and distinct with changes made that make them stand out more or make them distinct for different characters that are on the page.
The use of sentence case is one of my favorite things because it makes the dialogue feel more normal or moderate tone so that when it gets bigger in caps or shrinks in size we can easily tell what the tone or volume is meant to be.
Knights of X #3 is now available.