A Knight’s Tale Concluded: Reviewing ‘Knights Of X’ #5
by Scott Redmond
‘Knights of X’ comes to a satisfying yet bittersweet far too short conclusion, sticking with the epic settings and fantastic character beats that have made it a winning series the past few months. It speaks to the power of an idea and a creative team when something that we only have for a short period of time resonates so much with members of the audience. This chapter of the Otherworld story might be over, but the Captain Britain saga is far from over.
No matter how epic they might be, all quests must end at some point, sometimes sooner than one might hope or expect. As previously announced, Knights of X #5 is indeed not only the end of the quest for the knights of the title but also the end of the series itself. What a ride it has been.
Buckle up when diving into this issue, because there is definitely a lot going on. As with many final issues of a title, this one has a lot of things to get to as there are a great number of plotlines to wrap up or address (some of them set up for whatever is coming next to replace this title in Captain Britain’s quest) and questions that need answering. While it is a ton of stuff to take in and in some cases could seem like things were being rushed to tend the title, it’s handled perfectly by Tini Howard and feels natural and smooth all the way through.
I’ll be honest, I was worried before I opened this issue. There didn’t seem to be enough space really to address everything. Also, I was bummed to hear that this title was ending as I’ve enjoyed it so much. Once I dove in though all those emotions were washed away and were replaced by happiness and wonder and just a good deep sense of fun.
We get a ton more with the Siege Perilous/Mister M/Mercator, a for the time being an end to the Merlyn story (as Betsy notes he is bound to return as he, Roma, and Saturnyne tend to do), room for Mordred and Arthur to perhaps mend things, the return of Gambit and a sort of clean slate for him, the Siege Perilous/Mercator providing an end to the “if you die in Otherworld you don’t come back correct in resurrection” plot line, and a whole lot more of Rachel and Betsy’s love and hints of where they are going next. I told you, there is a ton to take in within this issue.
One gripe that I might have is that because things had to be wrapped up so quickly so that whatever is next can be born, the various X-Characters showing up to wage a battle near the end of the issue being one splash page and then a “One storybook-shaking battle later…” off panel situation felt a bit cheap. Especially with how great Bob Quinn and Erick Arciniega have been killing it on artwork.
That being said I hold no ill will about it, as I completely understand how ending it here to build something else was very likely out of the hands of the creative team. We got a ton of great battle stuff during their rescue of Gambit which helps tide one over.
As noted, this is just another amazing bit of work from Quinn and Arciniega who have given their all in bringing such vivid detailed, and powerful life to Otherworld and those who move within the realm. With so much happening there is a natural frenzied pace and Quinn leans into that so well. We bounce around Mercator and other realms as things are thrown at the characters, bombarding us in the best way possible. It would be hard to pick any one visual that is a favorite as the castle made of cards, the appearance of rage-filled Santo/Rockslide/Wrongslide, the return of Death Gambit, the ominous insides of Gambit’s castle, the aforementioned double-page spread of battle, and more are just all so delicious.
As I noted in the last issue review, Quinn has just an innate ability to tap into the chaos of any situation and make it feel chaotic but never feel visually overwhelming. Meaning you look at it and feel that this is a frenzied overwhelming situation for the character but don’t feel that same way yourself as you dive through the panels/pages. This was probably two issues worth of things crammed into one issue and it all looks fantastic.
Otherworld has a variety of feelings and looks to it, and Arciniega’s color palate choices always follow suit. Tons of darkness and shadows permeate the pages with how heavy and dark the story elements are at hand, while there are plenty of vivid bright magical and superhero-like colors to be found. Each realm comes with its color scheme and can feel bright or darker and fully unique from others. Everything about the Siege Perilous/Mercator realm is bright red and gloomy which should make one feel ominous energy but yet it feels like something more as we learn about how it controls change and it becomes the salvation for mutant kind within Otherworld.
There is a notable change in the color scheme once the story reaches the point of the heroes ending their quest and succeeding, as things take on a bit brighter overall feeling. Merlyn’s reign of terror is over, and Otherworld appears to react in its own way as the realms seem more welcoming and clearer thanks to the colors that Arciniega brings in these moments.
If one is going on an epic quest and they need someone to detail it all in a written format, they most assuredly should have Ariana Maher along on that quest. Just like the other aspects of the art, she is abler to channel all the frantic energy into the letters as the character’s personalities shine through their words and they can strike with all the right bit of power. I truly love when Maher uses sentence case in stories, as it feels more natural and normal and makes the moments of whispering or yelling (where the font is shrunk or grown/all caps) even more impactful than the normal levels of speech.
Also, Maher is guaranteed to make moments more fun or stand out more with inspired bubble choices, such as having Gambit scream “Gyyaaahhh” when ‘stabbed’ by Betsy’s sword and the bubble molding to the shape of the words for an epic moment. Sure, that could have just been placed within a normal style speech bubble, but where is the fun and adventure in that? When on an epic quest, one should always go all out.
Knights of X #5 is now available from Marvel.