Friday, September 29, 2023

Knights of X #4 Review: My Longest Yeah Boy! Ever

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Yes I’ll get into the rest of the review in a second but YES. IT’S HAPPENED. QUEER RACHEL SUMMERS IS CANON! The queercoding of Rachel Summers has been documented by many people and authorial intent all the way back to her creation has been to have her be a gay character. This has been a long time coming and by god it feels so good. 

Now to check back in with our heroes, we see Meggan especially rattled and shaken by the death of Gambit just a few moments earlier. Rictor is also shaken, stating that he had intended himself to be the sacrifice for opening the gates to Mercator. Jim Jaspers has the furies under control finally and opens a portal to Mercator for the knights to escape through. They’re not in the clear however, because King Arthur pursues them with one of his own knights.

The team is split up and scattered about upon landing in Mercator and they begin experiencing visions. Absalon Mercator himself comes to greet King Arthur and explain that the Siege Perilous has become one with the land itself and the visions are the Siege forcing each of the knights to contend with their deepest selves.

We see Rictor confronted with Apocalypse who helps him out of the mud and tells him to stop trying to die. There’s a great moment from Meggan who immediately recognizes the vision of Brian as not being her lover when he tries to cross and silence her. Mordred faces his father, King Arthur himself but obviously not the real King Arthur who is stuck in a bog with Mr M’s boot on his face. Betsy faces a corrupt version of her Captain Britain Corps who are telling her she’s failed her mission and how pathetic she is. Bei the Blood Moon relives her wedding ceremony to Cypher, where she nearly harms him; and lastly Shatterstar faces his past (and future) as a Mojoverse gladiator with Spiral and Adam X.

The knights are broken out of their visions by Rachel, who is meditating and telepathically summoning Roma, Saturnyne, and Shogo from the Kingdom of Roma. She is interrupted by the elderly woman from a previous issue who had been sheltering mutants in the crooked market. The woman, Geraldine, hands Rachel a poptart with the symbol of the Siege Perilous frosted onto it, calls her Askani, and tells her to gather her kind. She pulls her fellow knights out of their visions and gathers them before sending up a flare of fire to alert Betsy to their presence.

When they’re reunited, Rachel extends her hand to Betsy and pulls her in for a mid-air, hair on fire, surrounded by rainbow butterflies kiss. It’s a full, glorious page of gorgeous art of a tender moment. While it may not be my choice of partner for either woman, this is a huge step of progress with two fairly big-name characters and any bit of representation should and will be celebrated. 

What, you didn’t think I’d show you the full panel, did you?

The rainbow butterflies, it turns out, are from Absalon Mercator who has joined the group and tells them that the land itself is the Siege Perilous and that another one of their knights is joining them. The issue ends with a panel of Shogo approaching, being pursued by Merlyn and his allies.

As far as this series goes, this issue felt like the first time that it finally hit its stride and started to all come together. Unfortunately, this is the penultimate issue of this series as it’s been announced that Knights will be capped at 5 issues. The various plot threads finally felt like they were coming together to make a solid story and the story was compelling! I’m bummed that this will soon be over and can’t help but wonder how this will all wrap up in one issue. 

The same faults that I’ve outlined in previous issues still apply; the side characters feel like set dressing, the lore is dense and wordy. The pacing was a bit better for this issue however I still felt as though Betsy being Rachel’s only means of motivation for battle was short selling the character a bit. 
Despite all this, this issue will be remembered for years to come as the one that finally let Rachel Summers kiss a girl on panel. She was created 40 years ago with intention to be a happily ever after for Kitty Pryde, and has only just now started to scratch the surface of that intention. While Betsy Braddock has been canonically queer for quite a while now, she didn’t quite have a meaningful queer narrative and was just a few male-gazey panels from years ago. Giving both these women a narrative over the past few years that has culminated in a beautiful kiss will always be a net positive and Knights will be remembered for years to come because of this.

Images via Marvel Comics

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