Dish Of The Week 1/8/20: Excalibur #5

Each week I highlight the ultimate Comfort Food Comic release. This is the comic that gets me the most hyped. The comic I’ll remember and revisit the most. The one that gave me that special feeling above all the other releases that new comic book day.

The Dish Of The Week for 1/8/20 is Excalibur #5 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega, & Cory Petit

So why did this issue take the top spot this week? One word – Rogue. Ok, so a lot of great stuff happens in this issue. I could tell you its the coming together of every previous plot thread into an exciting cliffhanger finish. I could tell you its the further development of Betsy Braddock in her new role as Captain Britain. I could tell you its the team finally all coming together as one. But I cant lie to all you wonderful people, its because of Rogue.

Rogue has long been one of my favorite characters in comics. She is my favorite X-Men member. I think I just about fell in love with her when I was 4 watching X-Men the Animated Series on Saturday mornings. Sure I was there for the dinosaur man, Sauron, but I soon fell for Rogue. That sassy kickass attitude, that charming southern drawl(amazingly voiced by Lenore Zann), all that ANGST! I’ve always found her to be the coolest character. Nothing compares to the powerhouse clad in green & yellow with the glorious long locks of skunk striped hair.

X-Men 8 from 1992 was one of the first comics I ever had as a kid & it instantly endeared me to her character. This is of course the infamous Boysenberry Pie issue drawn by Jim Lee. This issue is an alltime Comfort Food fave. I even own the statue they made for her from this

Another one I had as a kid was the classic X-Men #24 featuring Rogue & Gambit on a date. So basically, much of my formative years as a comic fan included Rogue issues. It’s no wonder I’m so enamored with the character. It’s lasted since then as I followed her adventures through the 90’s always selecting her in the Marvel VS Capcom video games, into Mike Carey’s excellent Legacy run focusing mostly on her, all the way into Gerry Duggan’s landmark Uncanny Avengers run which heavily featured & developed her.

So with this new Dawn Of X status quo relaunch I’ve been very excited to see what role she would be playing. For the first 4 issues of this run – not much. She almost instantly was put to sleep while the rest of the plot went along. This issue she finally wakes up & I reacted like an excited fan after a crazy slam dunk at an NBA game.

When I think of Comfort Food Comics, its these moments of visceral reaction I try to think on the most. This comic delivered that in spades. FINALLY I get my girl to enter the fray. We start this issue amidst all manner of magic Otherworld chaos due to the recent events in the book with all the various members of this new Excalibur trying to contain it all. All the plotlines bleed together into some mysterious plot by Apocalypse. We then see into Rogue’s dreams

First off, let’s appreciate Marcus To’s amazing art. Rogue to me, always needs some BIG hair or it isnt Rogue. To draws some fantastic hair for her. Tini Howard then brings it with the writing. “I listen to my heart, my mind and the gospel of Miss Dolly Parton” THAT’S SO GOOD!! Almost right off the bat, Howard GETS Rogue to her core.

Rogue, with a little psychic cameo help from Rachel Summers, works her way through her forced slumber & Apocalypse’s seeming plan for her, saying “But I ain’t a kept woman” & returns to the waking world.

With a resounding POWWWW, Rogue makes her presence known! Back in a big way, in a gorgeous new costume. I thought this new look was very similar to the Paul Smith drawn costume she wore during the Muir Isle Saga, specifically Uncanny X-Men 278.

So I went & asked Marcus To about it directly on Twitter & he confirmed it was a callback to the 80s/90’s like this design while also him going wild creatively with an Adam Ant fashion derived element. You can definitely see that. All in all, its a very cool new costume.

From there we get Apocalypse’s secret plan coming together with Rogue hellbent on exacting some revenge on him. She uses her powers to apparently suck Apocalypse dry, killing him, all according to his plan to take the power of Otherworld for himself. But the surprises dont stop there as were given a last page cliffhanger shock page of Rogue transformed into a form of Apocalypse!! Classic X-Men shenanigans!

There’s more than Rogue in this issue. There’s plenty of great Apocalypse moments. Further Rictor development. A really fun few pages of Pete Wisdom being a dog to Betsy while they team up. Its got so much packed in here and everyone’s dialogue and characterization is just SPOT ON. This issue and the series as a whole has felt like a late 80’s Chris Claremont X-Book. There’s no decompression, new ideas & plots are thrown in while maintaining a constant exciting through line plot. Relationships are developed & changed while acknowledging the deep shared continuity of these characters. It uses history as a tool to tell brand new fresh tales while giving us meaningful fanservice. Its a delight. As a diehard X-fan, its the type of book I imagine in my head and thats rare. We are being served an amazing meal and I am here to sing its praises and make sure its appreciated.

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