That cover just looks sillier and sillier the more I look at it. Pete Wisdom might as well be shouting, "Whee!" as he throws his hot knives on that cover.
However, cover aside, this was a second strong issue in a row from the New Excalibur crew (Chris Yost completed the story for Claremont based on a basic plot, and Michael Ryan and Rick Ketchum are the regulars).
Nocturne is an intriguing character, because the very nature of Exiles made it very difficult for us to get to know TJ's personality under normal circumstances. This basically makes her a blank slate, characterization-wise, so it's weird, because you really could pretty much do anything you wanted with her private life and I couldn't differ THAT much, although, I have to say, she seems a BIT lighthearted for a character who had such a tragic relationship with Warpath in Exiles. That being said, Yost did a nice job, I think, of showing TJ exploring her new home in England.
Another good job was the exploration of Alison Blaire's new status quo as an entertainer. It was a very mature handling of Ali, I thought, although the "You're our hero" scene with her and TJ was a bit too silly, even though the characters even meant it as a joke.
I am torn on the Dark Xavier plot from last issue. If you recall, I took issue with how simple it was for Sage to defeat the evil Charles Xavier. I expected there to be a twist. Well, I don't think there WAS, so that's lame. Unless, of course, you count the Shadow King using Xavier's body as a twist? Perhaps he LET Xavier be killed, just in an attempt to draw in Psylocke? I dunno...it's pretty specious. I mean, it seems like waaaay too elaborate of a plan. In any event, this issue is the spot where Psylocke spins off into her new spot on the Exiles. A spot that is going to be delayed until Chris Claremont recovers. As an idea for a spin-off, it's a pretty good one. The Exiles just recently got finished chasing Proteus through timelines - the Shadow King is not a bad follow-up.
There were two character bits that I found really enjoyable in this issue...
The first was Captain Britain's indecisiveness over who to trust and the second was the way the writers teased us with Ali and Juggernaut, only to have it revealed that it was a mind-control thing (and heck, even managing to remember the importance of the Juggernaut's helmet!!).
I liked the discussion of Albion and Lionheart, about how perhaps there is a whole pile of OTHER "Captain Britains" out there who chose the sword like Lionheart did. Interesting idea.
Most of the issue was the group hanging out, and the main fight in the issue didn't even have to do with New Excalibur, but rather setting up Exiles. However, the action scenes were interesting enough, as the Shadow King turned teammates against each other (and the Shadow King WAS suitably creepy), and Sage didn't kick ass, which is always a nice change of pace. And with the proliferation of nice character beats in this issue (Ali and her music, TJ and her new home, Cain and his longing for Ali, Brian and Betsy, Betsy and Wisdom, the Lionheart discussion, the Juggernaut/Ali scene, the Psylocke transportation scene), I think it is enough for me to Recommend, with the reservation that Ryan's art, while not not bad at ALL, still really doesn't fit the mood of this book.