The latest issue of Excalibur hints that romance may be in the air for two Marvel mutants who were previously members of both X-Force and X-Factor.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Excalibur #21 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega & VC’s Ariana Maher, on sale now.
Some of the biggest elements of the X-Men franchise have long been the romantic relationships at the core of the franchise. The recent era of liberation on Krakoa has seen many of those romances given new life, with the latest occurring during the course of the island nation’s most important state dinner.
Rictor and Shatterstar were finally reunited during the Hellfire Gala, and while things start off a bit rough it also teases that the pair could resume their previous romantic relationship.
Rictor and Shatterstar met during their mutual time associated with X-Force, with the characters developing an increasingly close friendship. They would later be reunited during the course of Rictor’s time as a part of X-Factor Investigations, with the pair sharing an on-panel kiss in X-Factor #45 by Peter David, Marco Santucci, and Valentine De Landro that cemented their relationship as romantic. Since then, the pair have been open about their sexuality but went through a rough patch, even breaking up for a time. In the modern era of Krakoa, both men have gone through some unexpectedly dire situations, only to come out of it with a new view of the world.
Shatterstar was one of the mutants captured and held on Mojoworld, forced to become a major star for the other dimensional entertainment producer. He was among the mutants rescued when X-Factor finally took the fight to Mojo, and was subsequently returned to Krakoa (where he was able to slay the Morrigan and aid his former X-Force teammate, Siryn). Rictor meanwhile became a disciple of Apocalypse and took to his magical teachings — developing a greater understanding of the magical world and even becoming associated with druids who see his mutant ability as a deep connection to the Earth. Rictor was killed and revived during X of Swords, and became the chief mystic member of Excalibur after Apocalypse elected to remain with his family in Amenth.
The two young mutants were finally and fully reunited at the Hellfire Gala, when a blood-covered Shatterstar tried to literally sweep Rictor off his feet. Already in a sour mood towards Krakoa and the Hellfire Gala as a whole, Rictor doesn’t respond well — leaving a confused and hurt Shatterstar behind. Later in the evening, Rictor redirects his attention to breaking the Braddock Lighthouse away from the rest of England, giving the mutants a slight place of autonomy in the UK despite the nation’s ultimate decision to break off alliances with Krakoa thanks to the manipulations of Clan Akkaba. Taking the Krakoa Gate to the new island, Shatterstar finds Rictor and apologizes for coming on so strong — revealing he’s brought a few beers and just wants to sit with his old flame.
Rictor agrees and brings him to “this beach I just made” on the edge of the coast. There, the two sit and cuddle, looking out at the stars and telling one another about the recent experiences they’ve gone through. Although the pair don’t immediately resume their romance, there’s a note of hope to their conversation. Rictor and Shatterstar have both experienced great turmoil in their lives recently, only to emerge stronger. It’ll be interesting to see if the pair returns to their former romance, and what that means for both of them, especially with Rictor’s level of importance on Krakoa rising thanks to his connection to the new Braddock Island.
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