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Thursday, June 5, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #1

"Warwolves of London"
October 1988

In a Nutshell 
The newly formed Excalibur tries to track down the Warwolves. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti & Terry Kavanagh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At Loch Daemon, Crazy Gang member Tweedledope tries to build a robot but gives up, walking away before the small metal head opens its eyes. In London, Captain Britain, Shadowcat and Phoenix help the police with a hostage situation at a nightclub. As Shadowcat and Phoenix enter the bank, one of the Warwolves attacks an inspector, killing him and taking his form. Inside the bank, Phoenix is knocked out by the telepathic death cry of the inspector, and Shadowcat is forced to try and take out the hostage-takers herself. Later, the Warwolves kill again, and Rachel once more feels the death. A few days later, Kitty is working on a device to try and help the problem while Nightcrawler and Meggan prepare Captain Britain's lighthouse to serve as Excalibur's headquarters.


The next day, Rachel and Captain Britain, as Brian Braddock, visit Fraser's Bank. As Rachel is harassed by Nigel Frobisher, a banker who was one of the hostages Rachel helped rescue, Brian meets with one of the bank's VPs, his ex-girlfriend Courtney Ross, telling her he has need of her bank. Meanwhile, Kitty completes the device she has been working on: a module which replicates Rachel's energy signature. Dressing up as Phoenix, she wanders the streets, hoping to draw out the Warwolves. Nightcrawler, however, discovers her plan, and alerts the rest of Excalibur just as Kitty attracts the attention of the Warwolves. They're able to nullify her phasing ability, and though the rest of Excalibur intervenes, the Warwolves escape with Kitty, believing her to be Rachel. Enraged, Excalibur vows to rescue her. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Excalibur marks the third X-Men spinoff, continuing the X-books development into a full-fledged franchise, and the second such title launched by Claremont. The series is printed on higher quality paper than most of Marvel's series at the time, without ads and with a pin-up or other piece of art on the back cover (this issue, it's a Phoenix pin-up). As such, it is priced higher than a normal book. 

The cover declares we demanded this series, though I suspect that's mostly marketing hype, as the idea of an additional series reuniting the distaff X-Men Claremont wrote out after "Mutant Massacre" and serving as a vehicle for the writer's sense of whimsy seems like something that was in the works long before anyone could have been demanding it.

Widget, who appeared on the back cover of Excalibur: Special Edition #1, appears for the first time in the story, cobbled together by Crazy Gang member Tweedledope. Widget will eventually join the team, and be revealed to be an iteration of Shadowcat from the future.


Nigel Frobisher also appears for the first time this issue; he will become a recurring character/gag in the series. 


A pair of characters from Captain Britain's UK series show up in this issue: former adversary-turned-ally Commander Dai Thomas, as well as Captain Britain's former love interest Courtney Ross.  


Nightcrawler and Meggan begin transitioning Captain Britain and Meggan's lighthouse home into a headquarters for Excalibur (though Meggan hasn't told Captain Britain about it yet).


In doing so, Nightcrawler seeming stumbles into an alternate dimension, a subplot that will linger for some time.


Terry Kavanagh (whose actually been serving as an assistant editor in the X-office for awhile now) gets his first editorial credit; he'll edit much of Excalibur, and eventually write some truly wretched stories for the X-office in the 90s.

As I've mentioned before, I've never actually read Excalibur prior to issue #71 (the "Fatal Attractions" tie-in), so my write-ups of this series may differ a bit from those of X-Men, New Mutants, and X-Factor (all of which I've read copiously before), in that I don't know exactly what's coming issue-to-issue (though I am aware of some of the broad strokes), and thus may fail to point out things that become important later on and/or be forced to rely on outside sources more often than usual. 

A Work in Progress
Kitty recalls both the seeming death of the X-Men, as well as Doug Ramsey's recent death, prompting a pretty cool montage of X-Men villains drawn by Alan Davis. 


It's established that the strain of staying solid (rather than phased) causes Kitty to have headaches.


Nightcrawler, meanwhile, continues to have difficulty teleporting.


I Love the 80sKitty quotes Batman, saying that criminals are "a cowardly, superstitious lot." 


Meggan continues to watch lots of TV, and references Dynasty at one point.


Teebore's Take
Even though this is technically a first issue, it reads very much like a second issue (or, at least, a continuation of an existing series). Of course, this really is the second issue of the story, with the decision of the characters to stay together as Excalibur having already occurred in a previous #1, and even the main plot of this issue (the hunt for the Warwolves) carries over from that issue. Add to that the fact that all of the main characters are existing, well-developed characters from other series (New Mutants avoided this problem by featuring mostly brand new characters, while X-Factor had the reborn Jean as a POV character and the novelty of reuniting the original X-Men after over a decade apart), and this issue really feels less like the start of something new than the continuation of something old.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's definitely a feeling of reuniting with old friends, especially when it comes to Nightcrawler and Kitty (and, to a much lesser extent, Rachel), while Captain Britain and Meggan are probably unknown enough to American readers to feel like new characters. And Alan Davis art is always a treat. It's just a shame that, given that #1 on the cover, more of an effort isn't made to establish the narrative or thematic purpose of the book, or its tone. That should come, in time, but for now, this issue feels more like a work-already-in-progress than the start of something new.  

Next Issue
Uncanny X-Men #237 continues the Genoshan story, followed by more space action in New Mutants #69 and the Hodge/Death showdown in X-Factor #34.

29 comments:

  1. This would be yet another X-book I would start buying, although I don't think I lasted more than 6 issues or so. It was nice to see Nightcrawler and Shadowcat in action again, but the tone was really different than that of the other X-books. Not bad in itself, but not quite the dark, dramatic stuff that drew me to the franchise to begin with. The Captain Britain stuff was completely alien to me, and mostly still is.

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  2. Teebore, you didn't mention it, but I thought it might be worth noting that, unlike the rest of the X-books of the day, EXCALIBUR, was one of the, I believe, dozen or so Marvel titles at the time that were only available in the direct market (i.e. comic shops only, no newsstands).

    For me, that meant it was the only X-book that I couldn't really buy. Growing up in a small town, my nearest comic shop was an hour away. I bought the majority of my books through newsstand outlets (Remember spinner racks, kids? Fortunately, my town had a few of those; enough to satisfy my weekly fix.).

    You mentioned the paper quality. If memory serves, I believe most, if not all, of Marvel's direct-only titles, back then, were printed on higher quality Mando paper and carried a higher price point.

    Like you, my first regular issue of EXCALIBUR was, also, the "Fatal Attractions" tie-in. By that point, though, I was buying everything with an "X" on it, completist that I was.

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  3. If there's one single series in which Claremont really earned his reputation for not resolving dangling plot threads, it's this one.

    I mean I love The 'Mont more than most. In fact I kind of worship the ground on which he treads. But this series is just a bit mind-boggling ... new subplots and plot-threads crop up in just about every issue and Claremont departs before resolving a single one!

    Though that does mean that when Davis comes in as the writer, he's able to do a run that feels IMMENSELY satisfying, as he wraps up one bit after another. (Although even he doesn't resolve everything Claremont had left open.)

    So, for example, this ...

    "In doing so, Nightcrawler seeming stumbles into an alternate dimension, a subplot that will linger for some time."

    ... isn't resolved till issue 50! And the Widget mystery goes even longer. All stuff from issue ONE!!!

    It's crazy.

    That said, I do like a lot of things about the comic. I've come to adore the Captain Britain mythos. David Thorpe once suggested that he is the superhero equivalent of Dr. Who, and I think it's kind of a shame that Cap doesn't have as rabid a following.



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  4. // At Loch Daemon, Crazy Gang member Tweedledope tries to build a robot but gives up //

    I saw it as him simply playing with the head quizzically after using it as a mixing bowl for his garbage stew.

    // the idea of an additional series reuniting the distaff X-Men //

    We've been through this before, I think, but you're using "distaff" wrong. It doesn't mean "former" or "estranged" but rather is an archaic term for "female" taken from a tool used in spinning. Rachel and Kitty could be called distaff X-Men, or distaff X-Men emeritus (to employ a word you might want instead), although they'd probably find the term offensive as I discovered it was around the time this issue was published.

    Another one that gets misused by folks a lot is "erstwhile".

    // this issue really feels less like the start of something new than the continuation of something old //

    I suppose you're right about the ingredients, but I disagree with your conclusion somewhat. While I won't deny that the familiar characters were a factor in me picking up the one-shot, and (together with my enjoyment of said one-shot) the subsequent series, the fresh flavor and sense of separateness from the main X-Men titles were a selling point given that I wasn't reading them or any other Marvel regularly at the time. That and the great Davis/Neary artwork, which I had loved in a recent run on Detective Comics at DC.

    On top of which, like you say, I don't know how familiar readers were with Captain Britain at the time. I had seen him in a couple of US appearances with his original costume, but the new outfit and Meggan and his general supporting milieu were all new to me. From what I recall Excalibur's antagonists came from Captain Britain's rogues gallery or were entirely new rather than the series going back to the X-Men well of evil mutants (either specifically or in spirit).

    You're coming at this from a completely different perspective, of course.

    New Mutants was introduced almost exactly like Excalibur, I just realized, having debuted in that Marvel Graphic Novel before launching as a regular monthly series. I don't recall exactly how much its first issue reintroduced the characters or premise to compare with Excalibur, but its entire intention was to revisit, rather than deviate from the original concept of X-Men. What they did share was the premise of carrying on in the wake of the X-Men's presumed death, although Excalibur didn't share New Mutants echoes of Giant-Size X-Men #1, which it occurs to me now was also a special issue rather than part of the ongoing title.

    Rachel Once More Feels the Death is my new band name.

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  5. Corrections and disagreements offered with respect, I hasten(ish) to add.

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  6. @Blam- one of the problems American readers had with Excalibur was that the British stories were unavailable in America at the time. Which wouldn't have been a problem, if Claremont had actually bothered to RECAP those stories when they became relevant. I was completely confused by Saturnyne/Sat-yr-9 until I picked up the Official Handbook to the MU.

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  7. Oh, yeah. I was flummoxed; "new to me" was a major understatement for the purposes of the point at hand.

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  8. So happy to get to the Excalibur ongoing. It has its problems for sure, but if nothing else it's way better than New Mutants and X-Factor are at this point, at least when Claremont and Davis are on it. (The endless fill-ins are a different story.) And the Davis solo run beginning with #42 is both actually legit great and is also pretty much the only bright spot in the X-verse by that point. (Well, that and the Peter David X-Factor, I guess, but that run is even more disappointingly truncated.)

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  9. Ah the Alan Davis' UltraBrite smiles

    Widget will eventually join the team, and be revealed to be an iteration of Shadowcat from the future.

    Hum what ? I remembered the black-star-y body with silver helmet and shoulder pads but not that stuff

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  10. (Also, I think a big part of the reason the Saturnyne/Sat-yr-9/Courtney Ross stuff is so confusing is because Claremont himself seems to periodically lose track of who is who...)

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  11. @Ben- but you'll notice that Claremont never clearly explains the difference between them. I wasn't clear if Sat-yr-9 and Saturnyne was supposed to be the same person with the name spelled differently or alternate reality counterparts of the same person.

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  12. Excaliber...not sure why I never got into it until Fatal Attractions as well. Maybe it wasn't around much where I was, but also at the time, wasn't a big fan of the fun tone, or Alan Davis art. In hindsight, I do enjoy both quite a bit, and they are a nice antidote to what was going on in the other X-books at the time (well, the fun tone, mostly).

    I also agree that much of the UK stuff would have been confusing to people who never read the UK stories. At least Roma showed up in FOTM...

    Having read it all now, the 2 main runs before FA are the CC/Davis run and the Davis run. Both are great fun, though the CC/Davis is problematic. Some really meh fill-ins, once Davis leaves it loses lots of steam, and CC leaves before he gets to solve many of the dangling plot threads, the Cross Time Caper goes on way to long...still, it is much better than what follows. Other than the issue resolving Nightcrawler's teleportation problems (Spoiler alert! it gets fixed), much of the material between those 2 runs ranges from meh to forgettable to outright horrible. But once Davis is back, minus some bad fill-in issues*, you end up with a really great run that stands as one of the best runs of 90s X-titles. Sadly, the title gets torn apart and ruined once Davis is gone and doesn't recover until Ellis comes on board...


    *Much of the really bad fill-ins are written by Scott Lobdell. He may have done some good work on Uncanny but man, him + Excaliber = horrid horrid horrid. And he was the one who took the title apart once Davis left, so...yeesh.

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  13. @Johnny: Not bad in itself, but not quite the dark, dramatic stuff that drew me to the franchise to begin with.

    Yeah, what little I've read of pre-Fatal Attractions Excalibur, I was turned off by the more whimsical tone. As I've said before, I have an odd aversion to too much whimsy in my superhero stories, so I'm curious to see how I handle the rest of this series.

    @Cerebro: I thought it might be worth noting that, unlike the rest of the X-books of the day, EXCALIBUR, was one of the, I believe, dozen or so Marvel titles at the time that were only available in the direct market

    Good point. I should have mentioned that. I think Wolverine was another one, wasn't it? At the very least, it gets the same Mando paper, back cover art treatment.

    By that point, though, I was buying everything with an "X" on it, completist that I was.

    That's what got me too.

    @Jason: But this series is just a bit mind-boggling ... new subplots and plot-threads crop up in just about every issue and Claremont departs before resolving a single one!

    I've heard it has that reputation, but you (and others) will have to help call them out, as I obviously won't always know on a first pass what won't get resolved for years (or ever). Some of them I know from reputation, but I'm sure I'll miss some.

    I've come to adore the Captain Britain mythos.

    I've never gotten into him much in the past, but I'm slowly building a greater appreciation for him and his mythos as I go along.

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  14. @Blam: I saw it as him simply playing with the head quizzically after using it as a mixing bowl for his garbage stew.

    Yeah, I think you're right. Looking at it again, I'm pretty sure I misinterpreted what he was doing.

    We've been through this before, I think, but you're using "distaff" wrong.

    Darn it, Blam, I know that (now), I swear! Blame it on me writing this up in a hotel while traveling for work...

    the fresh flavor and sense of separateness from the main X-Men titles were a selling point given that I wasn't reading them or any other Marvel regularly at the time

    I probably should have made my point more clear - there's definitely a sense that this series is different from (and arguably fresher than) the other X-books, in terms of tone, locale, focus etc. It just felt to me reading it like it was more issue #2 of a series starring characters I was already reasonably familiar with rather than a fresh start, #1 issue.

    What they did share was the premise of carrying on in the wake of the X-Men's presumed death, although Excalibur didn't share New Mutants echoes of Giant-Size X-Men #1, which it occurs to me now was also a special issue rather than part of the ongoing title.

    Wow. I really wish I'd made those observations. Good stuff. :)

    @Ben: And the Davis solo run beginning with #42 is both actually legit great and is also pretty much the only bright spot in the X-verse by that point.

    I've heard a lot of great things about the Davis run. And I love stories that tie up loose plot threads. So I'm excited to get to it.

    @Frenchie: Hum what ? I remembered the black-star-y body with silver helmet and shoulder pads but not that stuff

    I think that gets established in the Davis run, when the team ends up in the "Days of Future Past" timeline. But again, this is just stuff I've heard/picked up on through the years, not actually read, so I could be wrong.

    @wwkd: Sadly, the title gets torn apart and ruined once Davis is gone and doesn't recover until Ellis comes on board...

    The gap between Davis and Ellis that Lobdell fills isn't that long, is it? Pretty much just "Fatal Attractions" into, what, the late 70s/early 80s? Granted, there's some rough stuff in there (*cough*Britannic*cough*) as Lobdell goes about dismantling stuff, but I didn't think he was around for too long before Ellis at least started doing some interesting things with the series again.

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  15. I wish. No, the "transition" period is from issue #68 until #82. And trust me, it will feel even longer than it actually is.

    It also doesn't help that you go from Alan Davis on art to Ken Lashly...who was doing a horrible early 90s image impersonation.

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  16. @Ben: // The endless fill-ins are a different story. //

    I couldn't deal with them and dropped the series sometime during the interminable Cross-Time Caper.

    @Teebore: // It just felt to me reading it like it was more issue #2 of a series starring characters I was already reasonably familiar with rather than a fresh start, #1 issue. //

    Gotcha. I did realize that you were saying that, but I also thought that you were saying... uh, what I thought you were saying. That Excalibur overall didn't feel like anything new compared to the extant X-titles.

    @Teebore: // Wow. I really wish I'd made those observations. Good stuff. :) //

    You can use 'em in the book. 8^)

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  17. Also, Davis (during both runs) does some awesome covers, many of them genuinely funny. And for those of you who like chessboard covers, he will draw my absolute favorite chessboard cover ever.

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  18. While I neglected to mention this earlier, I'd also been unaware of Brian and Meggan's status(es) as mutants. I knew that Captain Britain had been given powers via totems by Merlin, and this new costume he was wearing turned out to augment his natural abilities rather than give him powers outright, but I'm pretty sure that when Excalibur launched I'd only seen Betsy in that one X-Men annual with Brian — the one where Logan tries his best to get drunk and damns his healing factor, which I picked up purely on impulse for the Davis art — having no idea that they were, I guess retroactively, declared to be mutants. Likewise I believe I thought Meggan was either an alien or of the faerie folk or an alien who thought she was of the faerie folk, or something, and I'm curious to reread these issues for the first time in forever to see where I got that from.

    I did pick up that early Captain Britain TPB during Excalibur's first year, the one that didn't go far back enough, and some of my conceptions or misconceptions could've come from that. We get introduced to Dai Thomas there, I know, and find out that Brian to his surprise retains some of his powers even without the new suit. A good read through Matt's Captain Britain reviews should straighten me out.

    My point is that I saw Excalibur as a team not just with only three out of its five members having been X-Men but only three out of its five members being mutants at all, and given the setting it was actually the Captain Britain mythos rather than the X-Men mythos that gave Excalibur its feel, to me, despite Brian and Meggan technically being only two-fifths of the group. The X/"Ex" trick was no accident of marketing, of course; however, in my eyes it was also representative of the merely glancing bond between the new series and the ex-X-Men's old life.

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  19. Brian is NOT a mutant but Betsy is, even though they both get their powers as a result of being half-human- don't ask me how that works.
    As for Meggan, she was introduced as a mutant but when Davis started writing Excalibur, he decided she was a faerie.

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  20. Teebore: Even with more humor per issue than the contemporary X-Men comics, there's a lot of dark stuff in Alan Davis's solo run, particularly issues 55-56 (the Braddock family 2-parter).

    Honestly, the Claremont/ Davis/ Neary stuff is good but I think the Davis/ Farmer material is even better. You'll see in about a year :)

    - Mike Loughlin

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  21. Any aversion to "whimsy" might just be that Claremont doesn't actually do whimsy (or humor at all, as I think you've noted) all that well. Still, I like it just because I think it's nice to see characters like Kurt and Kitty escape into something less depressing than the main x-line.

    By the time Davis is on the title solo, there's a nice balance between the whimsical elements (the Technet, Hardboiled Henwy, etc) and the darker stuff (Jamie Braddock, Necrom). There's something about this juxtaposition that to me makes the book feel distinctly British for the first time. (This is probably the difference between having an actual British writer rather than just an Anglophile.)

    And yeah, @Blam, the entire period between Davis's departure and return is basically one long fill-in and not worth reading. Except maybe the Girls' School From Heck-- it's silly and ugly, but at least it's a *story.*

    As for Lobdell's work on the series, the less said the better. His first run is just a string of half-baked one-and-dones; his second run is even worse as he seems determined to dismantle the series in the most insulting way possible.

    Having done more than a fair amount of this type of creative hack-work myself, my hack radar is pretty good, and Lobdell is a hack of the highest order.

    He seems to be the guy Bob Harass calls when something needs to be done in a a quick and workmanlike way, usually when someone else has quit at the last minute. That's how Lobdell wound up on Uncanny X-Men-- it's just that in that case, he stuck around for most of the 90's because management had decided that keeping real writers around wasn't worth the hassle.

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  22. Any aversion to "whimsy" might just be that Claremont doesn't actually do whimsy (or humor at all, as I think you've noted) all that well. Still, I like it just because I think it's nice to see characters like Kurt and Kitty escape into something less depressing than the main x-line.

    By the time Davis is on the title solo, there's a nice balance between the whimsical elements (the Technet, Hardboiled Henwy, etc) and the darker stuff (Jamie Braddock, Necrom). There's something about this juxtaposition that to me makes the book feel distinctly British for the first time. (This is probably the difference between having an actual British writer rather than just an Anglophile.)

    And yeah, @Blam, the entire period between Davis's departure and return is basically one long fill-in and not worth reading. Except maybe the Girls' School From Heck-- it's silly and ugly, but at least it's a *story.*

    As for Lobdell's work on the series, the less said the better. His first run is just a string of half-baked one-and-dones; his second run is even worse as he seems determined to dismantle the series in the most insulting way possible.

    Having done more than a fair amount of this type of creative hack-work myself, my hack radar is pretty good, and Lobdell is a hack of the highest order.

    He seems to be the guy Bob Harass calls when something needs to be done in a a quick and workmanlike way, usually when someone else has quit at the last minute. That's how Lobdell wound up on Uncanny X-Men-- it's just that in that case, he stuck around for most of the 90's because management had decided that keeping real writers around wasn't worth the hassle.

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  23. I think the "whimsy" during the Claremont/Davis run works just as well as it does during the solo Davis run. However, the solo Davis run does read better in retrospect, as Davis leaves the title with minimal danglers and pretty much wraps up all of his storylines. The lack of so much resolution does bring down the CC/Davis run quite a few notches.

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  24. @Cerebro: I thought it might be worth noting that, unlike the rest of the X-books of the day, EXCALIBUR, was one of the, I believe, dozen or so Marvel titles at the time that were only available in the direct market

    Good point. I should have mentioned that. I think Wolverine was another one, wasn't it? At the very least, it gets the same Mando paper, back cover art treatment.


    Yes, WOLVERINE was printed on the same, higher quality, paper. But it was one of the small number of Mando titles (along with books like PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL, GHOST RIDER, and Todd McFarlane's SPIDER-MAN) that DID have newsstand distribution. I suppose that could be due to the fact that those books starred more popular characters. At the time, Wolverine, effectively, gave Marvel a license to print money. If I were them, I'd've wanted to have his book available everywhere, too.

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  25. I hope you enjoy EXCALIBUR. I like the early material, up to the beginning of the "Cross-Time Caper", much better than the contemporaneous X-Men stuff. Some of "Cross-Time" is okay too, though it drags on too long... and once Alan Davis leaves, the series loses a metric ton of its charm. Then we get far too many fill-ins after Claremont goes as well, before Davis returns for his writer/artist run, which is far and away the highest point the book ever reaches.

    That's my opinion, anyway.

    "...he'll edit much of Excalibur, and eventually write some truly wretched stories for the X-office in the 90s."

    Other than X-MAN, I've never had much problem with Kavanagh's X-Men work. I thought his scripts over Alan Davis's plots on the core books were fine (and Davis apparently specifically requested him for that job because he enjoyed working with him so much on EXCALIBUR).

    But Kavanagh's Spider-Man material, on the other hand... That is wretched, indeed!


    Jason -- "Though that does mean that when Davis comes in as the writer, he's able to do a run that feels IMMENSELY satisfying, as he wraps up one bit after another."

    I totally agree with this. Claremont seemed to be throwing everything he could think of at the wall to see what would stick, and then he suddenly had less and less time to devote to this series as he struggled to keep X-MEN under his sole control (plus he may have lost some interest in EXCALIBUR due to the parade of mediocre fill-in artists after Davis's departure). But any of Claremont's failings are beautifully addressed by Davis when he returns. The first chunk of Davis's run, up to issue 50, is one of the best thought-out, most intricately plotted, and at the same time fun comic book runs I've ever read!

    Blam -- "A good read through Matt's Captain Britain reviews should straighten me out."

    Thanks, Blam! The link, for anyone who cares to explore my meandering take on Cap: CAPTAIN BRITAIN

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  26. These days, if I ever re-read Crosstime Caper, I just skip right over issues 20-22. (Except for three key subplot pages in issue 21.)

    Then it's just a ten-part story, issues 13-19 plus 23-24, and eight of those parts are drawn by Alan Davis.

    It works great, and as long as you pickup those three subplot pages in ish 21, you honestly don't feel like you've missed anything.

    Ten parts is still pretty long for such a goofy story, but having it be almost all Davis-drawn helps it go down way smoother.

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  27. @JasonThese days, if I ever re-read Crosstime Caper, I just skip right over issues 20-22. (Except for three key subplot pages in issue 21.)

    I weirdly kinda like Excalibur 21 and 22. They're hideous and make very little sense, but the story/universe is so bonkers that it's at least interesting, and it seems to hint strongly at whatever crazy and long-forgotten line-wide schemes Claremont was cooking up at the time...

    Of course, we're only on issue 1, so maybe I should hold off on opining until we get to the actual issues in question.

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  28. @Matt: // Thanks, Blam! //

    You're welcome. I'd been waiting 'til I could give your blog a thoughtful look and finally just started skimming it one day when I was under the weather — sans comments or much concentration, which I hope to rectify.

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  29. @Teebore: // I have an odd aversion to too much whimsy in my superhero stories, so I'm curious to see how I handle the rest of this series. //

    No question that it's a tricky balance... While I like "Kitty's Fairy Tale" more than you, in large part due to nostalgia, giving serious elements a goofy dimension has always felt like a dangerous game to me too. I mostly loved the early Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, but it began to live almost entirely in its ridiculosity too much for my taste before too long and (even worse) spread the infection too far. From what I recall, I thought that Claremont/Davis Excalibur teetered on the brink from the start, and that along with the fill-ins may have led me to dump the series, although whimsical-yet-deadly can be a chilling combination in the right hands and I don't remember being nearly as averse to, say, the Crazy Gang as I was to Mojo's World.

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