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Thursday, December 4, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #13

"The Marriage of True Minds"
October 1989

In a Nutshell 
Kitty deals with the ramifications of William's proposal. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Couturier: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
At Prince William's castle, Captain Britain shows off his new costume just before the Queen arrives for an audience with Excalibur. Noting her resemblance to Saturnyne, Captain Britain greets her warmly, but the Queen then announces that, by the laws of their land, Kitty is unable to refuse William's marriage proposal. When she objects, the Queen magically teleports herself and Kitty away. The rest of Excalibur try to find her, but are stopped by the palace's giant guards. Meanwhile, back in Brighton, Nigel Frobisher reverts to normal, and manages to engage Technet's services in rescuing James Braddock from the African tyrant Doc Croc. Back in the alternate England, the Queen's sorcerers transform Kitty, body and mind, into a more ideal image of a princess, and she insists to Excalibur that she's happy that way.


Later, as Alistair attempts to fix Widget so everyone can go home, a group of trolls attack William and Kitty. During the fight, Kitty's true personality resurfaces, as it does again that night when a smoke demon attacks. Led to the source of the attacks by her faery friends, Meggan and Nightcrawler discover the princess they helped rescue shortly after arriving on this world. Bringing her back to the castle, she explains that she attacked Excalibur because they got in the way of her efforts to be rescued by William, whom she loves. Stunned, William realizes he's made a mistake, and stands up to the Queen, telling her it's the princess, and not Kitty, he intends to marry. This being what the Queen had secretly planned all along, she gives her blessing to the couple, releasing Kitty from her obligations.  

Firsts and Other Notables
Captain Britain receives a new costume this issue, one which will remain his default look, I believe, until he's written out of the book briefly towards the end of Alan Davis' solo run. His new costume, modeled after the one worn by the alternate reality Captain Britain (and which is, reportedly, much easier to draw consistently than his previous costume, which motivated the change), is made of indestructible fabric and absorbs the mystical energy of England that empowers him, operating as a battery for when he's away from the island (the helmet, he says, is a requirement of superheroes in England).


To wit, the whole "Captain Britain and Meggan are losing their powers" subplot from shortly after "Inferno" is resolved this issue, as it's confirmed that their power is drawn from England and the longer they're away from that land, the weaker they become.


Nigel reveals that he's been tasked with hiring Technet to free James Braddock from Doc Croc, the first mention of the eldest Braddock sibling in the series (his imprisonment by Doc Croc is a callback to a previous story in Captain Britain's solo series). It's also noted that Technet is stuck on Earth until they've completed the job they were assigned in Excalibur Special Edition #1: capturing Phoenix.


Prince William's grandmother, the Queen of England on this world, is revealed to be this reality's version of Courtney Ross/Saturnyne.


A Work in Progress
It's noted that while the world they're in is very similar to Excalibur's in a lot of ways, it lacks any superheroes.


The family of saurian tourists that were teleported to Earth by Widget in issue #9 pop up in Brighton.


The queen's sorcerers are able to detect Kitty's connection Illyana's magical abilities, which she is spurning. The queen also notes Kitty's resemblance to her, another hint at the whole "Kitty becomes the new Saturnyne" subplot that ultimately goes nowhere.


The princess William and Excalibur rescued from Butch the ogre last issue turns out to be Kitty's counterpart in this world.


Young Love
Kitty is still pining for Alistair.


Teebore's Take
A touch lightweight, but not without its charms. There's a bit of sloppy plotting at work (some of the queen's earlier thoughts regarding Kitty don't quite gel with the whole "that was my plan all along!" reveal at the end, and being her thoughts, she had no reason to lie to herself other than to obfuscate things for readers) and I'm curious how long Excalibur will be staying on this world (as there's not much momentum on the front of figuring out a way home/off this world), as the charm will be running out soon (especially knowing there's approximately thirty more parts to this thing looming ahead). But this is otherwise a perfectly affable and entertaining continuation of Excalibur's adventure in this world. And with Captain Britain finally getting a new costume and the mystery of his and Meggan's stateside power loss being solved, we even get some resolution to some of the book's pre-"Cross Time" plotlines, something I wasn't expecting to get at all during this gargantuan storyline.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, two more chapters in "The Gehenna Stone Affair" in Wolverine #13 and #14. Next week, Wolverine runs afoul of the Reavers in Uncanny X-Men #251, while the Asgardian shenanigans continue in New Mutants #81.

11 comments:

  1. "To wit, the whole "Captain Britain and Meggan are losing their powers" subplot from shortly after "Inferno" is resolved this issue, as it's confirmed that their power is drawn from England and the longer they're away from that land, the weaker they become"
    Which makes no sense, since in X-Men Annual 11 Brian and Meggan went to visit Betsy without suffering any side effects.

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  2. // Prince William's grandmother, the Queen of England on this world //

    She's actually referred to as Queen Mother. Which means she's the mother of the reigning king or queen — and in this case it must be the king because William's mother, despite her resemblance to the Queen Mother (perhaps merely as a white-haired woman drawn by Davis & Neary) is referred to as Queen Consort. Our world's Queen Elizabeth II became queen because she had no brothers to be king — a gender disparity that Great Britain recently corrected — and so her husband is the Prince Consort (not King Consort because, again, gender disparity), her mother was the Queen Mother (and only queen as long as her husband, George VI, was king; it's through his bloodline that the royal line flows, which is also why she was just Queen [Consort] Elizabeth with no roman numeral), and their son Prince Charles is the equivalent of William here. I am curious as to why we don't see the reigning king — unless Claremont just screwed up the nomenclature despite his Anglophilia, because the Queen Mother is introduced as "her Imperial Majesty" and she shouldn't be outranking her daughter-in-law the Queen Consort like she appears to on the page.

    // The queen also notes Kitty's resemblance to her, another hint at the whole "Kitty becomes the new Saturnyne" subplot that ultimately goes nowhere //

    Ahh... I'm glad you mentioned that because it explains what was to me an apparent contradiction. When Meggan arrives with Nightcrawler to the tower where the not-Kitty princess is, she mentions that the faeries "believe [her] to be a younger incarnation of the Queen Mother," yet Kitty then recognizes Princess Kate's resemblance to herself (or vice versa) and the Queen Mother in that last panel does refer to Kate as Kitty's "dimensional twin". I figured that first quote was an error because I didn't associate those earlier panels you posted of the Queen Mother saying that Kitty's "aura" etc. were like her own with meaning counterpart, merely similarity. Unless the Courtney Ross of Kitty's Earth, now killed and replaced by Sat-Yr-9 (whom Claremont apparently keeps confusing with the benevolent, or at least heroic, Saturnyne), was herself originally from a parallel universe, I'm not sure how Kitty's supposed to be a version of the character, but that's for another day. The big issue at hand is that if Kitty resembles the Queen Mother and Princess Kate is an incarnation of Kitty then the Queen Mother is kind-of setting up her grandson with herself.

    // especially knowing there's approximately thirty more parts to this thing looming ahead //

    Ha!

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  3. "the Queen's sorcerers transform Kitty, body and mind"

    What about her soul?

    "until he's written out of the book briefly towards the end of Alan Davis' solo run"

    No, he gets written out as soon as the run is over. I just shivered remembering the post Davis solo run...ugh.

    "The queen also notes Kitty's resemblance to her, another hint at the whole "Kitty becomes the new Saturnyne" subplot"

    I never quite got those hints. Wasn't Courtney Ross (RIP!) the 616 version of Saturnyne? Unless they keep referring to something in Kitty's personality...

    "Kitty is still pining for Alistair."

    And Kitty really should be careful what she thinks around Rachel. A stray thought her or there...

    "but not without its charms"

    I think that sums up this storyline. It's just...charming. The writing is good, the art is gorgeous, there is a certain element of whimsy and fun (which is a nice counterpart to how dark Uncanny has been, and will be getting), the cover has the requisite Excaliber humor, and as you said, some plot points do get resolved so there is some forward momentum. A good start to the Cross Time Caper. If only it had been shorter and has less fill-ins on the art, it would probably be remembered much more fondly.

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  4. Captain Britain receives a new costume this issue - - modeled after the one worn by the alternate reality Captain Britain (and which is, reportedly, much easier to draw consistently than his previous costume, which motivated the change)

    Hated the change, for whatever minor glimpses I managed to catch of it. The Union Jack ensemble is an iconic one and already an easier version of the actual flag. The new one is just... colors, to which many other folks have a claim. What if in one of his multiverse jumps he would bump into Capitain France and Kapitan Russia wearing exactly the same thing?

    To wit, the whole "Captain Britain and Meggan are losing their powers" subplot from shortly after "Inferno" is resolved this issue, as it's confirmed that their power is drawn from England and the longer they're away from that land, the weaker they become.

    Fitting that as we lose the symbol for unionism, we also tie Captain Britain's powers to England. The Scotch must've felt exhilarated.

    Blam: unless Claremont just screwed up the nomenclature despite his Anglophilia, because the Queen Mother is introduced as "her Imperial Majesty" and she shouldn't be outranking her daughter-in-law the Queen Consort like she appears to on the page.

    Well... should our world's Liz choose to abdicate in favor of his son Charles, the Prince of Wales, I think we can bet she would still be in practice outranking Cams, the Duchess of Cornwall in a lot of places, who in titular terms continues in practice being outranked by Chaz' late ex-wife.

    In fact, one possible explanation here could be a similar situation where this Queen Mother has been the Queen Regnant who has abdicated in favor of his son the absent king and still as a former Monarch outranks everyone but the current one. As the titles go, I see our Queen Mother Elizabeth was "her majesty" during her consortage and has continued being "her majesty" even after that.

    a gender disparity that Great Britain recently corrected

    A fail in my book for modern feminism. The change has the looks of promoting gender equality, yes, but in practice what has been achieved is that very few already very privileged female persons get a nudge in the succession order while the women as whole see their changes for a Kate-like princess story greatly diminished because there are expected to be less heir apparent Princes to go around from now on. Until the change the chances for getting to be a Queen of England (consort, yes, but most people don't have the blood to be a regnant anyway) were much better for the women in general.

    The male preference may be a stupid and unwarranted tradition, but do you really want to start stripping stupid and unwarranted elements from a thing like monarchy? Checking all the associated privileges, if you go and address only the gender one while leaving the others intact (like belonging to a certain family), it can be seen less as an act of diminishing the inequality in general and more like diminishing the inequality only in ways that you see as affecting yourself.

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  5. I don't mind this new costume for Captain Britain, but I liked the previous one much more. As Teemu says, this one doesn't really symbolize anything, while his first two costumes both invoked Great Britain in some way.

    I had always heard the change was because the ignorant Yankee colorists had trouble with the previous outfit, not because it was hard to draw. Davis designed it, after all, and had been drawing it for years at this point. Unless he redesigned it at Marvel's request to make it easier for the frequent fill-in pencilers to illustrate. But I'm pretty sure the reason I read, from Davis himself someplace (maybe in the CAPTAIN BRITAIN OMNIBUS), is that colorists were having difficulty figuring out which lines on Cap were the costume and which were part of his muscle definition.

    Though it is worth noting that pretty much every time Davis has returned to Cap in recent years, he's defaulted to this costume and not the previuos version. So who knows?

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  6. @Anonymous: Which makes no sense, since in X-Men Annual 11 Brian and Meggan went to visit Betsy without suffering any side effects.

    There seems to be a time element at work - they're okay away from the British Isles, but eventually at some (variably plot-convenient) point, they'll begin to weaken.

    So the No Prize explanation would be that in UXM Annual #11, they weren't away as long as they were in "Inferno". Or that all the wonky magic involved in Inferno accelerated the timeline.

    @Blam: I am curious as to why we don't see the reigning king - unless Claremont just screwed up the nomenclature despite his Anglophilia, because the Queen Mother is introduced as "her Imperial Majesty" and she shouldn't be outranking her daughter-in-law the Queen Consort like she appears to on the page.

    That was my take on it, which is why I went with "Queen" rather than "Queen Mother" (I'm actually something of a British history buff; at one point in college, I had memorized all the rulers of England & Scotland since the Conquest, but I've since forgotten the exact order).

    I *think* the idea is that the eldest female is akin to our Queen Elizabeth, with the Prince Charles stand-in absent or dead, his wife (the younger female) the Queen Consort and William's mother, and William the heir to the throne just like Charles' son William is in our world.

    (Obviously, the characters aren't meant to be counterpart to those people specifically, since the Queen is another Saturnyne incarnation; I'm just talking in terms of equivalent rank/standing).

    I'm not sure how Kitty's supposed to be a version of the character, but that's for another day.

    And, to be fair, I may be misstating/oversimplifying by saying that Kitty is another version of Saturnyne; I think it's more that Claremont was going to set her up to be the next person to fill Saturnyne's role in the cosmos or something like that. But it's all ultimately a moot point since he does nothing with the idea beyond vague teases.

    The big issue at hand is that if Kitty resembles the Queen Mother and Princess Kate is an incarnation of Kitty then the Queen Mother is kind-of setting up her grandson with herself.


    Ha!

    @wwk5d: What about her soul?

    Nope, just mind and body this time (I had the same thought when I typed that). :)

    No, he gets written out as soon as the run is over.

    Gotcha. Having never read the pre-"Fatal Attractions" stuff, I'm a little hazy on when specific runs start/end.

    And Kitty really should be careful what she thinks around Rachel.

    Good point. She's certainly not being vague or coy about her feelings towards either in the situation.

    @Teemu: Fitting that as we lose the symbol for unionism, we also tie Captain Britain's powers to England. The Scotch must've felt exhilarated.

    To be fair, that's more my fault for substituting "England" for "Britain". The issue actually says his power comes from the British Isle, so the Scotch (and Irish and Welsh) need not feel offended by anyone but me. :)

    @Matt: I had always heard the change was because the ignorant Yankee colorists had trouble with the previous outfit, not because it was hard to draw.

    It is entirely within the realm of possibility that I heard/remembered wrong and it was more a case of colorists having a problem than Davis. That's what I get for throwing this stuff out there without properly citing it.

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  7. And, to be fair, I may be misstating/oversimplifying by saying that Kitty is another version of Saturnyne; I think it's more that Claremont was going to set her up to be the next person to fill Saturnyne's role in the cosmos or something like that. But it's all ultimately a moot point since he does nothing with the idea beyond vague teases.


    The weird thing is that there are at least a few times when Kitty is mistaken for various Saturnyne counterparts, suggesting that there's a very strong PHYSICAL resemblance. Which really makes no sense.

    There's also the issue of Sat-Yr-9's fascination with Kitty, which suggests that Kitty has some connection to the entire Saturnyne/Sat-Yr-9/Courtney Ross line, rather than somehow just being a potential successor for the office of the Omniversal Majestrix.

    Anyway, who knows. Regardless, it seems like a good thing Claremont never got around to following through on this one. In addition to being absurd, loading Kitty down with some dreary cosmic destiny runs so contrary to the point of her character-- and in such a typically Claremontian way. Kitty's supposed to be an everygirl from Deerfield placed in extraordinary circumstances, NOT a Chosen One.

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  8. Teebore: "To be fair, that's more my fault for substituting "England" for "Britain". The issue actually says his power comes from the British Isle"

    On the panel posted at least the creature doing exposition talks of "England's unique energies". Which is where I checked. Substituting England(e) for Britain is something a nazi would do.

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  9. "The weird thing is that there are at least a few times when Kitty is mistaken for various Saturnyne counterparts, suggesting that there's a very strong PHYSICAL resemblance. Which really makes no sense."
    The only example I can think of is Excalibur 22, where the Courtney Ross of that world looks exactly like Kitty Pryde. But no, we never got a real explanation.

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  10. @Teebore: // And, to be fair, I may be misstating/oversimplifying by saying that Kitty is another version of Saturnyne; I think it's more that Claremont was going to set her up to be the next person to fill Saturnyne's role in the cosmos or something like that. //

    Except that what confused me in the first place was Meggan saying the faeries "believe [Princess Kate] to be a younger incarnation of the Queen Mother," which granted isn't quite the same as saying that they look alike but certainly enough for it to be weird. Saturnyne isn't mentioned, only implied by Claremont in the sense that we may associate the Queen with the versions of Saturnyne we've seen. My point about it being creepy for the Queen to want her grandson set up with "a younger incarnation of her" stands.

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  11. Of course it's creepy, those Royals do prefer to keep in the family...

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