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Thursday, January 29, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #15

"Technet: Impossible Missions!"
Mid November 1989

In a Nutshell 
Technet rescues Jamie Braddock from Doc Croc.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
"The Secretary": Tom DeFalco

Plot
Upon the arrival of Nigel Frobisher, Gatecrasher briefs Technet on their latest mission: rescuing Jamie Braddock, the brother of Captain Britain, from Doc Croc. Though most of Technet feels the mission is beneath them, Gatecrasher insists they must do it, as they're stuck on Earth until they fulfill their previous contract to capture Phoenix, and the team teleports away. Elsewhere, Excalibur, on a world where Europe is an untamed frontier, is chased back to their train by angry natives. On Earth, Technet storms Doc Croc's citadel. Gatecrasher discovers Jamie, bound and insane, but is gassed by Doc Croc. On another Earth, Shadowcat, Meggan and Nightcrawler rescue their teammates from a group of monsters. Back in Africa, Gatecrasher experiences a vision of Jamie's crimes in Africa.


Gatecrasher snaps out of it, and Doc Croc says she needed to learn the truth about the man she's trying to rescue. Elsewhere, Excalibur arrives on an Earth that seems to be their home, but Meggan and Phoenix's powers synch up again, causing Phoenix to inadvertently charge Widget and send everyone off to another reality once more. Technet, along with Jamie and Doc Croc, teleport back to Technet's Brighton pier. Jamie attacks Technet, believing everything to be a dream he's experiencing, and easily overpowers them. Meanwhile, Excalibur arrives in a war-ravaged world where Meggan is the only survivor. Back on Earth, Jamie, having used his powers to make Technet think they've accomplished their mission, is approached by Nigel, who makes him an offer: dominion over half the world. Elsewhere, Excalibur lays dying, their train destroyed, in yet another strange reality. 

Firsts and Other Notables
We get our first significant introduction to Captain Britain's (and Psylocke's) older brother, Jamie Braddock, in this issue (though he has of course appeared previously in Captain Britain's solo series), a mutant with the ability to warp reality (which he perceives as strings he can manipulate) and who, at least for the moment, appears to be insane.


Doc Croc, an old Captain Britain villain who was holding Jamie, also appears in the series for the first time.

A Work in Progress
Phoenix and Meggan continue to randomly sync up with one another, to the point where Phoenix accidentally charges up Widget and triggers another jump away from their home reality after doing so.


Nightcrawler notes that in all the worlds they've traveled to, they've yet to encounter one with a Phoenix counterpart on it.


In this issue, we quickly see Excalibur travel through a few different realities. One where America is the traditional power and Europe more like the American West...


another set in a world seemingly influenced by old Universal monster movies...


and one in which Meggan is Captain Britain, and the majority of the world has been destroyed...


before the last page shows a seemingly dead Excalibur, their train destroyed, on an unknown world.


Teebore's Take
Structured such that Technet becomes the protagonists of the story while Excalibur is relegated to the subplots, in breaking from the usual format, this is perhaps the best installment of "The Cross Time Caper" yet. Technet themselves are hardly the most compelling of characters (Gatecrasher has a bit of personality, but everybody else is pretty much just a colorful look and unique power), but the break from the usual "Excalibur runs around a slightly-askew version of England" routine is refreshing, and the subject of Technet's adventure automatically makes it more interesting. Even having only the vaguest idea of what he's done and will do (which is the case for me), Jamie Braddock is instantly an intriguing character, due to his relationship to one of the series' main characters, his seeming insanity, and for the extent of his reality-altering abilities. At the end of the day, there's simply something striking and unsettling about the image of the insane Jamie, wearing a diaper with his head cocked to the side, and it carries this issue.

Knowing there are approximately 112 more chapters to this story takes some of the fun out of Excalibur burning through a bunch of realities in short order as, in the space of one or two pages scattered throughout the otherwise Technet-focused issue, they bouncing from one reality to another (including a brief return to their home reality); it reads like Claremont & Davis are preparing for the story's finale, but we know that isn't yet the case. But that's a problem for future issues; for now, this is simply a fun diversion from the usual format, one which introduces a significant character to the series and is much more enjoyable than any Technet-centric story as any right to be.  

Next Issue
Tomorrow, a new creative debuts on Wolverine #17. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #255 and New Mutants #83.

Collected Edition


13 comments:

  1. Right before that first scene you posted for A Work In Progress", there was a nice Claremontism...someone's use of "...a body can't..."

    All in all, a fun issue. I do think the CTC would be better remembered if 1) it ended when it should have and/or 2) Davis had done all of the artwork. There are some really good issues here, but some of the issues without Davis just have some very ugly artwork.

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  2. "Doc Croc, an old Captain Britain villain who was holding Jamie, also appears in the series for the first time."

    Probably more accurate to say an "enemy" of Captain Britain than a "villain" given the circumstances of the one previous story in which Croc appeared.

    If you're wondering how it all went down, basically ...

    Originally Jamie had appeared only in a very few couple of Britain stories. I think Claremont created him along with Betsy, but he never got much time on-panel. The main thing established was that Jamie was racecar driver.

    It wasn't until much later ... in one of the last Marvek UK Captain Britain stories, that they did what I believe was just a done-in-one eleven page story. The story saw Brian going to Africa after some government agents tipped him off that his brother was being held captive by an African high-priest/mutant-type called Doctor Crocodile.

    Cap goes to Africa and -- well, basically what Claremont has happen to Gatecrasher is a reprise of what happened to Brian in the earlier story. Croc gasses him and gives him this hallucinogenic rundown of how Jamie is in fact an evil person, Doc Croc is a good guy, and the latter is keeping the former imprisoned. The British government has their own grudge against Croc, which is why they sent Brian on his tale. (Croc is not a mutant, it turns out, but a "warpie," which is ... well, maybe you don't want to hear about all that. Even though "warpies" were mentioned in a concurrent X-Men issue, one of the ones you just reviewed, as I recall. 253 or 254. But I digress.)

    One thing in the "work in progress" dept. is that Jamie Braddock has no super-powers in any of the old Marvel UK powers. All that "mutant who can warp reality" stuff is new, as of this issue. All Claremont's idea, though a logical one given that the other Braddock siblings have powers.

    (Making him a reality-warper is probably because Claremont still wanted to use the Captain Britain villain Jim Jaspers, who was insane and could warp reality ... but wasn't allowed to because Alan Moore part owned that character. I imagine Claremont's logica was, "Well, there's no way Alan owns Jamie Braddock, since I created that mofo myself." Ironically, Moore's Jaspers was probably partially inspired by Claremont's Proteus. But I digress again.)

    Anyway, so it goes

    Original Jamie (Claremont's): Handsome, rich, famous racecar driver. Human.

    Jamie Delano's Jamie: Evil, sadistic, villainous. Human.

    Claremont's new Jamie: Evil, sadistic, villainous former racecar driver. AND: Insane mutant with insanely powerful powers.

    Meanwhile, that isn't the main reason I wanted to comment today. :) The main reason was just to say that I think "Doctor Crocodile," and its diminutive "Doc Croc" are a fantastic codename for a comic-book adversary. And I love that despite his corny name, he was conceived by Delano and Alan Davis as a character with an air of mystery about him, and no small amount of dignity. I was kinda sad that Claremont didn't use him more in this Excalibur run, because I think he's pretty cool.

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  3. Doc Croc does sound like Doc Ock but with a cool animal.

    Moore and Claremont lifting each others' plot devices is one damn Cross-Atlantic Caper.

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  4. @Jason: One thing in the "work in progress" dept. is that Jamie Braddock has no super-powers in any of the old Marvel UK powers.

    Huh. Learn something new every day. That is interesting, especially in light, as you say, of how Claremont wasn't able to do the story with Alan Moore's insane, reality-warping villain.

    Thanks for the rundown on the Jamie/Doc Croc history. Like you, I find something inherently appealing about the character, despite my limited experience with him. I really wish I'd had the time to/ability to read all the Captain Britain stuff before starting on EXCALIBUR...

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  5. " Phoenix and Meggan continue to randomly sync up with one another "

    Ah, another one of these while we work our way towards Shadow King's famous notion of Destiny as Mystique's 'leman'.

    If there was an annoying thing during the Claremont's runs as the writer of both UNCANNY and NEW MUTANTS, it was how things would pounce from one title to another while I only had access to UNCANNY. And now I find out that Jamie B. didn't come out of nowhere after all when he'll, sort of, show up in an upcoming issue of UNCANNY. In his human rally driver form, though.

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  6. The interludes to Excalibur's alternate-universe hopping would definitely be not just amusing but admirable in the way they burned through potential material had this been the penultimate chapter instead of the middle of an interminable run. As it stands, Technet being far from a favorite of mine, I kind-of look at this issue as the creative team doing nearly everything wrong with the book (in my eyes) just about as well as it can be done; so, mixed feelings. Jamie's portrayal sure is fantastically creepy though.

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  7. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I've never been a fan of Jamie Braddock. I just find him annoying. I liked the Doc Croc story from CAPTAIN BRITAIN, but I wish he'd just been left there.

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  8. @Matt: Maybe I'm in the minority, but I've never been a fan of Jamie Braddock. I just find him annoying.

    FWIW this issue (aside from a trading card) represents my first encounter with him. I thought he was nicely creepy in his appearance here, but that's pretty much all I'm going off of at this point. We'll see how my opinion changes as his story shakes out.

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  9. Matt, can you confirm that my Jamie Braddock rundown is correct? I feel pretty confident, but I also feel my credibility took a blow when I screwed up in talking about that DD appearance in Wolverine.

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  10. Jason -- "Matt, can you confirm that my Jamie Braddock rundown is correct?"

    Wow, I feel honored to be the resident Captain Britain expert.

    Anyway, it's been a couple years now since I marathoned all those stories, but I believe you nailed it. Jamie was a non-entity background character for years (on the rare occasions he ever even appeared), and the Doc Croc story, one of the very last British Cap tales, was our first extended look at the guy. And was definitely a normal human.

    I agree with your assessment that Claremont gave Jamie the realty-warping powers because Jim Jaspers was off limits.

    I also agree that it's a shame Doc Croc never showed up again. He would've been a nice fit somewhere in Alan Davis's run as writer/artist.

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  11. Thanks for the confirmation, Matt!

    Did you read the Warren Ellis X-Men mini that had Doc Croc in it? It was pretty cool, although the character was fairly altered.

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  12. No, I had no idea anyone had brought the good doc back. I have an interesting relationship with Warren Ellis. I like his writing, but I hate most of his superhero work, dating all the way back to when he took over DOOM 2099 and killed off John Francis Moore's entire supporting cast in his first issue on the title. The only Ellis I've ever really enjoyed was his EXCALIBUR run, which I like quite a bit. But I've given him chances on several other titles and I just don't think he's right for mainstream superhero stuff.

    Anyway, I will look into this. It's probably on Marvel Unlimited. Was it his ASTONISHING X-MEN run, or something else?

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  13. Yeah, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis. I look forward to hearing what you think of it!

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