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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #40

"The Trial of Lockheed"
August 1991

In a Nutshell
Lockheed is placed on trial by his people.

Writer: Lobdell
Penciler: Hoover
Inker: Candelario & Dzon
Letterer: Oakley
Colorist: Vancata
Editor: Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: DeFalco

Plot
As doctors work to save Lockheed, injured in the battle with Doctor Doom, while Excalibur looks on, Lockheed's astral form is called to his people, who are putting him on trial for betraying their communal nature by living alone on Earth. In the course of the trial, Lockheed's explains his friendship with Kitty and his role as a member of Excalibur, telling the court of their adventures (some of which cause the court to fall asleep), arguing that he has found a new community with Excalibur. Lockheed is ultimately acquitted and allowed to return to his body, but his physical well-being is still touch-and-go. Just then, a helicopter lands on the roof of the hospital, alarming Rachel because the inhabitants are shielded from her psychic probes. Excalibur races to the roof, just in time to see the X-Men emerge.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue establishes that Lockheed's people speak Dragonspeak, a language which, when translated into English, sounds like Dr. Seuss writing Shakespeare. His people are also referred to collectively as "the Flock", and value communal living above all else, though I have no idea how seriously we're meant to take any of these "revelations" and how much of this stuff actually sticks or gets referenced in future stories.


Lockheed refers to Excalibur as believing the X-Men died, which seems an odd choice of words; it's appropriate for readers to use, as we know the X-Men didn't die, but Lockheed at this point should be as in the dark as the rest of Excalibur regarding the survival of the X-Men (since, as far as we've been shown on page, they haven't been told or learned the X-Men are alive until the end of this issue).

In easily my favorite thing about this issue, Lockheed recounts the "Cross-Time Caper" and Excalibur's seemingly-constant run-ins with alternate reality Nazis, which prompts the tribunal to fall asleep. Some thinly veiled criticism from Lobdell, sure, but, well, it's funny cuz it's true.


Next issue will reveal that the X-Men (and Marvel Girl) who appear on the last page of this issue are actually the Warwolves in disguise. More on that then.


Creator Central
Dave Hoover draws this issue and the next; I primarily associate him with drawing the end of Mark Gruenwald's Captain America run, but he did a handful of different things at Marvel and DC in the early to mid 90s without ever really settling in as a recurring presence.

A Work in Progress
It's noted that Lockheed's innate empathy, which contributes to his species' ability to live communally, has enabled him to communicate with Excalibur despite not speaking their language.


Young Love
Nightcrawler's feelings for Meggan are apparent to even Lockheed, and he expresses them perhaps a bit more seriously than we've been led to believe they are.


Teebore's Take
I've kind of been dreading this somewhat infamous Lockheed issue, but you know what, despite myself, I kinda liked it. The twee "Seuss by way of Shakespeare" dialogue gets way too precious, way too fast, but while I wasn't exactly clamoring for more info about Lockheed, he's certainly a relatively unexplored character in the book. And the tone of this story certainly fits the more whimsical, tongue-in-cheek approach that characterized the earlier Claremont/Davis issues of the series.The one page splashes, detailing Lockheed's thoughts on his teammates, would be better in the hands of a more dynamic artist (though in general, the art here isn't bad; definitely better than the previous three issues), but all together, this issue reads like a not-bad primer on the series and its characters heading into the upcoming Alan Davis renaissance (it also doesn't hurt that the issue sets up a resolution to the longstanding Excalibur/X-Men fissure - sort of, at least, as we'll see). Ultimately inconsequential, but also inoffensive. And even a little bit fun.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wolverine bums around New York in Wolverine #43, followed by a fill-in in Wolverine #44. Next week, "Muir Island Saga" concludes in Uncanny X-Men #280.

5 comments:

  1. "Surrounded yet again by alternative Nazis" is hilarious.

    I also know Dave Hoover from the end of Gruenwald's CAP, where his work veered into the extreme, over-exaggerated nineties style. It doesn't look too bad here, though it seems to scream "fill-in artist". Later in his career, he became a pretty prolific cheesecake pinup artist. (Seriously, Google image search "Dave Hoover art" and that's all you'll find, with nary a glimpse of his sequential work for several rows!)

    I think Hoover died a few years ago at a pretty young age.

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  2. Probably not intentional, but I like them giving Lockheed a choice between science and art, which is not unlike the choice Brian Braddock was put when he became Captain Britain. Then again, the very instance is alluded here in Lockheed's recap so who knows. I like Lockheed not going for science unlike Bri, but I would lie if I said I wouldn't eat up it being settled in a legal procedurical.

    The two-page partial splash where Lockheed finds himself on a spaceship being faced by his accusers also kind of reminds of a certain issue of UNCANNY.

    Of course, it's a dream sequence and not canon. Lockheed does not need this or any backstory. We need not see the little bastard breaking dragon hearts left and right.

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  3. // I have no idea how seriously we're meant to take any of these "revelations" and how much of this stuff actually sticks or gets referenced in future stories //

    Ditto. And Teemu has said what I was going to, which is that — unless this is referenced again — it’s easy enough to write it off as a strange reverie of Lockheed’s while he was unconscious. I think he works better without any explanation myself, just a random tiny space dragon who glommed on to Kitty and (to invoke a far, far better story than the one at hand) whose perspective as a character should be no more accessible than Pizza Dog's. That being said I agree with Teebore as well that the issue wasn’t as outright awful as it could have been; also that while the art here is certainly nothing special it’s not as outsize Imagey as Dave Hoover’s upcoming stints on the misbegotten Invaders miniseries and Captain America. Sorry to hear he died so young, though.

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  4. "and how much of this stuff actually sticks or gets referenced in future stories"

    I think none at all.

    Though Lockheed does speak during the Warren Ellis run in the mid-90s...though as you'd expect, it doesn't sound like this.

    "but Lockheed at this point should be as in the dark as the rest of Excalibur regarding the survival of the X-Men (since, as far as we've been shown on page, they haven't been told or learned the X-Men are alive until the end of this issue)"

    I guess all the international news coverage the X-tinction Agenda got never made it to TV in the UK...

    This is a weird one, and could have been much worse. As far as filler/wheel spinning goes before Davis returns (one more issue!), its ok.

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  5. "Lockheed refers to Excalibur as believing the X-Men died, which seems an odd choice of words; it's appropriate for readers to use, as we know the X-Men didn't die, but Lockheed at this point should be as in the dark as the rest of Excalibur regarding the survival of the X-Men (since, as far as we've been shown on page, they haven't been told or learned the X-Men are alive until the end of this issue)"
    This takes place after the X-Men were publicly revealed to be alive in the X-Tinction Agenda, as confirmed next issue, so unless Excalibur is deaf, dumb and blind, they should know the X-Men are alive.

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