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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #41

"At Last...The Reunion!"
September 1991

In a Nutshell
Excalibur reunites with the X-Men, who turn out to be the Warwolves in disguise.

Story: Scott Lobdell & Dana Moreshead
Pictures: Dave Hoover, Ivy & Candelario
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Glynis Oliver/Thomas
Edits: Terry Kavanaugh
Big Edits: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Excalibur and the X-Men reunite at a pub, though Kitty is still sore about being left in the dark about the X-Men's survival, and leaves to visit Lockheed at the hospital. Meanwhile, a criminal being transported in an armored car infuses a magical gem with the spirits of his associates, while Storm visits Kitty at the hospital, and the pair reconcile. Outside, the gem is tossed free of the car, and the energy emanating from it possess nearby office furniture, which sets about attacking people. As Excalibur and the X-Men attack the furniture, Dai Thomas arrives on the scene, suspicious of the X-Men. He shoots Colossus, who turns out to be one of the escaped Warwolves. His discovery prompts the rest of the X-Men to reveal themselves as Warwolves, and the group tries to fulfill their original mission by capturing Phoenix. They merge to form a portal to Mojoworld, but as the rest of Excalibur frees Phoenix, Nightcrawler tosses the gem at the Warwolves, just as the portal closes, eliminating both their problems. In the wake of the Warwolves' masquerade, Excalibur decides to make long overdue contact with the X-Men, for real this time, as both Nightcrawler and Kitty agree that their place remains with Excalibur.

Firsts and Other Notables
Excalibur seemingly reunites with the X-Men in this issue, but they turn out to be the Warwolves in disguise. In the end, Excalibur decides to reach out to the X-Men themselves, at least confirming that Excalibur is aware the X-Men are alive, and ending the estrangement between the two teams (albeit off panel).

The timing of Excalibur's call to the X-Men is odd, in that Cable answers their call, their suggesting this story takes place before the New Mutants left to become X-Force. Yet on the screens around Cable are representations of the upcoming post-relaunch rosters of the various X-books, including the new X-Factor and X-Force. Presumably, those images are meant to be representational to us, the readers, and not an accurate reflection of what Cable has on those monitors in-universe.


Despite the return of the X-Men, whose deaths motivated the formation of Excalibur, the team decides to remain together, essentially to act as the UK/international X-Men (which gives them via a simple line of dialogue more purpose than they've ever displayed in the series thus far).


This is the final issues of Scott Lobdell's initial fill-in run (though he's joined by Dana Moreshead for this issue), which was both not as terrible as it could have been but also not terribly good, either. It is also not the last we'll see of Lobdell on this title.

The Warwolves, last seen chilling in the London Zoo, are revealed to have escaped, but they are effectively destroyed (or returned to Mojoworld; it's not clear) this issue, effectively writing them out of the series.


The cover of this issue is an homage to the cover of the first Excalibur issue, The Sword is Drawn/Special Edition one-shot.

A Work in Progress
It's confirmed that Excalibur learned about the X-Men's survival via the news coverage of "X-Tinction Agenda", and simply hasn't talked about it amongst themselves, or reached out to the X-Men, since.

Rachel also acknowledges that she knew the X-Men were alive prior to that, as a result of "Days of Future Present", but that she kept that information to herself.


The Reference Section
It's noted that the British police in this issue have armed themselves in the face of the Warwolves' threat, a nod to the fact that the police aren't regularly armed in the UK.


Kitty refers to herself as a teenage mutant ninja which, while not inaccurate, seems phrased in such a way to make us think of the famous amphibian variety of the same.

Rachel Summers, Crybaby
Rachel is reduced to tears, worried that everyone would have been better off without her traveling through time.


Teebore's Take
I'm not quite sure what to make of this issue. On the one hand, presenting a long-overdue reunion between Excalibur and the X-Men, only to reveal the X-Men are impostors and pushing the actual reunion to occur behind the scenes seems like a pretty big dick move. On the other hand, the ruse was done in the service of tying up another lingering plot thread from the book's early days, so there was a purpose to it beyond just "mess with the audience expectations", and in the end, Excalibur does (finally) reach out to make contact with the X-Men (though, to be clear, phones work two ways, X-Men!), and declares their intent to remain together even though the initial impetus for their formation is gone, in the process providing a nice capstone to this pseudo-run and tying the book more closely to the big relaunch (in that this book has also cleared its deck a bit, in anticipation of a new creative direction).

So, for all practical purposes, the issue accomplishes its goal despite the ruse, and, if we want to be charitable, we can probably assume that any of the actual interactions between Excalibur and X-Men probably mirrored the interactions between Excalibur and the Warwolves pretending to be X-Men. Still, given that Excalibur formed specifically because its members believed the X-Men to be dead, it feels like the series really should have given us a proper, onscreen reunion, or, barring that, at least not faked us out by falsely presenting one.

But whatever, Alan Davis is back next issue, and our long, aimless, Excalibur nightmare is, finally, at an end.

Next Issue
Tomorrow and Friday: Wolverine #45 and #46. Next week: new beginnings galore, starting with Uncanny X-Men #281.

7 comments:

  1. Rachel also acknowledges that she knew the X-Men were alive prior to that, as a result of "Days of Future Present", but that she kept that information to herself.

    She is terribly mindful about meeting Wolverine, and seem to have forgotten that she already met him in UNCANNY ANNUAL #14 and they have addressed the unfortunate claws in the gut debacle. Dem jumbled mem'ries, I guess.

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  2. "in that Cable answers their call"

    And he even agrees to act as a switchboard operator! Also, "It's about time you guys called." Why would Cable, of all people, even care? Just a weird scene overall.

    "their suggesting this story takes place before the New Mutants left to become X-Force"

    The scan you have of Kitty and Kurt discussing what to do even has a footnote saying that this issue occurs prior to X-force #1. So it is possible, but then, who are where would Cable be forwarding the call to?

    "This is the final issues of Scott Lobdell's initial fill-in run (though he's joined by Dana Moreshead for this issue), which was both not as terrible as it could have been but also not terribly good, either. It is also not the last we'll see of Lobdell on this title"

    Overall, it wasn't that bad. Certainly better than his next solo run, and out of all the fill-in issues we got on this title till now, his were definitely the better ones. A low bar, I know, but still.

    "It's confirmed that Excalibur learned about the X-Men's survival via the news coverage of "X-Tinction Agenda", and simply hasn't talked about it amongst themselves, or reached out to the X-Men, since.

    Rachel also acknowledges that she knew the X-Men were alive prior to that, as a result of "Days of Future Present", but that she kept that information to herself."

    You have to wonder who the bigger idiots are here. Excaliber, for not contacting the X-men, Excaliber for not even talking about it amongst themselves, the X-men for not contacting Excaliber, or Rachel for not telling the rest of Excaliber that the X-men were alive prior to "X-Tinction Agenda".

    I think I'll go with Rachel.

    "Rachel is reduced to tears"

    Selective memory on Scott Lobdell's part, Rachel's, or both regarding the X-men shunning her? They were always fine with her up until her stunt where she took their souls or whatever to fight the Beyonder. It wasn't like they hated her from day one or whatever.

    This issue was OK. It sucks that we never get to see the reunion on-screen. There had to have been a way to be able to see that and tie-up the Warwolves subplot at the same time. Oh well.

    As you said, Davis is back next issue, so we do have something to finally look forward to in this title.

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    1. You still have to love Rachel walking in on their phonecall to Cable and instantly knowing him well enough like they had been sharing a psychic connection since UNCANNY #201 or something.

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  3. I notice Alistaire Stuart exclamates "Saints!" a couple of times. Remembering him and the sis having a connection to the Royal Stuarts (at least from Claremont's FF run and possibly hinted before), it's of course highly appropriate they would be Catholic.

    Dai Thomas asking about if "they" are going to be okay... is he talking of the Excalibur members or is it a singular they and he's asking about Lockheed? The latter one and his worry over the dragon would be a nice nod to Dai's latest animal and environment friendly escapades as a (if not even the main) character in KNIGHTS OF PENDRAGON vol 1 recently. His visibly leaving his superhuman grudges here to some extent may be traces back there too, but they seem to stop short to vocally acknowledge these Marvel UK developments.

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  4. “The Phone Works Two Ways”… And Other Lessons My Parents Never Taught Me, by Nathan Christopher Charles Summers

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    1. Ah, well, there's an excuse: Cable's been cut off.

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  5. From Claremont's final issue to Davis's first, there's a gap in my EXCALIBUR reading, so I had no idea they didn't actually meet the X-Men on-page. Weird. The X-Men show up a couple times in Davis's run, having already been reunited with Excalibur, but I just assumed it was covered (for real, I mean) in one of these issues.

    Hoover's artwork this issue seems to be a step up from last time, and more in line with what I remember from his CAPTAIN AMERICA (if still a bit less Image-y). I wonder what happened? Maybe he was rushed for the prior installment but had more time for this one.

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