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Friday, February 23, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #73

"Memories Are Made of This"
 January 1994

In a Nutshell
Excalibur battles Siena Blaze

Writer: Richard (RAM_ Ashford
Penciler: Terry (ROM) Shoemaker
Inker: Randy (KILOBYTE) Elliot
Letterer: Pat (MEGABYTE) Brosseau
Colorists: Mathys & Garrahy
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Shadowcat manages to phase Nightcrawler free of the rock into which he teleported, while Phoenix works to repair the electro-magnetic damage wrought by Siena Blaze's power. Elsewhere, Rory Campbell washes up on Muir Island's shore, his ship having been damaged by Blaze's blast. Inside, Blaze locates the disc containing Proteus' DNA information. But Nightcrawler & Shadowcat manage to get the disc away from her while Phoenix confronts her directly, and is able to match Blaze's power enough to send Blaze teleporting away. Phoenix then alerts her teammates to the presence of Rory Campbell, and Nightcrawler helps bring him to safety. Later, Shadowcat contacts Xavier to tell him about Blaze's attack, then puts in a call to Braddock Manor to check on Meggan, only to find her in a feral, beast-like state.

Firsts and Other Notables
Meggan makes a brief appearance at the end of this issue, as Kitty calls Braddock Manor to check on her, only to discover her in an animalistic form. It seems strange that she'd be calling, considering the last we saw of Meggan she was sitting catatonic next to a waterfall on the mansion grounds, but whatever, I'm happy to see her back (and this marks her return to the series, as she'll get reintegrated into the cast and stick around pretty much to the end of the series from here on out).

Moira mentions that shortly after her son's death, she created a clone of him, before ultimately destroying, a reference to a Classic X-Men backup story (which don't get referenced all that often).

Terry Shoemaker, who was seemingly Louise Simonson's unofficial designated guest artist during her X-Factor and New Mutants runs, draws this issue.

A Work in Progress
Rachel once again briefly manifests Captain Britain arms, as in issue #71.

Forge built an unmanned rescue vehicle for Moira at some point.

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Siena mentions that she'd much rather be at the CD section of the mall than fighting Excalibur. For our younger readers "CDs" are how we used to buy music, and a "mall" was a big place filled with lots of little stores where we went to buy things (because at that point all you could buy on the internet was porn, or more access to the internet).

Young Love
Rachel is immediately smitten by Rory.

Austin's Analysis
Much as I lamented last issue on behalf of this series finally getting integrated into the larger X-universe only to be given one of said universe's lame-duck storylines right out of the gate, this issue nevertheless features probably the best possible use of Siena Blaze simply by having Phoenix as part of the cast. The biggest problem with Blaze (aside from her bland-yet-obnoxious characterization and affiliation with the meandering Upstarts) is that her power is so extremely powerful and the side effects so threatening to the entire planet, it becomes hard to write her into a story where she uses her power more than once at most. But in Phoenix, she has in an opponent arguably the one character powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with her and allow her to use her power like a regular villain would, because Phoenix is powerful enough to repair/contain the catastrophic effects of her power usage. All that said, "not a terrible use of Siena Blaze" is damning with faint praise and doesn't exactly make this a great issue of Excalibur or a terribly compelling read, but it does at least somewhat repudiate the decision to make her the first villain of the series' new direction.

Next Issue
Next week: Gambit goes to the Big Easy in Gambit #1-4 and Cable learns some stuff in Cable #7.


  1. I take it Kitty doesn’t need to be solid to breathe and/or doesn’t need to breathe when she’s phased anymore, given how much she’s talking. Which kinda makes sense given that being phased was her natural state for quite a while.

    How come Siena Blaze’s suit disappears on the page where Rachel is giving her a taste of what her own powers are doing to the Earth?

    The art looks surprisingly decent in several places, which strikes me as due to the inking. Randy Elliott’s name is familiar to me chiefly from his inking of Bart Sears’ pencils on Justice League Europe at DC a few years prior to this issue's publication.

    1. Is't a Proteus story, she's Phoenix, they are on the Muir Island... she gotta pull on someone that clothes changing thing that her mother used to do all the time and drive her father mad.

  2. I feel like they were attempting to set up drama with Rachel being attracted to (and maybe fall in love with) the man who would eventually brainwash/abuse/enslave her. And that whole thought balloon bit about Rory read way, way OOC for her. I dunno if it was because Ray's never been written as interested in anyone *except* Franklin Richards, but it

    I do wish the backup stories in Classic X-Men had been referenced in the regular comics more often. Some were really terrific and, of course, the John Bolton artwork really added some special.

    Since the main stories were already reprints, the backup stories felt like remembered memories due to Bolton's artwork.

    1. I can't remember Rachel ever really having a love interest prior to this, other than Franklin. As someone who was abused physically, mentally, and everything else in the Hound program, I don't see her as very trusting or receptive in that respect. (Her semi-recent infatuation with John Sublime was also *way* out of character. Her mom had to amputate the future to fight the guy.) Having her finally be ready to pursue a man, having them hit it off, *then* the ultimate reveal that he's Ahab, the one person who has hurt her the most in the entire world, would have been some classic X-Men drama. But I have no idea why they would even tease this, since she's only got 2 more issues before she leaves the book. (Her current-day romance with Nightcrawler feels odd, but at least they've spent time together over the years.)

    2. Rachel hasn't really been around all that much when you think about it. On top of ~25 issues of UNCANNY, the X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT limited series and EXCALIBUR this far, there's hasn't been much else. The Asgard X-MEN ANNUAL, MTU #150, some NEW MUTANTS cameos?

      (I didn't check yet, but as the chairman of the I Love Rachel club I think this is not far off)

    3. The chief problem with that thought balloon of Rachel's is that it's really, really, really badly written. It being massively out of character is the icing. The cake is awful writing.


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