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Thursday, December 15, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #54

"Curiouser & Curiouser"
September 1992

In a Nutshell
Captain Britain battles the Crazy Gang

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Kitty removes Kurt's cast and the pair mourn Rachel's absence, Captain Britain, along with Meggan, Cerise & Kylun, arrive at a small village, called there by Dai Thomas to help investigate the sudden disappearance of all its inhabitants. Suddenly, Meggan catches a psychic impression of the villagers and runs off, diving down a rabbit hole, pursued by her teammates. Emerging on the other side, Captain Britain finds everyone trapped in some variation of the Alice in Wonderland story, including the missing villagers. Spotting members of the Crazy Gang, he attacks, believing them to be behind the kidnappings. But with Meggan's help, they explain that their intentions are not nefarious, and that the combination of missing Technet member Joyboy's power with the Crazy Gang's Red Queen's power has created a world where everyone is happy & content, including the villagers, who were invited there by the Crazy Gang. Captain Britain reluctantly agrees to leave everything as is, so long as the Crazy Gang doesn't stray from the village. Meanwhile, at Braddock Manor, Kitty & Alistair are investigating Widget when he suddenly activates and disappears in a burst of light.

Firsts and Other Notables
After a few issues off in various capacities, Alan Davis returns this issue, as both writer and artist of this issue. He'll stick around through issue #58, then take another pair off.

This issue wraps up the plot teased at the end of issue #52, and also reveals what happened to Joyboy when the rest of Technet left Earth in issue #47.

The cast Nightcrawler has worn on his leg since Captain Britain broke it in issue #43, is removed in this issue.

He promptly departs for his adventure with Wolverine in Marvel Comics Presents #101-108, which receives a footnote.

Widget disappears this issue in the midst of being examined by Kitty and Alistair, setup for a future story. His dialogue is fragmented, but it seems pretty clear he's saying something about Sentinels.

Phoenix has been removed from the corner cover box, though Kylun, Cerise and/or Widget have not been added.

A Work in Progress
Captain Britain's fight with Arcade in Spider-Man #25 also gets footnoted.

After flying into a rage when dealing with the Crazy Gang, Captain Britain later admits to Meggan that Nightcrawler should lead Excalibur, since he more often thinks before acting, unlike Brian.

It's in the Mail
A response to a letter in this issue affirms that both Kylun & Cerise are officially members of the team at this point.

Austin's Analysis
My tolerance for the kind of whimsical, often border-line nonsensical, stories this series does every so often (including here) is already rather low, and it's especially low now, after a series of Alan Davis-less issues following an especially strong Davis-led stretch for the series. Thankfully, Davis is back this issue, as both writer and artist, and that at least helps everything pop a bit more (it's also nice to see Kylun & Cerise getting worked into the team dynamic more). That said, if this is the last we see of the Crazy Gang and/or Lewis Carroll-inspired stories in this series, I won't complain.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Larry Hama returns in Wolverine #60. Next week, the first series of Marvel Masterpieces cards.


  1. See, I actually found this issue quite charming. I'm also more tolerant of these types of stories, and nobody does them better than Davis! And despite myself, I found the Crazy Gang's ending to be surprisingly charming and effective (though I imagine it was undone by a later writer).

  2. I only first read this recently. I liked it, a cute way to end the Crazy Gang. A nice bookend in a way, to the first appearance of the Crazy Gang back in the first installment of that old Dave Thorpe serial.


  3. I adore the Alice books, and this wasn’t as maddeningly twee as the Crazy Gang and Technet stuff usually is to me, but it was awfully slight for an issue’s worth of story. Alan Davis sure can draw, though.

    // The cast Nightcrawler has worn on his leg … is removed in this issue. //

    Why is Professor X dictating when to remove the cast? I guess it has to do with the “mutants heal quickly” thing Kitty mentions on the next page and he’s the expert in that department. She also says that “an ordinary person’s femur would take about eight weeks to knit,” which together with her dialogue in the splash that she'd “have left it on for another month” suggest that Kurt’s had the cast on for maybe four weeks. I have no idea how that tracks with the passage of time otherwise suggested in-story over the past year, but Marvel Time usually necessitates collapsing spoken as well as unspoken time intervals, so it doesn’t really matter.

  4. I like this issue. I'm always happy to see Captain Britain in (more-or-less) solo action. It almost feels like it could've been an issue of his series back when Davis wrote and drew it.

    It's also, as noted above, a very nice sendoff for the Crazy Gang -- which makes the fact that Davis brings them back just a couple issues from now totally mystifying.

    1. He brings them back? I had forgotten that.

      I seem to have a very selective memory of this era. Anyway, yes, this issue = good sendoff.

      Bringing them back = bad idea.

    2. I'm fuzzy on the details because it's been a while, but he brings them back in a small role rather than a headlining appearance -- it might even just be a cameo. And the story is only plotted by Davis. It's scripted by Scott Lodbell and drawn by Joe Madureira.

  5. On the cover Captain Britain is wearing a red nose which is the traditional symbol of Comic Relief's Red Nose Day, a television event on the BBC when comedians try to raise money for charity. As part of the fundraising plastic red noses are sold for people to wear.

    It takes place in March of odd numbered years - so why he's wearing the nose in the summer of 1992 is beyond me.


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