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Friday, May 12, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #62

"Of Birth, Death and the Confused, Painful Bit In Between"
February 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur is captured by the RCX.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Penciler: Mark Farmer (pgs 10-13)
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Chris Elipoulos
Colorists: Rosas/Moreshead/Thomas
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Alistair awakens to find himself a captive of Nigel Orpington-Smythe and the RCX, who captured him in order to set a trap for Excalibur. Above the RCX Cloud Nine base, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat & Cerise are trying to locate Alistair when they're attacked & captured by agents of the RCX called the Seraphim. Elsewhere, the Phoenix continues to mull its origins, while Alistair encounters Beetroot, one of the Warpies being held by the RCX. Dying, Beetroot's telepathy shows Alistair the history of the Warpies and the experiments which caused his death. On the coast, Brian and Meggan are stunned when Brian realizes he's lost the ability to fly. Back at Cloud Nine, Nightcrawler reveals he faked his unconsciousness and strikes out at the Seraphim holding his friends captive. Flying into a rage, he manages to defeat them, only to come face-to-face with Nigel Orpington-Smythe, who declares he's arresting Nightcrawler, Shadowcat & Cerise for being illegal aliens, and that Excalibur is disbanded.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue (and the rest of this story) centers on the fate of the Warpies, a dangling plot left over from the Alan Moore Captain Britain run. They are children who were effectively mutated by the energy of Mad Jim Jasper's energy field during the "Jasper's Warp" storyline (hence the name Warpies). They were later gathered for nefarious purposes by the RCX and eventually guarded by Captain Britain and Mastermind (the computer in the basement of Braddock Manor). Sometime between then and now, they were recaptured by the RCX (now led by Nigel Orpington-Smythe) and taken to the RCX's Cloud Nine base, which is where this story takes place.

A group of Warpies appeared briefly in Uncanny X-Men #254 (during the Reavers' attack on the island), but as far as I know, that group is separate from this one.

A sub-group of Warpies called the Seraphim serve as Nigel Orpington-Smythe's foot soldiers in this issue. This is their first appearance, but they have yet to appear outside this story.

A Work in Progress
It is confirmed here that Alistair Stuart's sister was framed by Nigel Orpington-Smythe, leader of the RCX (Resources Control Executive) as part of his plot to takeover all the intelligence gathering/super-powered response elements of the British government.

To that end, it's revealed that both FI6 (the organization for which Micromax worked) and WHO (in the wake of Alysande Stuart's death/framing) have been absorbed by the RCX, putting them all under the control of Orpington-Smythe.

The Best There is at What He Does
Nightcrawler flies into a bit of a berserker rage as he faces off against the Seraphim.

Young Love
His rage is motivated, in part, by Cerise being in danger, which "awakens a long-denied passion" within him.

Austin's Analysis
For all of its (genuine and relative) success, much of Alan Davis' solo run on this series has been about tying up loose ends. Chiefly, this has come in the form of dangling plotlines left over from his earlier collaboration with Chris Claremont. Here, he reaches a bit further back, to dust off the Warpies, a plotline left dangling from the earlier, UK-only, Alan Moore run (though Claremont briefly touched on the characters as well). But for those of us who aren't as familiar with the UK Captain Britain material, this reads less like tying up a dangling plotline and more like there's some issues we missed (I mean, I do this stuff for a living (well, "a living") and even I had to look up the Warpies to figure out their whole deal). Thankfully, Davis' level of craft is so high that it's hard to care and easy enough to enjoy, despite this being a case of a less-pressing or familiar plot dangler being tied up.

Next Issue
Next week, another look at X-Men action figures.


  1. Apologies again for the late post - I had some technical difficulties on my end, and once again poor EXCALIBUR suffered for it.

    1. We take it as commentary on how it was with EXCALIBUR back in the day. :)

  2. The Warpies are boring and I really wish Davis had gone in some other direction for this story arc. You may feel like you missed something, but you didn't miss much!

  3. Did the Mark Farmer pencilled pages in the middle of the story look any different from the rest?

    1. Yeah. It was certainly noticeable if you were looking for it but depending on your eye probably even if you weren’t. The four pages penciled by Farmer were all narrated flashback, though, with black rather than white borders and a limited color palette, and except for one further panel on either side drawn by Davis they were the entirety of that flashback, so there was no great visual disconnect.

  4. I find it hard to believe that Kitty and Kurt weren’t documented — with her having enrolled in school and Excalibur working alongside both Scotland Yard and WHO. (Cerise is more recent and a different story.)

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  6. The Seraphim originally appeared in Captain Britain Monthly, first in the main strip in the plot that ran in issues 7-9 (though they only appear in 8 and 9) and then in a backup that ran from issue 11-14 (14 being the last issue before cancellation)


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