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Friday, October 12, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #80

"Out of Time"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
The "Douglock Chronicles" conclude, and it's revealed that Moira is infected with the Legacy Virus.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Chris Cooper
Pencils: Amanda Connor
Inkers: Harry Candelario, Randy Elliot, Keith Champagne
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Colors: Chris Matthys
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

With Stryfe's base beneath the Pentagon self-destructing, Shadowcat works to remove a similar self-destruct component from Zero. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler & Daytripper return from Germany, and Nightcrawler meets with Professor X to discuss the Legacy Virus. Back in the base, Britannic & Meggan manage to create a tunnel, enabling everyone to escape the base, but Zero, attempting to find a way to access the Legacy Virus data inside his mind, gets his face blown off. On Muir Island, Daytripper admits to Rory she too saw the vision of him as Ahab, but insists that the future is not absolute. Meanwhile, everyone reaches the surface before the base explodes except for Zero, prompting Douglock to go back for him. Just then, Zero hears a recording from Stryfe who tells him that, with his death imminent, he's released the blocks on Zero's mind, giving him access to the Legacy Virus data as one final taunt. Just then, Douglock returns, and Zero plunges Douglock's hands into Zero's damaged face, transmitting the data and telling Douglock to remember him before the base, and Zero, are destroyed. Back on Muir Island, invigorated by his discussion with Nightcrawler, Xavier seeks out Moira, only to learn that she knows the Legacy Virus can infect humans because she herself is infected.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue reveals that Moira knows the Legacy Virus can infect humans because she herself is infected. Sadly, she will remain infected for the rest of her existence, as the character will be killed off before the end of the decade, not as a result of the virus, but before the cure is found and released.

Zero admits that he holds the secret to the Legacy Virus in his databanks, but in true dick move/plot convenance, Stryfe will not allow him to access the file. In the moments before his death, a pre-recorded Stryfe removes the blocks on Zero, giving him access to the Legacy Virus information. He proceeds to transfer that data to Douglock, but like so many other Legacy Virus teases, it doesn’t really go anywhere.

Nightcrawler & Daytripper return from Germany (and the events of issues #77-78). Nightcrawler mentions sharing a bath, which is maybe a reference to Uncanny X-Men #169.

Amanda reveals to Rory that she saw the same vision of him as Ahab in the future, when they were in the timestream in issue #75. This leads to a discussion of fate that maybe reads like a conclusion to this subplot,but it’s not.

Creator Central
Amanda Conner draws this issue. An artist with a somewhat cartoony/animation-inspired style, she's probably best known for her work on Harley Quinn & Power Girl over at DC. Outside of an issue of X-Men Unlimited down the line, this is her only X-office work. She's also married to inker, Joe Quesada buddy and Marvel Knights co-editor Jimmy Palmiotti.

A Work in Progress
Meghan discovers she can control environments around her, not just reflect them in her physical form.

Austin's Analysis
Upon it's conclusion, it's hard to get away from what an odd story "The Douglock Chronicles" is. Despite its wildly uneven art, it's arguably the best multi-part story since Alan Davis left the title, but that's very much damning it with faint praise, especially since most of what makes it the "best" has little to do with Excalibur itself and more to do with its relevancy to plotlines connected to the larger X-universe. It's meant to serve as an introduction to the character of Douglock and serve as a tease for "Phalanx Covenant", and to some extent, it is (and does), but Douglock is only ever, at best, the second most important character in the story (with any given member of Excalibur perpetually in third place), and it's a setup for the "Phalanx Covenant" only so far as the fact that Douglock was once part of that group.

Instead, the driving force of the story is Zero, the formerly-mute lacky of X-Force's archenemy, and the story, both in the main narrative involving Zero and the subplot scenes involving Xavier & Moira, is mostly about the Legacy Virus, both the reveal that it's infected humans/Moira and the tease that Zero (and, by story's end, Douglock) possesses information critical to curing it. That fact that neither of those developments ultimately amount to anything probably shouldn't be held against the story, but even without hindsight, it's tough to get too worked up over an Excalibur story with lackluster art that is mostly about a tertiary character from X-Force teasing a resolution to a plotline started in another series, who then dies, negating whatever development he experienced over the course of the story, all while the title characters essentially look on, doing very little in their own series.

Next Issue
Next week: The "Phalanx Covenant" commences in Uncanny X-Men #316, X-Factor #106 and Wolverine #85!


  1. A quick check of Google tells me Warren Ellis takes over with #83.

    We're getting there. Slowly but surely. Christ this book was awful between Davis and Ellis.

    1. It really was. To a degree I didn't really understand when I first read it.

  2. "...the character will be killed off before the end of the decade..."

    The issue in which Moira dies was on sale in late 2000. I'm quite pleased to see that apparently you agree with me on the fact that decades conclude in the year ending with a "0" rather than the year ending with a "9". The 90s ran from 1991 through 2000. 1990 was, in fact, the final year of the 80s, which started in 1981. And so on -- despite what others would try to make you believe! #ThereWasNoYearZero

    1. Heh. Technically, I mistakenly thought Moira's death came in '99 when I wrote that sentence. But I do agree with your reckoning of when decades start and end (though I'm pretty sure I roll over my "time" categories - ie "Grim 'n' Gritty 90s" - for reviews on the 0-ending year, mostly because that's when most people consider the decade to start (wrong though they may be).


    2. Okay, I’m with you on the fact that each century and millennium begin with the “1” years — the 21st century began not with 2000 but 2001, etc. — and even that every decade runs 1 to “10” in that context. When you’re specifically talking about “the ’90s” rather than “the last decade of the 20th century”, however, then I think it’s entirely proper to consider the term as referring to, per the name, 1990 through 1999. 1990 being the final year of the 1980s makes no sense to me. The only situation in which that has an extremely slim possibility of awkwardly describing a decade with only 9 rather than 10 years in it are the years 1 through 9 BCE (BC) and CE (AD), but those are never really described as “the ’00s” or “the aughts” like the opening decades of more recent centuries; they’re referred to as “the first decade [AD/BC/BCE/CE]”, which brings us back to the nomenclature and 10-year span that we’re in agreement on. Now I’m curious to see what various editorial style guides nave to say on the subject.


  3. I just realized for the first time, when my eyes lingered on the name “Britanic” in this issue, that the name “Brian” is contained within “Britain” — maybe it took so long because the “an” is only a unit like “Bri” in “Britanic” and not in “Britain”. Anyway… Does anyone know if Chris Claremont ever mentioned consciously giving Captain Britain the civilian name “Brian Braddock” for that reason?

    // This issue reveals that Moira knows the Legacy Virus can infect humans because she herself is infected.  //

    Maybe we weren’t supposed to know this for sure yet but it’s been teased and suggested for quite some time now. I was only surprised by the revelation here because (a) it had taken so long I thought perhaps she’d never actually tell anyone and (b) while I haven’t gone back to pinpoint why I felt this way I recall that the previous issue seemed to back off the implication all of a sudden.

  4. With Moira being retconned to being a mutant as well, her infection make more sense on the one hand, but of course all her conversations with Xavier in this issue cannot be explained properly as part of the retcon.


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