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Friday, April 9, 2021

X-amining Excalibur #101

September 1996

In a Nutshell
Excalibur deals with the aftermath of the Hellfire Club's attack & the revelation of Onslaught. 

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Casey Jones
Inker: Tom Simmons
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Ariane Lenshoek
Separations: Malibu Hue
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Moira watches a pre-recorded message from Xavier, telling her that if anything happens to him, she and Muir Island are the last outpost for his dream. Rory then tells her that Excalibur is on their way home, and she braces herself to tell them about Onslaught. Upon hearing the news, everyone prepares to leave for America, but Moira insists the rest of the X-teams have the matter in hand; Excalibur is too beat-up to be of much help. As the team settles in, they watch news coverage of Onslaught's attack, and grow increasing horrified by what is happening. Meanwhile, Alistaire Stuart meets with Rory, telling him that he's been assigned to head up a new agency incorporating the remnants of Black Air and WHO. He asks Rory to be the mutant liaison to the new agency. Later, following more news of Onslaught's attacks, a reinvigorated Excalibur makes moves to once again head to New York, but Moira puts her foot down, saying if they go to New York they may very well be killed, and there are people outside New York who need their help. They have to stay here - Professor X would want them to stay here - in order to ensure his dream is kept alive. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Though last issue was an official tie-in to "Onslaught", all the crossover related stuff happened between Moira and the X-Men on Muir Island while Excalibur was in London fighting the Hellfire Club and Black Air. Though not an official tie, the team learns about Xavier's transformation, and the broad strokes of the larger crossover, in this issue, upon returning home. 

Alistaire Stuart reveals here that he's been tapped to lead a new British intelligence agency, comprised of the remnants of Black Air and WHO. He proceeds to tap Rory to be the agency's mutant liaison (which is funny, considering Rory isn't a mutant himself), which Rory accepts in the belief that getting away from Muir Island and active mutant activity will help protect him from becoming Ahab (which is...not the best logic, considering he's leaving to be a mutant liaison for a government agency). This more or less marks the end of the Rory subplot; he'll appear a couple more time in this book (and receive an Ahab-ish prosthetic leg from Sebastian Shaw over in Adjectiveless) and pop up again years later during "The Twelve", but with Ellis' looming departure, the whole "will Rory become Ahab?" mystery is more or less dropped, unresolved, here. 

Moira watches a recorded message from Xavier, saying that if anything were to happen to him, Moira and Muir Island would become the last outpost of his dream (which, coincidentally, also kind of fits with the later "Moira X"/HoXPox retcon). 

Nightcrawler & Amanda discuss the disappearance of Margali during the events of last issue; it is later revealed that at this point, Margali is in control of Amanda's body here (she & Nightcrawler are affectionate with each other, but thankfully nothing especially untoward happens between them, on panel, at least). 

Pretty uninspiring cover on this one. 

A Work in Progress
Ellis definitely doesn't think Kitty is still just sixteen years old...

Brian learns that the Moonflight Flit was damaged (rescuing Alistaire in issues #96-97). 

In the wake of his experiences as a captive of Black Air & a conduit for the Hellfire Club's demon, Douglock is becoming more his own person, beyond just a manifestation of Doug Ramsey & Warlock.

Brian tells Wisdom that thanks to his actions, the future Brian experienced in issue #94 has been mostly averted, but in order for it stay firmly in the realm of "alternate timeline", Wisdom has to admit his love for Kitty to her.  

Austin's Analysis
This is, for all intents and purposes, Ellis' spin on a Lobdellian Post-Crossover Quiet issue, coming as it does on the heels of both the conclusion of the Hellfire Club/Black Air story in this series and the still-ongoing "Onslaught" crossover the series tied into last issue (it's even titled "Quiet"!). Being more character-driven, dealing as it does with the main cast reconciling with the aftermath of their victory and the news about Professor Xavier, it is very much in Ellis' wheelhouse, and of a piece with something like his pub story in issue #91. It also plays to Casey Jones strength more - it's a shame that the partnership couldn't have been worked out to where Carlos Pacheco did the big action-heavy issues like the previous one while Jones handled the more character driven issues like this one. While perhaps not as strong as #91, in part because there's a bit of expectedness to it (this is, after all, the sort of story you have to tell at this point in the overarching narrative), it is nevertheless an appreciated bit of quiet decompression & examination for the characters as Ellis, knowingly or not, starts to wind down his run. 

Next Issue
Next week: Onslaught targets Nate Grey in X-Man #19, Toad attacks in Generation X #19, and Wolverine meets Stick in Wolverine #105!

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1 comment:

  1. I really aoappreciate that this wasn't tagged with the Onslaught banner and wasn't forced to have further interaction with it. It helps this series to continue to have its own voice.

    For the longest time I thought that this had been Ellis's last issue. It feels like an epilogue to his run so far even if it didn't wrap up everything he had started.

    Casey Jones's art is okay. Nothing about it stands out for me but I also don't actively dislike it. It does work well for this issue and I can't really ask for more than that.

    It's also amusing to have a "post" Onslaught issue while we're still in the middle of the event. I'm a little saddened that Ellis only has two issues left.


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