Thursday, October 25, 2007

EXCALIBUR #42-#45

Before heading into the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover, I’m going to be looking at the two X-titles I wasn’t buying during this time. Both Wolverine and Excalibur were higher-priced baxter paper titles that rarely interacted with the other X-books during this era. If I had more money, I would have bought these titles, too, but my meager kid allowance just couldn’t support them. Well, I know I would have bought Wolverine at least. I only barely considered Excalibur an X-title. Yeah, it had some of the X-Men, but their team leader wasn’t even a mutant! And the title started with the wrong letter! The fact that the book often seemed to be in a state of perpetual fill-ins at this time also turned me off. When Alan Davis came back with issue #42, I didn’t even notice. I had stopped even flipping through the title (the newsstand dealers in my town might have even dropped Excalibur during this time; I don’t remember seeing these issues on the stands at all). I ended up picking up these issues years later in my late teens, after I discovered that Alan Davis is truly a genius. Even if Excalibur had a different editor and very rarely had anything to do with the other mutant books, it’s still an Uncanny X-Men spin-off and it should be examined if you’re looking at the overall quality of the X-line in the ‘90s. So, here are my quick thoughts on Excalibur #42-#45.


#42 (Davis/Farmer/Heisler/Oliver) – Alan Davis’ return to the title and his first issue as writer. It’s a fun, yet continuity-heavy, issue that sets up some future stories and resolves some dangling plot lines. As always, Davis’ art is beautiful. I think it might have been too subtle for my younger self to truly appreciate, though.







#43 (Davis/Farmer/Heisler/Oliver) – Davis continues to maintain the comedy element, but not at the expense of genuine characterization, or the advancement of more serious storylines. This doesn’t read anything like the other X-titles of this time. It feels more like Claremont’s older material. It is interesting to see how the X-titles took the Claremont influence in different ways. Davis focuses on characterization while building up to a larger story, as the other titles focus more on introducing mysteries and balancing various subplots.




#44 (Davis/Farmer/Heisler/Oliver) – This issue shifts focus to the Marvel UK characters, Meggan and Captain Britain. Davis is beginning to incorporate the Marvel UK continuity more firmly into the X-universe, which is something that probably should have been done much sooner in this title. With all of the references to the original Captain Britain series, Excalibur is beginning to feel more like a legitimate follow-up to that series.





#45 (Davis/Farmer/Heisler/Oliver) – The various plotlines continue, with some hints there might be a connection to the various threads. Davis does a wonderful job not only on Captain Britain’s fight scene and Technet’s slapstick comedy, but also on the conversation scene between Rachel and Meggan. The body language and facial expressions on those two pages are great.

4 comments:

Teebore said...

I felt the same way you did about Excalibur and Wolverine at that time.

It was only after a few years, as I got older (and my spending money increased) that I picked up Excalibur, and through back issues, learned just what I was missing with those Davis issues.

James said...

Excalibur had three great periods -

The Claremont/Davis issues (from #1 through 23 - Davis left then, but Claremont continued for a few more),
the issues where Davis wrote and penciled, and the sweet Warren Ellis period (#83 to #103).

The "Davis alone" issues rank first for me, because both Claremont and Ellis (willingly or not) tied the book into different X-book crossovers, and Excalibur always dragged when that happened (though Davis had fun drawing demons for the Inferno issues). Davis' solo run was free of any, thankfully. I've read that Ellis received many demands from editorial on what he could do, but his stories were terrific anyway, including one of the best Wolfsbane stories I've read.

Luke said...

Well you beat me to it! As a fan of Excalibur during this period, I was going to do a "shout out" of sorts to Not Blog X over on my blog and talk about these issues. From about issue #26 up until #42, this book meandered pretty badly, not really serving much purpose other than to have a mutant team in Europe. But once Davis came back, all the way up to right before "Fatal Attractions" (that is to say, though the end of "Days of Futures Yet To Come"), Excal was great fun.

I may still talk about them in the future, but thanks for shining the spotlight on these solid, solid mags, dude.

G. Kendall said...

Luke, I think you should still do it. I'm only doing a brief overview of these issues, and I'm stopping at #50 for the time being.

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