Thursday, February 14, 2008

EXCALIBUR #51-#52, #54

Continuing my look at Alan Davis’ run on Excalibur

#51 (Davis/Braithwaite/Albrecht/Marzan/McKenna/Palmiotti/Oliver/Heisler) – This is certainly a strange issue, dedicated to resolving a dangling subplot from Excalibur #9. A family of American tourists has fallen through a space warp into an earth where reptilians are the dominant species. They’re replaced in our world with their reptile counterparts from the alternate earth. The reptile family reacts to our pollutants and turns into full-fledged dinosaurs. The reptilian equivalent of Excalibur and the Fantastic Four come to our reality and stop them. It has the feel of an early Claremont/Davis issue, but it’s definitely missing something without Davis’ art. A lot of the humor revolves around integrating scientific terms for reptiles into superhero names, which doesn’t exactly crack me up and gets old pretty quickly. It’s still a fun issue, though, and it’s definitely a story you would not have seen in the other X-titles at this time.

#52 (Davis/Simpson/Palmiotti/Hoover/Heisler/Corvese) – Even though the cover represents the humorous tone found in much of Davis’ run, it doesn’t reflect the actual contents of the issue at all. The series swerves back into heavy X-continuity with this story, providing a straightforward origin story for Rachel Summers, the second Phoenix. Apparently, there were some contradictions between Rachel’s initial appearances in “Days of Future Past” and her later flashback scenes. Davis tries to reconcile this by saying that the Phoenix Force was repressing her memories, often making Rachel confused about her past. Davis also tries to clear up an element from Claremont’s run that was never explained -- how did Rachel acquire the Phoenix Force in the first place? Unfortunately, Davis’ attempts to clear up continuity just seemed to make things more confusing for some readers. This issue inspired years worth of extremely long Usenet debates that are almost impossible to follow. Do a Google Groups search and you’ll see what I mean. At any rate, this was Marvel’s official origin for Phoenix at the time, and the resolution of a lot of plot threads from Uncanny X-Men (even explaining how the Phoenix Force discovered Jean Grey in the first place), so it’s surprising that the main X-books did nothing to promote this issue.

#54 (Davis/Farmer/ Heisler/Oliver) – Alan Davis returns to pencil this issue, producing one of the best-looking issues from his run. Captain Britain awakes in an Alice in Wonderland inspired fantasy world, giving Davis an excuse to explore the cartoonier aspects of his art. The fact that he creates slick superheroics and a sweet Disney-esque fantasy world so seamlessly in the same comic is really amazing. The “acting” of the characters is also great. Starting with Nightcrawler’s anxiousness on the first page, to the multiple personalities of the talking flowers, to Captain Britain’s realization of his own flaws at the end of the story, every page is filled with personality. I’ve always liked this issue a lot, and it’s really a testament to just how good Davis is.


Luke said...

An odd few months for the title. After the big blowoff in #50, it's like the title went on vacation for a little bit before the next big Davis push through up until right before "Fatal Attractions." I always loved the cover to #54, with Brian looking the clown.

Teebore said...

I really need to go back and re-read the entire run of Excalibur up until 71. It's been too long.

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