Tuesday, February 19, 2008

EXCALIBUR #61-#67

#61 (Davis/Farmer/Eliopoulos/Oliver) – Phoenix returns to fight Galactus, generating some of Davis’ strongest artwork in the series. Galactus reveals to the Phoenix Force that it draws energy from life that’s yet to be created, which is treated as a major revelation but it didn’t seem to have any lasting effects on continuity. The rest of the issue is spent on building subplots and a few characterization pieces. After a few chaotic months, the series is back to a clearer focus. I should again point out that Glynis Oliver’s work with mostly flat colors still looks impressive fifteen years later.




#62-#63 (Davis/Farmer/Eliopoulos/Rosas/Moreshead/Thomas/Oliver) – Davis incorporates even more Marvel UK continuity into the series by bringing back RCX and the Warpies. The Warpies were briefly mentioned during the Claremont/Silvestri run on Uncanny X-Men, but had been largely ignored in the American comics. This storyline attempts to explain where they went, while also reintroducing some of Nightcrawler’s more obscure powers. Cerise gives some information on her background (she was never a child and emerged from something called “The Source”) that makes the upcoming Shi’Ar retcon even more nonsensical. There’s quite a bit of continuity in these issues, but the stories are straightforward and Davis doesn’t get bogged down by the backstory.


#64-#65 (Davis/Farmer/Eliopoulos/Oliver) – The Warpie storyline concludes, lasting an issue or two longer than it probably should have. Davis reveals that some of the Marvel UK characters have been in suspended animation for “five years”…which is the amount of time in real life since they were last seen. Did Davis think the Marvel Universe was operating in real time? More X-continuity is established for Phoenix and Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler finally gives a an explanation for his ability to become invisible in shadows (the entrance to the dimension he teleports through constantly surrounds him, distorting light so that he appears invisible in darkness and in shadow in the light). This is a long-forgotten power that Marvel had retroactively decided that Nightcrawler didn’t even have! The references to his shadow invisibility were taken out of the Classic X-Men reprints because Marvel felt that Dave Cockrum had given Nightcrawler just too many powers during his early appearances. Years later, not only does Alan Davis bring the power back, but he even provides a justification for it. The Phoenix Force leaves Rachel in issue #64, but she somehow still has access to the power. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The Phoenix Force leaves this plane of existence because it was drawing energy from life that doesn’t exist yet. If the Phoenix Force is gone from this plane of existence, how does Rachel still have access to the power? I guess the idea is that the Phoenix Force isn’t inside of her anymore, although Rachel can still tap into its power -- but that doesn’t seem like much of a difference to me. At any rate, these are decent issues but certainly not the highlight of Davis’ run.


#66 (Davis/Farmer/Eliopoulos/Moreshead) – Excalibur does its own variation on “Days of Future Past” with “Days of Future Yet to Come”. I believe this is the second sequel to the original story (the first sequel was the “Days of Future Present” annuals in 1990). I don’t think this storyline has ever been reprinted, and its one of Excalibur’s contributions to X-continuity that seems to have been forgotten. It would be interesting to see Marvel reprint all of the variations on the “Days of Future Past” story in one trade paperback. Having Rachel return to her own future is a logical move, and it’s surprising that it took so long for someone to do this story. For some reason, Davis only devotes two issues to this storyline, while the previous Warpies arc lasted almost four issues.


#67 (Davis/Farmer/Chiang/Moreshead/Thomas) – And the Davis run comes to an end. Basically, Rachel Summers goes back to her timeline and reprograms the Sentinels, giving the character something of a happy ending. She refuses to stay in the future because of her connection to Excalibur, even though Marvel will write her out of the book in less than a year. Having Rachel stay in her own time probably would’ve been a more satisfying conclusion for this story, and a more preferable way of writing her out of the series. This doesn’t really feel like the ending of a prolonged run, more like a conclusion to Rachel’s lengthy character arc. Davis doesn’t do any homages to past issues, or work in any goodbye messages. The letters page doesn’t even acknowledge that he’s leaving. It is anticlimactic, but like Davis’ entire run, it’s an entertaining story with striking artwork.

5 comments:

Luke said...

First off Kendall, wanted to let you know that I just did a write-up on Excalibur #58 this week.

Now, regarding "Days of Futures Yet To Come." It's true that there is no big homages or major sign-off moments in the story, but in retrospect, I always found the last page splash shot, which can be seen here in a crummy scan, is sort of his coda to the series. The whole team together, even Widget and Lockjaw, the day (and the future) saved, and everyone happy. As you know, by the first page of the next issue, all that is shattered and gone, sadly never to return. I had re-read these issues a few years ago, and really enjoyed them -- which is somewhat odd since I distinctly remember not liking them that much when they were published. But I guess you live and learn.

I'm sure that "Days of Futures Yet To Come" has long been either retconned or forgotten in the "X-Universe." After all, it didn't happen in one of the "main" titles, so it never really happened. *grumble*

And I would also like to say #66 is one of my favorite Marvel covers of all time. It just leaps out at you, with the op-art style colors and circles.

G. Kendall said...

I didn't even notice Kitty's face on the cover of #66 the first time I saw it. It's my favorite part of the cover.

Chris said...

Excalibur was a series that had three distinct eras - Claremont/Davis, Davis solo, and Warren Ellis - surrounded by some of the most godawful crap I've had the displeasure of reading. Scott Lobdell should've stayed far the hell away from this series, lol.

Luke said...

Chris, you Sir, are a man of few words, but the words contain much truth.

Chris said...

Ha ha, I just calls 'em as I sees 'em, Luke. Thanks, though!

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