Friday, April 4, 2008

EXCALIBUR #77 – May 1994

Lowest Common Denominator
Credits: Scott Lobdell & Richard Ashford (plot), Chris Cooper (script), Robert Brown & Ken Lashley (pencilers), Elliott/Champagne/Gorder/Hudson (inkers), Dave Sharpe (letters), Chris Matthys (colors)

In the past, a young Nightcrawler meets his friend, Christian, in the woods. The boy tells him that they can’t be friends anymore; revealing the bruises his father gave him. His father doesn’t want him to befriend a demon, saying that he’ll kill him before he lets the demon take his soul. Nightcrawler’s foster mother, Margali Szardos, tries to comfort him by telling him that love is stronger than hate, but her words mean little to him. In the present, Nightcrawler manages to teleport away with the young Gypsy boy he saved from a group of skinheads. D’Spayre appears, taunting Nightcrawler. He’s kidnapped Margali and claims that by dawn, the hatred created by the mobs will give him enough energy to steal her power. D’Spayre disappears as soon as Amanda Sefton returns. She sends Nightcrawler to follow D’Spayre and promises to stop the mob violence. In the tombs beneath Germany, Nightcrawler finds D’Spayre. Amanda rescues Margali while Nightcrawler confronts D’Spayre. When the demon attacks, Nightcrawler recalls the memory of his friend, Christian, returning to see him as an adult. He brings his son along and asks forgiveness for abandoning Nightcrawler as a child. Focusing on love instead of hate weakens D’Spayre’s attack, and when he tries to draw energy from the mobs, he sees that Amanda has already stopped the riots. D’Spayre disappears, and Nightcrawler reconciles with Margali, realizing that her earlier message about love is true. Meanwhile, Zero is being hunted down by robots programmed to destroy all of Stryfe’s data and materials. He teleports away, but not before he’s damaged. He calls for help and a techno-organic Doug Ramsey (Douglock) arrives.

Continuity Notes
Zero was a robot owned by Stryfe. He somehow ended up in the possession of Cable’s son, Tolliver, in the Deadpool miniseries. There, he was re-awakened as a peacekeeping “ultimate weapon”, meaning that he can nullify any other weapon. He tells Douglock that he has freed him from the Phalanx and that they are both techno-organic.

Since this issue has a May cover date, it actually predates UXM #313 as Douglock’s first appearance. Since Zero tells him that he’s been freed of the Phalanx, it must take place after the UXM story, though. Looking around online, it seems that UXM #313 is considered to be his first real appearance.

Well, it’s a cheesy story about love conquering hate. There’s nothing egregiously wrong with the execution, but the story never gets very interesting, either. Most of the plotting is at least competent, except for Amanda Sefton stopping an outbreak of violence throughout Germany with no explanation outside of “I’m a sorceress”. If she could stop the violence that easily, why didn’t she do so before sending Nightcrawler into it? Considering the lack of Excalibur as a team in this story, I wonder if it was originally supposed to be a Nightcrawler solo story in X-Men Unlimited or Marvel Comics Presents. Taking into account the fact that this issue has three writers, two pencilers, and four inkers, I guess it’s lucky that it’s on the low end of mediocre rather than a true train wreck. It mainly comes across as filler while the book’s waiting for a good time to tie in to the Phalanx storyline.

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