Thursday, May 22, 2008

EXCALIBUR #85 – January 1995

Edge of Night
Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Tom Wegrzyn (inker), Jon Babcok (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)

Shrill reveals to Kitty that Nightcrawler has been possessed by Gravemoss. After Gravemoss unleashes a magic attack, Kitty phases down to the floor below. She flashes back to an early training session with Wolverine, where he taught her a form of martial arts used by the Mossad. When Gravemoss follows her, she uses the martial arts tactics against him. He teleports to Nightcrawler’s room and takes a sword from his wall, hoping to antagonize Kitty into drawing the Soul Sword. Kitty does draw the Soul Sword during the fight, but to Gravemoss' surprise, reveals that Wolverine also taught her swordplay. Amanda Sefton suddenly teleports in and joins the fight. Shrill uses her magic to hold Gravemoss and tells Kitty to kill him. Kitty refuses, and instead strikes him with the Soul Sword. The sword forces Gravemoss out of Nightcrawler’s body. Kitty gives the sword to Amanda, who stabs Gravemoss with it. She later takes the sword to her mother, Margali, for safekeeping. What she doesn’t realize is that Margali has now advanced on the magical Winding Way, and will use the sword to gain more power.

Creative Differences
When Amanda Sefton suddenly returns on page 29, there’s an altered word balloon that references her being thrown off a cliff in the last issue. You would think that the altered balloon would have explained how she survived the attack, but it doesn’t.

It’s the big fight issue, which essentially serves as a solo Kitty Pryde story. I like the way Ellis incorporates some realism into a fight scene that involves magic swords and possessed bodies, and his portrayal of Kitty Pryde is entertaining. Parts of the issue do feel padded, though. The flashback with Wolverine takes up five full pages in the middle of the story, which is certainly excessive. Shrill also drops out of the story without explanation, making me wonder what role she was supposed to play in the first place. Even if some of the plotting doesn’t work, Ellis is successful in bringing some personality to the book. None of the characters feel like ciphers, and the narrative captions now have some attitude. A lot of this has become the stereotypical British approach to superhero comics, but it felt fresh at the time. Ken Lashley returns as artist, which makes for a slightly jarring transition. His work has improved from the previous issues, thankfully, even if his female characters still look pretty generic.

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