Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The Interpretation of Dreams
Credits: Richard Ashford (writer), John Royle (penciler), Moy/Anderson/Carani (inkers), Janice Chiang (letterer), Ariane (colorist)

Britanic has a vision of fighting a battle with his brother, Jaime Braddock, in the year 2040. Their sister Psylocke uses her psychic powers to enter Jaime’s comatose mind. Britanic joins her as they tour Jaime’s memories. They watch as Jaime grows to resent having to care for his younger siblings, and the close bond they share with each other. When they try to help, Jaime resists their intrusion into his mind. After mentally confronting both of his siblings, Jaime creates a false childhood memory of joining them inside their secret hiding place. When Psylocke tries to tell him that they have a chance to reconcile, he wakes up and fights against her in reality. Britanic attacks, and the two stare into each other’s eyes for the first time in years. Jaime goes back into his coma. As the twins leave, Jaime dreams of playing with his siblings inside their hiding place.

Continuity Note
How exactly Jaime Braddock ended up in a coma and in custody isn’t explained. He was last seen escaping the Braddock’s mansion with Saty-Yr-9 in Excalibur #56.

I didn’t have high hopes for an annual story during Excalibur’s awkward post-Davis era, but this is worse than I expected. The premise isn’t a bad one, as previous writers have told quite a few interesting stories about the Braddocks’ childhood. The idea that Jaime resented his younger siblings is a nice human emotion to ground the story in, but nothing else about this story works. Why does Britanic have visions of fighting a battle with his brother in the future? Who knows. By the time the story’s over, it seems like even the writer has forgotten about it. Why is Psylocke performing some type of dangerous psychic invasion on her brother, which she acknowledges isn’t really a function of her powers, when they could ask Professor Xavier or Phoenix for help? It’s a pretty glaring omission, especially when you consider all of the work Marvel was doing at the time to connect the X-Men characters to Exclaibur. The actual events of the story are a confused mess, not helped at all by the stiff, clumsy artwork. There should be a lot of emotional weight in a story about a dysfunctional sibling relationship, but there’s nothing in here to make you care about any of the characters involved. It’s a weak effort that just fails on every level.

Black Queen Rising
Credits: Eric Fein (writer), Daerick Gross (penciler), Candelario/Austin/Wiacek/Anderson (inkers), Janice Chiang (letterer), Monica Bennett (colorist)

Selene sends a summons out to Amanda Sefton, threatening to kill everyone on the plane where she’s working if she doesn’t help her. Amanda agrees, and teleports to the mysterious mansion where Selene’s being held. Selene is still trapped inside Fitzroy’s spooling chamber, which is continuously ripping her body apart and stitching it together again. When Amanda frees her, Selene tries to shove Amanda in her place, but is stopped when Nightcrawler suddenly teleports in. Selene throws Nightcrawler into the device, explaining that someone must take her place, or else the spooling chamber will self-destruct and destroy the entire mansion. Amanda uses her powers to blast Selene outside of the building and frees Nightcrawler. He tries to teleport away, but the building’s power dampener won’t let him use his powers. Amanda encourages him to combine powers with her and they escape. Selene escapes into the night, realizing that she left the chamber before she was fully reassembled, causing her legs to bleed continuously.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority
In the final page of the story, Selene’s legs are covered in blood from her excessive wounds. Considering her outfit, it looks like a drawing from some sort of fetish magazine.

Continuity Note
Selene was trapped inside Fitzroy’s spooling chamber ever since Uncanny X-Men #301.

I guess Marvel wanted a story that freed Selene up again, so they put it in an Excalibur annual with some pages to fill. Selene has no specific reason to select Amanda Sefton to free her; a fact the story keeps reminding us of by pointing out repeatedly that they’ve never even met. The fight between Selene and Amanda isn’t engaging at all, and Nightcrawler’s sudden rescue makes no sense. Nightcrawler says that he found Amanda after getting her “coordinates” from the plane’s crew, yet Amanda teleported away to find Selene. How could they know specifically where she went? Does anyone even know that Amanda’s a sorceress? I like some of the artwork, but it’s extremely inconsistent, which is probably due to the four inkers the story required. How does a sixteen-page story end up with four inkers?

A Change of Worlds
Credits: Kim Yale (writer), Jaye Gardner (plot assist), Hannibal King & Yancy Labat (pencilers), Minor/Champagne/Caranni (inkers), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Chris Matthys (colorist)

Kitty receives a collection of old floppy discs that contain Doug Ramsey’s journals. She tells Douglock to read them, but he doesn’t recognize any of the memories. Nightcrawler encourages Kitty to accept Douglock for who he is, and not who she wants him to be.

It’s the strongest story in the annual, even though it’s going over material that the monthly book has already covered. The first person narration by Doug Ramsey on the discs is nicely done, and it serves as a good introduction to the character. Some of the dialogue is unnatural and the art is once again inconsistent, but the story mostly accomplishes what it set out to do.

1 comment:

Luke said...

The truly sad thing is that the lead story, on paper, sounds really damn interesting, especially to someone who actually cares about the Braddock clan. The fact that the end result is a jumbled mess is not surprising, considering the quality of the monthly at this point. Oh well!

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