Wednesday, August 20, 2008

EXCALIBUR #87 – July 1995

Back to Reality

Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Tom Wegrzyn (inker), Joe Rosas (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)


With Excalibur’s plane going down, Meggan uses her elemental powers to create electricity to feed the generators and restore the engines. The team lands and is caught in the middle of a fight between Mutates and armed humans. During the course of the fight, Britanic’s vision of the future begins to become true, as Peter Wisdom is hit by a human guerrilla fighter’s “biting” bullets. When one of the extremist Mutates also targets Wisdom, he reluctantly uses his ability to create “hot knives” to defend himself. The team is able to able to pull one of the special bullets they were sent to find out of a corpse. The bullet has a human’s face. The Sugar Man watches from a hidden location as Jenny Ransome, a Mutate representative of the struggling new government, takes Britanic aside. She tells him that the bullets were created out of a mutant named Pizer’s body twenty years ago, and his father worked as a consultant on the project. Britanic demands to see proof that his father was involved before he’ll believe it. Ransome and Britanic reunite with the rest of Excalibur at the home of Dr. Monroe, the assumed creator of the Mutate bonding process. While searching his private lab for information, Douglock learns that Monroe actually had a sponsor who originated the process and gave him the ideas. When Douglock’s close to learning the sponsor’s identity, the computer explodes on the Sugar Man’s command. Agents from Black Air watch as Excalibur escapes the exploding lab, content that the secret of the Mutate genegineering process will be theirs.

Miscellaneous Notes

“Hot knives” is apparently a marijuana reference, which Ellis allegedly inserted as a joke.

The Statement of Ownership list average sales at 137,800 with the most recent issue selling 131,000 copies.


I’m not sure what Warren Ellis was planning on doing with this Genosha storyline when it began five months earlier, but I doubt it involved revealing that the Sugar Man had secretly been behind the creation of the Mutates. Originally, it seemed as if the story would actually involve Black Air, the mutant bullets, and Brian Braddock’s father, but those threads take a backseat to the revelation about Genosha’s “true” origin. This is really what annoyed me the most about the aftermath of the Age of Apocalypse storyline. It’s one thing to bring the AoA characters into the mainstream reality and just do mediocre stories with them; it’s another to awkwardly shoehorn them into the past twenty years of continuity. The original Genosha storyline already introduced Dr. Monroe as the creator of the Mutates, so it’s not as if this was a long-standing mystery that really needed to be cleared up. Inserting Sugar Man into Genosha (with the weak explanation that Genosha was his “earliest experiment in unorthodox industry”) is totally arbitrary. I assume that this was done in order to make Sugar Man seem more important, or maybe to justify spending four months on the AoA by having it retroactively influence the original world, but it’s so awkward it can’t work. Sugar Man turned out to be pretty much a dud in Generation Next anyway, so this forced attempt at relevance is even more annoying.

The rest of the issue turns out to be a decent action-oriented story. Ellis does have a handle on the characters, even if Wisdom and Britanic (or “Britannic”, as Ellis begins spelling it here) seem a little melodramatic at times. The structure of the story is a little odd since parts of it have to be told as flashbacks in order to make room for Excalibur’s appearance in X-Men Prime, but it’s not too distracting. The next issue is the start of a trilogy dealing with Black Air, which I suspect is closer to what Ellis had in mind when he took over the title.


Anonymous said...

I never quite understood the added danger of biting bullets. I mean, if you get shot with a bullet, it is plenty dangerous, how much worse is it if it "bites" you?

Teebore said...

"Sugar Man turned out to be pretty much a dud in Generation Next anyway, so this forced attempt at relevance is even more annoying."

And pretty much a dud post-AoA too. As lame as the AoA crossovers were, at least the others did stuff: Holocaust (destroys Avalon, fights Nate Grey), Dark Beast (replaces beast, mucks around w/all the Onslaught BS), Nate Grey (as his own book).

Granted, none of the above was all that great, but at least they did SOMETHING and had a presence in the books for awhile. Was Sugar Man involved in any stories other than this retcon making him the behind- the-scenes power in Genosha? I don't recall anything else...

Scott Church said...

I started getting Excalibur aruond 70 because of the 'new' interaction with the rest of the X-Men. I think I stopped on this issue. I didn't like Elli's run, I read an interview at this time that said that he thought Kitty was 18 and she needed to be screwing like a normal tean, so she had her and Pete hook up, which just appeared out of character to me. Especially since he was supposed to be in his 30's and she was barelly 18, if she was a regular kid not even out of high school. It's argued that she is still 16 by some people.

I disliked his run and still am not a big fan. On top of that, Douglock, need I say more.

Chris said...

Ah, Post-AoA, the moment I stopped reading all of the X-titles but Uncanny, Generation X, and Excalibur (and even dropped Uncanny an issue or two after 325). Though I still cherish Ellis' Excal run to this day, there is no way this issue could have been the resolution he was originally intending when he started the story before the world change.

The "living bullets" make a come back during the London Hellfire Club story arc, circa # 100.

wwk5d said...

I have mixed feeling about this run. I'm, not a huge fan of Ellis, but in hindsight, this was one of the better runs during this era. There were lots of things I didn't like - Pete Wisdom was a good example of a Mary Sue, and I never bought his relationship with Kitty. Meggan was also a bit too powered up at times as well. But overall, not as bad as much of the other stuff going on at the time.

I did hate then (and now) that Sugarman and Dark Beast were retconend into the X-men's history, just to make them more relevant and important. Ugh.

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