Wednesday, November 19, 2008

EXCALIBUR #98 – June 1996

Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Ariane Lenshoek & Malibu (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Excalibur watches footage of Douglock’s abduction and plots their attack against Black Air. Peter Wisdom speculates that Douglock has been taken to their acquisition station in North Yorkshire. Soon, Meggan uses her elemental powers to disrupt the forcefield covering Black Air’s base and the team infiltrates. After easily taking over the base and causing massive property damage, Shadowcat hacks into their computer system and learns that Douglock isn’t there; he’s been assigned as agent Scratch’s responsibility. Nightcrawler gives the Black Air personnel five minutes to evacuate before Meggan forces the earth to swallow their base whole. Meanwhile, Brian Braddock receives word from the Hellfire Club’s Scribe that the Red King has led the club in a new direction. Their plans now revolve around the new Red Queen, who is a magician. Suddenly, sections of London explode. Elsewhere, scientists dismantling Douglock learn that he has information on the Legacy Virus.

Continuity Notes: The Black Queen identifies herself as “Ms. Steed” (a reference to the old Avengers TV show, I guess), making her the first member of the London branch to have more than a code name.

Review: This is an action-heavy issue that mainly serves as a showcase for Pacheco’s art. The action scenes are a little odd, as Black Air offers literally no opposition to Excalibur. There are a lot of explosions and bodies flying, but no real fighting. The story tries to justify this by saying that the Black Air agents are so powerful, they’ve just become used to getting away with whatever they want to do. You’d think that Ellis would’ve had the villains offer at least some resistance, though, rather than using the scene just to have Excalibur show off their powers. At the very least, Pacheco does an impressive job conveying the action. The end of the issue has some brief scenes touching base on the other plotlines. The Hellfire Club storyline advances slowly, as some hint of their plan is given (and a subplot about Brian possibly giving into his darker urges is introduced). The “Douglock has the key to the Legacy Virus” subplot, which was dropped as soon as it began, makes a surprising comeback on the final page. I don’t recall it going anywhere, but at least there was some effort to keep the idea from falling into total obscurity. Overall, it’s another issue that’s mainly setup, but some of the action is fun and the art isn’t bad at all.


Brooke and Scott Church said...

You post about the 19 pages on most books and the reason why is because Marvel is in Chapter 11 at this point. If you want the most amazing book to read that really goes into thick detail with behind the scenes info of Marvel in the mid-late 90's - Comic Wars by Dan Raviv is the book to get.

I'm reading right now and while it is really law and business heavy (if you don't care for either, stay away). It talks about how Marvel was basically run into the ground and how the owners at the time would hire and fire people with no problem.

I'm at about 1997 in the book when the new owner took over Marvel and I think they are just about to switch it so there isn't the Editor in Chief but each department had their own. Fleer/Skybox is about to be sold and so forth.

It's amazing to see how much the business world impacted the comics that us teenagers at the time were buying, we saw it get worse and worse story wise but didn't know why, you read this and you know.

They didn't want to pay anyone. They were spending their money on things like Fleer/Skybox and sticker companies in Italy instead of working on the characters that got them there, they were trying to branch out instead of making their foundation strong, this killed the owner at the time (the guy also owned Revlon) making it so he had to file Chapter 11, while there another big business owner took over the company and bought it out from him.

The book is great, i can't put it down, I need to finish it.

wwk5d said...

You know,as much as people love the Ellis run on this title, it seems like there was a lot of padding in between the AOA issues and #100? there was lots of good stuff there, and to be honest, it's more from about # 95 to # 100...they could have been told in maybe 3 issues. And isn't it nice to Pacheo actually drawing an issue for which he was the *cough*cough* 'regular' artist?

Seangreyson said...

Honestly, this is problem my favorite run of any of the comics I own.

Reading it originally month to month the padding wasn't as evident (and since every comic was 19 pages I never noticed the difference for that).

The art was fairly high quality 90's art (as opposed to the experimental, or unique artists that get hired for a lot of mainstream books these days).

For this issue I always liked that the attack on the Black Air base went so easily. It emphasized that Excalibur really were a highly experienced, very powerful team of superheroes.

The silliness of some Excalibur issues tended to distract from this fact. Even during Clairmont and Davis years the team led planetary revolutions, fought Galactus, and fought a variety of demonic and alien menaces.

This makes the nice point that even the ultra-powerful secret organization isn't really a match for a highly-skilled, cooperative super team. This is really a precursor to what Ellis eventually started with the Authority, emphasizing the power that a superhero team has in comparison to "mortal" authorities.

Paul said...

My God, I love that cover.

ray swift said...

This issue makes the first time in known history that an X-team went to a mission and everything went according to plan.

When Nightcrawler explained the plan in extreme (even slightly bothersome) detail I was already expecting the part where something goes bad, as usuall. Alas I was wrong.

Kinda makes Nightcrawler a badass leader.

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