Monday, January 19, 2009

EXCALIBUR #101 – September 1996

Quiet
Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Casey Jones (penciler), Tom Simmons (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Ariane Lenshoek & Malibu (colors)

Summary: Excalibur returns from their mission in London and learns from Moira MacTaggert that Charles Xavier has gone mad. Onslaught’s EMP attack is keeping planes out of the air, preventing the team from flying to New York. Captain Britain suggests taking their medical craft to the outskirts of New York to provide medical care, but Nightcrawler tells him that it was damaged by Black Air. As the team reacts to Xavier’s transformation, Alistaire Stuart receives word that Black Air has been shut down. He’s been offered directorship of a new department that merges W.H.O., Black Air, and all paranormal research. He offers Rory Campbell the role of Mutant Liaison, which requires him to move off Muir Island. The team watches news reports about the blackout in New York, and tries to think of another way to help. Moira tells them that they are the last hope for Xavier’s dream, and demands that they stay away.

Continuity Notes: Captain Britain tells Peter Wisdom that his vision of the future that had Excalibur killed by Black Air couldn’t happen now, and it’s because Wisdom chose to join the team in this timeline. He also tells him that his visions of the future have stopped, inferring that all of them were visions of a reality where Wisdom never joined Excalibur. According to Captain Britain, Wisdom has to tell Kitty he loves her to make sure the future is altered.

Review: As the title implies, this is a “quiet” issue, which mainly exists to have the cast react to major events and finish up a few storylines. Black Air is dissolved off-panel, and Alistaire Stuart is returned to his previous status quo (although I’m sure Black Air has shown up again over the years). Rory Campbell gets a quickie resolution to his arc, as he’s suddenly given a job elsewhere that allows him to help mutants. This doesn’t work at all, since discovering and aiding new mutants gives Rory just as many opportunities to disdain them (and later become Ahab) as working at Muir Island would. The idea that Peter Wisdom’s presence on the team stops all of Brian Braddock’s visions of the future is also odd. The original idea had Braddock seeing visions from across the entire timestream. Claiming that just one character’s presence changes everything and cures Braddock of his visions elevates Wisdom to a ridiculously lofty position.

Ellis handles the team’s reaction to Onslaught well enough, although it seems like he’s stretching for a reason not to bring the Excalibur cast to New York. If the heroes really wanted to help out their friends, they would’ve found a way. The real reason why they aren’t helping is because Excalibur wasn’t scheduled to fully cross over with the other titles during the event. Why exactly I’m not sure, since the Demon in London story could’ve been shortened and the team brought to New York with everyone else, if that’s the way Marvel wanted to play it. Maybe someone still cared enough about quality to give Ellis room to finish his storyline comfortably and have it conclude with the anniversary issue. Even if the story has to find excuses to keep the team away from Onslaught, I am glad that this title didn’t have to waste an entire issue fighting Sentinels in New York, or crafting futile plots with the other heroes.

It’s interesting that Ellis explicitly states that half a million died in London during the demon’s attack, but the other X-writers refuse to acknowledge any casualties in New York during the Onslaught incident. In fact, one previous issue of the storyline even outright said that no one has died yet, thanks to the work of the heroes. This is of course absurd, as we’ve seen an electromagnetic pulse shutting down power across the city, Sentinels inciting panic in the streets (even if they’re only targeting superhumans), and numerous fires. It’s amusing that Ellis gives his storyline a massive body count, but his more traditional American counterparts won’t list any casualties. As we’ve seen over the years, Ellis’ darker, British sensibilities have prevailed in mainstream comics.

4 comments:

Matt said...

"As we’ve seen over the years, Ellis’ darker, British sensibilities have prevailed in mainstream comics."

Unfortunately!! Give me a happy, upbeat, traditional superhero comic any day over most of what's being published right now!

Mattyoung said...

All I want to know is how Collussus' silly half-pants from this era work. Spirit gum? I know the short pants were on their way out, but still...

PeterCSM said...

It's too bad Excalibur doesn't know any blue, demonish-looking teleporters that could help them jump the pond to New York..

ray swift said...

PeterCSM: Kurt can't take them all to New-York. More so, it would be an exhausting and maybe even dangerous journey even for him alone. He's a close-range teleporter. Always have been.

Anyway, about the issue:
About the casualties, I was even thinking that the half million dead wasn't such a great decision. Unlike Inferno crossover from the 80's, the british hellfire plot wasn't as much dark, and was really miser in carnage. The story should had shown us all the death and the horror before throwing such numbers into the air. So I'm thinking these numbers should have been in New-York, as so many different issues in the crossover were about the fightning in the city and the distraction, while in london there should have been maybe hundreds of casualties. That's it.

I wasn't pleased by the way Ellis handled the Xavier revelation. If someone whould have told you your beloved father figure, the man you look up to most, who raised you and his dream you are trying to follow - got murderous crazy, I think that a moment of silence and some cheap sentences ("I can't belive it") wouldn't cut the chase. I would expect the bunch of previous X-men, mainly Kitty and Kurt if not Collosus too, to be devastated. The whole issue should be about that. Judging by there response, they almost seemed not surprised.

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