Thursday, April 7, 2011

EXCALIBUR #121 - June 1998

With Friends Like These…

Credits: Ben Raab (writer), Trevor Scott (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters), Kevin Tinsley (colors)

Summary: Moira decides to leave her quarantine, while Douglock unsuccessfully tries to reconcile with Wolfsbane. In Jerusalem, the rest of Excalibur joins Sabra to fight Legion. Nightcrawler realizes that their opponents are actually the ghosts of Legion’s multiple personalities, striking out in anger after losing their host body. With Meggan’s empathetic help, the three personalities are able to cross over to the afterlife. In exchange for their aid, Sabra gives Excalibur a disc she claims has information on Xavier’s whereabouts.

Review: With only a few issues to go, Ben Raab assigns the team two missions that didn’t seem to bother the main titles much. The question of what happened to Legion following “The Age of Apocalypse” was never satisfactorily addressed, which didn’t seem appropriate for the character that initiated the largest X-crossover ever, and just happened to be the son of Professor Xavier. Legion’s death was ignored as soon as it happened, and wasn’t even used on the list of growing heartbreaks that led to Xavier’s transformation into Onslaught. Judging solely on the contents of the books, Xavier was shaken more by the murder of the mutant stranger in X-Men: Prime than his own son’s death.

Since Legion’s multiple personalities were much more than creations of his own mind, presenting them as ghosts makes a certain amount of sense, and bringing in Sabra is a nice use of a guest star. Raab actually posits that Xavier asked Sabra to join Excalibur in the past, but she refused the offer. That’s one way of explaining why one of the Marvel Universe’s unaffiliated mutants rarely appeared in the X-books, although the continuity is a little iffy, since Xavier was never involved in deciding Excalibur’s membership. Raab writes Sabra as rude and arrogant, which I believe is supposed to be her default personality, and it makes her a good foil for the team.

The story closes with Sabra handing Excalibur information on Professor Xavier’s location, which was supposed to be a major mystery at the time. Not that the main titles would ever let you believe it, since the X-Men themselves didn’t seem that interested in finding their mentor. Why exactly Nightcrawler assumes Sabra has that info is unclear, unless Raab is riffing on the idea that Mossad has spies within the US government. She later tells her superiors she was lying, which likely means the next issue won’t bring us anywhere near Xavier. Still, it’s amusing that poor, forgotten Excalibur got around to a story called “The Search for Professor Xavier” a few months before the main titles bothered with “The Hunt for Xavier” crossover.

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