Wednesday, March 19, 2008

EXCALIBUR #75 – March 1994

Hello, I Must Be Going
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Randy Elliott (inker), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Garrahy & Matthys (colorists)

Excalibur returns from Scott and Jean’s wedding. Rachel Summers, Phoenix II, is excited because now that her parents are married in this timeline, she has a chance of actually being born here. She’s confronted by Meggan, who knows that Rachel has been preventing Captain Britain from coming back into this timeline. When Nightcrawler’s sorceress friend Amanda Sefton arrives to help retrieve Captain Britain, Rachel angrily storms away. Kitty Pryde talks to Rachel and the two mentally go back to her days as a Hound for Ahab. She shows Kitty the day she turned off her emotions and focused only on surviving. Kitty talks her into letting go of the past and asks her to help Captain Britain return. Sefton uses magic to connect Rachel to Meggan, who is acting as Captain Britain’s anchor to this time. While inside the timestream, Rachel realizes that she can’t just pull him back, she has to trade places with him. She asks Kitty to say hello to her when she’s born and trade places with Captain Britain. When the team returns home, they discover that Captain Britain’s personality has been radically altered and that he’s now calling himself “Britanic”.

This issue has a cardstock, holographic cover.

Production Note
This is the first issue I’ve reviewed that has very obvious computer color separations. Almost every page has at least a few black lines knocked out and replaced with a color effect.

Continuity Notes
Amanda Sefton, Nightcrawler’s sometime girlfriend returns. She gives herself the name “Daytripper”, which lasts for a little while.

Rory sees his future self as Ahab while the team is inside the timestream.

Captain Britain appears as Britanic for the first time, claiming that he needs to apply what he’s learned if “this world is to survive”. Sefton speculates that being lost in the timestream could have driven him mad.

There’s a lot of “what were they thinking?” in this issue. For some reason, Marvel felt the need to remove Rachel Summers from the titles at this time, a decision that lasts until the start of the next decade. I don’t really know why exactly they wanted her gone, but Marvel seemed dedicated to the idea. It’s an especially odd decision in light of Marvel’s attempts to make Excalibur more in line with the other X-books. Rachel was a former X-Man, and the current holder of the “Phoenix” title at the time. Her parents are Scott Summers and Jean Grey, who just got married. She actually has stronger ties to the main X-books than any other member of the team does. The only justification I can think of for abandoning the character is to give Jean Grey the “Phoenix” name back. This does happen just a month or so later when the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix miniseries debuts. I can understand why Marvel wanted to give Jean Grey a more marketable name, but I don’t understand why an established character had to be tossed out just for the use of a name. The idea of Jean having the Phoenix title again was just ignored in the books for years, until Steven Seagal briefly tried to go somewhere with it.

The other strange decision in this issue is Captain Britain’s reintroduction as “Britanic”. Taking a human, relatable protagonist and turning him into an Old English speaking mystery man with a bad 1987 Bon Jovi perm is just unforgivable. Warren Ellis drops this storyline very quickly in a few months, and you can’t blame him.

Even though this issue is mostly remembered for the bad ideas it introduces, I was surprised to see how well Lobdell handles the execution. His portrayal of Rachel is very sympathetic, and her closing words to Kitty are moving. It’s not really the train wreck you might expect it to be (until Britanic shows up, that is). Ken Lashley debuts as artist, with a fairly generic ‘90s look. He’s less cartoonish than some of the other X-artists of the time, going for more of a Jim Lee “realistic” look. He’s the first artist since Davis to actually have a lengthy run on the book.

A Demon Went to Church on Tuesday
Credits: Jim Kreuger (writer), Tim Sale (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Greg Wright (colorist)

After a woman he saves from a burning building calls him a demon, Nightcrawler visits a church. He asks the priest for forgiveness for being born a mutant, and the priest asks forgiveness for just being human. He reminds Nightcrawler that everyone has a cross to bear, which seems to comfort him.

It’s filler, but it looks nice. Having a mutant deal with prejudice certainly isn’t new, but I guess the cliché needs to be brought up once in a while to keep the idea alive. There’s barely any plot, but the creators only have eight pages to deal with so it’s understandable. It is nice to see a human character, particularly a religious one, not portrayed as a bigot for a change.


Anonymous said...

Captain Britain's transformation into Britannic was actually an editorial mandate. The Marvel UK line of books were getting hyped up majorly by the company (despite being, well, awful), and one of the upcoming titles was a new Captain Britain. This meant that Brian had to let go of the mantle and be amalgamated completely into the X-Universe sans the English/Alan Moore ties.

But it was, nonetheless, incredibly stupid.

JP said...

As a kid I always followed the Excalibur titles too, because despite the fact that they seemed unrelated to the other X-books during the early 90's, they always seemed to be X-Men oriented to me, at least in some way. You'd think that getting rid of Captain Britain and Meggan should've been on the agenda for this period, when Excalibur was being brought closer to the X-titles. Rachel and Cable could've gotten close and all of that could've really been taken somewhere interesting. Of course, when did Marvel ever make the right choices with its characters during this period? :)

I always hated re-naming Jean Grey as Phoenix. Having Jean not have a code name always seemed really cool and different to me, more realistic.

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