Excalibur # 104 - 114, Colossus # 1, Kitty Pryde: Agent of SHIELD # 1 - 3
Excalibur # 104 - 105: Are you a real boy?
Writer - John Arcudi (104), James Felder (104), Keith Giffen (105)
Pencils - Bryan Hitch
These two issues make up a brief interlude between the end of the Warren Ellis run and the beginning of the Ben Raab run.
These two issues focus primarily on Douglock, both his own development as well as those around him. Douglock (DL) is having bad dreams and is starting to question his pace in the world. Kitty is convinced that DL is actually Doug Ramsey and so she decides to take him and Rahne to the states to visit his grave. 104 ends with a shocking image as Kitty phases into the ground and discovers a decomposing Doug Ramsey.
For whatever reason, Kitty is convinced that DL is really Doug. She decides to take him to a bunch of places that should remind him of who he is. They go to a pizza place where Kitty tries to make him eat sausage, but it was Doug who liked sausage and DL does not. There is a nice nod the current reality here where Kitty asks for a server who she knew back when she lived at the mansion, but she realizes that he no longer works there. It's a nice nod to the fact that things are just not as she remembers. Rahne is surprisingly cool about all this and seems to accept that DL is not Doug.
To be honest, I feel like there are few things wrong with this story. While it's true that Kitty and Doug were very close, it's actually Rahne who was convinced DL was Doug. This is really out of left field for Kitty as she didn't have as big of a reaction upon meeting DL as Rahne did.
Meanwhile, Piotr is out in the rain, also questioning his place in the world. We'll get a healthy dose of Colossus throughout this arc, so I'll come back to him shortly.
The B plot of these two issues focuses on Dani leading a mission for the MLF as they attempt to steal the Xavier Protocols.
It's made quite clear at this point that Dani is not actually evil and she's working undercover for SHIELD. While I love Dani and am pumped that she's about to re-join X-Force (I think), these scenes with her are a little heavy handed at how clear they are making it that Dani isn't bad, when there was very little of that the last few years. Ultimately, Moira locks the MLF outside of the lab with a force field and Dani calls off the opp.
It's also worth mentioning that they have Forearm swearing a lot which is not in character for him. He's been shown recently as being the only other sympathetic member of the team and a friend to Dani, so to show him as this hot head who's constantly cursing seems like a misfire to me.
Excalibur # 106: Colossus' old drinking buddies
Writer - Ben Raab
Pencils - Randy Green
Ben Raab is starting here and it seems like he is starting with a filler issue to give him time to get fully in place. However, he does seem to want to put more focus on Colossus so starting off with a big character issue for him is indicative of the later run.
We start by seeing Piotr painting a portrait of Meggan as a wedding gift. Good to see him painting again, and this sets up a new bond between Colossus and Meggan, which makes sense since Colossus has no one to buddy up with and Meggan is about to lose Brian (spoiler!)
Cargyl, of the Acolytes, is reaching out to Piotr to asking him to join them as they are about to help Exodus raise Avalon once more. The entire team (minus Brian and Meggan...and Daytripper) accompany Colossus as he heads to Australia to confront the Acolytes. Raab actually does a nice job here because I can feel that he is nervous and he makes clear that he regrets this time of his life.
Piotr goes in alone and has a conversation with Scanner and Unscione. Scanner was always someone sympathetic to Piotr, but he failes to convince the two of them to abandon Exodus. He tells that them he will be going his separate ways and now he is given a form of closure with the Acolytes.
Meanwhile, Moira is trying desperately to e-mail Charles Xavier.
Excalibur # 107 - 110: The Crimson Dawn
Writer - Ben Raab
Pencils - Salvador Larocca
Meggan and Brian are in London, looking for an engagement ring for Meggan. There is a very cool scene where a human is giving Brian a hard time for being a superhero after London was attacked during the London Hellfire Club arc. You can see Brian trying to ignore it, but he just can't. He is the epitome of a reluctant hero and it is driving him nuts that the humans can't appreciate him for the little hero-ing he has done.
Just as Brian is about to give the ring to Meggan, Spiral shows up with the mark of the crimson dawn and warns than an attack is imminent. And she's right, because then the Dragon of the Crimson Dawn, including A'yin, Ra'al, and Barak, begin fighting Brian in downtown London. It turns out that Brian is to be avatar of the Crimson Dawn, a power source that will create a bridge between Earth and the Crimson Dawn universe.
Meanwhile, Kurt is spending multiple days trying to create his own version of Cerebro so that he can continue Xavier's work of helping new mutants. It seems as though this dream will stay unrealized because the machine keeps blowing up in his face. Amanda Sefton shows up and says that she hasn't been herself lately, leaving without saying goodbye to Kurt. I can't recall if the audience knows what's really going on here at this point or if I read this somewhere as a spoiler, but Amanda is really Margoli in disguise.
At this point, the rest of Excalibur (minus Amanda) is met by Sprial, who engages in a fun little sword fight with Kurt. She then offers herself as an ally and the team travels to Hong Kong to save Brian and help Meggan.
Brian is being tortured (in rainbow colors) as they try to force him to help them merge the two realms. Meanwhile, a long dead member of the Crimson Dawn , Xiandu, appears to Meggan and offers aide. He explains that they were 4 warriors from ancient China who accepted mystical powers and murdered Xiandu for not being as big of a zealot as they were.
In the end, Excalibur (with help from Spiral) fights and defeats the Crimson Dawn warriors. Brian begins absorbing the powers, but it's killing him without Meggan's help (something about equaling out the forces or something). In the end, Meggan helps him control the power, but it leaves Brian powerless.
Even though they were about to get married, Brian is left powerless and he decides to leave the Excalibur. I really don't understand why he doesn't let Meggan doesn't just go with him, but she doesn't and will spend the next few issues sad that she's not with Brian.
Excalibur # 111 - 114, Colossus # 1: Separate Missions
Writer - Ben Raab
Pencils - Rob Stotz (111), Pete Woods (112 - 114), Brian Hitch (Col # 1)
These 4 issues take place after Brian leaves the team and the remaining members break into smaller groups for their own mini arcs. Kurt and Pete Wisdom head to Germany, Meggan and Piotr go off to Paris together, and Kitty, Rahne, and Douglock stick around Muir Island.
Kurt and Pete in Germany
Rory Campbell shows up at Muir, now officially working for Sebastian Shaw. I'm not entirely sure what happened to him working with Alistair and the Weird Happenings Organization. Kurt has Pete look into Rory as he's getting concerned about his erratic behavior since losing his leg, the fact that he's now working for a villain, and of course the fact that he may one day turn into Ahab.
Pete gets a video message from his friend Jardine asking for help, and then he gets shot at the end of the video! It's actually pretty disturbing, which means they did a good job characterizing this. So with Pete wanting to check out what was happening with Jardine and Kurt wanting to talk to his (and Amanda's) mom (Margali) to see if she knows where Amanda went, they both head to Germany. He is not able to find his mom and he gets no leads on Amanda.
Pete ends up captured and chained up by an old flame name Sari. She's very bitter towards Pete and plans to kill him for betraying her. She calls Kitty a "pimple-faced colonist," which makes me wonder if "colonist" is a typical slur for that Brits call Americans. Interesting. Sari reveals that Black Air is going after the full Excalibur team, right before Pete breaks out and kills her.
Colossus and Meggan
Piort checks on Meggan in the rain and consoles her while she's sad.
The two of them agree to get out of dodge together and head to a theme park in Paris. While on their way, their plane is blown up by Black Air (we won't find out it was them until later). As the plane comes crashing down (no, not an Alanis Morissette song), Meggan's powers are blocked and Colossus has to do his best to shield Meggan from the crash.
These two are saved by Bova and Sir Ram (later led by Lord Gator and Lady Ursula), two humanoid animals in service to the High Evolutionary. We learn that he has Luna (Quicksilver and Crystal's daughter) held captive at Wundagore, as he claims to be protecting her from Exodus. This is lead in to another story, which I don't plan on covering.
Colossus and Meggan are captured by Arcade on their way to Paris, which is covered in the Colossus one shot. Anyone who knows me, knows that when I see Arcade, I immediately stop reading and start skimming. It's not so much that I hate Arcade (which I kind of do), but seeing Arcade triggers the knowledge that the following story will not be important towards the overall plot and will follow the same old goofy formula.
I was immediately concerned about continuity errors because Arcade was no longer scarred and Miss Locke was supposed to be dead. We end up finding out that Miss Locke is just a robot, so that was answered, but nothing explained about his face. Or maybe there was and I missed it since I was only skimming. I did stop skimming at one point because the Proletariat showed up and I was wondering if Colossus was brainwashed again, but nah. This was just a robot that Colossus fought.
Rahne, Douglock, and Kitty
While at a dinner, Kitty gets briefly possesed by Ogun. Ogun is Wolverine's former master who tried to brainwash Kitty during her limited series, covered in 27: UXM 189 - 192 (Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Kulan Gath. This won't have any relevance until the Agent of Shield mini series.
Later we find Kitty in the sewers looking for Lockheed.
She doesn't find him because we see that he's being held by a bunch of giggling smiley faces...don't ask.
Douglock finds Kitty in the sewers and asks for relationship advice. He ends up realizing that he has feelings for Rahne. As she was about to leave for a reunion with the other New Mutants (referring to New Mutants: Truth or Death which I'll cover in the future.) As they said goodbye, they end up kissing! After talking to Kitty, Douglock realizes that he's in love and runs off to catch up to Rahne.
Kitty Pryde: Agent of Shield # 1 - 3
Writer - Larry Hama
Pencils - Jesus Redondo
This isn't a great miniseries, so I'll be brief. Kitty finds out that a SHIELD helicarrier has been taken over by Ogun and only Kitty can unlock it. Kitty and a young genius named Rigby spend a lot of time together. Kitty even realizes she might like him and talks about how she's been having issues with Pete lately. Eventually Wolverine is lured to the helicarrier by Ogun, of course. Kitty, Rigby, and Wolverine are able to defeat Ogun and restore control of the Helicarrier back to SHIELD.
My Connections and Creators
So the era of Ben Raab begins. I've heard that this is a bad arc and was a primary cause of the run to be cancelled (almost there as #125 is the last one), however I actually like it. He seems to be slowing down and focusing more on characterization, which I appreciate. He seems to have a pretty good handle on continuity as he makes some deep pulls with the Proletariat showing up, and Ogun re-surfacing. However, he seems like he has missed a few beats with Arcade missing his scars and Black Air re-surfacing.
I'm not sure if he didn't know that Black Air was completely destroyed in the Ellis era or if he didn't care and just decided to bring them back. Either way, this was a little disappointing to me as that villainous organization had a nice little arc and ended in a satisfying way. I'm sure there are other things Raab could have done as opposed to bringing them back.
I'm not sure who the regular artist is going to be but Randy Green's art in 106 is terrible.
Raab seems to be focusing more on Colossus than anyone else. I've never really been too interested in Colossus, but after he had his evil heel turn, I'm interested to learn more about where his head is at. Plus, Ellis didn't seem too interested in the character, so it seemed kind of pointless to have him around, therefore I appreciate this focus.
Raab has paired Meggan and Colossus off to start off this arc. I would almost suspect that there is going to be some sort of romantic feelings between these two, except that we did that exact story with Kurt at the beginning of the Excalibur run. I really hope they don't go here again because we spent a lot of time trying to be shown that Brian isn't that bad and these two are meant for each other. If Raab goes here, it will be a mistake. Just let them get married.
Now...to be clear...I actually think these two (Brian and Meggan) are a very problematic couple. First, Brian is shown to be a middle aged adult and Meggan is at best a teenager, with the emotional maturity of someone younger. So the age difference is a problem.
Then, he treats her terribly. I know they've done a little to try to make this better, but I think he went too far. He practically cheated on her with Courtney Ross and was downright verbally abusive in their early days. She's always been a bit too naive and forgiving:
Also, it was very clear that Brian is shallow. He wasn't interested in her when she was in her original form, but once she became beautiful, he was all about her. Meggan even makes a quote at one point saying:
“Brian and I have waited so long to consecrate our relationship.”
YEA RIGHT! Remember that giant heart shaped bed from their apartment!? Trust me, they have consecrated their relationship all right!
Pete's finger knives display differently. Before it always looked like he was shooting energy out of his fingers, but not it looks like his fingers are actually extending into hot knives. Other than than, his character is about the same, which is a feat considering many people consider PW to be a stand in for Ellis himself.
I'm happy that there is a lot going on with Kitty, however it isn't terribly interesting. Lockheed is back and Raab seems to be continuing the new twist that he can talk. Kitty is still with Pete, but her SHIELD miniseries shows us that she might be having doubts. I mean, she's obviously too good for him.