Excalibur, Volume 1: # 42 - 50 (Sep '91 - March '92)
42: Technet Attacks
Gatecrasher hatch a plan to eliminate Excalibur once and for all. However, it's quickly brought up that their mission is to capture Phoenix, not kill her and this is poorly planned.
Yes. A tiny, talking tweety bird popped out of an egg and exploded. Perhaps we're not completely done with the silly stuff.
The team was fine (Kitty phased them or something) and a fight breaks out between the two teams, of course.
A guy named Horatio Cringebottom shows up to inspect Widget, realizing that he is the cause of all the universe hopping that's been going on.
Saturnyne tells Technet that they no longer need to capture Phoenix and that they are exiled to Earth indefinitely. This really pisses off the team and Gatecrasher teleports way before there can be an all out mutiny.
Brian decides that the team needs to adopt them for the time being.
43: Brian vs. Kurt
Technet (or what's left of them) agrees to fix the lighthouse after blowing it up. Brian is slowing going mad from all the sounds and distractions.
So, umm Numbers (a non fighting member of Technet) is evidently banging the dragon living in their basement. They later have an army of half dragon, half Numbers babies. This has to be where the creators of Shrek got this idea, right!?
Brian has been getting more and more pissed at Nightcrawler hitting on Meggan and then he snaps on this day, after hearing Kurt call out her name while sleeping.
Kurt breaks his leg.
And so now the love triangle is resolved. Hooray! I like Kurt more, but you kind of new they wouldn't end up together.
Immediately after this moment, Brian is kidnapped by other Captain Britain looking characters.
# 44 - 46: Cap's Trial, Kylun's tale, Meg's past, and Kurt's capers
Issues 44 - 46 have 4 different stories playing out at once. I'll summarize them for you as one.
Buddy Cop, Meg and Rachel
Meg tells us a bit more about her past. This whole arc is centered on us learning more about her past (Good idea, Davis) More on her origin in my Captain Britain Crash Course.
Rachel is apparently able to will the Phoenix force to be dormant.
Rachel discovers a relic being kidnapped, however we don't know who is doing it at the moment (Spoiler, it's Necrom).
We meet Micromax, a mutant with the ability to adjust his mass, who is working for a British agency known as F.I.6.
We meet one of the families that helped to raise Meggan after she was discovered in a trailer. They get a lead on a fortune teller, who sends them to the woods.
We learn that the longer the Phoenix force is dormant, the more Rachel's memories are becoming unscrambled.
Meggan meets a member of the Neuri race, which helps her learn more about her past.
Meggan learns to see the spirit world.
Meggan learns of her true form.
Meggan decides to stay in the form that people know her as. Before dying, the Neuri explains that she is not meant to know her parents at this time. They seem to take that at face value and stop pushing for answers.
Nightcrawler: The N-Men
Allistair shows up looking for Rachel, but ends up taking Kitty with instead. Kitty will disappear for a while until these two set up our next story at a dig site.
Nightcrawler decides to transform the remaining members of Technet into his "N-Men" and use them on super hero missions.
Nightcrawler also runs into a mysterious theft (also by Necrom).
I love here that Nightcrawler is reflecting on his time with the X-Men serving more as comedic relief and thinking about how he's a leader now.
Here's the N-Men.
One of Necrom's lackeys attacks the N-Men and they are able to defeat him.
So here we meet Kylun, a warrior hero from another dimension. (Spoiler, he's actually Colin, the little boy we met in Issue #2, sent away by Widget, which you can read about here).
Kylun saves the warrior princess and his love Sa'tneen. Lol, how many different ways are they going to go about that name. This character is supposed to be Courtney Ross but she looks more like Kitty.
The two of them fight for freedom!
This is actually our first introduction to Necrom. He is shown as an evil sorcerer who is taking over the land.
As they are battling, Necrom kills Sa-tneen.
Kylun chases Necrom into a lighthouse looking place. Where does he end up?
Nightcrawler and Friends
Kylun ends up back on earth, charging through Kurt's bathroom door while he's brushing his teeth. Davis still trying Nightcrawler as sexy Nightcrawler.
Kylun's sword can only penetrate evil.
We learn the truth about Kylun.
It turns out that Necrom came to earth 3 months in the past where Kylun came only now.
A new creature shows up out of no where and starts fighting them.
Oh, here's the Shrek babies.
Cerise! We meet a new character!
lol, she wants to know what humans look like and Kurt tells her that actually she looks the most human.
This random group of traveler's agrees to take Technet/ the N-Men with them. They can finally leave earth. I think they are officially written out of the comic here.
Brian and Meggan show up, allowing us to continue forward with the team back together, plus Cerise and Kylun. However I left Cap's story for last.
So let me sum this up for you. Brian is part of the Captain Britain corps, whether he associated with them knowingly or not. This really reminds me of the Green Lantern corps, to be honest. Apparently he was brought here specifically for beating up Nightcrawler.
Linda McQuillan is another Captain Britain who made regular appearances in one of the original Captain Britain series. She is defending him.
He refuses to play along and is therefore sentenced to death. The other Caps start attacking him right away, until...
Saturnyne shows up and announces that Roma wants Brian to go free.
We learn that there is one lighthouse in every dimension. This kind of explains why random stuff pops up in the basement all the time.
So there you have it. A full retcon of the Excalibur storyline. And you know what? I'm down with it. I couldn't stand the less than serious, whimsy meandering of the series to date. If Davis wants to look back and tell us that everything happened for a reason and is committed to telling a tighter story moving forward, I'm here for it.
The old man is obviously Merlyn.
More retconning, that I'm fine with. Apparently Roma jinxed Brian to make him more oaflike, to push him to join Excalibur. I have not liked the Brian character so far, but I know I'm supposed to, so I'm ok with giving him a pass to try to do better in the future. It's not like this is Cyclops here and they are trying to make me feel better about him ditching his wife and kid. I can get past this.
Apparently Roma has been responsible for the full team getting together. Once again, I'm ok with this. We have a taken an incoherent comic book and made sense of everything that came before. I'm down with this.
Brian says "No! Stop making me a pawn, we live our own lives from now on."
Apparently this turns Saturnyne on.
#48 - 50: Necrom and all the pieces laid out.
We meet Feron, who is apparently the descendant of a long line of monks who are preparing to summon the Phoenix Force and battle the Anti-Phoenix. Unlike Widget and Micromax, I'm pretty sure Feron does officially join the team (He's been in the splash page I was use for my graphic since Day 1), so he gets a roster spot on my team graphic for now.
Pretty cool pinup here of the new team (minus Kitty) as they are on their way to see her and Allistaire.
Nightcrawler is officially leader. No questions about it. Kitty found a being trapped in a box hundreds of miles underground.
Rachel goes to meet the being underground and it turns out to be this powerful Anti-Phoenix character. The fact that Rachel had willed the Phoenix to be dormant is the only thing that saves her.
Feron calls for the Phoenix to fight, but he's pissed it's already claimed Rachel.
Look, it all makes sense! The Phoenix power, the lighthouse, everything. It's all be leading to this!
While the team was away, Widget gave himself a new look. This is pretty damn cool. I recall having a trading card with this iteration of him on it. I never knew anything about him, but I played with that card a lot regardless. Looking forward to seeing if he's considered a member of the fighting team or just an ancillary piece.
Necrom finds the Anti-Phoenix and sucks it's life force, making Necrom even more powerful.
Necrom starts going on a rampage killing humans and beginning his takeover of Earth.
All sorts of timey wimey things start happening as characters from alternate realities pop in and out. Necrom's actions are messing up the planet.
It turns out that Brian, being the supreme Captain Britain (this is why Roma let him go) is able to use the Lighthouse to funnel the powers of all the other Captain Britain's, which he will use to fight Necrom.
Merlyn, who was believed to be dead, reveals himself as being behind everything.
Feron and Kylun run off to face Necrom, which was a poor choice in retrospect.
Micromax shows up and flattens Necrom. Once again, I'm not sure if he officially joins the team or will just be a recurring Ally. I have him in the Ally column for now.
While the new team is fighting Necrom, the original team fulfill their destiny.
Brian is huge by now and Meggan reverts to her true form.
Kitty phases the entire team into one being (I doubt it should work this way), and Cap goes off to fight as an even more powerful member.
So there you have it. A long backstory behind Feron, Necrom, and Merlyn.
Merlyn is a devious bastard, apparently.
Eventually, Rachel takes on Feron 1 on 1 (I'm not sure of the point of the combined Cap character if it was always going to end like this).
They battle in the heavens and eventually are transported to Otherworld.
Rachel decides she has no choice but to give in and let him absorb her.
But, in typical villain mode, he can't handle the power as well as Rachel could and it makes him explode. Conflict over. This was a really great, fun arc, but I actually hope we see Necrom again because he was set up as this overarching villain, the Big Bad, and he was pretty quickly dispatched. On the other hand, there is rarely any finality in comics and they are trying to tell us that this was actually 50 issues in the making, not just 8, so perhaps it's good to have a finite ending and move forward towards new challenges from here. (I just looked it up and it looks like he is good and dead. Cool).
Meggan siphons the energy from Brian and uses it to destroy the lighthouse, and the lighthouse on every dimension.
Davis is not messing around with creating a new Status Quo. The Lighthouse is gone and now the team will apparently exist out of Braddock Manor.
Brian, trust Roma, but we'll just have to wait and see if she's trustworthy.
My Connections and Creators
Alan Davis steps in here, providing both writing and pencils. In Tom DeFalco's Comic Creator's on X-Men, Alan Davis had the following to say when asked why he returned to Excalibur with Issue #42:
"I had always wanted to write a comic and Terry Kavanaugh offered me Excalibur. I think it's safe to say that at the time he was the only editor who had any confidence that I could do the job - more than I had in myself, in fact"
I started with the above quote because I need to come out and say that I am incredibly impressed with what Alan Davis has done with Excalibur. For those of you who have been following my blogs, you know that I was super excited to dive in, but then quickly felt disappointed and had even considered giving up on the series altogether. I am so happy that I decided to stick around. I had never read this deep into Excalibur before and I have to say that I think Davis did EXACTLY what was needed to bring this comic back from the brink.
The first impressive thing done by Davis was some MAJOR table clearing. I really feel like he probably read through the entire run and wrote out a list of all dangling plotlines, then set out to either wrap them up or make sense of them in a more refined context. In fact, he had the following to say about this point in a 1991 Marvel Age Interview:
“Editor Terry Kavanagh has asked me to wind up some of the loose ends and make resolutions to certain character developments.”
Most importantly, Davis goes big by explaining that Excalibur was purposely brought together as part of one large design by Merlyn to deal with the Necrom problem. While this is CLEARLY a retcon, I like it. The issue had been meandering and was too whimsy, Davis is cleaning shit up and allowing this to serve as a real, normal comic book moving forward (at least I hope, I haven't read past issue #50 which I'm covering here). Davis expanded on his strategy more in the 1991 Marvel Age Interview:
“It won’t be a case of tying them up in knots and forgetting they ever happened. We’re developing the loose ends to show that Excalibur was brought together for a reason. We’ll explain why certain things have gone that seem to be incongruous, and for no apparent reason. There’ll be sound reasons for everything that’s happened to date.”
“Basically, they’ve been pulled together for this one mammoth confrontation with an evil force, and the nefarious things that have happened to them over the last couple of years have been deliberately manipulated to prepare them for this event. It’s been like a training period.”
“I’ve worked out 9 issues and it’s all very, very complex. I’ve got myself a flow chart of where everyone’s going to be at different points, in different dimensions.”
The best way that Davis shows us that things will be different is by introducing new characters and concepts. We get a new Widget design and new characters Kylun and Cerise are introduced. I like them well enough so far and honestly, I'm just glad we're shaking up the team a bit here as the original 5 were getting a little boring. I'm not sure if Ferron or Micromax are officially joining the roster or not (that's why I have them listed as allies in my graphic), but they are both new characters who are at least a little interesting. We also get the introduction to Necrom, who is clearly the biggest villain this comic has had to date.
Davis does an excellent job of cleaning up past blunders by introducing new context to help us move past it. For instance, Brian's oafness is directly addressed and tossed up as being a curse to force him to work with a group. This is kind of a cop out, but I want to like Brian, so if this is what it takes, I'm willing to give this some rope. The lighthouse itself is given even more context, showing that there is a lighthouse on every world serving as a central nexus. Davis adds:
"There’s more mileage with Captain Britain and meggan, because there hasn’t been a lot done with them in the past. They’re still virtually new characters as far as the Marvel Universe is concerned."
Rachel's memory issues are both given a cause and an impactful story arc that moves her from the old cry baby Rachel and past the confused version (which is at least better than the crybaby) and hopefully into something brand new. We'll see!
The Brian/Meggan/Kurt love triangle is finally over. I always give writer's credit when they can take a love triangle (which I hate) and resolve it in a way that makes it seem as though it was always going to go this way. Once again, he doesn't just wrap up this plot point, he makes an entire story arc out of it with the two of the men fighting and then ending with a deep conversation and an admittance of fault by both parties. I find it really fascinating to examine Meggan's role in this affair. Is she really innocent of what is happening here or does she know exactly what Nightcrawler is feeling? I've always read it as her being completely pure and being sincerely naive, but I've seen others discuss that she has an active role in leading Kurt on. Regardless, it's resolved. Meggan will be with Brian. Brian is annoying, but Davis seems to be fixing that too, so I'll give this a chance to play out.
Going further into characters, Davis also adds:
“Nightcrawler’s development will come from his realization that he is the person that should be leading Excalibur. It begins with the fact that he has to lead the Technet.”
“Kitty’s a bit of a wildcard. She’s still fluctuating between being responsible and very irresponsible and childish.”
“The problem is that the humor element is very difficult to use when you’re trying to keep credibility and respect for the characters. You can’t make fools out of them and have them doing pratfalls. So you have to face the group with absurd situations and characters who can supply the comedy. It would be bellylaugh type humor; it will arise from the absurdity and basic insanity of what is going on around the characters.”
We also appear to get a lot of focus on Technet prior to sending them away. I'm guessing we won't be seeing them for quite some time. In addition, Davis wraps up the concept of Rachel being hunted, which was introduced in the first issue and had been unresolved until now. It's nice to have this point cleared up so we can move on. (Now that I think about it, the whole Courtney Ross/ Sat-Yr-9 thing is still floating out there. I wonder if that will continue or just be dropped?)
My Rating - 9/10
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