Excalibur, Vol 1 # 59 - 70
Roster at end of story arc: Nightcrawler, Meggan, Shadowcat, Phoenix, Micromax, Kylun, Feron
Returning or promoted team members: Phoenix, Kylun, and Micromax
Exited team members: Captain Britain (Missing, believed dead), Cerise (written out), Widget (deadish)
Excalibur, Vol 1 # 59 - 60: Wakanda Tales
Writer - Scott Lobdell
Pencils - Scott Kilins
This one's a two part filler issue with a few big name guest stars, written by my boy Scott Lobdell. I shouldn't call him my boy here though because this story didn't contribute any more to me liking him. For some filleriffic reason, some of the team (Cap, Meg, Kitty) finds themselves in Wakanda alongside the Black Panther, Captain America and War Machine. Some throwaway villain named Icon, who can change himself and others into a wood or something, threatens Wakanda. The heroes team up and defeat him, of course.
The rest of the team isn't much more interesting as Kurt and Cerise end up taking on a geriatric villain named The Knight Errand, which is somehow even more forgettable than Icon. Nightcrawler and Cerise make out, of course.
There is an additional reason why these two issues annoy me. These are two of the very random Excalibur comics I owned as kid. I DEFINITELY remember reading these and being hella confused. In fact, this was my first exposure to Meggan and Cap. That was pretty confusing because Meggan spent the entire issue shapeshifted into a Wakandan and Brian masqueraded as Tarzan with mud on his face to hide his true appearance. I think I had back luck with picking up random comics and them not being representative of the larger comic run.
Excalibur, Vol 1 # 61 - 65: Warpies
Writer - Alan Davis
Pencils - Alan Davis
The first part of this story catches us up with Rachel in space. Rachel gets in a battle with Gallactus, as the two of them have always had a bit of a connection. There is a cool fight scene between these two that is done entirely with images, which I appreciate since that was hard to find in the 90's. This is where the first bombshell is dropped, with Rachel learning that it's hypocritical for her to challenge his planet eating because the Phoenix Force gets it's energy from feasting on unborn life.
Rachel wallows for a while and eventually comes face to face with Death. This prompts her life to flash before her eyes, which I loved seeing. At this point, we learn that the Phoenix Force had become completely aware and Rachel was technically hibernating. Eventually the Phoenix makes the choice to give up it's sentience, but before doing so cures Rachel of all her ailments. This means that not only is she alive (she was believed to be dead at one point), but her memories are fully restored after being tampered with by time travel, Mojo, spiral, etc. She re-joins the team at the end of this story arc in a more pure form, sporting the Dark Phoenix outfit as her new typical outfit.
Brian and Meggan
Brian is acting obsessive about finding Sat-Yr-9 (since learning that she killed Courtney and Alysande), however this doesn't stop him from pledging his love to Meggan and proposing. I respect Davis trying to repair the Brian/Meggan relationship, but I still find myself struggling to root for them after seeing how terribly he treated her for so long (two timing with Courtney, talking down to her, clearly preferring Hot Meggan to bat Meggan). At one point Meggan uses her special sight to see his powers leave, but they do come back.
The main story (which is not a very strong one) ropes the rest of the team into it's story. Over time, Micromax (who is displayed as a hot radio DJ), Brian and Meggan, Allister, Kylun (who's kidnapped right before talking to his parents), Kitty, Kurt, and Cerise are all kidnapped by Nigel Orpington-Smythe and his band of Warpies and taken to Cloud Nine. Warpies are basically highly deformed metahumans (specifically not mutants, however they remind me of Morlocks) which were first seen in the solo Captain Britain comic. To make a long story short (too long, really), the team is going back and forth about whether they should trust Smythe, and ultimately they shouldn't. A lot of time is spent with them, but it culminates with half of the Warpies fighting with the team against the other half. In the end it's over and the heroes win (of course). We learn that the Warpies had been dying because they get their powers from the Mystical Matrix, which is disappearing as Otherworld loses its connective power as well.
Nightcrawler and Cerise confessed their love for each other. Roma steps in to fix Cap after the Warpies had beaten him to a pulp. Nightcrawler gets a new costume. Kitty and Feron spend a lot of time arguing. He seems like a stuck up prick, so it's great to see classic Kitty put him in his place, but I'm really worried these two will end up seeing each other in a different light and become romantically involved. Please, please don't go this route.
Excalibur, Vol 1 # 66 - 67: Days of Future Past, Revisited
Writer - Alan Davis
Pencils - Alan Davis, Mark Farmer
Throughout the last story arc, Widget kept showing up and mumbling about Rachel, setting up this story. Rachel and the full team go into the future (Days of Future Past environment) to put things to rest for good, however I doubt this is the last we'll see of this timeline.
If you recall, we had previously learned that future Kate Pryde spoke to the Phoenix Force and asked it to send Rachel's body into the past. We learn here that immediately after this moment, future Kate was captured by the Sentinels and tortured to find Rachel. It turns out that this future technology sent future Kate's consciousness into the past, which took on the shape of Widget! This seems like a thin retcon and a pretty big bombshell, but there you have it. Widget has been Kitty all along. Not sure how I feel about that. This means that Widget is also written out of the series, which I don't like. I remember being mesmerized by the Widget super hero card when I was younger so I had been excited to see more of him as a character, but we never really got that.
This marks the end of Alan Davis on the series.
Excalibur, Vol 1 # 68 - 70: Peace, Cerise
Plot - Scott Lobdell
Script - Dan Blott
Pencils - Steve Buccellato
Lobdell fills in for a 3 story arc focused on Cerise and I'll be direct...I'm pissy. I really liked Cerise and it was great to learn all about her here. We learn that she was a member of the Shi'ar military and after believing for a while that she was a genocidal murderer, we learn that actually she refused to destroy a planet and let her ship-mates die to save the planet. At the end, Cerise agrees to serve Lilandra as her servant in place of a prison sentence. There are a number of things that rub me the wrong way about this story.
First, this gave me a bit of a Dark Phoenix vibe. Cerise saved an entire planet, but she let her entire ship blow up. To take that further, she then immediately hung out with Excalibur and tried to hide from it until this story. So she's still a murderer and I guess a coward? I would actually be more ok with this if she was around for a while after this to let us marinate in this news and see how it impacted her and the team.
Second, Lilandra was being a total bitch. She's acting kind of evil now. She did redeem herself a bit at the end by listening to Cerise and letting her live, but this is the second time we've see Lilandra and she seems a bit despotic.
Third, Cerise is legit written out here. What the hell!? Why? I've read the letters columns and fans seemed to love her and Kylun. Was this just like a Lobdell thing? Does he plan on bringing Amanda Sefton back or something (Nightcrawler's old girlfriend)? This is disappointing and I looked her up and it looks like she legit never shows up again except for a few random comics. Dumb.
My Connections and Creators
#67 is Alan Davis's last issue and it marks the end of an era. Chris Claremont and Alan Davis came in together to launch this series, and while Davis gave the series it's own feel, this is the end of the original creative team having anything to do with the title.
I will truly miss the Davis art. After experiencing this journey the last year and a half (reading every X-Men related book since the 60's), I feel like there is a very noticeable "pre-image" and "post image" art style. The image impact was from guys like Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, and Rob Leifeld changing the way art was done. Everything looked pretty similar (and boring) before those guys came on the scene, and now after those guys left, people like Brandon Peterson and Art Thibert are kind of like image style clones. Alan Davis has always been the exception. His art was always unique, strong, and detailed even before the Image guys cam on the scene. It has it's own authentic flavor which will be impossible for any other artist to copy. I can truly respect this uniqueness.
I also have deep respect for Alan Davis, in my opinion, saving the series. If you've been following my Excalibur posts, you know that my opinion of this series has had a lot of ups and downs. I was UBER excited to get into it because I had really never read it before, I love Kitty and Kurt, and I was excited to learn more about Cap and Meggan. Claremont intentionally wanted the series to light and whimsical, which I just wasn't digging. In fact, it seemed to really lack purpose. Since I had never read Excalibur before, I really didn't know if it would ever get better and I considered abandoning it. Alan Davis came back for the Necrom story and completely righted the ship. He went back to almost every dangling point thread and made an effort to close it out. But not only did he close the loop on plotlines, he found ways to use new stories to give old ones more meaning. Rachel's flip flopping was all part of her destiny. Brian's oafness was all part of a godly plan to put him into the right place at the right time. Kurt officially grows into the real team lead. Even Rachel and Widget are given proper treatment, as evidenced in the issues covered here. Davis had the following to say about his departure from the comic:
"I think that broke my stride (the series going bi-monthly over the summer) and when I returned to the book, I had decided to finish up the long story I had always planned. I always intended to move on as soon as that was complete, anyway. I wanted to create something from scratch that would be free from the entanglement of other developing continuities."
For the better part of the last year, I thought the Marvel Database was broken because whenever I tried to look up Widget, it brought me to Kate Pryde. Lol, I get it now. This is a bit trippy and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet...Something I do know how I feel about, is Cerise leaving (even though that was done by Lobdell). I really liked Cerise and was invested in her and Kurt's growing relationship. It looks like she is legit written out of not only this comic, but the Marvel Universe and that makes me a bit sad. We also get a lot more Rachel content and I can tell we're gearing up for her exit. With so many characters leaving (Widget, Cerise, Rachel), I'm not sure if recent recruits like Feron and Micromax will be able to replace the character weight, but we'll see!
My Rating - 8/10
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