Excalibur Special Edition
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Something big today! Tuesday, I recapped an issue of X-Factor. So today, normally, would be Alpha Flight. But sometimes the world is a good place, so I get a treat. Excalibur, you guys! It’s Excalibur! By Claremont, Davis, Neary, Farmer, Oliver and Orzechowski, “The Sword Is Drawn.”
Kitty’s in bed (with a poster of The Once And Future King above her bed), trying to fall asleep, but kept awake by her grief. She comes under attack from people doing her hair and make-up. Then she’s shoved onto a sound-stage, in costume, where the other X-Men are lounging around, mostly looking very not-them. There’s a hint of what’s going on in the form of a logo of Mojo’s New World Pix. It’s really cool, seeing how different they are. Storm is smoking a cigarette out of one of those long-stem cigarette holders. Wolverine is reading while getting a manicure. Colossus is smoking a cigar while playing poker. And Psylocke . . . has no eyes. Because that’s not unsettling. Yeesh. Kitty gets knocked over, and she sees Rachel, in red spandex covered in spikes.
So can I talk about her costume for a minute? I kinda want to object to it. “It’s too sexualized! It’s too cheesy!” But you know what? Screw it, I like this costume. I probably shouldn’t. It’s a ridiculous costume. But I like it. Because, yeah, it is damned sexy. But I think the reason it works in Excalibur is because Kitty and Meggan don’t wear costumes that have a focus on being sexy. Rachel’s sexy costume stands out because it’s unique in the book, so it’s OK. Plus, you know, I do like sexy. As for the spikes? Well, I like punk looks, too. So yes, the spikes are cheesy. But screw it, I like those, too. Even if they do mean she can’t hug someone without sending them to a hospital.
Anyway, Xavier yells at Rachel for abandoning the team when they needed her, and she’s about to bust free, but all the X-Men grab chains and start pulling at her, so Kitty phases her free of the chains and she escapes. But Kitty’s left behind with the X-Men. Whose skin is shed to reveal Warwolves. Then Kitty wakes up, back on Muir Isle. She pops out of her room just in time to see a Phoenix effect in the sunrise. Mysterious! She heads back inside, and starts picking things up from the floor. Photos of Xavier and the X-Men. Which gets her bawling again.
Which is a good time to cut to Meggan, swimming with dolphins. Her appearance has actually shifted to be dolphin-like. She still looks pretty. She sees the Phoenix effect in the sunrise, but thinks nothing of it, except to remember she should head back to the lighthouse she shares with Brian Braddock. Captain Britain. The living room is a mess, with chairs and tables smashed and overturned and pictures of Betsy scattered around. And the television is reporting on the deaths of the X-Men. Which included Betsy. Psylocke, who is also Captain Britain’s twin sister. Brian’s reacting by getting completely wasted. Which turns him into a complete asshole.
It’s shocking to see, in these comics, just how big a jerk Brian is. It’s not the sort of thing you saw very often in superhero comics. They’re mostly paragons of virtue, but Brian is an absolute jerk with some massive problems. His treatment of Meggan is especially bad given what a complete and total sweetheart she is. She is just the nicest person ever. After he yells at her, she goes up to the bedroom and starts to feel sorry for herself for a moment, but then immediately tells herself Brian’s just in pain, and she wants to help him through it. She is so nice! So she goes to ask someone for advice, leaving a note:
Back on Muir, Nightcrawler is working out in the gym, swashbuckling against a horde of rapier-wielding robots. Which is, uh . . . Moira has robots that know how to swordfight. Why? Why would a genetics lab have swordfighting robots? And apparently, they’re not really programmed to stop short of killing, so he almost gets killed by the swordfighting robots. Kitty saves him, then yells at him. OK, so he did turn off the safety interlocks, so I guess ordinarily the robots probably are programmed not to kill. Still . . . that doesn’t really explain why a genetics lab has swordfighting robots.
But no time for that, because there’s feels to get to! Kurt and Kitty talk about their grief over the X-Men dying. And Kurt mentions a dream. The same one Kitty had. They had back to the cabin they’re living in, and there’s a kn ock on the door. It’s Gatecrasher! Of Technet! Which also makes a good time for Meggan to arrive. And call Gatecrasher a hippopotamus. And on the one hand, fat-shaming isn’t nice Meggan, you can be better than that. On the other hand, it’s hilarious seeing Meggan angry. Gatecrasher is there with a message from Opal Luna Saturnyne, Omniversal Majestrix. Who Meggan hates.
I love Kitty’s reaction, too. It amuses me when she gets jealous of how hot other women are. Saturnyne wants Rachel apprehended, which makes Kitty angry. So Gatecrasher brings in Technet. And can I just say that Technet is amazing?
Kitty and Meggan are quickly captured, but Kurt manages to teleport away. Which is a good time to cut to Rachel! Who drops in on a party. Specifically, she lands ass-first on the cake. Which is a shame, because it looks like it was a nice cake. The party crowd is a bunch of weird people. A Mad Hatter, a chainsaw-wielding giant rat, a demon-lady, a Frankenstein Monster. A chubby guy dressed up like Thor. They all grab the chains still attached to her, and hold her long enough for Warwolves to pop in. She fights them and manages to escape out into the London streets. She runs into the subway, and one of the Warwolves gets fried after landing on the third rail.
At the lighthouse, Brian is passed out, so Kurt tosses him in the water to wake him up and sober him up. Kurt explains the situation, and Brian agrees to help, but isn’t particularly emotional about it. He’s still wallowing in grief and doesn’t see the point in any of it. Nightcrawler yells at him that as long as he’s alive, he’ll keep fighting. Brian says Kurt doesn’t know what it’s like to die. Because, oh yeah, that was a thing. In Captain Britain’s old series, he died. A hero-hunting monster called the Fury straight-up killed him. Then he was brought back by Merlin. And he’s got some lingering trauma from that.
In London, Rachel is wondering about her next move, and sees a bookshop display about various books on the Arthurian legends. And then she gets caught by Technet. Who are then attacked by the Warwolves. One of Technet is quickly killed, and Gatecrasher stomps the Warwolf responsible. As ridiculous as she looks, Gatecrasher is actually pretty badass. Kurt shows up and gets one of the Warwolves to cut open the bodybags on the back of, uh, Bodybag, freeing the three prisoners. And Brian also arrives to help.
So now it’s a big, crazy melee and it’s great fun. Kitty becomes fat and happy, a Warwolf is shrunk down into a necklace, and it’s all sorts of craziness. With Excalibur obviously winning. Technet and the Warwolves are forced to flee. And a happy reunion between Kurt, Kitty and Rachel.
Another night, the five of them are gathered on a mountain, around a bonfire, sharing memories. Rachel says they should all stay together, as a team, fighting for Xavier’s dream. She talks about the Arthurians legends, and the idea that might should fight for right. And that the death of Arthur and destruction of the Round Table just turned them into legends.
This is so good. It’s a great issue. It’s fun, and it’s exciting, and it’s dramatic, and it’s just great. There’s a lot of strong emotional beats, particularly in Kitty, Kurt, Brian and Meggan all grieving for the X-Men. They’re powerful moments. So is Brian’s brief breakdown as he remembers his own death. I like that dying affected him, and that he’s still dealing with some PTSD from that. And I do also like that he’s allowed to be a mess of a person in a way heroes traditionally didn’t get to be.
Technet is always a delight when they appear. They are so wonderfully weird. They’ve got great designs, and a lot of weird powers. Like the one who shrinks people down, or the one who turns their bones to jelly, or the one who’s a big floating baby who grants wishes in weird ways. They’re just such fun characters. I wish we could get a mini series about them, honestly. As long as Alan Davis does it! Marvel needs to get Alan Davis to do a Technet mini, because it would be awesome.
There’s so much to love in this comic, and the best thing is that it means the actual Excalibur ongoing is about to start. That series was so good and I am so excited to get to actually start talking about. Because, guys, that series is a delight.