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Excalibur #5 (1989, February)

December 6, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list for tomorrow is up, and it’s my 1000th post. Which feels pretty crazy. But now, by Claremont, Davis, Neary, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Send In the Clowns!”

Send In the Clowns!

A quiet, introspective issue.

Courtney is dropped down a chute, where she’s changed into an Alice In Wonderland dress, and lands where Excalibur and the Crazy Gang are standing around. Phoenix/Executioner starts going after Courtney, Brian (in Tweedle-Dope’s body) stops her, and Tweedle-Dope in Brian’s body has a unique fighting style.

Excalibur #5

I’m still not sure they’ve actually swapped.

Up in his control booth, Arcade is bored, so Kitty decides to make things more exciting for him, by pulling him through his own control panel, and leaving Lockheed behind to prevent Locke and Chambers from repairing it. In Murderworld, Kitty screwing up the computer means everything starts going crazy, shifting around. Courtney is still trying to escape the Executioner. And Kitty drops off Arcade.

Excalibur #5

While being wonderfully snarky.

The Knave’s body – which contains Meggan’s mind – gets dropped on the Executioner, and then Kurt’s body, with the Jester’s mind, grabs Courtney. Meanwhile, Kitty is playing with Murderworld’s systems, installing a program she designed with Doug that gives her control of Murderworld. And also continues to have a lot of fun.

Excalibur #5

The moment Kitty contemplated opening her own Murderworld.

The Jester has Courtney strapped to a classic “conveyor belt with a saw” deathtrap. Hey, nice taste, Jester! Those things are great! Kurt, in the Jester’s body, arrives for a swordfight to save the fair maiden! Arcade cuts her free, and asks for a reward. She obliges.

Excalibur #5

And learns punching should be left to professionals.

She trips on the marbles and ends up on a rocket. Meanwhile, Chambers tries to deal with Lockheed.

Excalibur #5

Don’t screw with Lockheed.

Locke tries, instead, seduction. Which . . . how? He’s a dragon. How is a human seducing him supposed to work? Anyway, back to Courtney, who muses she used to read “Dan Dare” but never expected to ride his ship. A run-in with Tweedle-Dope drops her down another hole, and onto a stage. The audience is filled with pies. Like, actual, talking pies, with arms and legs and faces. Courtney is apparently supposed to perform with Cats Laughing, a real band whose members include some notable sci-fi authors. Claremont was a big fan of them. So why are they in Murderworld, performing for a bunch of pies? Because this is Excalibur. (If you want a real explanation, I imagine it’s because this is all what Doug programmed. He knew Kitty loved Cats Laughing, so he tossed them in. With sentient pies. Because Doug clearly had an odd sense of humour.)

All the others start getting dropped down into the pies. And keep fighting. Among a bunch of talking pies.

Excalibur #5

. . . OK.

Brian hands Courtney a gizmo, and Kitty guesses it’s meant to reverse the mind swaps. Kitty can’t touch the device because she’s phased, so Courtney has to save the day. Also, Kitty and Courtney immediately like each other.

Excalibur #5

This panel takes a very different tone when you remember a woman who looks like Courtney is going to seduce Kitty.

Courtney starts with Meggan, and it’s successful, and Meggan flattens the Knave. She then switches Brian and Kurt back to normal, and Tweedle-Dope passes out, much to Brian’s disappointment. The machine doesn’t work on Rachel, so Kitty instead goes inside her. Subtext! Rachel returns to normal and everyone is happy, aside from being covered in pie.

Outside, Kitty yells at Lockheed for letting Locke and Chambers go. Which again raises the question of how that worked? Lockheed is apparently the dragon equivalent of a furry. Arcade is being led off by the cops, and gives a pretty good defence of himself.

Excalibur #5

He’s got a point.

A few nights later, Courtney actually does admit it was fun, and has given her a new outlook on life. Just in time for Sat-YR-9 to appear. Kurt and Brian are having drinks at a pub, talking about Brian and Meggan and Courtney. And it’s actually really interesting stuff.

Excalibur #5

Brian is a good man making bad decisions.

I think that’s actually key, here. Yes, Brian is having an affair with “Courtney” – the story ends with him going to Courtney’s apartment and making out with her, not noticing a charred patch on the carpet, or the dagger tattoo on her leg (Sat-YR-9 killed Courtney and is now posing as her, something which takes a long time to be resolved) – and that’s wrong of him. But he’s still presented sympathetically. He feels pressured by how devoted Meggan is to him. And honestly, that’s fair. She is too devoted to him. It’s an unhealthy relationship. Meggan just doesn’t have enough life experience for their relationship to be equal. Brian is her first love, and most of what she knows about love, and life, she learned from TV. So it’s not healthy, and Brian knows it, but he loves her and doesn’t really want to lose her by letting her explore life with someone else. But at the same time, he also feels a need for someone more mature.

The natural reaction of most people, when they cheat, is to hate them. I think it’s important to understand why they did it. In Brian’s case, I think it’s hard to truly hate him for it.

Anyway, this is a great issue! It’s fun and crazy and ridiculous and just great. There’s so much weird shit going on. And then there’s talking pies at a Cats Laughing concert, because this is Excalibur. There’s still some nice character stuff, even during the main story. Kitty thinking about Doug was nice. A reminder that she misses him. It even serves as a reminder of how weird Doug’s sense of humour could be, at times. Kitty just kinda steals the issue in general, really, toying with Arcade and all. It takes a lot to upstage Arcade, and Kitty makes it look easy. Courtney’s great, too, though. She’s a bit of a Damsel-in-Distress, but she’s also trying to help herself, and she is the one who ultimately saves the others. Plus, she’s just clever about it.

The art is Davis, Neary and Oliver. So, you know. It’s great. Davis always did weird and fun really well.

So, great issue.

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