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Excalibur #12 (1989, September)

August 27, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Stay safe if you’re in Houston. Today, by Claremont, Davis, Neary, Oliver, and Orzechowski, “My Friends Call Me Billy the Kid!”

My Friends Call Me Billy the Kid!

It’s the Cross-Time Caper, everyone!

An armoured young guy on a horse rides through a lush forest, listening to a Walkman, complaining about having to go out on a quest. (Side note: Man, am I ever glad Guardians of the Galaxy exists, so I don’t have to explain what a Walkman is to any young people reading this. Thank you, James Gunn, for teaching the kids today what a Walkman is.) And then he almost gets hit by a train. He’s somewhat surprised, and then he spots Kitty, who was apparently thrown from the train, resting against (and partly inside) a tree. And dammit, I just had the kind of thought you’re not supposed to have when reading superhero comics. Look at how Kitty’s laying:

Excalibur #12

And also look how concerned Lockheed is, awww.

She’s partly resting against the tree, partly resting inside the tree. So, how does that work? Her body’s natural state is phased, so if she was unconscious, how did she not just fall straight into the ground? At the very least, how did she not end up phased entirely through the tree? Is her power somehow designed to prevent her from accidentally phasing through the ground? How does that work? Like I said, it’s not something we’re supposed to think about, because as soon as we do, we realize it makes no sense and it just distracts us. Regardless, the kid think Lockheed is menacing Kitty, so he attacks, and Lockheed knocks him right off his horse with a burst of flame.

Excalibur #12

Clearly a mighty warrior.

The others emerge from the train. Alistair’s feeling poorly, and Rachel’s exhausted as a result of keeping the train from being smeared across the landscape. Meggan notes that the and feels like home. But back to the fight!

Excalibur #12

Less of a fight, more of a trolling.

Back on Earth, in Brighton, it’s raining. Because it’s England. Nigel Frobisher goes from the rain to a beautiful sunny day. And gets attacked by Technet. And, uh, this is kinda weird:

Excalibur #12

This is uncomfortable to see.

It just feels very, very dated. I don’t think most creators would do something like this today. Standards of what’s acceptable have changed, and this could definitely be seen as a little trans-phobic now. Anyway, the fight over him spills right into Gatecrasher’s meeting with the local town council. Back in the other world, Billy wakes up to Kitty’s smiling face, and Lockheed’s growling.

Excalibur #12

So I guess Lockheed likes boxing.

Outside, Billy asks Kurt and Brian if Kitty has a boyfriend, and Brian says Lockheed eats them all. Brian is pretty sure he’s only joking about it, but I am amused that apparently he’s not entirely sure about it. Meggan is frolicking with some faeries. Inside, Alistair, Kitty and Rachel are examining Widget. Kitty can’t stop staring at Alistair. Alistair can’t stop staring at Rachel.

Excalibur #12

Rachel’s oblivious to all of it.

I’ve said before, I do like this love triangle. Kitty’s definitely too young for Alistair to be interested in her, so I’m glad he doesn’t show interest. But the fact that Rachel has no idea that he’s interested in her makes things a bit easier on Kitty. There’s less drama that way. Also, they’re all still very capable of being friends, despite the feelings flying around. Anyway, the plane is then attacked by a Shaitan, some sort of ancient demonic being. It escapes with Kitty, and brings her to a large fortress, dropping her in a jar, beside another jar holding another girl. The castle is owned by an ogre.

Excalibur #12

Given the shirt and leather, possibly a gay ogre?

The ogre boasts about the castle’s walls being unbreachable, right as the walls are breached. Much to the ogre’s irritation, it does have a door, after all. Rude, Brian! The ogre does sucker-punch him, though, so they’re even.

Excalibur #12

Limitless psionic power, and Rachel makes a fist.

It’s a good bit. Rachel gets grabbed by a water elemental, while Brian deals with the ogre.

Excalibur #12

Good lesson, Brian.

Considering how much Brian serves as kind of a butt-monkey in this series, it is nice to see him get a chance to prove that he’s also pretty awesome. Kurt teleports Billy into the castle tosave Kitty and the Princess, who immediately fawns over him. Rachel frees herself of the elemental rather explosively, leaving the castle barely standing.

Excalibur #12

Nice work, Brian.

With it all over, Meggan chastizes Kurt for taking a risk teleporting in with Billy (and also changes to look like Kurt), Brian is a little jealous at seeing it, and the princess jumps on Billy, but:

Excalibur #12

Even the ogre is stunned.

It’s the Cross-Time Caper! A 9-part story that lasted 12 issues. I suspect the Cross-Time Caper was probably a key inspiration for Exiles, years later. It’s mostly a really fun storyline, aside from a couple dud issues. But this issue’s great. It’s so much fun. As you can see by all the panels (and pages) I posted. There’s a lot of great comedy, but there’s also plenty of great characterization going on, and some drama under the surface. A lot of it is sub-plots already established, and they remain interesting and well-done. The scripting and art both convey a lot with a little. A few words of dialogue from Claremont, a facial expression from Davis, the right shade of colour from Oliver. It all works great to get across all sorts of drama in very little room.

And, of course, the scripting and art also nail the humour. Davis has a real talent for visual humour. Claremont can write some good jokes, but Davis’ lines definitely sell them. The Billy/Lockheed fight is clearly the highlight for that. But also the Brian/ogre fight. In both cases, Davis also gets to demonstrate his talent at drawing exciting fight scenes. Alan Davis is just a really good artist, guys. One of the best. He and Claremont always meshed together beautifully, and it always made for some great comics.

Cross-Time Caper!

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