Hey, my first series down that doesn't immediately branch into another series. Excalibur is the lesser of the early 90s X-team series. Probably because of this, it was the series I knew the least going into my present continuity quest, so I was pretty excited to finally delve into the series.

Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn

Now this series started out as what seemed like a catch all basin for Chris Claremont. He'd been trying for a long time to get his hands on Alan Moore's Captain Britain work, but Marvel was under a law suit by everyone's favorite practicing sorcerer and thus Captain Britain and his characters were off limit. Once this hold out finally broke, Claremont was in the midst of cycling out some characters from his Uncanny X-Men line. Alan Davis, who was Alan Moore's artist during the Captain Britain days, was apparently free so he and Claremont put together a team book that was a bit off kilter from what Claremont was doing in Uncanny. I would assume it was more along the lines of Moore's Captain Britain, but as I have never got a hold of those, I would no know.

So the book starts out with Captain Britain and Meggan trying to make a life together in the aftermath of whatever had happened in his own series printed over there in Britain. Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde had been critically injured in the Mutant Massacre over in the Uncanny X-Men comics and were attempting to heal on Muir Island. So both groups are over in the UK, they just need a catalyst for meeting up. Enter Rachel Summers, the outcast known as Phoenix. This is conjecture from the way I see people react to Rachel in the pages of Uncanny, but it seems like Rachel is a character Claremont loved, but his readers hated. So he does a fairly abrupt and unheroic jettison of Rachel from the pages of Uncanny but brings her over to Excalibur to further her story.

Meggan, Captain Britain, Phoenix, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler

Now, I should mention that Rachel is probably the chief reason I wanted to read Excalibur. She's a character that I liked in principal if not execution in the pages of Uncanny and wanted to read more of especially due to her abrupt departure from the major X-stories. So I was hoping Excalibur would finally deliver on the promise I saw. Unfortunately, I think Claremont reacted too strongly to her detractors and kinda washed out all her rougher edges with out explanation.

Anyhow, the series starts out well enough, but not especially enthralling. I think Rachel and Brian (Captain Britain; they actually had to retcon in a reason as to why he was a bit of a putz to begin with; which this was kinda dissappointing cause he was one of my arbitrary picks as a character I liked as a child; I need a longer paranthetical statement) get the weakest treatment and usage, while Kitty Pryde, Meggan, and Nightcrawler get fairly decent characterizations and development. The stories are a little zanier than your average comic at the time, but I actually wished they were a little more so, at times. It felt like there were some hindrances that were occuring that I couldn't quite figure out until well down the road when Alan Davis took over both the writing and the drawing. At this point I think the book took off and hit its best points. So it honestly would seem like Claremont was holding the book back.

They had some entertaining covers from time to time.

Which I should mention that Alan Davis' art was great. He was amazingly consistent and polished, expressive and emotional. It was funny to see Bryan Hitch come on the scene later and looking like an Alan Davis clone. I guess all those Brits have to stick together. So, in the end, I think this book should have been Alan Davis' book to do with as he pleased rather than Claremont trying to elbow his way into the world that Davis had really grown along with Alan Moore.

However, eventually even Alan Davis passes on the book and it dwindles on and on for a while. Probably the most notable point towards the end of the series was yet another Brit stepping in, by the name of Warren Ellis. I am not particularly familiar with Ellis' work, but many consider him one of the top comic writers out there right now. His Excalibur work wasn't exception, but it did stand out from the rest of the people around him. He also introduced one of the few characters to stick around out of Excalibur by the name of Peter Wisdom. Though, I get the feeling that Ellis viewed Peter Wisdom as himself...

Terrible drawing of Rahne...

Plenty of other things come from the later run of Excalibur, Rahne finally gets to spend some time with Moira, Colossus comes on to work out his angst, Douglock... Okay, I should talk about Douglock. I really did not like him. He doesn't have the charm of Warlock. He's apparently not Doug Ramsey, considering the many different occasions we get told so. Heck, Kitty has to have two different stories where she confronts it. I am asuming this was fan driven, from them getting loads of inquiries about who exactly Douglock was. But he just never worked for me.

One of the more frustrating things about the series is the many characters and storylines that just get dropped. I think the chief cause of this deficiency is the cycling through different writers who have different goals in mind. And some of those writers just being bad. There are loads of characters that join the team and then get thrown out by a later writer who decides he doesn't want to bother with them. This creates a rather disjointed affair.

Anyhow, it at least got an ending. Though they had a rather easy event to end on. But it worked as the culmination of the series. Though, it does leave you with the feeling that Excalibur as a team was a failure... hmm.

At least Alan Davis did the cover

Notable points:
Cross Time Caper: #12-25; Inter-dimensional mayhem.
#42-67: Alan Davis' second run, where he's on writing duty. Though others step in here and there for both writing and drawing. This wraps up a lot of loose ends from the beginning of the series. I'd say this is probably the best run of the whole book, though again, there's some bad points intermixed.
#83-103: Warren Ellis' run. Not fantasticgorical but better than some of the others. Carl Pacheco does some art for him too, which is a plus. Peter Wisdom was... okay... I guess...

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