Issue(s): Excalibur #42, Excalibur #43
Not just in art; the scripting and story seem at least as good as the early issues of this series, when Chris Claremont still seemed focused (i.e. before the Cross-Time Caper).
That said, it's still very much a humorous book. I was looking around on Secrets Behind The X-Men for something else and i was surprised to come across this quote:
"When we originally started, (editor) Ann Nocenti christened Excalibur "a cosmic comedy,"" Alan Davis told Comics Scene #30. "That was something that really surprised me, because what I had originally agreed to do was basically the X-Men in Europe, and suddenly it was a cosmic comedy. I was told it was because my artwork was so comedic, and while it wasn't my decision, there was a definite intention to put more humor into Excalibur. There's always a punchline on the cover, or a humorous incident."
Davis is talking about his initial experience on the title in that quote. By now, though, he seems to have embraced the humor as you can see by the covers (#42, #43), and by the fact that this arc starts off with Technet (who are already silly) sending a bomb after Excalibur in the form of a talking cartoon chicken.
After "Hard Boiled Henwy" explodes, Technet arrive to make sure that Excalibur aren't really dead since they are technically still acting on a contract from Saturnyne to capture Phoenix alive. So Excalibur have to fight Technet, in all their zany weirdness.
But then the fight is frozen, and two agents of Saturnyne arrive.
They are here to fix Widget so that he can't travel between dimensions anymore. Saturnyne repaired Widget at the end of the Cross-Time Caper, but Widget has continued to create dimensional warps, so he's now being reprogrammed to prevent that. Excalibur are assured that he'll still be the same in every other way, although he doesn't look it.
Excalibur also notice a discrepancy. These agents work for Saturnyne, but they aren't trying to apprehend them. Technet also work for Saturnyne, but they are. It's initially attributed to bureaucracy in action, but the agents give Excalibur a message crystal from Saturnyne. Excalibur also get five minutes before the fight is unfrozen, allowing for a comic re-arrangement.
After Technet stop beating themselves up, Excalibur play the message, in which Saturnyne cancels the contract on Excalibur and banishes Technet to Earth 616. The rest of Technet aren't too happy at Gatecrasher since she won't be able to pay them, so she and her little lizard thing Yap teleport away. The rest of Technet offer to rebuild Excalibur's lighthouse (exploded by the chicken bomb) in return for room and board, and Excalibur agree, although Captain Britain isn't happy about it.
The next issue has Captain Britain very bothered by Technet's zaniness and...
...more importantly, his jealousy of Nightcrawler and Meggan's close relationship has reached a tipping point.
So this results in a fight between Brian and Kurt.
Meggan breaks it up.
But this actually leads to a good resolution to the conflict between Captain Britain and Nightcrawler.
Unfortunately, though, it ends with other members of the Captain Britain Corps taking Captain Britain away for attacking an innocent.
I've never been a big fan of the zanier elements of this book, and there is plenty of silly stuff here. And i think i'd like to see Alan Davis doing a straight "X-Men in Europe" like he originally thought he would. But Davis has a way of making the silly stuff seem kind of normal in a way that other writers (especially after Claremont) didn't manage, and even though there is silly stuff going on, there are plenty of important things happening, too, especially with the interpersonal stuff.
These issues also begin a subplot showing a character called Kylun on an alternate Earth (or Ee'rath, and working alongside the Saturnyne equivalent Sa'tneen).
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: These issues end with Technet living with Excalibur, Nightcrawler with a broken leg, Captain Britain in Otherworld, and Excalibur's lighthouse under repair, all of which is why a number of Excalibur specials have been placed before this. Excalibur don't try to seek Captain Britain out after these issues, and time passes between this issue and next.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBodybag, Captain Britain, China Doll, Ferro^2, Gatecrasher, Hard Boiled Henwy, Joyboy, Kylun, Lockheed, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Numbers, Rachel Summers, Ringtoss, Sa'tneen, Scatterbrain, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Thug, Train Dragon, Waxworks, Widget, Yap
Alan Davis is back! Let Excalibur be fun again!!
Posted by: Bill | November 3, 2015 1:59 PM
Love Alan Davis. He actually makes a good story with the Technet, who I usually utterly loathe every time Claremont trots them out as if they're his greatest creations.
This was easily the best of the mutant books after the big changes of 1991.
And, naturally, it got the least attention and was lost in the sea of the Image drek.
Posted by: Bob | November 4, 2015 1:42 AM
Gatecrasher going "flubadub" is probably a reference to the Flower Pot Men.
Posted by: Berend | November 4, 2015 2:53 AM
Marvel tried for years to produce a funny book in the line of DC's Justice League (Excalibur, Damage Control..), but they never accomplished that. Claremont and Davis are in no way Keith Giffen and J.M. De Matteis..
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | November 4, 2015 4:33 AM
No, they aren't. I'll give Claremont credit for everything he did for the mutant titles, and Alan Davis credit because he's awesome, but there is almost no point where any Marvel creators did a JLI-level sitcom. Top of my head, "What The" had the best funny stuff, with Byrne's "Superbman vs. the Fantastical Four" and Busiek/Baker's "Mutant Beach Party."
Davis restored the silliness, which I think comics need a reasonable amount of, but it wasn't explicitly funny. That was just a bonus. Hard Boiled Henry was the best example. Serious threat, makes you laugh, product of a long-running storyline. And with Alan Davis in charge.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 4, 2015 10:26 PM
I might argue for Peter David's X-Factor run as the Marvel "sitcom" book, which has just started going up in the timeline. And it's worth remembering that the first two or so years of JLI blended the sitcom tone and stories with more serious stakes. It took quite a while before they started writing plots about killer penguins fighting loser ex-villains in Antarctica.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 5, 2015 6:05 AM
It's a good thing Davis is back on the book at this point, because with the X-Men back and reorganized there would have been no other point to having Excalibur as a separate team anymore.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 24, 2016 10:06 AM
Hard Boiled Henwy looks like a homage to the cartoon character Henery Hawk.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | January 23, 2018 5:37 AM
Or rather, a combination of Henery and Tweety Pie.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | January 23, 2018 7:21 AM
Comments are now closed.
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