Issue(s): Excalibur #55, Excalibur #56
Psylocke is visiting her brother Captain Britain. They start with some mock fighting...
...but she's really here because Brian wants help dealing with the fact, as noted last issue, that he always seems to rush in to every situation with violence.
At the same time that Captain Britain is struggling to be less violent, Kitty observes that Nightcrawler is training to be more violent. He's practicing martial arts skills taught to him by Wolverine. He feels that he needs to be more ready for anything now that he seems to be acknowledged as the leader of Excalibur. At the same time, we also see Kylun departing so that he can visit his family in Scotland for the first time since he went through the dimensional warp (when he was still a boy).
Later, there is a party at Braddock manor. The Stuart siblings are among the attendees, and Alysande tells her brother that she is being court-martialed for supposedly trading secrets to SHIELD in return for the use of the SHIELD heli-carrier.
I think the point of this is to explain why Alysande Stuart was shown to be briefing Excalibur in the Air Apparent special edition. This is not the first time that Alan Davis has felt the need to explain things that were happening in the Excalibur one shots. Tying it in to Motormouth #1 potentially creates placement complications, though.
Another attendee at the party is "Courtney Ross", who makes a show of kissing Brian, instilling jealousy in Meggan.
Cerise is interested by all the kissing and recruits Nightcrawler to help explain it.
The highly enjoyable part of the party is almost over, though. Feron, who is not attending the party, is attacked by a familiar crooked silhouette.
And Alysande is attacked next.
Alysande is found dead.
This turns out to be an attack by "Courtney", who, we saw long ago, had been killed and replaced by an alternate universe version of Saturnyne.
And, as we also saw not quite so long ago (but still fairly long ago), she's allied with Jamie Braddock.
Brian is of course devastated to learn that Courtney has been dead for some time, and that he'd been romanced by her killer. Sat-yr^9 turns Captain Britain into a loveslave, and the rest of Excalibur and the other party goers are warped by Braddock's powers and imprisoned.
Note that Braddock's powers are said to not be true reality warping, just the ability to warp dense forms.
Kitty Pryde is the one member of Excalibur that managed to escape.
Kitty has to fight her way past Sat-yr^9's Amazonian Guards and Vixen's goons (Sat-yr^9 took over Vixen's forces and had Braddock merge her minion Nigel Frobisher with Vixen a while back).
Meanwhile, Frobisher makes a power play, trying to shoot her with the same mind control drug that she used on Captain Britain, but she kills him instead.
It also turns out that Meggan wasn't really affected by Braddock's powers.
That helps the rest of Excalibur get free, and Captain Britain starts to shake the mind-control when Sat-yr^9 orders him to kill Meggan. Psylocke manages to disrupt the insane Braddock.
However, Sat-yr^9 manages to escape. Captain Britain says that he won't rest until he catches her, but Nightcrawler says that they literally do have to rest a bit after all they've been through.
"Nine days later", Nick Fury appears at Alysande Stuart's funeral with information that will help clear her name.
Alan Davis' Excalibur run continues to be all about tying up loose ends. You can look at the References to see how long this stuff has been open, and how sporadically they were addressed, and it's really rewarding to get closure on it. Davis is executing this stuff well, and these stories would be enjoyable even if they weren't finally addressing long lingering plots, but the fact that they are is all the better. Davis' initial run on Excalibur with Chris Claremont started off promisingly, but things soon began to spiral out of control, and things that at first seemed like plot developments eventually felt like just randomness. It's characteristic of Claremont to let things run on, but they ran on for too long even before he left the title, and that was a long time ago. Davis' return here is therefore essential to understanding the original stories. Davis brings a much needed focus to this book even while he retains the original tone. Oh, and his art is beautiful. Such clear storytelling at a time period where that was sorely lacking.
I am somewhat surprised by the death of Alysande Stuart. Both she and Alistaire were kind of jokey nods to the Doctor Who series, and i could see getting rid of both of them and the WHO organization in order to stop perpetuating that, but getting rid of just Alysande doesn't accomplish that, and she's served as a useful character. I guess it does work to set up the story where Alistaire will work to clear her name.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after X-Men #12 when Psylocke leaves for England, and after Dark Angel #7-8 since Psylocke stops there before visiting her brother. Note that this issue says that Excalibur: Air Apparent has to take place circa Motormouth #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAlistaire Stuart, Alysande Stuart, Captain Britain, Cerise, Dai Thomas, Emelia Witherspoon, Feron, Jamie Braddock, Kylun, Lockheed, Meggan, Nick Fury, Nigel Frobisher, Nightcrawler, Opal Luna Sat-yr^9, Psylocke, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Vixen, Widget
Interesting that both Alysande Stuart and Nigel Frobisher die in same issue. I would have thought that was getting rid of Dr Who references (Frobisher was a shapechanger who appeared as a talking penguin, mostly in the Dr Who comics) if not for Alistaire Stuart surviving. Presumably it's just a coincidence, since the surviving one of the trio is the most obvious Dr Who reference of the three.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | April 25, 2016 3:57 PM
It's weird that Meggan's shape changing makes her immune to Jamie's powers, since she wasn't in Excalibur 18-19.
Posted by: Michael | April 25, 2016 8:07 PM
This is the first time that Alan Davis had drawn the "Asianed" version of Psylocke....it was pretty jarring to see for the first time, given how much he contributed to her classic look.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | April 25, 2016 11:01 PM
I didn't pick this up at the time. I have the feeling I would have enjoyed it greatly. I was just so anti-Excalibur because of the excesses you mentioned. I didn't even bother staying with the Claremont written issues because the Cross Time Caper was so worthless. The past forty issues of this book could just as well have never been written.
Posted by: Chris | April 25, 2016 11:02 PM
As enjoyable as these issues are, this is just sad. Larry Hama's "Wolverine" started off well, but he was forced to make Wolvie into the psycho killer. Peter David's "X-Factor" started off well, but he was forced into crossovers that he didn't want to do. Alan Davis was deliberately ending plotlines that Claremont had left open for years, and working within established continuity to do it. Davis isn't a fan of Betsy the Asian Ninja, but he played fair with her in this story, even citing her psychic knife/totality yadda yadda yadda. And that just makes things worse.
This is what Claremont's plots look like when someone who has a clue is ending them. Great comics, but there's nowhere to go. After this, there are a lot of fill-in issues and Davis eventually gets back to Rachel and "Days of Futures Past." Even his immense talent can't move forward, but can only look back. Alysande's description of the court-martial and the kissing scenes are some of the most Claremont comics ever written.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 26, 2016 3:01 AM
Fnord, under significance rating, you have this issue listed as "death of Vixen". I never thought Vixen died in this issue- I assumed that she was still stuck as a fox at the end of this story. Granted, she never appeared again, so arguably there's not much of a difference. Or am I missing something?
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2016 7:50 PM
Yeah, i guess Vixen could still be out there. Removed that. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 27, 2016 7:45 AM
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