Issue(s): Excalibur #68, Excalibur #69, Excalibur #70
Alan Davis is gone, and Scott Lobdell seems to be playing a role as a kind of showrunner for the series. He provides the plots for these issues, each of which has a different scripter. And that will basically continue until Warren Ellis takes over as full writer after starting as a scripter for Lobdell circa issue #85. There are some exceptions along the way - some issues fully written by Lobdell, some written by Richard Ashford, who scripts one of the issues here, etc. - but in general it seems like Lobdell is acting as the guiding force of the series without necessarily being available to execute it all himself. This coincides with Excalibur moving from Terry Kavanagh's editorial office into the X-office. And with that, these issues place the focus squarely on the former X-Men characters. Captain Britain and Meggan are sidelined for a while. Captain Britain is said to have gotten lost in the timestream on Excalibur's return from the future ("No, you didn't miss an issue - it's just that there's so much happening in the lives of our mutants on the moors, we didn't have time to wait!") and Megan goes catatonic as a result. Feron also goes catatonic trying to bring Meggan out of it (he starts off pretending to be Captain Britain to snap her out of it).
Love how Kitty just kind of shrugs and leaves.
Kylun and Micromax participate in this issue's main story, but cease appearing after this. And the point of these three issues is to provide Cerise with an origin - something that was left dangling with Alan Davis' departure - and then write her out of the book as well. Kylun, Micromax, and Cerise will all next appear in issue #125, and only as wedding guests. Feron gets slightly more attention in issue #124. Captain Britain and Meggan will appear again soon but in unusual status quos. So for now we are left with just Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Phoenix, especially in time for next issue's Fatal Attractions issue.
(As seen above, Kitty leaves in issue #70 to appear in other X-books but she'll be back next issue and will continue to appear in Excalibur, so i'm not counting that among the numerous departures in this arc.)
There's another X-Men tie-in with these issues too, which is that the Starjammers guest-appear.
They are acting on the authority of the Shi'ar to arrest Cerise, who turns out to be Shi'ar herself and a wanted criminal (they're initially vague about who they've come to arrest and everyone assumes it's Phoenix). It actually took me a while to realize that Cerise was not intended to be Shi'ar when she first appeared. Her appearance, including the appearance of the suit she arrived in, looked very Shi'ar. But it doesn't seem like Davis actually intended for her to be Shi'ar, and dropped a number of clues (probably the wrong word) that she wasn't, including her unfamiliarity with the concepts of kissing and children. But i can understand why Lobdell and company decided that she should be Shi'ar. All the "clues" are dismissed by saying that she's been lying to hide her identity.
It also turns out that the crime she's wanted for was noble in intention: she destroyed the starship she was stationed on, killing the captain and crew, in order to halt the planetary genocides that were being committed by the rogue captain. Even though her intentions were noble, though, her actions were still criminal. Empress Lilandra says that she should have went through proper channels and reported the captain's crimes. So Cerise is sentenced to working at Lilandra's side to root out further corruption in the Shi'ar Empire, forcing her away from Excalibur and her romance with Nightcrawler.
Cerise is attacked by a new Fang at one point, and Cerise winds up killing her.
Fangs don't seem to make out very well in the Imperial Guard.
Nightcrawler is horrified to see Cerise kill Fang, but Corsair says that as a soldier he understands. Nightcrawler seems to accept her actions later when the truth about her crimes comes out.
The art in these issues is nothing to write home about...
...and three issues seems a bit long for the plot.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: It seems to have been about 15 days since Excalibur has lost Captain Britain. Illyana Rasputin is said to be "sick" and issue #70 shows Kitty Pryde leaving to appear in Uncanny X-Men #302.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showCerise, Ch'od, Corsair, Feron, Hepzibah, Kylun, Lilandra, Lockheed, Meggan, Micromax, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Raza Longknife, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde)
When I picked up Excalibur #68, it literally felt to me that the quality of the series had plummeted overnight. In retrospect I guess these issues were okay, but they were disappointing after the amazing work of Alan David.
Shortly after #70 came out, I met Richard Ashford when he was at a store signing along with a few other Marvel regulars. Ashford told me that he was scheduled to become the regular writer on Excalibur beginning with issue #72. I think there was also a piece about it in Marvel Age where Ashford said he wanted to have the Hulk guest star. He did end up writing or co-writing a few issues, but whatever the original plans were his run seems to have been deep sixed, with Lobdell coming back to once again write the series for several months, until Warren Ellis finally came onboard.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 10, 2016 1:52 PM
I absolutely hated these issues. They shelved virtually everything that made Excalibut fun and different within seconds.
I'd rank this above Byrne's Avengers West Coast and Lobdell's 'write off the supporting cast' Uncanny issues for sheer bluntness and speed of dumping things. Although Dan Jurgen's first 4 pages on Justice League after Giffen/DeMatteis were arguably worse.
Posted by: Generic Comment | November 10, 2016 2:32 PM
@Generic Comment: That's for sure! Cerise, Micromax, Captain Britain, Meggan, Kylun and Feron were all written out in the space of these three issues. Lobdell appeared to be actively working to get rid of any characters that didn't have definitive ties to the X-Men. Other than the fact that it was set in the UK, the next year or so of this book really felt practically the same as almost any other X-Men title being published at the time.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 10, 2016 2:42 PM
I haven't read these issues, but judging by the summaries, I can concur: what a waste :( Excalibur was a fun, distinct book on the crossroads of the muntant mythos and Marvel's UK stuff - a good general MU book, then. But after Davis' departure, it was turned into yet another generic X-book...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 10, 2016 7:00 PM
Meggan is rendered comatose this arc and doesn't fully return to normal until Excalibur 75, so she shouldn't make any appearances between now and then. Unfortunately, she and Rachel both appear in Starblast, and Rachel gets sent to the future in Excalibur 75, so Meggan had to recover and have a relapse at some point between this story and Excalibur 75.
Posted by: Michael | November 10, 2016 7:49 PM
According to Comic Book Urban Legends, I was wrong- Brian being turned into Britannic had nothing to do with Marvel UK- it was all Lobdell:
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2017 8:06 AM
Back in the 90s, I was a regular reader of Excalibur. This was the issue that made me drop the title. I could have handled the loss of Captain Britain and Meggan if there had been a reasonably paced story behind it. But the "he's lost in the time stream and we can't even bother to devote any pages to it" attitude told me that everything I loved about this title was gone.
Posted by: Peter Niemeyer | January 15, 2018 6:07 PM
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