Issue(s): Excalibur #6, Excalibur #7
...and then wakes up and rushes off, leaving her teammates behind and Kitty in a baby outfit.
While the rest of Excalibur decide what to do and worry that Rachel will follow in the footsteps of her "mom", Jean Grey and become a Dark Phoenix, we also see Nightcrawler getting mad at Captain Britain over what, in this case, is really just his perception/guess about how he treats Meggan.
But it's interesting to see that anger spur Nightcrawler into a leadership role for this team. Captain Britain is the big, traditional super-hero type, and (superficially) an analogue to Captain America, so if i were to just guess at random who might become Excalibur's team leader, i would have guessed him.
Rachel makes it across the Atlantic quickly, and finds Madelyne Pryor at the Empire State Building. But Maddie isn't interested in being called "mom" by Rachel...
...and she's sucked into the building.
The rest of Excalibur have a much slower mode of travel...
...and Kitty has to stop for a pee break midway across the ocean.
While on the boat full of lonely male sailors, Meggan starts responding to their attention, and it's Nightcrawler who drives them away.
And then as they travel further, she starts reacting to being held by him.
When they make it to New York, Meggan's empathetic chameleon nature absorbs the demonic energy in the air...
...and N'astirh makes her a Goblin Princess.
Rachel, meanwhile, had escaped the Empire State Building's demon goo only to be subsequently trapped as a mannequin.
And the madness continues as Meggan throws Captain Britain into a movie. He's followed by Kitty, and both are now decked out in Hollywood style fashions, with Brian's being more extreme.
Issue #7 opens with our first real sign of the lackey demon Crotus being disgruntled with N'astirh's treatment of him, and also having taken Belasco's spellbook (or so i assume from what we'll see in Cloak and Dagger #4; here he just calls it his "mawthter's grimoire").
For now, he's spotted Rachel Summers and realized something that apparently no one else has about a pretty big flaw in the premise of Inferno, or at least the Madelyne Pryor portion.
So much effort has been spent trying to manipulate, clone and/or capture Jean Grey in the hope that Mr. Sinister might be able to pull some portion of the Phoenix Force back to her so that he can control it (and N'astirh has similar ideas), while walking around right now is Rachel Summers, with the full embodiment of the Phoenix Force inside her. So measly little Crotus has the right idea here: forget all those machinations and just use the spellbook to bind Rachel, and therefore the Phoenix Force, to him.
Meanwhile, more fun with film criticism.
Brian and Kitty transform again, and Kitty's cheerleader outfit has me vaguely remembering the later Girls' School From Heck storyline, but i doubt there's any direct relation.
And i love this. Nightcrawler is swallowed by a garbage truck...
...and he's not alone in there. He has to convince the people inside that he's not a demon. But he is a mutant, which he realizes might seem just as bad.
Why, oh why, must there be such stereotypes against mutants? Can't we see that they are people just like us? Except Nightcrawler was raised by a Romani sorceress and his father is the demonic warlord Azazel, but besides that he's just like you and me.
Later, Nightcrawler encounters a gargoyle who isn't happy with the out of towners. And even if it was in the nature of gargoyles to attack people, which it isn't, they "don't harm where you live".
The silly craziness continues through the Forbidden Planet comic store and various other locals. During the action Kitty notes that Brian is wheezing excessively for someone in seemingly as good shape as he is.
Eventually Kitty confronts Meggan for the crime of putting Brian in a very uncomfortable S&M outfit (only fair, of course, considering what she and Madelyne Pryor have to wear in this crossover)...
...and she's using Magik's soulsword.
She uses it to restore both Captain Britain and Meggan, although she's worried about the fact that the sword physically cut Brian's costume, and of course the fact that the sword appeared at all, which means that something's wrong with Illyana.
Nightcrawler, meanwhile, disrupts Rachel and Crotus' wedding.
He had help from the friendly gargoyle, who died helping.
Crotus is left whimpering. If that was indeed Belasco's spell book, i guess he goes back to the site of the explosion and finds it again before Cloak and Dagger #4.
I felt a little unsatisfied by how things ended. Both the Soulsword appearing and Rachel recognizing Madelyne Pryor as a "mom" (and of course the call from baby Nathan) should have prompted immediate follow-up. But it's really just a question of timing; next issue will follow up on both of these points, but we'll see that it's after all of Inferno is wrapped up. So the assumption can be that any attempted follow-up was just too late. It's still notable that these X-characters have such a tangential role in the crossover, despite some characters having pretty significant connections to what was going on and the books getting the big Inferno banner on the covers instead of the smaller Nabisco corners that the non-mutant tie-ins (and even X-Terminators) got.
I'd still rather see them involved in this way rather than not at all, and the weirdness of Inferno allows Alan Davis to depict things in his own zany style.
Separate from all of the above, we also have a follow-up on the scene with Moira MacTaggert and Callisto's disappearing train from the previous arc. Police commander Dai Thomas is called into work and he's introduced to a Brigadier Alysande Stuart of the Weird Happenings Organization (WHO). After an acknowledged Abbott & Costello bit...
...we're also introduced to Brigadier Stuart's brother, Dr. Alistaire Stuart.
These are Dr. Who homages. A Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was a recurring Dr. Who character that worked for the organization called UNIT which deal with alien threats and was allied with the Doctor through several of his incarnations. We saw someone actually named Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart in Uncanny X-Men #218, but these Stuarts and the WHO organization will go beyond a one time nod and become a regular part of Excalibur and the larger Marvel universe.
In this case, WHO has called in Thomas due to the appearance of a Nazi train and alternate universe Nazi versions of MacTaggert and Callisto.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The end scene in Excalibur #5, which included Captain Britain, took place a "few days" after the main story. So this seemingly takes place some time after X-Factor #35 and Uncanny X-Men #241, which were the footnotes given for Nathan's distress call the first time. N'astirh is red, which presumably (but not definitely) means he's techno-organic at this point, and i assume Illayana's Soulsword is appearing after her reversion to childhood, so i've placed this after New Mutants #72-73. Next issue takes place after New Mutants #74, when the New Mutants arrive at the ruins of Xavier's school.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAlistaire Stuart, Alysande Stuart, Captain Britain, Crotus, Dai Thomas, Elaine Grey, John Grey, Lockheed, Madelyne Pryor, Meggan, N'astirh, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde)
Kitty says that Rachel established a psychic bond between her and the baby so that she could know when the baby was in trouble. If that's the case, then why didn't Rachel sense when the Marauders attacked Maddie and stole the baby?
Posted by: Michael | August 29, 2014 5:12 PM
The moment when Shadowcat manifests a bit of Magik's armor is probably when Magik sweeps the demons back to Limbo and sacrifices herself in New Murants #73. When Meggan unexpectedly weakens and Shadowcat attacks her with the Soul Sword is probably when N'astirh is blown up in Uncanny X-Men #242.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 29, 2014 9:11 PM
I think i'll leave the train dragon appearances to where it actually is shown.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 29, 2014 9:47 PM
I'd place this after Daredevil #265 as the moment where Kitty suddenly, unexpectedly manifests a piece of Magik's armour (which would be a nice scan to add *wink!*) must take place the moment when Illyana does her sacrifice to banish the demons back into Limbo. I'd maybe even argue placing this between The Uncanny X-Men #242 and X-Factor #38 as Meggan's sudden unexpected weakening before Kitty slashes her with the soul sword probably means N'astirh was killed by the X-Factor & the X-Men at that moment and Crotus seems to be calling for a "mawthter" who will never answer on the last page.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 4, 2014 3:57 PM
I'm not sure it matters, Jay. These stories are all happening concurrently, not sequentially. You've got the Daredevil thread, the FF thread, the Spider-Man thread, and the Excalibur thread, and they're all weaving in and out of the events of New Mutants (N'astirh's techno-organic state and the portal's opening and closing) and X-Factor (the Empire State Building getting restored) and events in each issue are happening at roughly the same time.
As for Crotus, it seems equally likely that N'astirh has just moved on after using Crotus to get the babies. Now that he's techno-organic and focused on the plan that involves Madelyne, he doesn't need Crotus anymore and has forgotten him.
It's all arbitrary since this isn't a Part X of Y style crossover, so i think i'll leave off on any further fine-tuning.
I do appreciate your thoughts, though, and i thought i HAD included an image of Kitty in the armor, so if there's a different scene that i'm not thinking of that maybe suggests placement more strongly, let me know.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 5, 2014 11:29 AM
For what it's worth, I always assumed Meggan's weakness wasn't a result of N'astirh's death but due to the fact that Meggan loses her powers and starts to die away from the British Isles, as revealed in the Cross-Time Caper.
Posted by: Michael | September 5, 2014 6:38 PM
At about this time, an Excalibur serial was announced for Marvel Comics Presents in later 1989, but I don't know if it ever happened(or who would have starred in it).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 6, 2015 11:39 PM
It did happen- Marvel Comics Presents 31-38, by Michael Higgins and Erik Larsen, and it featured the whole team.
Posted by: Michael | February 7, 2015 12:06 AM
This issue turns the creepy Claremont sex fetishes up to 11. Didn't anyone at Marvel feel icky putting this out?
Posted by: Bob | June 8, 2015 1:50 AM
I really loved Kurt's interactions with the gargoyle and how bittersweet they made the ending.
This was the point where I really started to love Excalibur, as it really started to balance the goofy humor with the story-telling and the characterization.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 19, 2015 7:37 AM
Was it ever explained why Kitty and Illyana have the mystic connection that, among other things, makes Kitty manifest Illyana's armor and sword in this issue? The connection was often used as a plot device during the Claremont era, but I can't remember ever coming across any explanation for it.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 10, 2015 4:32 AM
Nope. No explanation ever. From Kitty's Fairy Tale [the first time the two of them were ever on-screen together, although they had probably met behind the scenes since rescuing her from the Doom/Arcade three-parter] through Inferno, there was never any explanation at all. None, zero, zip, zilch, nada, beyond the charm of "Kitty's Fairy Tale" and the fact that an alternate universe version of Kitty did help train Illyana in Limbo. And they're both favorites of Claremont. Otherwise, we could put Kitty's interest in Illyana down to the fact that she really likes Peter and that's as good a way to get close as any.
Of course they did share the only two-bed room in the X-Mansion, so you're free to draw other conclusions if you choose. It must be Demon Sorcery. [What did you think I was talking about?]
Posted by: ChrisW | September 13, 2015 3:16 PM
Heh. Since it was implied Colossus didn't want to take his and Kitty's relationship on the next level because she was still under the age of consent (even though Peter was still a teenager too, I think he's only 4 years or so older than Kitty?), I guess you could do a queer reading where Kitty got horny and tired of waiting to get old enough for Peter, so she decided to shag Illyana instead... And that was the basis of their "special bond". It's not hard to imagine Kitty getting at least bi-curious, and I don't think Illyana was ever shown to have any canon love interest? So she could easily be queer.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 14, 2015 8:30 AM
Michael, your initial question, Rachel didn't sense Nathan being taken by the Marauders because she was still in Mojoworld at the time. She didn't escape until after Maddie and the X-Men had died, and after that it's established that her brain and memories are messed up.
Further, I'm not saying this is a good answer or that I believe it myself, but that memory-scrambling effect might have led her to say "I have no idea what you're talking about" when Kitty and Kurt bring up Maddie's plea to Scott to find their baby. The X-characters are horrible at sharing information to avoid future problems, so they'd just shrug. "Should we tell Brian and Megan? Maybe they can help." "Nein, Katzcen. [sp?] Cyclops and Madelyne's baby is not our problem, and Rachel is just fine the way she is."
Posted by: ChrisW | March 3, 2017 11:04 PM
@ChrisW- Maddie is being shown wheeled into the hospital in X-Men 206, when Rachel is still on Earth.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2017 11:23 PM
That chick with orange-blonde hair? Your eyes deceive you. Don't trust them.
I was going to write a "curse you, you've foiled my evil schemes yet again" joke, but Rachel was really messed up by #206. Seriously, I'm developing a theory that "Secret Wars II" (and possibly other elements in "X-Men" I'm forgetting off-hand) sent Rachel around the bend in numerous ways. She's already tried to destroy the universe just to defeat the Beyonder and wasn't even sure it would work. And she went downhill after that.
After her experience in the M'kraan Crystal, her telepathic connection to Nathan would fade into the background, and [if I'm remembering correctly] that connection was a retcon. She telepathically linked Nathan and Kitty for a moment, but it wasn't until "Inferno" that we learn, oh yeah, she has a permanent link to her baby brother from another mother, and we'd never known about it before.
In #206, Rachel freaks out about meeting Cyclops, whom she's already met many times. WTF?
Posted by: ChrisW | March 3, 2017 11:59 PM
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