Characters Appearing: Captain Britain, Cerise, Feron, Kylun, Lockheed, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Widget
Issue(s): Excalibur #66, Excalibur #67
These issues finalize Rachel's story arc by having her return to the timeline that she came from. It also gives us an explanation for Widget, one of the few remaining loose ends from the original Claremont/Davis run. So it feels like a proper wrap-up for Davis. I've said all this before, but i continue to be pleasantly surprised by the quality and the clarity of Davis's Excalibur run. This really does seem like essential reading for fans of the X-Men. I guess a lot of people already knew that, but if you dropped Excalibur early on like i did, these issues are a hidden gem in the early 1990s era when gems are very very rare.
The story starts with Kate Pryde in, er, 2013 in the (or a) Days of Future Past timeline.
She's a captive of Ahab and another human named Quinn, who are running the Sentinels program. This takes place prior to the Days of Future Present from the 1990 annuals. We know this because Ahab is in a floating wheelchair; he doesn't yet have his bionic body.
But it takes place after Kate has helped Rachel Summers go back into the past. And the humans suspect that is where Rachel has gone, and they are trying to re-create the time warp from the residual energy of Rachel's journey which was left behind on Kate. Note that Kate is hooked up to the shell of a Sentinel, which will later be called a Sentinel Monitoring Unit. They attempt to access the energy, but instead Kate and the Sentinel disappear.
They reappear, merged, two years later, looking like Widget in the body it created for itself in Excalibur #48.
At this point, Ahab has his bionic body and he's already been through the events of Days of Future Present.
So this is the origin of Widget. It is an amalgam of DOFP Kate Pryde and a Sentinel.
Note also that Ahab says that he encountered Rachel in a parallel timeline.
Ahab has a Sentinel try to grab Widget, but it begins blinking in and out of existence, speaking to Rachel Summers (as we saw in the last arc, but Rachel hasn't been around to hear it).
At about this "time", Excalibur are just returning home from their adventures last issue. We see that Captain Britain and Meggan are having a fracture in their relationship. In the last arc, Meggan saw Brian without the "matrix energy" that gives him his powers, and without that hidden glow she's not sure if she's really attracted to him. When Brian says that looks aren't everything, she reminds him that her own true form isn't the beautiful blond human that she usually uses, and that seems to give him pause.
Meanwhile, Rachel tells Kitty that she's decided to return to her own timeline. Rachel's mutant power is the ability to transfer minds across time, but she needs the Phoenix Force to move physical bodies. Feron confirms that the Phoenix Force is "gone", but Rachel says that she has enough residual power to move herself back to the future (the residual power probably also explains things like her ability to change her costume last arc).
It seems like about here that Excalibur annual #1 would have to take place, for what it's worth. We jump away from Excalibur to look in on the Master Mold of the future and then return to the present without a definite indication of how much time has passed.
In the future, we see that the Sentinels have a long term plan to conquer time now that they've learned about other dimensions. It will later be spelled out more clearly that the Seninels are spreading virus-like across the multi-verse to stop mutants in all dimensions. Note also that the Nimrod Project is "stage one", so this seems to be before Nimrod goes to the present in Uncanny X-Men #191, unless that particular Nimrod was really just a result of the extra-dimensional shuffling that happened when Kulan Gath was defeated, but that seems too coincidental.
(And tell me more about the Asian Alliance Mega-Robots!)
Meanwhile, Rachel says goodbye to Excalibur and tries to leave for the future before anyone tries to stop her, and also 'meanwhile' Widget appears before a group of the European resistance heroes that Master Mold mentioned. The heroes mostly comprise Marvel UK characters, along with a few new ones (it'll turn out that it's Nigel Orpington-Smyth in the Iron Man armor).
Sentinels arrive, trying to retrieve Widget.
Around this time, in a lettercol in Death's Head II's book, it's said that the Marvel UK characters were going to guest appear in Excalibur. I initially assumed that was something that never came to fruition; it took me a while to realize that they were talking about this. I just sort of discount appearances of alternate future characters immediately (it also didn't help that due to a typo the lettercol said it was going to happen in issue #86). So this isn't quite on the level of Motormouth and Killpower showing up in Hulk, but it is at least an acknowledgement of the Marvel UK sub-universe in a US Marvel book (Davis made a previous such acknowledgement in the last arc). I also think it's funny that suddenly all these characters that hadn't been created back when Days of Future Past was written are the ones that have survived, but it does make sense since the idea is that they're a resistance group in Europe, whereas what we saw in the original story took place in the US.
The new character Tangerine is a telepath, and she is able to communicate with Kate inside Widget. But then the Sentinels return and try to grab Widget again, and the fact that Widget is also in the present causes a "time-quake" that Excalibur experience, and they wind up in the future.
Both Widget and Rachel are captured and Ahab and his Sentinels withdraw. Despite that set-back, the heroes are pretty proud of having held off the Sentinel attackers, until they remember that the Sentinels they were dealing with weren't the powerful Omega class variety. Those Sentinels were instead attacking the main base of the resistance. Despite being led by Death's Head II, they were all wiped out.
Excalibur and the surviving Marvel UK characters come up with a plan to approach the Sentinel base in the husk of a defeated Sentinel, which leads to a really fun sequence.
When they arrive, Rachel contacts them telepathically, saying that destroying all the Sentinels will just allow them to regroup elsewhere. Instead, they have to take over the core program. So while the heroes hold out against the Sentinels, Rachel and Widget do just that.
Ahab makes a last ditch effort to kill Rachel, but he just serves as the example to show that the Sentinels have been reprogrammed to preserve all life.
Ahab teleports away; Rachel lets him go. The UK heroes then ask if Rachel is going to help them rebuild the world, but Rachel says that it's no longer her place, and she says that she's going to return with Excalibur.
I said in the last arc that it might have made more sense to leave Rachel out in space rather than having her return to Excalibur. Better still, i think she should have remained in her future timeline, for all the reasons i said last arc plus the fact that this is a natural place for her to remain after the conclusion of her storyline.
I guess this is also a resolution to the entire Days of Future Past story as well. So now we know that no matter how bad things get, even if the X-Men fail/have failed in stopping that timeline, it'll eventually be reversed by a plucky group of UK super-heroes. Which, thematically, isn't really in line with the original story, but we already had the timelines in New Mutants #48-50 which showed post-DOFP scenarios.
The question of whether or not the timeline we're seeing here, i.e. the one that Rachel came from, is really the same one that we saw in Uncanny X-Men #141-142. Due to the fact that the X-Men changed the events that were supposed to lead up to the DOFP timeline, combined with Marvel's rules about time travel and alternate dimensions, it makes sense that Rachel's timeline comes from a divergent reality. And note Ahab's talk of parallel dimensions and the Sentinels' plans to conquer the multiverse. It's definitely understood that the DOFP is simply a possible future at this point, which effectively means it's just another dimension. But Alan Davis still treats events from DOFP on as part of the same timeline. There's never an indication that the events in DOFP are different than what Rachel experienced. That's aside from any continuity details that Davis or other creators may have gotten wrong; i don't even keep track of those and it's very unlikely that the creators did. In any event, this is a timeline that is so similar to the one in DOFP that if the X-Men did affect the timeline, it wasn't in a way that had much of an impact.
Kitty Pryde gets a new costume in this arc, or really more of a lack of a costume. It's part of a jokey sequence best shown on the cover (the sort of cover gag that would have convinced me that Excalibur was still doing the goofy stuff that i'd been avoiding).
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Excalibur are just returning home from Cloud Nine at the start of this arc. See the Considerations for Excalibur annual #1, which has to take place during this issue. This arc doesn't show it and next issue doesn't continue directly, but Captain Britain will get stuck in time returning to the present. So the next arc doesn't have to be placed directly after this, but Captain Britain should not appear after this arc (and when he does return in Excalibur #75, he's got a new name and costume). If you like, you can assume that Captain Britain's appearance in Incomplete Death's Head is his next chronological appearance, since Maruthea is at a nexus of time and space and he's the only character from Bonjaxx's party that also appears in the framing sequence.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
For what it's worth, I'm now convinced that DoFP from the very beginning took place in the future of the alternate reality where Jean Grey became the Phoenix in the shuttle accident (rather than being replaced by it) and never died on the moon. This would be the reality described in Phoenix: The Untold Story, Claremont and Byrne's original ending to the Dark Phoenix saga. So the Rachel in DoFP and the one who showed up in New Mutants (and has been hanging around more or less ever since) are the same. The funny thing about that is, Byrne was upset that Claremont scripted DoFP in a way that implied the DoFP timeline still existed, but really he should be doubly upset because Rachel somehow sent Kate back into an alternate dimension's past anyway, so there was never any chance of her actions changing her own present.
Posted by: Andrew | November 1, 2016 5:45 PM
I always assumed anyone who comes back in time in the Marvel universe is coming back into an alternate dimension's past - Cable, Bishop, etc.
Posted by: clyde | November 1, 2016 6:32 PM
Only in the sense that according to Mark Gruenwald a time traveler would create a divergent timeline upon arrival. In this case, Rachel came back to a timeline that had ALREADY diverged from her own (ie, either on the shuttle or on the moon [or in her parents' house]) prior to her arrival.
Posted by: Andrew | November 1, 2016 7:40 PM
"Note also that the Nimrod Project is "stage one", so this seems to be before Nimrod goes to the present"
Posted by: Michael | November 1, 2016 7:49 PM
The Nimrod from X-Men #191 was eventualy revealed to have come from an encounter with the X-Men in a storyline in New X-Men #20-31 involving Wallflower (Laura Collins), Forge, X-23, Elixir and Rockslide among others. It was during the time when that book featured New Mutants/Hellions related characters, between House of M and Messiah Complex.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 1, 2016 8:08 PM
Beautiful books...I wouldn't enjoy another issue until Warren Ellis takes the helm.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | November 2, 2016 1:48 AM
This was such an awesome two part story a fantastic wrap-up to Alan Davis' run on Excalibur.
And it was all downhill after this :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 2, 2016 7:59 PM
As a huge Excalibur and Alan Davis fan and Rachel Summers fan, reading this in real-time, this felt to me like an abrupt end to all three. It seemed like there should have been at least another issue. I especially did not appreciate what I saw as the shoe-horning in of the Marvel UK characters, most of whom I'd never heard of and were completely uninterested in.
Posted by: Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed | November 7, 2016 5:22 PM
Comments are now closed.
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