Issue(s): Excalibur #88, Excalibur #89, Excalibur #90
Stroman's unique style shines through when he's involved, for better or worse.
But the art can also look sketchy or unfinished.
The lack of a singular art voice reinforces the idea that this is really just Warren Ellis' show, and with these issues we reach full Ellis-ization of this title; the main cast is essentially pushed aside to make room for a 3 part story focusing on Pete Wisdom, who is very much a typical Warren Ellis character. Like Ellis' version of Daimon Hellstrom, and like Spider Jerusalem, Wisdom is a cynical, hard drinking/smoking, above-it-all non-combatant (he has mutant energy-shooting powers but tries not to use them). He's definitely Not A Superhero. I've complained about the overuse of the phrase Mary Sue but Pete Wisdom (like Hellstorm and Jerusalem) is closer to fitting my definition of that; he's basically a way for Ellis to insert himself and his opinions into the story. Which i think is fine; just noting what it is. And like i say in that post about Richard Rory/Steve Gerber, i don't think Ellis is using Wisdom just to sort of fantasize about himself as a member of the team; it's just a way to give himself a voice. Although the way this story ends is... interesting in that regard.
This story is a government conspiracy thriller involving the Black Air organization that Pete is part of (as noted previously, this organization has replaced Weird Happenings Organization (WHO) which was previously a minor fixture in the Excalibur book).
And if you're into modern QAnon conspiracies, the fact that Black Air uses pizza as a cover story is kind of funny.
The specifics of the conspiracy are not interesting/important, but one thing that's worth noting is that it involves a mysterious disease. And, mixed in with subplots about the Legacy Virus, it's a bit confusing. Maybe the intention was to be a bit confusing, but it feels more like unfortunate plotting (Ellis developing one of his ideas while juggling a larger directive from the X-office).
The disease turns out to be an alien bacteria. Black Air has been collecting aliens, apparently to use against mutants one day (note the Hellfire Club connection as well).
There's also a very Warren Ellis-y concept: some particular aliens who are under the belief that they've killed God.
Pryde and Wisdom (as they'll continue to call themselves) blow up the base with all the alien stuff.
More important than the plot itself is the fact that Kitty Pryde works alongside Pete for this story, and during the course of working with him and hearing about him from his colleagues, she learns that he's a much better guy than outward appearances suggest.
They find that they work well together...
...and start getting romantic.
At the end of the story, they have sex.
Kitty Pryde was the imaginary girlfriend for probably every straight guy that read X-comics in the 80s, and so i think a portion of the fanbase is a little... possessive about her. So when she got together with... essentially Warren Ellis, i seem to recall people getting a little angry on the rec.marvel forum. Part of that anger manifested as rules-lawyering, suggesting that Kitty wasn't old enough to be having sex with an adult. Age is of course a fluid thing in the Marvel universe. Characters basically don't age, which would of course keep Kitty a minor forever. But i think characters do sort of leap forward when a new generation is introduced. So if we look at the "graduation" of the New Mutants to X-Force, followed by the introduction of Generation X, Kitty (and her similarly aged peers from the New Mutant) must have aged by now. It's said in this story that Kitty is 10 years younger than Wisdom, for what it's worth.
An ongoing development has been the fact that Moira has contracted the Legacy Virus.
I think the idea was like a "straight people can get AIDS too?!" thing. But it's interesting in light of the 2019 development (it's outside the scope of my project) that Moira actually has been a mutant all along. As far as i know, Moira was the only human to ever get the Legacy Virus, which the fact that was actually a mutant makes sense of. But of course, it wasn't the intention at the time, because at the time the X-writers had absolutely no idea where they were going with the Legacy Virus.
Another subplot shows Spoor being interrogated by Moira's assistant Rory Campbell.
I haven't been paying much attention to Campbell, but he's apparently Ahab, i guess?
Also, Amanda Sefton returns from... wherever she was, and Wolfsbane has jumped books from X-Factor.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Wolfsbane appears here after X-Factor #111. Professor X's appearance is generic.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAmanda Sefton, Captain Britain, Jardine, Meggan, Moira MacTaggert, Nightcrawler, Pete Wisdom, Professor X, Rory Campbell, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Spoor (Acolyte), Warlock, Wolfsbane
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