Characters Appearing: Alistaire Stuart, Black King (Quentin Templeton), Black King (Sebastian Shaw), Black Queen (Emma Steed), Captain Britain, Colossus, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Lockheed, Margali Szardos, Meggan, Moira MacTaggert, Mountjoy, Nightcrawler, Pete Wisdom, Red King (Alan Wilson), Scratch, Scribe, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Shinobi Shaw, Warlock, Wolfsbane
Issue(s): Excalibur #96-97
Meanwhile, the Hellfire Club's leader Shinobi Shaw is coincidentally concerned about the London branch, so he contacts Brian Braddock and asks him to claim his father's seat in the Club. He says that they are involved in "murders" and other strange things. Brian is quickly welcomed into the Inner Circle (after a quick "fight" with the current non-powered Red Bishop).
Brian then sets about trying to determine which of the Hellfire Club members is really possessed by Mountjoy (something Shinobi warned him about).
I've been enjoying Carlos Pacheco's art, and even his character designs - i like the shaved head/goatee look for Nightcrawler..
...but the new costume for Meggan is ridiculously boobtastic.
I think the idea, in line with her recent power upgrade, of making her appear more combat-ready than she did in the barefoot unitard (which i never liked), is good, but Pacheco unfortunately couldn't restrain himself.
The MCP goes back to tagging Brian Braddock as Captain Britain with these issues, instead of Britanic (not that it's made a material difference in any of the issues i've seen).
Another development is that Lockheed is now talking more that his usual occassional "Yah!".
I don't know if this was a mistake on Ellis' part initially and then fans complained, but it will be revealed in issue #100 that only Pete can "hear" Lockheed talk like this.
Also, on a more serious note, something's going on with Douglock.
At the end of issue #97, Douglock is kidnapped by Black Air.
This issue sets up some potentially interesting intrigues, but it also features "Mountjoy", and that's a difficult thing to overcome. The idea of a British branch of the Hellfire Club has been mentioned before, and it makes sense (as the name of one of this branch's members - Emma Steed - reminds us), but this is the first time we're seeing these characters. Unfortunately they don't seem to have much of a longterm impact. They don't seem to appear beyond issue #100 and the MCP doesn't even seem to bother to list all of them (except for preexisting characters who turn out to be members, i.e. Margali Szardos, who will turn out to be the Red Queen, and the more goofy comic book-y named characters like Scratch and Scribe).
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place before X-Man #15 (see reference). The MCP have the X-Men here between Uncanny X-Men #333-334, but that's odd because #333 begins a Juggernaut plot that continues directly and leads to Onslaught, and there are plenty of earlier standalone issues of Uncanny where this can fit instead. Next issue begins with Excalibur reviewing footage of Black Air's kidnapping of Douglock, meaning that some time has passed, but not too much.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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