Thursday, 7 February 2013

Excalibur Special Edition #1: Welcome to London

And now we come to Exalibur Special Edition #1, also known as "Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn", by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis. Here is what I wrote about New Excalibur in September 2007, when I was first getting into Marvel.

I got hold of the first trade of New Excalibur, but it was hideously non-authentically British. Captions included "Thames-side", and "Dockland, London". Erk. However - Paul Cornell's recent miniseries Wisdom does one of these characters, Pete Wisdom, excellently. He even manages to have Wisdom call Captain Britain "You tosser!", and invents a few new characters for Wisdom's team, including Captain Midlands (hehe) and, rather oddly, a Skrull duplicate of John Lennon. Cornell takes over New Excalibur soon, and I'm looking forward to this.

New Excalibur ended up being called Captain Britain and MI-13, and surfaced in May 2008. That's one hell of a gestation period - I'd first seen him talk about it in May 2007 at a BSFA meeting. He had two major projects on the boil there: the other being the adaptation of his Doctor Who New Adventures novel, "Human Nature", for the screen. Neither of these had been officially announced, which must have been frustrating, especially since everyone in the crowd knew. He was forced to resort to answering hypothetical questions about Human Nature.

Enough of that, anyway. We're obviously going to be talking a lot in the posts about Excalibur about Claremont's relationship with these islands. He was born here. He appears to have a fair amount of affection for it, which is expressed through his writing. He uses British characters lots. But the time that Uncanny X-Men has spent in the UK has been in two particular touristy areas: the Highlands and Islands, and Edinburgh, and our British and Irish characters have a tendency towards owning islands or castles or being aristocracy. What we have here is a mild case of exoticisation, that he thinks he's exempt from having to do research about these islands and can just idealise it, like he has a blind spot or something. This is why I responded so well to Kieron Gillen's "Manchester Gods" arc in Journey Into Mystery, I think. I'm going to try and squeeze that into the remit of the blog later on, I expect.

So, excluding that backup in Classic X-Men, I believe this is our first actual appearance of London in an X-Men comic. What sort of London do we get? Page 27 provides a hint. There's an Odeon Cinema close by Palace of Westminster, showing the Ipcress File (1965), A Clockwork Orange (1971), and advertising the arrival of National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). Not Thatcher's Britain, then. But visually, it's fine: there's a street entrance to an Underground station that could have been drawn from life, and then an almost spot-on drawing of the Victoria line's 1967 stock †, both inside and outside. Sadly both of these things have been let down by miscolouring, but there you go.

Oh, and some plot happened as well. So Rachel Summers came back from MojoWorld and has teamed up with Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler (who are better now, finally), along with Captain Britain and Meggan and formed a new superhero team now that the X-Men are dead. They have decided to call it Excalibur, which is a pretty neat coincidence because it's a Britishy mythological thing that starts with an X already!

Despite my concerns, it more than justifies the $3.50 cover price with the first double-page spread with Wolverine having his nails done and reading a book on flower arranging, though.

† I went on the last in-service journey of 1967 stock, on June 30th, 2011. It was late.


  1. our British and Irish characters have a tendency towards owning islands or castles or being aristocracy.

    Wait. You don't all own castles or islands?

    Mind. Blown.


    1. Speaking for myself, I simply own a two-bed terrace in zone 3. (decoded that)