Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Excalibur Classic (volume 1) recently collected issues 1-5 of the original international X-Men team, along with a prelude issue entitled "The Sword is Drawn," no doubt riding the wake of the recently-launched New Excalibur series, which cites a reunion of former members and a classic take on the team that readers have been supposedly salivating for. Truly an underlooked series, I was a little worried that the book wouldn't hold up from my thirteen-year-old eyes to the present. Excalibur was, after all, my first love of comics and something very dear to me, as I grew up with Kitty, Brian, Rachel, Kurt and Meggan. Maybe that's why it really did read like a classic story to me, because it was so revered at the time. But, God, I had so much fun reading it all again that I have to believe there's something there that doesn't have to do with my own prejudices of growing up with it. Re-reading these issues really brought a new appreciation to something I've been calling one of my favorites out of habit over the past few years. I can now truly say that it is one of my favorites with a new confidence. Alan Davis was the first artist whose work I was able to recognize and I just think he's damn good at what he does. I think he's more than merely competent, as some people have said. I think his illustrations are beautiful. And this was a time when Claremont, who I almost loathe in present-day comics, was at his peak. He hadn't lost his touch from the days of The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past quite yet. This is probably his last great work before going on to rest on his laurels and remine old concepts over and over to the dread of his readers (or potential readers). Excalibur begins in the wake of the X-Men's supposed death. These superheros decide to continue fighting for Xavier's dream as they come together to face the duel threat of the warwolves and Gatecrasher's technet, both bounty hunting teams hoping to drag Rachel Summers back to the mojoverse. Throughout the following issues of the ongoing series, the team faces threats such as Juggernaut, the Crazy Gang, and Arcade, and we get to see the beginnings of a huge ordeal, as Courtney Ross (Captain Britain'a old flame) is replaced by the utterly ruthless Sat-yr-9. And while they deal with their adversaries, the team moves in together and squabbles over small things and big things alike, reminiscent of reality shows in a way as people are confused about feelings for one another and get comfortable with each other encrouching on their lives. While reading these stories, I've also come to realize that I really missed Meggan (who actually first appeared in Alan Moore/Alan Davis's Captain Britain. Another overlooked classic story). She was so naive and wore her emotions on her sleeve. She was kind of the glue of the team, the heart. It was so much fun reliving these moments with these characters that I can only hope that Marvel will see fit to continue publishing subsequent collections of this modern-day classic.