Saturday, April 26, 2008

Excalibur Classic (Volume 4)

Cross-Time Caper: Book Two
Chris Claremont, Alan Davis & various
The fourth installment of Excalibur Classic collects issues 21-28 of the original Excalibur series, which includes the concluding issues of the popular Cross-Time Caper storyarc, which saw the team jumping between realities via a dragon-powered train. Unfortunately for this volume, only two issues (the end of The Cross-Time Caper) are drawn by Alan Davis, and the fill-in artists are pretty atrocious for the most part. There are a few diamonds in the rough though. Barry Windsor-Smith drew an odd little issue that was inked by Bill Sienkiewicz, and Colleen Doran of A Distant Soil fame surprised me by illustrating an issue featuring Captain Britain and Meggan. But even they paled in comparison to Davis.
While jumping across cross-time, the team loses Kitty Pryde at one point, who actually makes it back home well ahead of her teammates, but finds herself alone save for Courtney Ross, a good friend of the team's. Much more to come on that character in the future of the series in one of the best betrayals in comics. Meanwhile, the others are still teleporting between alternate Earths until Omniversal Mastrex Saturnyne (herself an alternate universe Courtney Ross) is simply horrified by the mess they've made of things and pulls them out, sending them on their merry way back to the correct London. Unfortunately they have a guest waiting for them when they arrive...this is a superhero book, after all. Throughout this volume, Excalibur battles Galactus, Nova, Mastermind, Brian's twisted brother Jamie Braddock, the Captain Britain Corps and many others.
There's definitely some throw-away material in this collection, the highlight of the book easily being Alan Davis's conclusion of The Cross-Time Caper, but a lot of the series collected here sets up some pretty fantastic stories to come later in the book, and it's still fun in the end. This is easily the weakest volume to date, but the stuff that comes later makes it worthwhile.

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