PREVIEW: Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom"
Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s Excalibur #75.
The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.
Excalibur #75 by Scott Lobdell and Ken Lashley was released either the same month as X-Men #30, the issue where Scott and Jean got married, or the month after and it begins with Rachel Summers insanely happy, because her parents are finally married, meaning there’s a good chance that she will be born. Of course, this being a comic book, her being happy means everything is about to go horribly, horribly wrong. And it does. Apparently Captain Britain has been missing for a few months — now, he’s coming back and he wants Rachel’s body. She tries to deny it, but the team finds out and Kitty takes her back in her memories to her time as a hellhound and Rachel decides to sacrifice herself and… oh, it’s just not good, people. The whole thing culminates in Rachel swapping places with Brian, but, at the end of the issue, it’s revealed that it’s not Brian at all… technically. Sure, it looks like him, but he’s wearing a different costume and has crazy eyes and wants to be called Britanic! Talk about twisting the knife! Rachel sacrifices herself on the happiest day of her life and it doesn’t work the way it was supposed to! Goddamn, man.
Since this was issue 75, it’s double-sized and the story doesn’t really go anywhere after the premise is introduced. I do love how Rachel not wanting to give up her body is portrayed as a bad thing initially — like she’s being selfish. Like she should sacrifice her existence for Brian. I hate superhero comic morality. It’s one thing to sacrifice yourself in the middle of a fight, acting on pure instinct. It’s a whole other thing when someone tries to take over your body and it’s suggested that you should willingly give it up, because that’s the right thing to do. No, it’s not. Brian Braddock and his wife Meggan? Total assholes here. And, what’s weird, is that when they finally try and rescue Brian, he doesn’t want Rachel to sacrifice herself for him! What the fuck, dude? Forcing yourself on her and trying to take her place without consent is okay, but when she’s willingly saying ‘Here, take my place in this reality,’ you suddenly want to play the big man and say that that’s okay, you’re fine, that would be wrong? Seriously, what a douchebag.
The scene where Kitty and Rachel travel into her memories is rather lame. For those unaware, Rachel is the daughter of Scott and Jean from the “Days of Future Past” story. As a young adult, she was a hellhound, a mutant used to hunt down other mutants. Her keeper, Ahab would execute mutants and, during that time, leave the door wide open, daring his mutant slaves to try and escape. So, Kitty is all “Let’s go see what’s through that door!” as if it holds strong meaning… because, I must ask, if Rachel never went through that door, how would she know? And, if she doesn’t know, wouldn’t there be nothing when they tried to walk through given that the entire environment is recreated from her memories? (Also, while I’m on the subject, how come, whenever we go into someone’s memories like this, they can see themselves? How do they know what they looked like at the time really? Shouldn’t they be sort of vague, not totally complete blurs?)
Really, the only thing I found kind of cool in this issue is the moment whe they’re trying to rescue Brian and, in the timestream, they see visions of various mutants and the narrator of the issue, Rory Campbell, sees a vision of himself — and it’s Ahab! This guy is the asshole who imprisoned and used Rachel in the future! (Did that revelation ever get a pay off, by the way? Reading the Wikipedia entry, I see that it did… in a horribly lame way.)
Lashley’s art isn’t too bad. It’s a little stilted and overly posed/polished at times — and less detailed at others. But, overall, it tells the story and doesn’t get in the way, even delivers a few rather nice panels.
There’s also a really, really, really bad back-up strip by Jim Krueger and Tim Sale. Gorgeous Sale art, horribly written Krueger story about Nightcrawler feeling sorry for himself that ends with him realising that the X symbol, when rotated 45 degrees… is a cross. Oh yeah. Because he’s religious. So, it’s like a sign or something. Like Jesus loves mutants. Take that, you bigots!
I got this comic when I was 11 because it seemed big and important. 15 years later, did it actually have any impact on anything going on still? No, really. Did it? Because I sure hope not.
Tomorrow, you get a double dose of Nostalgia November as I dive back into the box and also do a reread review of World Without a Superman.
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