One of the key reasons behind Marvel success with X-Men is that there is pretty much something for everybody in the franchise. You had your teenage angst, moody antiheroes, strong female characters, a diverse range of characters and storytelling that ranged from light-hearted comedy to serious drama and action. One of the best examples of this is now collected in the latest entry in Marvel’s Epic Collection.
A spin off of X-Men during Chris Claremont’s red hot run in the 80s, Excalibur acts as both a sequel to Alan Davis’ (alongside Alan Moore, Dave Thorpe and Jamie Delano) Captain Britain series from Marvel UK and a more light hearted take on a mostly mutant superhero team. The crown jewel in Marvel UK’s original content, Captain Britain was an amazing series that merged superheroics with medieval fantasy, British legend, quirky storytelling and tremendous artwork from now legendary Marvel artist Alan Davis. However, beside a few guest appearances, the character was mostly dormant between 1986 and 1988. That changed when Chris Claremont with a returning Alan Davis created a new X-Men offshoot based in the UK that merged both series together. Following the X-Men’s supposed deaths; Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers join forces with Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) and Meggan to form Excalibur to battle foes both local and from other dimensions.
As said earlier, the X-Men franchise had something for everyone and Excalibur exemplified this in spades. There was drama aplenty with Captain Britain’s rather tumultuous relationship with Meggan and his over dependency on alcohol. Carrying over many themes from Davis’ Captain Britain run, there’s plenty of cross dimensional adventuring including the return of the Captain Britain Corps and the team’s clash with the alternate Nazi counterparts Lightning Force. Plus there’s plenty of the series trademark wit and humour (especially on Alan Davis’ covers with the Juggernaut one being a particular highlight). Kitty and Nightcrawler are the same appealing characters that Claremont perfected in his X-Men run and they immediately prove a combustible with their new British team mates as Brian finds he now has to share his home with three other people who he has little in common with and also has some growing jealousy over Kurt and Meggan’s growing friendship which is further complicated by the return of his former girlfriend Courtney Ross.
Alan Davis leads the charge for most of this collection on the art front and he is right at home with these characters. Every facet of his work is brilliant whether its comedy, drama or action. He was already creating some brilliant visuals in Captain Britain and merging that world with the X-Men’s created some of the best comic art of the modern era. There also some great contributions from other artists including Ron Lim, Marshall Rogers and a particularly great story featuring amazing art by Arthur Adams that brings the team up against Mojo.
This is some of the most fun you’ll have in a superhero comic. X-Men fans won’t hesitate to pick this up, and anyone looking for a superhero affair that isn’t always deadly serious will have a great time reading.
Excalibur Epic Collection: The Sword is Drawn is published 30 March by Marvel
9781302904340 – P/B – £33.50
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Post by Leo