November 1991 – “Home Comforts”
Hope you’re ready for a different kind of book!
If Uncanny X-Men is an American sitcom, then Excalibur is Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Both were extremely enjoyable through the mid 90’s, but Excalibur just had a different feel to it. Although it contained some of the favorites from the X-Men (Nightcrawler, Kitty, and Phoenix) it definitely wasn’t a traditional X-Men book. It contained silliness, for lack of a better word. And yet that silliness never felt out of place in this book. In a book that dealt more with travels through other dimensions than travels through space, it amassed quite a group of ridiculous guest stars, but they were written so perfectly and in such a way that you smiled at every little crack they made. Alan Davis was never the best writer in the X-Men universe (when he returned to X-Men years later I was rather disappointed) his style fit perfectly here.
Perhaps because it was a bit different from what I was used to, I never really collected this book in the early 90’s. It was never one that I went out of my way to pick up until I finally learned more about the ex-X-Men trio. I knew about the team from the old Marvel trading card set (man I loved those) but didn’t really know much about the characters. My only experience with Kitty and Phoenix were from the “What If… The X-Men Lost Inferno”. It wasn’t until I collected back issues that I learned about those two (and Nightcrawler too) and wanted to find out more about them.
So by the time I picked up this particular issue, it was closer to the late 90’s. I would buy Excalibur issues as I found them. So unfortunately, unlike most of the issues after 1991, I don’t really remember much about getting this. But I do remember thoroughly enjoying it.
We start the issue with Nightcrawler and Meggan going through some gymnastic exercises. By now, I had already been well aware of the attraction between the two (it had been established in early Excalibur issues). The two kiss and all of a sudden a giant hand grabs Nightcrawler’s neck. Suddenly, Nightcrawler wakes up. Meggan was a dream, but the hand belongs to a very real Captain Britain. Nightcrawler quickly teleports out of his grasp and Phoenix shows up to break them up. We find out that Nightcrawler was talking in his sleep and that Captain Britain was a little stressed about the lack of peace and quiet he’d gotten since Technet moved into the Lighthouse. However, as he accuses Nightcrawler of impropriety with Meggan, she drops through the hole in the ceiling and on the way down, gives Britain a quick peck on the lips. This dispels the fight and Britain storms off.
Captain Britain continues to march through the lighthouse, trying to find a quiet place to read his book. He comes across one member of Technet (I honestly can’t remember his name but it’s the short green guy) who is creating a ruckus with his drill. Meggan attempts to cheer up Brian but it doesn’t have any use. Scatterbrain starts following Brian like a puppy. Brian comes across Kitty who is working with Ferro and trying to figure out Widget. Ferro gets out of hand with the computers and ends up short circuiting Widget. Brian continues on down the stairs.
There he finds Bodybag attacking something behind some curtains. Brian leaps on him, only to find out that Bodybag was eating Kitty’s stuffed bear. Of course then we find out that Bodybag is severely allergic to polymers which is what the bear is made of. Bodybag rushes to the bathroom and the room explodes, ending with the toilet seat hanging around his neck. This time, it’s Kitty’s turn to flip out at Technet and Brian walks off, smiling.
He tries the basement instead only to find the Technet member Numbers and the giant dragon (no, not Lockheed…some other dragon Excalibur adopted) in a rather…intimate…moment. Scatterbrain shows up, once again trying to attach herself to Brian. Frustrated, he tosses down his book and flies straight up through the hole in the center of the lighthouse. However, he smashes into one of the Technet’s inventions, which causes an explosion. Phoenix, Nightcrawler, and Meggan all get out of the way. As Brian’s vision clears, he catches Nightcrawler helping Meggan to her feet and he completely loses control. He savagely attacks Nightcrawler and only the mutant’s speed keeps him from being beaten.
Nightcrawler avoids most of the punches, constantly flipping Brian, trying to talk him down. Meggan and Phoenix watch in horror as the two friends fight ruthlessly. Meggan especially is in shock as two people she cares about most beat each other. Nightcrawler teleports Britain outside, but then Captain Britain causes a rain of rocks down onto Nightcrawler. One rock strikes the mutant in the leg, fracturing his femur. Before Britain can press the attack, Meggan steps between them. Phoenix had revealed that they were fighting over her and she can’t imagine why because that would make her property – a slave. She flies off as Kitty and Phoenix tend to Nightcrawler. The two women then head to the lighthouse for medical supplies, leaving the rivals alone.
This gives time for Brian to apologize and explain what had been bothering him for so long. He was essentially jealous of Nightcrawler, especially as the girls looked to him for leadership. He was jealous of Nightcrawler’s attraction to Meggan. Even as the two make up, though, a pair of soldiers from the Captain Britain corps show up and drag Brian through a portal and vanish into thin air, arresting him.
I really did enjoy this issue. Some of the moments are exceedingly wierd, but Alan Davis (both writer and artist at this point) pulls it off perfectly. Technet adds just the perfect amount of humor but in reality, the humor acts as a catalyst to drive Captain Britain to break and ultimately leads to the climax of this issue. I especially love Captain Britain here and love everything that’s been done with him by both Claremont and Davis. He is a flawed hero, suffering from alcoholism, rage, jealousy, and impatience. His inadequacies are revealed in this issue as we find that although he is meant to be a leader, he feels true jealousy towards Nightcrawler who seems to command the team with respect. He is jealous of Nightcrawler as he fears that Meggan is attracted to the mutant. The moment when Britain and Nightcrawler finally come to terms with something that has actually been heating up for 43 issues is absolutely fantastic. It’s interesting how the best moments of this story are not filled with action, but rather dialogue.
I also really enjoy the moments between Brian and Meggan. They’ve always had an odd relationship and it strikes me as one similar to an abuser and the abused. As poor as Brian treats her, he really does love her and it’s a constant struggle for him as he fights against his own rage and jealousy to become a better man for her. At the same time, she won’t leave him because she is totally emotionally dependent on him. It’s an interesting dynamic.
The art is also fantastic, but I’ve always been a fan of Davis and his smooth styles. Davis is the definitive Nightcrawler artist and his renditions don’t disappoint. Everything is just enjoyable in this issue. If you haven’t checked it out and somewhat enjoy a bit of weirdness in your comics, I highly recommend this issue. If you don’t like humor, but still like Captain Britain or Nightcrawler, check it out as well. This issue is really about them and their rivalry.