Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This Comic Was Surprisingly Good - New Excalibur #1

Yeah, I admit, that is a bit snarky of a title. It is not like Chris Claremont has not written some pretty good stories as of late, heck, I think I would go as far as to recommend a few of his Uncanny X-Men issues (he did a recent one with the X-Babies that I thought, in particular, was good). That being said, I no longer open up a book with "Claremont" on the cover expecting all that much from the comic. That is why it was very a pleasant surprise to see New Exaclibur #1, which was actually a good comic book.

My belief was helped when I saw an X-Editor call the script for New Excalibur #1 the best he has seen from Claremont in years, so that made me feel better, as it was not just me who felt that this was uncommonly good.

The key to the comic being good fell to two points:

1. A really good opening with Dazzler

and

2. Smooth exposition

As to the first, Claremont writes a very touching Dazzler. Someone who is forced to play dives in Britain, where even she admits that most people are showing up to see her as a novelty. She does her best to wow them, but most don't see past her costume. Very sad, but very rich characterization. After leaving the gig, Dazzler comes across a group of analogues of the original X-Men, who are in the midst of trying to kill some guy. Dazzler jumps in, and Claremont gives her some very good action scenes.

And then she is killed (by the way, the absolute WORST part of this issue was the absurd Buffy reference that happened as the Jean Grey analogue kills Dazzler. It was AWFUL. I mean, it is this big moment, and Claremont decides to homage the Dark Willow episode? So lame. In fact, it also seemed awfully close to crossing the line from "homaging" to just flat out stealing the line, although it is pretty clearly the former...ooooh, did it annoy me).

The rest of the issue shows Captain Britain and the rest of New Excalibur form. Captain Britain, Juggernaut, Nocturne and Pete Wisdom will make up the rest of the team, and I think they are all introduced with just enough exposition. I particularly liked Captain Britain's introduction. In under 50 words, Claremont is able to completely sum up for the reader who Captain Britain is and what his current situation is. I really liked that.

The cameo from the original Excalibur members who are now X-Men was a nice touch, handled well. I believe these scenes are explained further in House of M: The Day After, as well as the identity of the guy that the bad X-Men were trying to kill.

Nocturne is still too confusing of a character, and Juggernaut is too one-note, but they did not get in the way of the story, which was fun and straightforward.

Michael Ryan does a decent job on the art. I did not like how he drew Psylocke to not appear Asian, but he got everyone else down basically right. I noticed he made Pete Wisdom look a bit younger, presumably on Claremont's say-so (I HOPE it was on Claremont's say so). It was too bad, though, that Aaron Lopresti could not make the move to New Excalibur with Claremont. Lopresti was really coming into his own on that title. I hope he gets a good gig somewhere else at Marvel (Lopresti IS Marvel exclusive, right?).

Oh, and yes, Dazzler did not actually die. They revive her via some well-used mutant powers.

And at the very end, we have a cool cliffhanger, as Nocturne is attacked by....evil Professor X!!!

So yeah, a fun issue that was straightforward, and not bogged down with words. That is good enough for me. As for the series as a WHOLE, all five of the characters are interesting on their OWN, so I would imagine the chances are pretty decent that the combined product will be interesting enough.

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19 Comments:

Blogger Bill Reed said...

That's it.

Turn in your beret.

11/09/2005 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger joncormier said...

The original Excalibur were the first comics I ever bought. Well about ten or so of them before I decided to spend my allowance elsewhere. So I'm a bit cautious about picking this up.

I see this like the Jim Carrey version of the Grinch - do I need to ruin another childhood memory? I'm just not sure if this title will do it for me anymore, but I may pick it up if the mood hits me while I'm at the shop today. We'll see. The kid in me goes "Yay more Excalibur, but the adult in me goes "Another meandering money grab."

11/09/2005 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

Here's my question. When you say Captain Britain, you mean Brian Braddock, right? Psylocke's brother?

Man, I want to know what happened to that female Captain Britain that popped up in The Avengers, just before "Disassembled". I liked her style.

As to the actual comic, good review. My only problem is, I can't say I have any real interest in any of the characters.

11/09/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Spencer Carnage said...

I believe the female Capt. Britain will be showing. Claremont said something in an interview.

I want to like this. I really do. I want Claremont to write good x-men like he did way back when. And now that he has Bachalo on Uncanny, I'm hoping something happens to makes his shit good again.

11/09/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"That's it.

Turn in your beret."

I say "surprisingly"!!!!

And the Marvel editor also said this was the best he has seen from Claremont in years!

It makes sense, I tells ya, it makes sense!!!!!!!!!

11/09/2005 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Dizzy D said...

(he did a recent one with the X-Babies that I thought, in particular, was good).

-50 points Indie Cred and you may throw a D20 to save your nerd-cerd.

11/09/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

My belief was helped when I saw an X-Editor call the script for New Excalibur #1 the best he has seen from Claremont in years, so that made me feel better, as it was not just me who felt that this was uncommonly good.
Although that really does make me question what the heck Marvel were doing keeping Claremont on the books for all that time if even the editors thought he was shite...

...by the way, the absolute WORST part of this issue was the absurd Buffy reference that happened as the Jean Grey analogue kills Dazzler. It was AWFUL. I mean, it is this big moment, and Claremont decides to homage the Dark Willow episode?
Claremont probably thinks that Buffy stuff is sort of his after Whedon said that Buffy spun out of his appreciation of the way Claremont wrote Kitty Pryde. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't see it as referencing other people's work at all.

I particularly liked Captain Britain's introduction.
Is there any reference at all to the Kelsey Leigh Captain Britain in this issue? I'll be the first to admit that she was a very, very bad idea, but the fact is that she is Captain Britain at the moment (the story made it very clear that it wasn't something she could just give up), and Brian isn't (and hasn't been for years, in fact), so they really need to be explaining that.

11/10/2005 01:08:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

To get super geeky, Kelvin, I believe what will probably occur is that they will explain that Jim Jaspers has altered reality to create that reality where the female Captain Britain became Captain Britain.

So she will guest star only to learn that she is not ACTUALLY Captain Britain, but someone just fucked with her by making her THINK she was Captain Britain.

This will also be used to explain away the idiotic parts of Austen's Captain Britain storyline.

A sort of "Wanda did it" excuse.

"Jaspers did it"

11/10/2005 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger Cory!! said...

Psylocke is no longer asian, if I remember my X-Men continuity...but seeing as how I gave up on the X-Books when Grant Morrison left, I might be wrong about that.

11/10/2005 01:28:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

This will also be used to explain away the idiotic parts of Austen's Captain Britain storyline.

A sort of "Wanda did it" excuse.

"Jaspers did it"


That... that would be all of it. Basically the entirety of Austen's influence over the Avengers. In a sense, Austen's very existence as an Avengers writer.

So, what you're saying is that Mad Jim Jaspers did Chuck Austen.

11/10/2005 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Craig said...

Claremont is bringing back Kelsey Leigh as, ugh, "Lionheart," as part of a wider storyline looking into what happens when people choose The Sword over The Amulet.

The most interesting thing about Kelsey Leigh is that she was punished over and over again for doing the right thing - or in the case of choosing The Sword, the sensible thing. I suspect that Claremont's probably going to do The League of Dark Captain Britains. (even though the other time somebody chose The Sword, they were turned into an evil knight-type-thing) The smart thing would be to give Kelsey Leigh the chance to stop being a superhero and get her kids back, seeing as that was the way the character was set up.

In short, I don't think Claremont is the man to "fix" the character, to be honest, but then I won't be reading the book. I've got a weird soft spot for patriot heroes, and even though he created the character, I doubt Claremont is capable of using Captain Britain - or Excalibur, for that matter - for saying anything novel or interesting about Britain.

//\Oo/\\

11/10/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger simon said...

Whatever happened to Brian Braddock's on-again/off-again flame, Meggan? I know she was mutant at one point and magic at others (with some kind of elemental connnection to the British Isles-- like CB), but because I got most of my Captain Britain from the old Excalibur run, I have no idea what became of this figure I associate so strongly with Braddock.

11/10/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Matthew Craig:
The smart thing would be to give Kelsey Leigh the chance to stop being a superhero and get her kids back, seeing as that was the way the character was set up.
Since Kelsey's kids (and her gran!) were in Avengers Mansion when it blew up, and no one saw them coming out afterwards, I'd say that's going to be difficult. ;)

And again:
I doubt Claremont is capable of using Captain Britain - or Excalibur, for that matter - for saying anything novel or interesting about Britain.
Are there really no British writers at Marvel who'd want the job? I'm just baffled by this whole thing of giving a series about Britain to non-Brits. But at least it's not Ben Raab this time.

Simon:
Whatever happened to Brian Braddock's on-again/off-again flame, Meggan?
She got sucked into a hole in reality during House of M (in Uncanny). I think she's just sort of chilling out outside of reality now. She'll probably be back in twenty years, punching her way through the walls of reality and complaining about how the Marvel Universe has lost it's way...

11/10/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Dangit, Simon, don't be giving them any ideas!!!

11/10/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Nocturne's story: Talia Josephine "T.J." Wagner is the daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch from another reality, which was originally published in one of Marvel "Millenial Vision" collections. She's as acrobatic as her father, and can possess people for periods at a time. It was presented by Jim Califiore, who ended up writing a solo Nocturne story in Exiles a while back.

TJ was one of the original Exiles, as brought about by Judd Winick and Mike McKone. When Tony Berard took over, she had the team go to Earth-616 (the Marvel U Earth) and basically swap Nocturne for the bone-ugly Beak (who isn't bone ugly anymore, but that's another story). I think Chuck Austen fiddled around with her...which skeeves me out, since I hate that guy. And now, she's in Claremont's hands.

Here's my thing...I don't see why she's in there. I mean, isn't there a glut of time-displaced mutants already? I'm not a big Marvel guy, so dumping Nocturne in this book doesn't compel me to buy it. Just thought you guys might need the history lesson.

11/10/2005 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

You almost had me there with the positive review, Brian. But all the discussion of background detail trivia is fast putting it back in the "not with a barge pole" category.

But then I was lost at about the point where english rose and former Captain Britain herself, Betsy Braddock turned asian for no good reason that I could see, shortly after she grew a new pair of eyes because Claremont can't write people with disabilities.

11/11/2005 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

But then I was lost at about the point where english rose and former Captain Britain herself, Betsy Braddock turned asian for no good reason that I could see...
Because ninjas are kewl (just ask Bendis) and who's ever heard of an English ninja?

Why should established characterisation get in the way of kewlness (just ask Bendis)?

11/11/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

But this background stuff is a lot like the background thing I did when Seven Soldiers came out.

It is not necessary to get the story, but if you WANT the extra info, there it is. :)

11/11/2005 05:04:00 PM  
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