Excalibur 004: Still Crazy After All These Years

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Last issue we had Vixen and the Juggernaut; well this week we’ve got Courtney Ross and Arcade. And the Crazy Gang too; an inept band of super villains themed on Lewis Carroll’s literary works, except when they are Britain’s premier crime fighting team Excalibur in ….

Now Courtney Ross used to be both Brian’s main squeeze and the girl most often seen on the arm of Captain Britain for she was one of the few, at the time, girlfriends let in on the whole secret identity thing going on with their boyfriend. Here she has moved on to become one of the biggest bankers in the country but she still has enough of the old fighting spirit that helped win Brian over as seen when the Crazy Gang come looking for a new Alice to take off to Wonderland. Clearly the new platinum blonde locks help.

Meanwhile Excalibur are enjoying a bit of downtime in the big city with Kitty and Rachael on a shopping trip and the call out of different size and colour notes by Kitty help sell this not only a as a British book but also help sell the likes of Kitty as Yank over here. Especially given her age meaning that unlike the Germanic Kurt or her mentor who has lived through generations across the planet she is more likely to see the U.K as somewhere shiny and new. This shopping trip carries on the running theme between the two of Kitty expressing disapproval of the punk rock look Rachel favours while not so secretly being jealous of the looks she gets. This really helps sell, at least for me, the notion of a young teen girl growing up around the likes of Ororo Munroe and Jean Grey.

Still troubles arise when they go to pay for it and find out their cash has been swapped for literal crazy money. Their first sign that Courtney might be in trouble. See and you thought that line about money was just a throwaway thing about cultural differences. No Chris wouldn’t be so filler driven.

Meanwhile in the lighthouse of justice Kurt is setting up his new training rig and comes across a rather scantly clad Meggan who he doesn’t exactly offer to join is as drag down to his level. Not that she’s complaining.

Not that Kurt isn’t aware of what he’s doing and neither is Meggan and the timely arrival of Brian with some bad news interrupts it before it goes too much further. Which I found refreshing. These are two adults, even Meggan who is shown as a little naive and clueless due to her upbringing, who are aware of what they are doing making them feel a little more real and flawed than some comics would be prepared to show.

So while the team puzzle over the clues left for them by the mad man Arcade Meggan questions her relationship with Brian some more as he goes white hot with rage over the thought of someone hurting his poor, dear, Courtney. How much of that is driven by her own feelings for Kurt, her lack of connection for Brian, or just genuine human paranoia and jealousy is hard to tell but it’s something Chris Claremont is keen to play with for the sake of drama and a good story. Just like Arcade is keen to play with his victims for the sake of his own entertainment. It seems he has taken the lovely Miss Ross due to amount of time both Brian and the X-men have bested one of his schemes. No money or over the tops plans this time. Just poor, old fashioned, revenge.

So while Excalibur race to the rescue it’s up to Courtney to stay alive and just like she took out the Crazy Gang with a bottle of perfume and a few well timed moves she manages to keep the crowd on her side. Which is probably for the best as Excalibur are having a few issues of their own. Brian’s all fired up and used to going solo which causes trouble for the group especially when his power and strength turn against them and Rachel is distracted by the ongoing cross over in the rest of the X-books to really notice.

By this point the team is in full dysfunctional swing and the characters are really coming through even if sometimes things like the Kurt Meggan romance are laid on a bit thick But it adds a nice very human, flawed, depth to our heroes that exemplify the Marvel books of the time and the X-books as a whole. The readers are still asked to juggle more than I think they would in a modern title with cross over name drop not going anywhere until they can handle Arcade, and the disappearing Moira McTaggert not coming back into the title until after that. Reading it now, years after it’s wrapped is quite different but even back then I can see this being a title that you would want to keep around to go back through both before and after a new issue drops to see how it all fits together. Because the lovely thing about Excalibur is that it does indeed fit together.

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