Sunday, September 27, 2009

Excalibur #83

TITLE: Excalibur #83


COVER DATE: November 1994


22 pages


Let's see...1994...1994...what happened in 1994?

Ah yes, fifteen years ago I started dating the wonderful woman who would become my wife. Needless to say, comic books took a back seat for a while. Not that I had to hide anything, as my wife is a bigger sci-fi geek than I am. In fact, I vividly remember driving in the car and meticulously explaining the history of Cable to her. Why she didn't run from the car screaming is something I'm eternally grateful for.

So there's your Random Longbox dating tip for today...chicks love the minutae of the Summers' time travel spanning family tree

No, with love in the air there's other thoughts that run through a young man's brain that don't leave too much room for the funny books. This book falls firmly into that time period, so I never ended up reading it until years later.

This book is also noticeable for being Warren Ellis' first issue of his twenty issue run on Excalibur. I remember liking his take on the team when I did start reading regularly again, but for some reason it took me a long time to go back and pick up the issues I'd missed.

As near as I can tell, this issue is also Terry Dodson's first work at Marvel. Although Ellis and Dodson only worked together on Excalibur for just this issue, they would go on to do the Storm and Pryde and Wisdom mini-series together.

Bend Sinister
  • Writer: Warren Ellis
  • Artists: Terry Dodson and W.C.Carani
  • Letterer: Jon Babcock
  • Colorist: Joe Rosas
  • Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
  • Group Editor: Bob Harras
  • Chief Editor: Tom DeFalco

  • Based on an original idea by Scott Lobdell
  • Cover and frontspiece by Bill Sienkiewicz
The first page is a small intro to get us up to speed on the Soul Sword that was once owned by Illyana Rasputin. I confess to knowing nothing more than the bare bones when it comes to Illyana and her sword, so this page was useful above and beyond the nice Sienkiewiz artwork.

Basically, the sword used to be bonded on a metaphysical level to Illyana. Now that she is gone it is bonded to Shadowcat, who has tended to ignore it.

It's mail day on Muir Island, the base of operations for Excalibur. Bishop has come from Xaviers with supplies and equipment to help Moira McTaggert with her experiments for finding a cure for the Legacy Virus.

Ughh...please tell me this story is not a Legacy Virus story. People rag on Claremont for his dangling, years-in-the-developing plot lines, but they got nothing on the Legacy Virus.

Kitty, meanwhile, is lost in thought when she is surprised by Nightcrawler teleporting in behind her. It seems she has gotten the lion's share of the packages that Bishop has delivered. She's elated to see that Jubilee has sent her boxes of new clothes. Bishop? Not so much.

In Cairo, we catch up with Nightcrawler's ex-girlfriend, Amanda Sefton. At least I think its "ex" at this point, but I could be mistaken. She's on a layover from her stewardess job and is hitting the local bazaar.

She is surprised by a beggar who is panhandling in english. She's even more surprised to discover that the beggar is her mother. It would seem her mother has taken a vow of poverty while trying to reach mystic empowerment using the Winding Way.

This is far from coincidence, as she has sought out her daughter for help. There is a magician called Gravemoss who is on the Winding Way as well, and is seeking out a weapon that will help him cheat the system. That weapon is the Soul Sword. While on the path, she can not interfere and beseeches her daughter's aid to help protect the current bearer of the Soul Sword...Kitty Pryde.

Back at Muir Island, Gravemoss' quest for the sword has already started with his mere presence infecting the natural balance of the island. Meggan, as the most attuned to nature, feels his presence first and has to be taken to the labs to calm her down after series of convulsions.

The other person reacting to his presence, is Kitty. Looking through the clothes that Jubilee has sent, she goes for something decidedly out of character for her.

What better way to depict a demonic influence creeping into your psyche than all black and bare midriffs!

Not feeling quite rebellious enough, Kitty takes her new attitude into Moira's private quarters. She ransacks her room and stops to light up when she finds a long forgotten about carton of cigarettes.

Moira discovers what Kitty is up to and demands that Kitty come to the lab immediately for tests, as something is not right. Realizing that she hasn't quite gotten under Moria's calm demeanor just yet, Kitty starts to needle her about her husband and son, both deceased.

Oooohhh...I smell a girl fight coming on!

In the most badass move of the book, Kitty takes Moira's threats to shut up in stride by putting her cigarette out on her arm. That's's on!

Being a scientist and not a superhero, Moria ends up getting the raw end of the scuffle. Kitty pauses as her newly exposed bare midriff begins to crackle with supernatural energy. Out from her navel, emerges the hilt of the Soul Sword. Without hesitation, Kitty reaches down and pulls it out.

Things just got a little worse for Moira. Kitty as well, I suppose, as I'm sure this was not how she planned on spending her day when she woke up.

Meanwhile, one level below the current fracas, Nightcrawler decides to teleport up to see what all the commotion is about.

In mid-teleport, he is beset upon by the current instigator of the problems on Muir Island...Gravemoss! Kurt is no match for a Necromancer of his level, and soon finds himself getting possessed by Gravemoss himself.


As I noted earlier, this book is some of Warren Ellis' and Terry Dodson's earliest works. So how did it hold up? Surprisingly well, I think.

For Ellis, you can definitely tell it's him through the dialogue, and in the way the characters interact. The vocabulary has a certain crispness and acerbic tone to it that he has since perfected and trademarked. The pacing and plotting is relatively standard, with little to none of Ellis' pet themes popping up. I would imagine that some of Ellis' detractors would consider that a net positive.

Terry Dodson also does an admirable job, and you can definitely see a major talent in the making. It's not quite as distinctive as his current work has become, but there's no mistaking he knows how to draw the ladies.

It's too bad that Dodson didn't do any other work in this title, as his style is a nice progression for Alan Davis' work in these pages. It doesn't ape his style, but you can definitely see some influence creeping through.

Lastly, I did notice that the story seemed to move a little slowly. It's nowhere near decompressed levels yet, but you can begin to see the storytelling style migrate in that direction.

All in all, this was another fine pick from the Randomizer. Excalibur has always been one of my favorites, so it's good to see that at least one of the issues still holds up today.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

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