Collects Excalibur issues 6-11 & Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Alan Davis, Paul Neary, Marshall Rogers, Terry Austen, Arthur Adams, Bob Wiacek

This time the series starts with a bang; literally because Phoenix leaves the lighthouse in a hurry and blows a path straight through the whole building. She heard a cry for help from her “little brother” baby Nathan Summers and left to help him. A huge cross-over event, Inferno, has begun. Excalibur’s part isn’t necessary for the event’s overall plotline but the characters go through changes which will affect them later. In fact, a reader might be confused if she or he hasn’t read the other Inferno comics.

Rachel flies to New York, which has been taken over by demons. She’s promptly taken out of the rest of the story – because she’s turned into a plastic dummy. Meanwhile, the rest of the team flies after her. Unfortunately, the demonic influence in the city immediately takes over Meggan who changes into the Goblin princess and she starts to hunt Brian, Kitty, and Kurt.

Afterward, the team stays in New York for a couple of days. Issue 8 is an aftermath issue where each of them goes to their own ways. Kitty visits her old friends the New Mutants, Kurt is retrieving an old X-Men jet, and Rachel visits her brother, but unseen by Jean and Scott because they don’t yet know that Rachel is their child from another timeline. Meggan is terribly ashamed of her actions and has left to harbor where a group of women find her and cheer her up. Meanwhile Brian is looking her all over the city. He also finds out that his powers are diminishing.

In the next issue, Kitty tests Brian’s powers and notices that they’re nearly gone. She also brings the others’ attention to Meggan’s problem: she changes shape unconsciously to anyone who is near her. But they’re called back to London by detective Thomas. There, Excalibur has to confront Lighting Squad: their double from another Earth which was conquered by Nazis. Hauptmann Englande and his associates are very nasty people. Their Kitty is a tortured being who has been forced to kill and might be a ghost herself. The Nazi team doesn’t have Rachel, though.

In the final issue, the English authorities have negotiated a way to return the Nazi team to their own world but something goes wrong. The Excalibur vanishes, too.

Meanwhile, Nigel Frobisher, the rather unpleasant banker we met earlier, gambles with Courtney Ross but loses – big time. Courtney is turning about to a quite a nasty person, too.

The whole team get a lot to think about in these stories but Meggan especially: she’s starting to wonder just who she is or if she even has a personality of her own. Also, when the team returns to the lighthouse, Kitty finds Illyana’s soulsword in front of the building. She doesn’t want it but even Phoenix can’t get rid of it. She also feels really inadequate next to Rachel. Also, Kitty and Kurt are starting to see disturbing parallels with Jean-Phoenix and Rachel-Phoenix which is very bad news. Brian is still an alcoholic and Kurt is worried about the whole team.

Mojo Mayhem was drawn by Arthur Adams and stars X-Babies who are Mojo’s creations. Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Longshot, Colossus, Havok, and Dazzler escape the Mojo world with an unfortunate adult. At the same time, Kitty is taking a deserved vacation but ends up with the X-Babies.

I enjoyed this collection as well, but I remember my favorite being the Cross-Time Caper which starts in the next collection. I read them when they originally came out, in the early 1990s. A very impressionable age for me  . I think the start of Excalibur is one of Claremont’s best writing: mixing adventure with relationships and interesting supporting characters. He’s also dealing with a lot of mature themes such as attempted rape and alcoholism in addition to Meggan’s identity problems.

Collects Excalibur #1-5 and Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Alan Davis, Paul Neary, Mark Farmer

Ah, Excalibur! Full of humor and fun and of course two of my five favorite X-Men: Shadowcat and Nightcrawler. I loved this book from the start because it was so much fun compared to the regular X-Men at the time. Sadly, only a few issues were published here in Finland but I got as many as I could from the original issues through a Finnish retailer. Now, they’re in Marvel Unlimited!

In The Sword is Drawn, Rachel Summers returns to the world. She disappeared into Spiral’s Body Shoppe in a previous X-Men issue. Kitty is seeing a wild dream about the X-Men as actors and she frees Rachel in her dream. As far as the characters in this team know, the X-Men (Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Psylocke, Longshot, Havok and Dazzler along with Madelyne Pyror) are dead, and Kitty and Kurt are mourning them. Psylocke is the twin sister of Captain Britain, Brian, and he’s drinking so heavily that he’s driving away his lover Meggan. Meggan knows Kurt and Kitty. She flies to the Muir Island to seek help, right in time to help Kurt and Kitty fight a group of interdimensional mercenaries who are after Rachel, on the orders of Opal Luna Satyrnine, who claims to be the Omniversal Majestrix. Meanwhile, Rachel escapes to the same world and a group of warwolfs follow her. In the end, the five heroes form the Excalibur.

In the first issues, the team’s trying to get used to living together. While they foil bank robberies and hunt the warwolfs around London, they’re also settling into the lighthouse where Brian and Meggan have invited the rest of the group. Kurt notices the negligent way that Brian is treating Meggan and the lighthouse is starting to feel a bit crowded with five people and a dragon living there.

A lot of storylines are started in this collection, such as the metallic head which calls itself Widget and is apparently transporting people to other worlds, and the mystery of the lizard people. We’re also introduced to a cast of supporting characters, such as grumpy Dai Thomas, the long-suffering detective who has to deal with our heroes, Nigel Frobisher who is a banker with a crush on Rachel, and of course Courtney Ross, Brian’s former girlfriend who looks uncannily like Opal Luna. None of them are ended and will continue for quite a while.

In the first two issues, Excalibur deals with the warwolfs, the third issue has a jail break featuring Juggernaut, and the last two issues are spent with the Crazy Gang and Arcade.

Davis’ art is gorgeous, as usual, and I really enjoy this mix of characters and the humor.

Booking Through Thursday

What proportion of the books you own are unread?

I moved last summer and then I weeded a lot from my print book (and comics) collection. Most of them were books I’ve read but don’t intend to reread. So, I’d say I haven’t read about 80% of my print books. I’ve also bought as audiobooks some of the series I really like.

Like many others, I have a tendency to download free ebooks when they’re available so I think out of ebooks maybe even 90% are unread. However, I own only one audiobook which I haven’t listened yet. When I buy a new audiobook I almost always listen it immediately.

The first book in an urban fantasy series.

Publication year: 2010
Format: print
Page count: 325
Publisher: ROC

Alex Craft is a grave witch, a witch who can speak with the dead, see souls, raise shades, and also see into the world of the dead. With her grave sight she sees the world as a decayed and crumbling place. She has a consulting business, Tongues for the Dead, but it’s not doing well. In fact, her newest client has a heart attack right after Alex raises the client’s father’s shade and his widow wants to arrest Alex for causing the death. Fortunately, Alex has a lot of friends in the police and the matter is cleared quickly, but she doesn’t get paid.

In this world, the Fae were the ones who “came out of the closet” for normal humans and dragged witches along. Alex lives in Nekros City where a lot of witches live, too. However, despite that, or because of it, a political party called Humans First has gotten a lot of support. Alex’s father is in politics and also in the Humans First party. They haven’t spoken after Alex left in a huff when she was 18. She also has a younger sister who works for their father. Alex’s sister Casey calls her and wants her help: the Governor has died and Casey wants to be sure that magic wasn’t involved. Alex is reluctant but desperate for clients so she agrees.

In the morgue, Alex notices a persistent ghost and odd tattoos on Governor Coleman’s body. Nobody else sees the tattoos, even though the coroner is famous for her ability to find magic. Alex also tries to raise a murdered woman’s shade, as a favor for her cop friend in exchange for seeing the Governor’s body. A shade a collection of the dead person’s memories and doesn’t have will or goals. However, this time the shade screams and attacks Alex. The shade even wounds her, which shouldn’t be possible. To add to the confusion, the lead detective in Coleman’s case shows up and throws Alex and her cop friend out.

On the steps of the police station, someone shoots at Alex. However, she’s shoved out of the way and the bullet hits her cop friend instead. She wants to find out who did it and is also mixed up in Coleman’s murder case.

Alex is a very typical urban fantasy heroine: she lives alone, except for her dog, and is against any sort of romantic entanglements. But she has a good circle of friends. The coroner Tamara is her best friend and Caleb is her friend and landlord. He’s also fae.

For most of her life, Alex has been able to see the spirits of the dead and also Death: a young looking man who collects the souls of the dying. She even has a friendship of sorts with Death. Because she’s able to see and hear people whom others don’t see, she can come off as strange sometimes.

Even though Alex is nominally a private investigator, she usually just raises shades and isn’t used to doing actual investigation. The story is fast-paced with quick twists and drew me in. I even liked the chemistry between Alex and her major love interest, which isn’t usual for me.

Alex’s powers come with a price: after she uses the grave sight her regular eyesight goes really bad or she’s even blind for a while.

A steampunk book.

Publication year: 2014
Format: ebook

The third book in the Drifting Isle Chronicles and part of the Storybundle’s Steampunk bundle. All of the books are written by different writers. They happen in the same city but have different main characters.

Oladel Adewole is a Professor in the Eisenstadt University. The City is situated right below the island which drifts in the sky, mysterious. Nobody has visited it before. Adewole is not a native but from Jeroa and doesn’t like his life in Eisenstadt. He’s knows ancient languages and is also an expert in folklore and history, especially on stories about the Drifting Isle. He has only one friend, Deviatka, who is also staying in the same boarding house, and feels isolated from his own culture and people. The Jerians are black. They drink coffee instead of tea and have different clothing than the people in Eisenstadt. Adewole’s family has died, including his little sister whom he loved dearly. He also knows that the Dean of the University despises him.

But then Hildy Goldstein makes her historical flight to the Drifting Isle and everything changes. The government is sending a party up to the island. It’s assumed that there are people living there, so they want Adewole to come along as a linguist and a folklorist. He’s more than delighted. Both Adewole and Deviatka are part of the expedition group, which also includes a lot of soldiers.

This is a tale of first contact, but not is space. Language plays a large part and I think it’s used well. Adewole is a great scholarly and peaceful protagonist. He’s also charming and a bit naïve which allows him to try the friendly approach at first. The people on the isle are suspicious and not very friendly, which is understandable.

The various cultures have different approaches to religion and magic. The eisenstadters are mostly atheists who think of religion as quaint stories and little else. Many of them have open scorn towards any believers and they don’t believe in magic. Adewole’s parents were devout followers of their gods and while Adewole isn’t as devout, he still respects them. Apparently, the Jerians as a whole are more religious than the people in Eisenstadt. The people on the Isle are afraid of their God and forbid any talking about him/it.

Eisenstadt has talking birds and the isle has them, too. One of the significant secondary characters is a talking owl who was a lot of fun.

This is mostly a fun and quick read. However, near the end it got really dark and that was a little jarring to me. The end twists were also very surprising.

It’s difficult to categorize this book as either SF or fantasy, but I lean towards more fantasy.

Booking Through Thursday

Do you read books recommended by friends? Or do you prefer to find your own books to read.

Sometimes I read books recommended by friends when they are from genres I like.

Tough Travelling hosted by Fantasy Review Barn.

Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

Join us this week as we look at UNIQUE FLORA

Self-explanatory. If you know of a plant that is either not on earth, or doesn’t act the same way in fantasyland as it does on earth, then you can consider it unique. Have fun.

I’m sure there are lots of these in various books. I came up with these:

Athelas, from Tolkien, can heal in the hands of a true king. But most people aren’t true kings so it’s considered a weed by everyone except the elves. And the Ents are walking, talking plants.

Ambrosia from the Greek and Roman myths is the food (or drink depending on the source) of the gods. Truthfully, I don’t know if it’s a plant but I’ve always imagined it to be some sort of plant extract.

Pinocchio was carved from wood and a fairy brought him to life. He’s also seen in the Fables comics.

The Magic Grove in the Fables comics. Carvings made from this wood come to life.

The Plant Men from E. R. Burroughs’ Barsoom books. They’re very nasty creatures which attack, kill, and eat everyone else. They travel in packs. Barsoom also has plants called mantalia which gives off milk-like liquid which people can drink.

Magic beans in the Jack and the beanstalk. They are also seen in the Fables comics.

The Delvians are sentient plant people in Farscape TV series.


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