Monday, October 21, 2013


Note: This volume contains a fill-in issue and a one-shot called EXCALIBUR: XX CROSSING, neither of which involved Alan Davis in any way. I didn't read either of them for my marathon session.

Alan Davis's run as writer of EXCALIBUR continues with our heroes moving into Braddock Mnor as their new base of operations, thanks to Brian's lighthouse having been destroyed during the anti-Phoenix/Necrom affair. It's nice to see Davis drawing the house again, and the place looks pretty much exactly as it did during his previous run with it. We even get to return to the caverns beneath the manor where the Mastermind computer resides, now joined by Widget.

Davis writes, but does not draw, the two issues immediately following number 50. The first is a throw-away adventure following a group of saurian analogues for Excalibur from a world where dinosaurs rule the Earth. The second of these presents Davis's attempt to unify all previous Phoenix-related stories into one single origin for the Phoenix Force. It's certainly a handy issue for Phoenix-philes, but since we're concerned mainly with the Captain Britain related aspects of this run, it is of little concern for this review. I will mention however, that it guest stars the X-Men, and the beautiful Davis cover makes me wish he'd drawn the interiors.

Davis returns as artist for an issue which reads like a lost story from his original CAPTAIN BRITAIN run. While the rest of the team is occupied elsewhere, Cap finds himself drawn into a bizarre, Wonderland-like world to rescue Meggan, Kylun, and Cerise from the Crazy Gang. There's no way to tell for certain, but it really seems like Davis had a lot of fun with this story, devoting the entire issue to a solo Cap adventure, and drawing a lot of the whimsical, fantasy-type imagery he excels at. This done-in-one is easily a standout favorite from Davis's EXCALIBUR run due to that. By the issue's end, the Crazy Gang have peacefully retired from crime, adding an extra layer of nostalgia by wrapping a long-standing loose end from the U.K. CAPTAIN BRITAIN series.

Davis next returns to some other classic Captain Britain cast members with a two-parter that restores Sat-Yr-9 as a major villainess, and sees Jamie Braddock cast as her servant. The Vixen is involved as well and Psylocke guest-stars too, just to round out this "old home" tale.

Incidentally, I have to say that -- even though he's not at all a fan of Betsy's transformation into a Japanese warrior goddess -- Alan Davis draws the Jim Lee Psylocke exceptionally well. She actually looks Asian, something many other artists have difficulty conveying.

So by the end of the two-parter, in which Sat-Yr-9 reveals herself and tells Brian Courtney is dead, Davis has set up a great new threat for Excalibur. Sat-Yr-9 is at large, with both the Vixen's gang and Jamie Braddock under her command. Furthermore, Jamie has killed Alysande Stuart, giving Excalibur an even greater reason to track the villains down. Unfortunately, as we'll see next time, this new situation falls quickly by the wayside, to be mentioned barely ever again.

The next story is another two-parter, with a plot from Alan Davis and script by frequent EXCALIBUR fill-in writer, Scott Lobdell. The story is most notable to me for featuring some very early Joe Madureira artwork, and even better -- it's Joe Mad drawing the X-Men, as they guest-star in the story. I'm a big fan of Madureira's work, and while I like the clean full-on "manga" style he eventually evolved into, I love his early efforts as well, which impressively straddle a line somewhere between classic comic book style and ultra cartooniness.

The story itself is a throwaway however, giving an unnecessary coda to the tale of the Crazy Gang, which Davis had already effectively ended a few issues before -- they had found a "Wonderland" to call their own and were finally living peacefully. This story simply reiterates that ending.

Sadly, Davis's run on EXCALIBUR has begun to lose steam by this point. It's plain that he came into the book with a very clear vision for the first several issues, but following the anti-Phoenix showdown in #50, the intricately plotted serial Davis had been writing begins to disintegrate into a series of one- and two-issue adventures. This formula could have worked just as well -- and it does, at first -- but as we'll see next time, Davis -- in my opinion -- seems to be losing interest in the series following the Sat-Yr-9 reveal.


Next time: Alan Davis's run winds down and the Captain Britain review series finally comes to an end!

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