X-Lapsed, Episode 063 – Excalibur #8 (2020)
Excalibur (vol.4) #8 (May, 2020)
“Verse VIII: The Unspeakable and the Uneatable II”
Writer – Tini Howard
Pencils – Wilton Santos & Marcus To
Inks – Sean Parsons, Marcus To, Roberto Poggi & Victor Nava
Colors – Erick Arciniega
Letters – VC’s Joe Sabino
Design – Tom Muller
Head of X – Hickman
Edits – Bissa, White, Cebulski
Cover Price: $3.99
On-Sale: March 4, 2020
Today we wrap up our Warwolf hunt at the palatial Bloodstone Estate – and, best of all we get to take a live one home with us… in the form of an adorable li’l Warwolf Puppy. This story is a little uneven, and feels a bit truncated – but, we’re going to talk all about it just the same.
Also: An overlong tangent discussing the use of literary “shorthand” as it pertains to representation in comics, which I sincerely hope doesn’t annoy and/or anger anybody listening! All that, and some great listener mail to boot!
@acecomics / @cosmictmill / firstname.lastname@example.org
3 thoughts on “X-Lapsed, Episode 063 – Excalibur #8 (2020)”
Sounds like you're really suffering with your sinuses at the moment. I know I had a terrible summer for my allergies. Made worse by the fact that we were all trying to do things outside to alleviate the risk of coronavirus. I hope it all feels better soon I know how frustrating it is not hearing properly. It's worse this year because you can't resort to lipreading.
I need to start by repeating something I said in my feedback to the last issue of Excalibur. Hunting with dogs has been banned in the UK since 2004. I think this is the crime Betsy is worried about. There is an awareness of how involved the Upper Classes are in hunting and a member of the establishment would be scared of being caught hunting. A few years ago there was a bit of an uproar when footage of the Queen strangling a grouse went viral. Shooting grouse remains legal and apparently it is common to break the necks of injured birds but public opinion has become very anti hunting so it was a big story. If Captain Britain (who self-identifies as establishment in this issue) was to be filmed actually breaking the law on hunting it would be a really big story.
You talked a bit about identity politics and how it interacts with fandom and I think there is some strong political material in this issue. Marginalised groups often identity with the mutant metaphor. From the 60s creators have compared mutant rights to the civil rights movement. Lee and Kirby started by comparisons to anti-semitism and racism but as time went on writers like Claremont added on feminism and gay liberation. I am a gay man who grew up in the intense homophobia of the 80s and I definitely identified with the struggle to be accepted that mutantkind faced. People forget how political the X-Men were in the 80s and 90s in part because it is easy to overlook that element when you are not marginalised.
The challenge writing the mutant metaphor today cannot be underemphasised. Readers reflect the political reality of the World outside the comics page and have incompatible expectations of stories. You cannot remove the anti-mutant sentiment from X-Men stories and you end up inevitably reflecting real World situations. Jubilee says she is still a mutant when she is not using her powers and I'm reminded of being told that I shouldn't flaunt my homosexuality by mentioning that I have a husband. I am gay even if I never tell anyone I'm gay. I'm married to a man, that is no different from a man who is married to a woman and if people want me to hide that fact the problem is them not me. The scene at the dinner table is far more real and important to me for that real life parallel which other people may find heavy handed or forced.
The struggle that modern writers have is that they don't just have to deal with a metaphor as they have to tell stories with characters who are marginalised. The stories take on different textures once you have characters who aren't just stand-ins for the marginalised but are also members of the group. You get to the real life situation of intersectionality.
Rictor is gay, working class and Hispanic as well as being a mutant. Cullen Bloodstone is gay, white and Aristocratic. They have as many differences as they do similarities. Cullen only sees the gayness because he's blind to his privilege and thinks he is the same as Rictor. This kind of real life political content can feel like it's virtue signalling but it is the logical extension of each character's experience. We often talk about whether or not changes are in character and we can only infer from past stories. This encounter fits how Cullen is presented. He has the kind of arrogance and sense of entitlement that he would hit on everyone he finds attractive.
For this reason I don't find it as forced as situations in other books where any two gay characters are set up as a couple. I remember years ago in the issue of Hulk where Rick Jones got married Peter David put Northstar and Hector together solely because they were the only gay men at the event. That was forced. This felt entirely in character to me.
I also feel I have to comment on the foolishness of the speakers you had on your comics course. When you study something as an academic discipline you have to accept that you will look at small amounts in great detail and won't necessarily know everything. It is essential to remain humble enough to accept that you could learn more from someone else even if they are not an academic. I have a degree in theology and my best grades were in Biblical Studies but I am not a believer and I know that most Christians will be more familiar with the Bible than me. Even now 24 years on from my finals I think I could give a 3 hour lecture on the first chapter of John's gospel but I couldn't even tell you what's in chapter 2. I would've thought discovering that a living Hispanic artist was responsible for a panel they were using to show shorthand in comics would be a great spur to further study and would greatly enhance their work. The fact it is drawn by a Hispanic man doesn't instantly excuse it but should be acknowledged and investigated.
It is interesting to me that Trevor Von Eeden considers elements of his Black Lightning comics to be racist but he still drew them. He chose not to fight that fight even though he is clearly a champion of civil and creator rights. From reading interviews it seems that he thought he could have more influence as an insider going along with some tone deaf things than by risking his career fighting everything. Maybe a similar thing happened with Perez. But it's their job to interrogate the added information.
It is interesting that people who are not comics fans would choose to study the cultural influence of comics but maybe it's easier if you're not involved in it. I know I found it easier to study theology than some of my friends with faith. It's easier to question things that you don't hold as articles of faith.
It's amazing how deep you're going with these books and how many directions you're sending me off in. Thank you. It's so much fun to really dig deep, it gives me so much extra enjoyment.