Excalibur #43 (November, 1991)
“Home Comforts (or Who Exploded the Toilet?)”
Writer/Pencils – Alan Davis
Inks – Mark Farmer
Letters – Michael Heisler
Colors – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Terry Kavanagh
Chief – Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.75
So, stop me if you’ve already heard this one… say, yesterday, or thereabouts.
Your humble host just ain’t feelin’ it right now. Got a lot of stuff I’m dealing with in the real life… and, lord knows I never wanted to be a content-creator who would fall back on the tired old, “life got in the way” excuse… welp, here I am. I’m finding that the grieving process washes over you less as a dribble and more of… like, when in a 90s sitcom, a family decides they’re going to attend to their own plumbing problems. Ya know what I mean? It’s a full-on blast… with nearly as much “facial wetness” resulting. I’m hoping this will pass… hell, I’ve been hoping it’d pass since mid-January.
Maybe actually talking about it would help? Maybe not? I haven’t the foggiest. You’d never guess that I’ve got a dozen years of schooling and a couple’a degrees in psychology, eh?
*And, it’s at this point, your idiot narrator realized nobody actually read this piece before… and, how he probably could’ve gotten away with playing it off as brand-new. Welp, I’m nothing if not transparent…
We open with Nightcrawler and Meggan seemingly doing a synchronized gymnastics bit throughout a giant jungle gym. Upon landing, their eyes lock… and Meggan appears to take on a more Nightcrawlery appearance. They embrace… and kiss. Ya see, this is all a dream, and unfortunately for Kurt… he talks in his sleep.
He is startled awake by… well, Captain Britain’s mitt being wrapped around his throat! He accuses Nightcrawler of having “lust in his heart” for his woman… but, Kurt BAMFs out of his grip before he can do all that much damage. Ya see, ol’ Brian’s rather frazzled. Not only was the Lighthouse destroyed… not only did the team decide to take in the TechNet… but now, he’s gotta worry about a Fuzzy Elf stealing his woman! Poor dude just wants some peace and quiet so he can read his terribly pretentious book!
Just then, Meggan and Thug of TechNet pop in through a hole in the ceiling. Meggan, who is blissfully ignorant of most things, innocently gives Brian a peck on the lips, before continuing down to the lower levels. This sort of extinguishes the situation… for now.
Further down, Thug is using his Adamantine drill-bit to try and build a “null-grav elevator” for the team. Meggan excitedly attempts to show Brian… but as mentioned, poor dude just wants to read in peace. Worth noting, that creepy JoyBoy is looking on… and, Scatterbrain is really getting up in Cap’s business. She appears to have clung onto him… and is following him everywhere he goes.
Further down… Brian (and Scatterbrain) happen upon Kitty Pryde and Ferro… who are working on diagnosing whatever it was that Bert did to Widget last issue. Ferro… is an idiot… and so, blows up the entire operation, setting Kitty back a ways in her research. Brian smirks and gives her an “I toldja so”, but she ain’t hearin’ it. And so, Cap continues down the never-ending spiral staircase.
Further down (again), and Brian (and Scatterbrain) sees Bodybag sneaking into the temporary women’s dorm. Upon hearing a rather loud “chomp” and fearing the worst, he dives in to check out what’s going on. Turns out B.B. took a big ol’ bite out of Kitty Pryde’s teddy bear! Brian has dropped his book… and we can finally see just how pretentious he is. It’s Philosophic Foundation of Quantum Mechanics… which is actually a real book written in 1944 by Hans Reichenbach… that I’d never want to read!
Kitty certainly isn’t pleased to see her teddy devoured… as it was a gift from Alistaire (Stewart of the W.H.O.) who Ms. Pryde had quite the crush on. Ferro pops over and learns that the teddy was made of nylon… and, uh-oh, Bodybag ain’t gonna be able to properly digest that! Think we might be about to find out “who exploded the toilet”?
Yes. That’s exactly what we’re to find out. We also learn that, while B.B. was blowin’ it up… two entities materialized, and flew out the window. Gross. Kitty finally comes around to Brian’s side, and says they never should have taken the TechNet in!
Further down, Brian goes… no longer is Scatterbrain attached to him, by the by. He’s in the basement area, and it’s cluttered with rubbish. He goes to enter a side room… only to discover Numbers making time with Lockheed the Dragon?! Well, it’s the Lockheed of Earth-597 anyway. Numbers needed some sexual healing… or something, and so, Captain Britain sheepishly exits the room.
Then… Scatterbrain’s back! Brian completely loses it here, and tries to get her to back off. It’s here we learn, via China Doll that Scatterbrain feeds off of anger… and right now, Brian’s one ripe apple.
Brian tosses his book, and gives up. He decides he might as well get away from it all, and just head back to his London home. He goes to fly up the to the top of the lighthouse… however, forgot about TechNet’s “gift” of the anti-grav elevator, and so he’s hurled all the way through the top of the recently-repaired lighthouse!
When he comes to, he sees Kurt attending to Meggan… and totally misreads the situation. Unfortunately for Nightcrawler, in this case perception is reality. There’s about to be a fight!
And fight they do! For the next four pages, Brian and Kurt knock the hell out of one another. Kurt isn’t sure exactly why they’re fighting, and is only really trying to defend himself from Brian’s blows. Finally, Cap manages to land one… fracturing Kurt’s femur!
Meggan calls for the fellas to cool it… and isn’t quite sure why they’re fighting over her. With tears in her eyes she assures Brian that she gave him her heart… and loves her teammates like family. She flies off to be alone. Phoenix follows her to make sure she’s okay.
The crowd disperses, and all we have left are Brian and Kurt… who apologize to one another, and drop some heavy truths. Brian admits to feeling insecure since dropping the “solo-hero” act and assembling Excalibur. The fact that the team sometimes defers to Kurt for leadership has really done a number on his self-esteem.
Kurt admits that he has dreamed of Meggan… but claims that he’s not in love with her. He dreams of her transforming into an “embodiment of all he desires”. Brian thinks to himself that he’s acted like a fool in this situation.
He doesn’t get all that long to reflect on it, however… as the Captain Britain Corps arrive to sweep him away to… somewhere else.
Speaking of “somewhere else”, we have another epilogue on Ee’rath, where Kylun and Company have rescued Princess Sat’neen from a cloaked figure. We wrap up with him preparing to take on the evil Necrom… whoever that might be.
It feels like kind of a cop out to just say “It’s Alan Davis Excalibur“, right? I mean, honestly… it’s all one has to say here, but that kind of dismisses this book in a way, doesn’t it?
Alan Davis’ Excalibur was special… in how it was able to parlay elements of (what I know of) UK comics into a North American mainstream-by-association superhero book. Davis succeeded where so many others did not… in that, what we’re reading here actually feels a bit different. This isn’t just the X-Men… with Big Ben in the background, right? So often, it doesn’t seem like there’s any more thought put into differentiating Excalibur from the rest of the X-Line than that. It’s also not the distillation of England into it’s Albionesque parts, where the streets are swarming with wizards, druids, and dragons.
It’s a neat blend of British sensibilities and humor with more standard American superheroics. It’s a team that feels both incidental and like a family… not just an assortment of “lol, random” characters who a writer feels would look cool standing next to each other. These characters all seem to have a purpose… and thought is being put into their motivations. We don’t get that anymore… especially not on second (or, perhaps even third)-string X-Books.
Where Davis shines here is in the interpersonals. Excalibur has new housemates… and, they’re making a mess of the place. It’s up to the team to kinda suck it up and deal with their new-abnormal. Meanwhile, (Betsy’s Beautiful Blonde British Brother) Brian Britain just wants to read his damned book in peace. He’d also appreciate it if a certain Fuzzy Elf would keep his odd digits off’a his wife. Only problem with that being… Nightcrawler can’t really control who or what he’s dreaming of, right?
Kurt’s story is as tragic as it is thought-provoking. I’ve talked a lot about the way fans perceive Kurt… and, how normally among the knee-jerk responses is the word “swashbuckling”. I’ve long taken issue with that, as buckling swash ain’t something Kurt’s seen doing very often. But, it’s still our “takeaway”, right? I think what Davis is doing here serves as a reminder that, no matter how free-spirited and smiley Kurt may appear… he’s still got some issues. Whether people like his outward appearance or not… it can’t be argued that he isn’t different. Because, he is. He’s abnormal. He’s not like a Hank McCoy who once did look passable… Kurt’s never had such luxury.
And here, his subconscious is focusing on Meggan… a shapeshifter, who in his dream, takes on the form of… a female Nightcrawlerish figure. It stands to reason that he’d find a kinship and comfort in someone with a more nebulous form. I like this take. Brian’s reaction also feels natural… and real. The fight scene, fantastic. Kurt’s willing to take his beating… if Brian needs to get it out of his system. Brian, is initially only too willing to use him as a punching bag… until he comes around.
Unfortunately, this scene is cut short by the arrival of… Otherworld. Though, in fairness, Alan Davis is probably the only writer who’s ever been able to make me not cringe upon goin’ to the place. This is leading to a Trial of Captain Britain… which was actually a lot of fun. If you’re only familiar with Otherworld from current-year comics (which is an absolute bore, in my opinion), you’re in for an unexpected treat.
Ditto the Kylun stuff at the close. Not my favorite bit of business, but I seem to remember it going somewhere sort-kinda interesting.
Overall, this was a fun one! Excalibur was one of the unsung highlights of the “Mutant Revolution”, or whatever it is they were technically calling the Claremont-eviction era.