Excalibur #44 (1991)

Excalibur #44 (Late November, 1991)
“Witless for the Prosecution”
Writer/Pencils – Alan Davis
Inks – Mark Farmer
Letters – Michael Heisler
Colors – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Terry Kavanagh
Chief – Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.75

Your humble host is still down in the dumps… usually by now I’m able to fake my way out of it — at least I think that’s the case. For all I know, I might always come across as a pretty miserable fellow. You be the judge, dear reader — and, when you figure it out, please do me a solid and, ya know, not tell me?

Onward to… Otherworld!

We open up in Otherworld, which is where Captain Britain was whisked off to at the end of the previous issue.  He’s here to be put on trial for his many… many infractions, not the least of which was his recent unprovoked attack on his teammate, Nightcrawler.  The entire joint is crammed full of Captain Britains of the Multiverse… and they’re here to decide Brian’s fate.  He is being represented by Captain U.K. of Earth-839… and we learn here that if Brian is found guilty… she will share in his punishment, by virtue of defending him.  The other Caps are almost giddy at the prospect of declaring our Brian Braddock guilty.

Back on our Earth… er, well Earth-616, Phoenix has caught up with Meggan, and they are sharing a moment.  Meg is dealing with some of the (literally) fuzzy memories of her youth.  She’s searching for her parents, and doesn’t know where to start looking.  Rachel attempts to perform a psychic probe, in hopes that she might be of some assistance.

What she learns, however, is that Meggan’s memories are not so unlike her own, at least in their fragmentation.  While Rachel has plenty of excuse to have a jumbled mind, what with the time-travel and hound-stuff… Meggan’s weird brain clutter strikes her as rather odd.  She suggests they look deeper into it sometime later.

Rachel mentions that during the Psi-Link, she found a memory of some old friends… which triggers Meggan to remember the Scott family in London!  She immediately flies in that direction, Rachel follows right behind.

We shift scenes to Alistaire Stuart of the W.H.O. (that’s the Weird Happenings Organization, dontchaknow) arriving at the new-look Excalibur Lighthouse.  He laughs at the fact that it now looks sorta like a mushroom.  Well, there are a few things it “sorta looks like”, but this is a family-friendly site.

He enters, and immediately finds himself in the midst of a TechNet battle royale!  He tumbles into the zero-grav elevator chute, and before he knows it, he’s at the top of the world chatting up Kitty and Kurt!  He tells the Exies that he’s there to see if Rachel wanted to check out some sort of dig in Ireland.  Kitty informs him that Rachel’s out, but she’d love to go in her stead.  Al seems kind of uncomfortable with this… which, considering Kitty’s probably all of 16 years old here, I don’t much blame him.

When he inquires about the TechNetters, Nightcrawler fills him in on their hanging around while they repair the lighthouse.  When Al asks why they’re fighting, Kurt shrugs it off and says it’s their lunch break.  This book is so much more fun than I remember it being!  Anyhoo, Kitty returns after packing for the trip, and yanks Alistaire through the wall of the lighthouse on their way toward Ireland.

We hop over to E’erath, which we find out is Earth-148, where Kylun and Sa’tneen are still fighting the good fight, rebelling against Necrom… whoever that is.

Back in London, Rachel and Meggan have arrived at the Scotts’ house.  Rachel chats up the oldies, while Meggan reconnects with the younger Josie Scott.  After awhile, Josie informs the gals about a psychic named Madam Zelda, who might just be able to give Meggan some insight as to the location of her folks.

At the lighthouse, Commander Thomas arrives along with a clairvoyant named Emelia Witherspoon… who is just dying to give Nightcrawler’s fur a rub.  They’re here because they need Excalibur’s help… which, we’ll explore deeper next issue.

Back in London, Meggan, Rachel, and Josie arrive at Madam Zelda’s “office”.  Only one is allowed to enter, and so Meggan heads up the flight of stairs.  Upon arrival, she gives her hand over to the Fortune Teller… who, kinda freaks out for a moment.

Outside, Rachel and Josie do some late-night window shopping.  Inside the interestingly-named “Arfur’s Antiques”, Rachel spies a knife being lifted by an invisible person!  She Phoenix’s up, and heads inside.

She is then tackled by… Micromax!  He assumes she is the thief, and declares that she is under arrest.

Rachel rightfully protests this… and soon, Max is joined by some nebbish fella in glasses who informs him that, yes… there was an “invisible man” in the shop before Phoenix entered the scene.  Micromax begrudgingly lets Rachel off the hook… while, poor normal Josie isn’t quite sure what to make of what she’d just seen.

Meggan returns, and shares her psychic reading.  She tells the gals that, initially Madam Zelda was telling her exactly what she wanted to hear… however, when asked for specifics, the poor ol’ fortune teller revealed that her entire act was a sham!

Back in Otherworld, Captain Britain’s many… many… many crimes against the Corps are shared via giant vid screens.  It’s really very cool, they’re calling back to several stories from the volume… and we also get to meet this old hippie Cap… Brother Brit-Man, from Earth-65!

Ultimately, Brian is found… duh, guilty.  His punishment… death.  When… right friggin’ now!

If you’ve ever heard or read any of my thoughts on Otherworld… you’ll already know that it isn’t one of my favorite places in the Marvel Whateververse. In fact, it’s right up there with the Savage Land… which I’ve yet to meet a single person who enjoys that place. Anyway, I’ve often said — because I tend to repeat myself an awful lot — that I can only really get into Otherworld stories that have an Alan involved… and, this issue is another bit of supporting evidence for that statement.

Back in the while ago, I covered a dozen or so Captain Britain shorts from 1982 as part of my X-Lapsed Origins series of articles. Dave Thorpe wrote the first slew, before Alan Moore popped into the scripting seat to really turn things on their ear. Alan Davis was the artist throughout. While not technically the first appearances of the place, these were the stories that introduced us to many of the concepts of Otherworld that “stuck”. Sad to say, it’s really as good as it ever got… as, it’s been (mostly) milked for cheap fantasy story fodder ever since (especially since 2019).

This story, however, plays up both the majesty and madness of the place… and does it so well. It’s really the only way Otherworld actually works… at least to me. Brian (well, our Brian) kinda gets to play the “Bob Newhart” of the scene… being the only sane person there. And, while the rest of the CapBrits aren’t flat-out played for laughs, comedy does ensue. The idea that they’re going to play the many… many crimes of 616 Brian on a vidscreen, is batspit insane (and hilarious)… but, it works. It pays off past stories in a way that… excuses their insanity — because, I think that’s supposed to be our main takeaway. These were crazy events… the book acknowledges that fact — and, parlays them into a very fun hearing.

The Meggan side-story? Well, it’s not bad at all… just a bit “lesser” than the Otherworldly antics of the Brian Corps. This, if I’m remembering right, still has a little ways to go until the “payoff”. It was a decent enough introduction to the Meggan’s History Hunt subplot, however.

Speaking of subplots… remember when comics actually had those?! It almost hurts to read a book this well paced and laid out. I thought the internet said that comics in the 90s were vapid and empty? The internet wouldn’t lie… right? Here, Davis is killing it with subplots… moving pieces into place. It’s almost Claremontian in a way… only, we can be probably be a bit more optimistic about some of these story beats actually paying off under Davis’ pen. We’ve got Nightcrawler given a task by that fur-rub lady, Kitty heading off with the W.H.O. guy, the introduction of Micromax… there’s a lot of story here. It’s simply amazing what a comic book can be when it’s not trying to be something else! This ain’t your lazy Netflix/Disney+ bait. This is unabashedly a comic book… a chapter in a continuing serialized fiction… and, it pulls everything off so well!

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2 thoughts on “Excalibur #44 (1991)

  • May 17, 2022 at 6:56 am
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    I had stopped reading Excalibur by the time this issue came out. It is so great to look back at this Alan Davis artwork, it is SOOOOOOOOOO good. The look on Rachel’s face in the second panel where she is talking to the older lady is such a quintessential Alan Davis face and smile.

    It wasn’t long after you wrote those Captain Britain pieces that Marvel solicited a CB omnibus that would have included some of (if not all of that story). I pre-ordered it because I was excited to read the Alan Moore and Alan Davis stuff that I had not seen, but for your reviews and analysis. Alas it was cancelled and if it was ever resolicited I didn’t see it.

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  • May 17, 2022 at 3:11 pm
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    I absolutely love alternate universe stories, so seeing all those divergent Captains Britains in one place is awesome. The Cap Corps is one of my favorite things about Captain Britain.
    I have always pictured Kitty as being around 18 during her time with Excalibur. Although if I had to choose between Kitty and Rachel I would definitely pick Rachel first, so I can see why Al was disappointed my his traveling companion. Rachel has always been a favorite on mine Phoenix or not.
    The Meggan storyline makes me think of “Who is Donna Troy?”. I hope it worked out as good, cuse I really don’t remember.

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