Ah, the good old days when you could slap Wolverine on a cover and sell more comics, regardless of how little he was actually in the issue.
In the case of Excalibur #85, Wolverine appears only in flashback to dispense advice to the true star of the issue—Kitty Pryde, a.k.a. Shadowcat.
Two magicians want to kill her on account of a magical sword that belonged to Kitty’s late best friend, Illyana (Magick of the New Mutants). The Soulsword is presently bonded to Kitty, making her a target. (What better plot device for a book named “Excalibur” than a magical sword?) One of those crazy magicians has possessed Nightcrawler, and the rest of the team is out of commission. So Kitty has to outwit and outfight a madman who’s wearing the body of one of her closest friends.
The battle shows how far she’s come since her early days as the X-Men’s annoying teen sidekick. In the present, out of all the many X-related characters that have accumulated over the years, Kitty stands out as one of the best…thanks in part to the growing up she did in the pages of Excalibur.
Some time abroad is good for the soul, I suppose.
Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Ken Lashley
Inker: Tom Wegrzyn
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Excalibur Visionaries – Warren Ellis, vol. 1 (TPB)
Appropriate For: ages 12 and up
Once upon a time, this comic’s title might have been X-Traordinary X-Men. Thank goodness we’re not in that time. Well, maybe.
Quite honestly, I haven’t been sure about this series so far. Marvel has decided to make mutants an endangered species for the second time in a decade—I guess that’s what the X-Men get for not being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I am sure that Jeff Lemire is a solid writer who knows what he’s doing, and I like the cast he’s using here. So I’ve stuck it out, and issue #7 affirms that decision.
Jean Grey and Storm take an Inception-like journey through Nightcrawler’s mind to figure out what’s traumatized him. Meanwhile, Magik shows a wizard who’s boss. It’s all interesting stuff that teases potentially more interesting stuff.
And artist Victor Ibanez properly exploits the mental landscape for compelling visuals. I particularly enjoyed the upside-down pirate ship.
So yes, I liked it and I’m still on board with this series. But if Marvel would kindly remember that the X-Men work best when they’re fighting intolerance, not extinction, I’d appreciate it.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Victor Ibanez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology
Appropriate For: ages 13 and up