I'm going to jump backwards a bit and pick up these three done-in-one issues for this installment of Not Blog Ex? Wonder just what the heck this is all about? Go check out G Kendall's exceptionally cool Not Blog X, and all will become clear.
All You Ever Wanted To Know About Phoenix... But Were Afraid To Ask
Credits: Alan Davis (Script), Will Simpson (breakdowns) (Pencils), Jimmy Palmiotti (finishes); Dave Hoover (finishes) (Inks), Kelly Corvese (Colors), Michael Heisler (Letters).
With Rachel still recovering from the battle with Necrom back in issue #50, Professor Xavier tries to communicate with the Phoenix Force. Excalibur and the Prof get to experience the Force's origin, and how it came to inhabit Ray's body. Afterwards, it retreats into the cosmos to fully heal.
This is one of the era's typical "quiet stories" which happen after the big events. But this issue is a little different insofar as it does explain some of the Phoenix backstory and in a not too complicated manner (at least, to someone with a passing knowledge of the X-Men). Alan Davis always liked the Excali-gals, so seeing this story from him is not surprising. The Simpson and Palmiotti pencils are nothing special, but a disappointment underneath the Davis cover. Speaking of which, the cover has a nice joke on it, with Jean claiming that this should help sales. I guess it didn't work that well! Fans of Rachel Summers, Jean Grey, or the Phoenix would like this comic, and Excal fans will probably appreciate the insight.
Credits: Scott Lobdell (Script), James Fry (Pencils), Chris Ivy (Inks), Glynis Oliver (Colors), Michael Heisler (Letters).
While looking through an old photo album at Braddock Mannor, Brian tells a story to Meggan of his early days as Captain Britian, when he was roommates with Peter Parker and working with Spider-Man at night. Spidey tries to teach Cap the ropes, but Cap doesn't know his own strength, and has a serious problem when it comes to his drinking. A battle with The Litter, a group of canine-themed shapeshifting baddies, leaves one of them near-death after Cap uses his super strength without thinking. And things aren't much better socially, as Peter gets fed up with Brian constantly leaving their apartment a mess and just throwing his money around. Peter asks Brian to move out. In the present, Brian wonders if he can live up to the high standards set by someone like Spidey.
Despite not being a Davis issue, I really liked this comic. Brian's self-doubt and attempts to grow were some of my favorite parts of this series, and tying into his brief stint back in the States is a novel way to do it, since there isn't much material there in the first place. (And I don't think the two of them have had much contact since then, which is a shame, as I would like to see their relationship explored some more.) Lobdell writes a pretty good Spider-Man, and his flashback Brian sounds pretty good as well, so it's too jarring of a transition from the norm. Overall, a good issue.
The Litter, made up of a group of snobbish Eurotrash who transform into doggie-humanoids, are an amusing bunch who look like they could have stepped out of an issue of Marvel Team-Up. It's surprising that they have never been heard from since, as I would have thought Kurt Busiek or Dan Slott would have found a use for them by now. Also odd is the cover, which uses a pretty similar take as the previous issue, this time with Spidey claiming that he is taking over this title as his own.
Curioser And Curioser
Credits: Alan Davis (Script), Alan Davis (Pencils), Mark Farmer (Inks), Glynis Oliver (Colors), Michael Heisler (Letters).
Nightcrawler finally gets the cast off his broken leg, and is more than happy just to be able to scratch his skin again. Meanwhile, Excalibur investigates a mass dissappeance in the countryside, as a whole town has just up and vanished without a trace. Meggan's tracking senses lead to a rabbit hole, and down she goes, followed by Cerise, Kylun, and finally Cap. Cap finds himself in one peril after another, eventually having to fight from drowning in a giant teapot. He manages to escape, and discovers that he is a bizarre version of Wonderland, with Meggan as Alice, and his other teammates seemingly under the spell as well. He rightfully thinks it is the work of the Crazy Gang, but he is surprised to find Joyboy of the Technet there as well. Seems that Joyboy's illusion power is working in concert with Red Queen's already twisted brain to produce an idyllic Wonderland. All of the residents of the town are present, but they are not held against their will -- they were invited for a tea party, and are having great fun. The only reason that Cap was met with violence is because he expected trouble. Cap decides to let the Gang be, as they are not hurting anyone and staying out of trouble. While the adventure is taking place, Kitty Pryde and Alistair Stewart are examining the new form of Widget, but he vanishes in a brilliant flash, with Kitty's quick thinking the only thing saving them from being vaporized.
Davis is back and even though this is a fun stand-alone story, already the seeds of the rest of his run are begun planted, specifically with Widget. Anyways, this is a fun, bouncy issue, with lots of great Alice in Wonderland visuals. This definitely is a comic that any Marvel fan could pick up and read, even if the continuity is a bit dicey with regards to the Gang and Joyboy (when exactly they managed to obtain Joyboy from them, I am not sure). Still, a very good issue, as is typical for the Davis run.