Excalibur #65-67 -- Long-time readers may recall that I used to do a segment on the blog entitled "Not Blog Ex," a play on G. Kendall's NOT BLOG X, wherein I looked at the classic Excalibur issues which I hold so dear. Well, that feature eventually sort of fell by the wayside, but I still had the remaining issues I wanted to do sitting on my night stand, so there you go.
These are the last three issues of Excalibur featuring Alan Davis on both words and art, and they effectively tie up all of the loose ends and story threads from the Claremont/Davis era of "classic" Excalibur. In the build up to the big X-Men crossover Fatal Attractions, Excalibur was brought "into the fold" a bit more, becoming seemingly synonymous with the other X-titles being published at the time. And, as such, the quality (and my interest) waned pretty quickly.
#65, "White Lies, Dark Truths" wraps up the RCX/Warpie storyline which had been carrying on for a few issues, with the team trapped in the headquarters of the mysterious organization. In the end it leads mostly to a series of fights, but we get some nice character moments in there as well, such as Kurt tricking his guards to leave him and Cerise alone by faking a bout of flaring passion, or Brian getting repeatedly beaten down by a Warpie only to continue getting back up. The Warpie story goes back all the way to the original British Captain Britain strip, so some elements of this story are somewhat confusing if you don't know them. But it remains a nice little showcase for Davis.
The next two issues comprise one of the most underrated X-Men stories of the 1990s, Days Of Future Yet To Come. The first installment also has one of my absolute favorite covers of all time, as well. Our story opens in the Days Of Futures Past timeline, where the mutant Kitty Pryde is being experimented on after being captured. While Houndmaster Ahab and Master Mold's scientists examine her mind, Kitty phases through the machinery, causing a bizarre reaction, and throwing the now machine-like Kitty through time. In the present, Phoenix is called back to her own time, taking Excalibur with her. In the wasteland of the future, the team hooks up with the remaining resistance (consisting primarily of Marvel UH characters, appropriately) and leads the fight to overthrow the rule of the Sentinels.
I absolutely love this story. The first mystery from the first page of the first Excalibur special is finally revealed (the identity of Widget), the long-running saga of Phoenix-Rachel gets an appropriate blowoff, and Excalibur as a crew take care of business in truly epic, fist-pumping manner. Everything is resolved and we get a perfect last page sign off to the series. Davis is on his game here, and even the varied and unusual UK characters are handled deftly. And it goes without saying that his renditions of the Excalibur members are dead on. Of course, the end of this story didn't really stick, and the series itself would take a sharp left-turn to crap the very next issue. But that doesn't take anything away from my enjoyment of these issues. It was really great to read them again.