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Excalibur #2
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Aaron Lopresti

Remember the fanciful England-based X-book that was Excalibur?

Neither do I, so this new volume didn’t seem to be off to such a bad start when it chose to relaunch the title in name only, the story following Professor X’s latest attempt to rebuild the decimated mutant country of Genosha and bury the body of the fallen Magneto.

For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up on the major events of the X-Men in the last few years, Genosha, former mutant-slave state turned shining mecca by Magneto, was completely destroyed by nigh-unstoppable uber-Sentinels. The entire population was massacred with the exception of a few handfuls of resilient mutants. Magneto, unfortunately, wasn’t so lucky.

Then it turned out the Master of Magnetism was alive the whole time, posing as a mutant pacifist who was saved and recruited by the X-Men. The details were always a bit fuzzy on HOW the crippled Magneto was able to drag his ruined body from Genosha to China, eluding the scrutiny of American spy satellites, the UN blockade around his island, and the largest army in the world before setting up a fake identity, backstory, and scheme to infiltrate the X-Men, corrupt students, and try to take over the world again. It just kinda made sense in that Grant Morrison way of thinking.

Then Magneto got his head lopped off by Wolvie.

And THEN the last issue of Excalibur revealed Magneto to be alive and well in Genosha.

It’s okay. Settle down. Have some aspirin and start reading again when the hurting stops...


So, this month’s episode in “The Continuing Lives and Deaths of Magneto” (now titled Excalibur) starts us off with an explanation: the Magneto who’d been posing as Xorn before murdering over 5,000 people in New York (including Jean Grey) was really an imposter who at some point told Professor X that his secondary mutation is to come back from the dead, which is why Charlie’s been dragging his coffin around the whole time.

Still with me? Okay.

Magneto is shocked, infuriated, and saddened to hear of all this, amazed that anyone could imagine him as such a soulless monster. Charles is far more bothered by the exponential increase in the mutant population and the fluidity of secondary mutations, but recollections of his work with Moira MacTaggart only serve to upset Erik again.

Magneto then mourns the loss of his mutant city-state some more and goes on about the struggle he and other survivors have endured on Genosha and the impossible task that has been set before them until his thoughts are disturbed by an angry, be-tentacled Callisto who’s enraged to find Xavier collaborating with Magneto.

I have to say I enjoyed seeing Magneto and Xavier having a friendly conversation, once more. As great as they are as enemies, being friends after being enemies (after being friends) gives them such a fascinating, bittersweet bond. Both have blood on their hands and both realize their failings as supposed prophets of a new race of man. Claremont brings these characters to life in a way their Ultimate Universe and movie counterparts seldom achieve, and it gives me hope for the future.

But, man, all these other elements are just killing it. The “hey everybody, let’s form a team!” aspect is giving me a toothache and the sheer lack of common sense… yikes.

Professor X has better abs here than any wheelchair bound man we’ve seen in years (though the only other examples of buffed invalids coming to mind are the 90’s versions of Charlie), Wicked’s ability to preserve her fishnets in a bombed out city makes her mutant ability to raise ghosts believable in comparison, and the way Unus’ permanent forcefield allows him to not only survive being swallowed by a giant monster but somehow keep breathing while being digested…

Yeah, it hurts.

Maybe more so since the guy’s named Unus (Unus, for god’s sake!) and the joke involving him going through someone’s digestive tract was never carried to its logical conclusion.

And Claremont just HAD to keep his tentacle-armed Callisto going, didn’t he? Couldn’t just let that element of Xtreme X-Men die, could he?

I was never a big Callisto fan in the first place, but turning her into a constant reminder of calamari and Japanese tentacle-porn was unnecessary. Bringing her to the main cast of this new book after the one her transformation occurred in was cancelled… well, that’s just going too far.

Then the idea of Xorn coming back to life while his head seems to be coming back to life on its own in Uncanny X-Men

Again, keep your aspirin handy.

It’s strange, but a lot of the possibilities open to Claremont with this story have been passed up in favor of making a pretty standard X-book. The setting, though dissimilar, lends itself to the same rich tapestry being explored in District X, only with the added benefit of Genosha’s checkered past to dip into.

Instead, we look to be going down the same road we’ve traveled many times before, and that just doesn’t justify creating a new series. There still might be time to get things on track, but the conflicts being set up have simply don’t have the magic the name Excalibur suggests.



Jason Schachat

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