Writer Scott Lobdell
Pencils Scott Kolins
Inkers Holdredge / Kryssing
Letterer Ul Higgins
Colors Moreshead / Thomas
Cover Dated Late December 1992
The thing about it being Late December, is that if you ever export your comicbookdb collection into an Excel spreadsheet (redundant?) the Month bar is all fowled up due to the Late and then you can’t organize it by month easily as the Late throws that part off too. Its a small detail, but annoying.
Also, from the cover, it was the year Spider-Man turned 30. Now he is 50, so this is an old comic.
This is during the era where Scott Lobdell (of 90s X-Men fame) took over the title for a time until Alan Davis and Mark Farmer were ready to start their amazing run on the title. When I reread the entire series a few years ago, I had forgotten most of this awkward year of stories. Not really awkward but it is all over the place in quality. Nowadays, they would have just ended the title and made a new volume of Excalibur once Davis was ready.
How awesome would that team be that makes up the cover. Excalibur II, I would have been all for it, I still am all for it. It would be one kick arse team of Avengers. Black Panther, Captain America, Kitty Pryde and Iron Man (it is Rhody Rhodes in the suit, which will one day be known as the War Machine armor).
Inside front cover is an ad for Disney’s Aladdin. Imagine if you had three wishes, three hopes, three dreams and they all could come true.
The opening splash page’s captions state that there are not many perks of being a member of Excalibur (a running theme for the issue as it will come up two more times). For Kitty, who is sunbathing along with Lockheed in the jungles of Wakanda, there is a superhero fight before breakfast and after lunch, a mufti-dimensional battle to be had. It isn’t often that a superhero can relax in the sun. On the splash page, Lockheed is struggling to crack a coconut.
Then we are treated to a two page spread of Kitty and Lockheed still relaxing. These pages look completely different than the rest of the issue. The coloring is brighter, the art looks softer. It is all around, different.
Speaking of art, this is an early Scott Kolins. I mostly know him from Marvel Team-Up’s third volume and there was something about the art I didn’t care for. Like he was using cross hatching or something or the coloring was off. I’m not sure, it wasn’t too my liking but that could have been attributed to any number of things. I also didn’t care for the art during Geoff Johns’ run on Avengers, I almost dropped the title with his opening Red Zone arc, and then Search for She-Hulk really made me want to drop it. The art really wasn’t to my liking and the story wasn’t great either.
I know Johns is a beloved creator (and Vice President) over at DC but once he was announced as exclusive over there, my immediate reaction was that DC could have him. It may have been that he was the main writer after Kurt Busiek’s simply amazing run and so no one would have been good enough to carry the torch the rest of the way but I was young and money seemed to be plentiful so I kept with it and glad I did as I would have missed Bendis’ Dissembled run that then lead into House of M and the entire New Avengers line up.
Kolins’ art for this issue looks clean and not stylized. The story has a nice flow to it. The inks are good, and the colors vibrant. Lobdell has the characters acting themselves, though there are a few details that I feel he may have gotten wrong but we’ll come to those.
So at one point in these two pages, Kitty and Lockheed suspect they are being watched and then quickly dismiss it. This was during the era when Lockheed was drawn very cartoony instead of like a lizard with wings. He could easily step into a cartoon.
I do like how Kolins has Kitty wearing a simple red one piece bathing suit. She is overly sexualized (or at all really) and she’s with her friend Lockheed, so there is no reason to not be comfortable. The panel where she asks if Lockheed feels they are being watched and then they both look at each other and shrug their shoulders saying, naah. Is so much fun and I really miss these two characters – poor Lockheed isn’t given any real treatment like he use to.
So Captain Britain and Meggan were invited to Wakanda to oversee a business transaction with Black Panther. I should say Brian Braddock, as no one knows he is Captain Britain. Which is interesting as he is Cap all the time. He may be a scientist but that isn’t his day job but more of a hobby. He’s Captain Britain 24 hours a day, seven days a week so I never really thought about him having a ‘secret identity.’ Anyways, Kitty and Lockheed jumped on the plane to head out, Brian told them that they would be bored in Wakanda. Once they got there, Kitty was more than happy to be bored in paradise.
Of course, as a reader, we know that Kitty was being watched. The person thinks to himself that the dragon seems wonky but the girl harmless. Oh how he doesn’t know either of them.
Brian and Meggan are being treated to a Wakandan welcome ceremony. Meggan is hugging Brian close, as she is afraid of being used as a virgin sacrifice. Brian tells her she is safe on both accounts. Which I was ten when I first read that and probably thought that it meant because she is a superhero, she can fight off any attackers. Now that I’m 32, I see what Lobdell did there. Which clearly those two have had a sexual relationship up to this point but that’s probably the closest we get to them talking about such things. Outside of seeing them wake up together in bed.
Brian really wanted Meggan to come along as he wants to broaden her world view. She is still being written as a bit of a simpleton – which when I look back at it, seems odd that Brian would continue a sexual relationship with someone who understands the base concepts of things. I’m talking about a character who, when having to leave a note for Brian and Excalibur, had to draw pictures as she didn’t know how to write. But if you were going to talk to her, she is smart and can continue a conversation. Meggan, a very interesting character. Eventually Alan Davis comes back to the title and Meggan becomes a full proper character.
Actually, I had to go look it up. Lobdell wrote issues 31, 35 – 41, 53, 58 – 60, 68 – 71, 75 – 82.
Alan Davis wrote issues 16, 42 – 52, 54 – 58, 61 – 67. Over at Comics Should Be Good, whenever there is a Top Runs vote, people ask if they can combine Alan Davis’ run into one big run or do they have to do two runs. Which I’ve read those comments so many times, that my memory must have changed to think that there were two big runs but really, it is one big run with the smallest of breaks. A two month break. But I guess story wise, 61 to 67 is one big masterpiece and 42 to 58 are smaller stories that form a bigger story.
Lobdell’s time on the title, I also thought was a shorter era but that’s probably due to my memory trying to break Davis’ run into two different runs. I’m not sure, I may be a crazy person now that I’ve typed all of this. Like, I thought Lobdell was busier Pre-50 but he really dealt with more of what will set up Excalibur for the final half of the title.
Black Panther comes rising out of a volcano that the ceremony is being performed in front of – which is why Meggan thought she was going to be sacrificed.
Brian introduces Meggan to the Black Panther as his administrative assistant. Clearly, Brian failed the first rule of being a couple – he didn’t let her in on the plan. So she embarrasses herself by trying to repeat the title she just read, screwing it up. T’Challa shakes her hand, telling her that her sense of humor is as great as her beauty. Yeah, he is a King alright.
Brian apologizes for having to fill in for his brother’s absence as Braddock Enterprises was always Jamie’s venture. Which is what confuses me. Jasper is mostly known for two things, being a race car driver, and being crazy powerful. Or being crazy and powerful. Imagine an adult Franklin Richards, but who is crazy – which every other alternate future version of Franklin Richards is crazy so that’s easy to imagine. So when did Jasper have time to run a business for more than a month? Anyways, we have to accept this as the entire issue is based on the fact that Brian now runs and operates Braddock Enterprises. Not the day to day operation nor I imagine he doesn’t sign the checks either but he’s the public face.
Meggan asks about how come they are not burning alive as they enter the volcano. Black Panther’s mask does that thing Spider-Man’s mask does, where the eye slits become smaller to show that he’s happy to explain this. It is odd as T’Challa doesn’t strike me as a guy who lets his guard down that quickly but maybe he really likes her innocence.
Black Panther explains that Wakanda has more than one natural resource. The main one is of course, Vibranium but another is this, what they call – a cold volcano. Wakanda is so advance that they were able to build a futuristic laboratory inside the walls of the volcano.
Meggan is finally figuring out that Wakanda balances the traditional African nature with a global world power. Though some inhabitants of Wakanda would wish that they were more the former than the lather.
Once inside the laboratory, Black Panther introduces Brian and Meggan to their other two guests, Captain America and Iron Man. Cap is happy to see them and Iron Man (who is Rhodes at this point – filling in for Tony) mumbles a greeting. Tony would be natural in this environment of meets and greets but Rhodes is a military man first and a superhero second and a guy who likes to meet strangers as a distant third.
There is an ad for the film, Candyman, that I never watched and probably never will. People seem to like it as there is a bit of a franchise. It wasn’t until this movie came out that I even knew there was an urban myth about Candyman. He always seemed to me like the male Bloody Mary. I’ve never been tempted to say either of their names into the mirror as I know a guy who knows a gal whose cousin did it once and was never heard from again.
Meanwhile, at Braddock Manor – they moved out of the Lighthouse a few issues ago – Cerise gives a shout in her Shi’ar language. Kurt comes running in. Apparently, she put her lipstick into her mouth instead of her upper lip and it tastes disgusting. Which, I don’t know how lipstick works – but wouldn’t placing it on your upper lip, still let you taste it even a little? I never really thought about what lipstick must taste like but it makes sense that it would be horrible. Chapstick doesn’t taste good but lipstick has to be better, right?
Kurt and Cerise are getting ready to go to the opera and watch a Verdi play. Cerise wants to learn and experience human culture.
Back at Wakanda, the heroes are giving a toast to the new venture. Cap notices Iron Man drinking, which confirms to him that it is a new person inside the armor. At least Cap doesn’t just assume Tony is off the wagon, that’s a good friend.
At the party, Meggan works her way over to Iron Man and starts to whisper to him. Is Excalibur that not well known that people don’t recognize her as Meggan of Excalibur? She doesn’t have a secret identity but she’s also not a Power Ranger in that she doesn’t wear green when she is not super heroing it up. She talks to Iron Man about how it has been a while, which it has been almost twenty issues so that’s close to two years our time. He of course doesn’t recognize her. That was Tony during that awful Promethium Exchange arc that West Coast Avengers showed up for in Excalibur. Lobdell wrote it so that explains why she is bringing it up here.
He tells her that he doesn’t remember that and she plays it off like he is trying to protect her secret identity. Or his, I’m not sure. Neither is he after she walks away.
The party moves to a giant table and we finally figure out what Black Panther has been talking about this entire time. Wakanda has decided to put a stop to toxic waste before it becomes a problem for Wakanda. Braddock Enterprises has created the self-devouring waste containment device. Stark Industries provided the millions of dollars worth of technology. Then my favorite part, T’Challa thanks Captain America and the United States for donating all of the toxic waste. Cap gives this awesome “oh yeah, thanks” as I’m sure America loves the fact that they have gallons and gallons of toxic waste ready to be disposed of.
Brian thinks to himself that Jamie did good with the company and again, did Jamie ever run that company and why would he care about toxic waste disposal? Maybe during one of his sane moments?
These heroes representing companies and countries reminds me of my all time favorite run of Black Panther, 26 through 29, of the third volume (The Marvel Knights volume) titled Sturm Und Drang : A Story of Love and War by Christopher Priest and Sal Velluto. Such a great storyline. Black Panther representing Wankanda. Magneto representing Genosha. Doctor Doom representing Latveria. Namor representing Atlantis. Such a great storyline and wonderful use of how at the time, Marvel had all of these costumed folks running these countries, it was high time that there was a political story done about it. I suppose, only Magneto was the new face but maybe that’s all it took, having a fourth mask as a head of state. Its criminally never been printed as a trade (a lot of that run hasn’t been) but the issues can’t be that expensive to come by.
Black Panther calls for more food and the first dish is … pizza! I wish we were told the toppings to see what Wakandans put on their pizza. Pizza surprises Rhodes and Black Panther tells him that he picked it for his guests.
During the ceremony a man sized wooden idol is going around, touching people’s heads. Meggan finds the idol, cute.
Back with Kitty and Lockheed, they hear a young lady as she screams. The gal’s head feels like it is being split into two. Then it does and where her human head was, is now a matching wooden head.
This happens back at the festival. Iron Man notices that it is spreading as many more wooden people are appearing. Brian can tell from the screams that it is a forced transformation – he’s a genius after all.
The original dancer comes forward. He wants to be the new king of Wakanda. Black Panther addresses him as, U’mbaya – who was a graduate student at one point. I checked on comicbookdb and it states that this and next issue is the only appearance of the character. The dancer takes the name of, Icon. Not the scariest villain name.
At the opera, Cerise is crying. Kurt doesn’t have the heart to tell her this is a comedy they are watching.
Kurt is given some complimentary champagne, he looks across to the opposite balcony and sees that Sir Raleigh Chamberlain is the one who bought the drinks. He is a suspected (but really is) arms dealer who is glad that up to this point, Excalibur has been too busy to deal with smaller criminals.
Then a new character, Knight Errant shows up, blasts Chamberlain’s girlfriend out of her booth and threatens to do worst to him if he doesn’t leave by morning time. Chamberlain promises to be gone by then.
Cerise asks if he is a fellow hero, Kurt states that his methods should not be encouraged.
This and next issue, which I won’t be reviewing anytime real soon, is also Knight Errand’s only appearances. Knight Errand makes a speech Man of La Mancha that after looking it up, I want to listen to that song – Impossible Dream. I must have heard it by now but I need my memory refreshed.
Kurt teleports Cerise to follow the knight.
Icon is threatening to hurt his newly formed army. He knows the heroes can’t hurt the army as if they do, they can seriously damage the wooden soldiers and they won’t be able to revert back to their human form.
Brian starts to head an attack, when Captain America puts his hand on his shoulder, telling him that he should let the costumed heroes handle this. You’ll think Brian would tell Cap the truth but for some reason decides to let Captain America take the lead.
Black Panther goes an extra step and puts a containment field around Meggan and Brian so that they don’t get hurt at all. Both Meggan and Brian are impressed with the containment field, it is made out of vibranium so it doesn’t make any noise as Brian punches it.
Kitty phases through the bottom of it, stating that they are all lucky that she was in the neighborhood. Brian rolls his eyes so hard.
Captain America asks Black Panther to make the call. They can’t get to Icon without going through his wooden army but his wooden army are actual people. Black Panther states that he really doesn’t have a choice. Icon threatens that he does have two options – make him the new king or watch his people be killed.
Kitty phases through the ground with Meggan claiming that there is another choice – now that the New Excalibur is here! Which is awesome that she just takes control of the situation and deems the gathered heroes the newest form of Excalibur. Meggan, to protect her identity has changed her appearance to a bulky African lady with her same white shirt but no pants. It isn’t the worst disguise.
Issue ends with Icon in disbelief. Usually all of Africa only has the one superhero and the one day, the one day he wants to overthrow the government, he has to deal with five of them!
One day I’ll review 60 but don’t worry, Black Panther retains his kingdom after the next issue.