Every Wednesday I will bring you a new edition of “Looking Back” where I take an issue from my back issue boxes and share why that particular issue is special to me. There are a lot of X-Men titles out there, and while I haven’t read every issue there are some that I read off the shelf as a kid that had an impact of some kind. I thought I’d start with not the first X-Men issue I bought, but one that had an immediate impact – EXCALIBUR SPECIAL EDITION.
“The Sword Is Drawn”Written by Chris Claremont
Pencils by Alan Davis
Inks by Paul Neary with Mark Farmer on assists
Colors by Glynis Oliver
Letters by Tom Orzechowski
Assistant Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Cover Price $3.95
There’s a lot about this issue that I hold special. This was my first introduction to Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Rachel Summers/Phoenix who are integral characters in the X-Men Universe. I started reading UNCANNY X-MEN shortly after the “Mutant Massacre” and after they had all left the team to recover from injuries. I didn’t know who Captain Britain and Meggan were or how they were tied to Psylocke until reading this issue. This issue introduced me to characters that would become very important to me and would be characters that I held in high regards. EXCALIBUR would be side by side with NEW MUTANTS as my favorite series at the time. While I enjoyed UNCANNY X-MEN a lot, EXCALIBUR seemed to more close knit and more of a family. I liked that aspect of the team and the series, and having Alan Davis on pencils never hurt. This was the first time I had seen his work and immediately fell in love with it.
If you’ve never read this issue, I highly recommend it. To put it into context, this issue takes place the evening before and the day of the X-Men’s death in UNCANNY X-MEN #227. Kitty is awoken from a nightmare in which the X-Men are impersonated by metal shape-shifting creatures called the Warwolves. We’re introduced to Meggan and Brian Braddock, aka Captain Britain. Brian is reeling from the death of his sister, Betsy Braddock, aka Psylocke, who is a member of the X-Men. Rachel Summers and Nightcrawler are introduced to readers shortly and the story swerves from being about how do these characters react to the X-Men dying to a threat of their own where they deal with characters from Otherworld, a group of characters that were new to me. They are hunting down Rachel and the story goes from there.
At this point, my exposure to the X-Men Universe is very limited. UNCANNY X-MEN, X-FACTOR, and NEW MUTANTS are all that I know and I barely know them outside the events of the “Fall of the Mutants” storyline. In this one issue I was introduced to more of the history of the X-Men without being overwhelmed. I’m introduced to Marvel UK with Captain Britain, Meggan, the Crazy Gang, and Saturnyne. Maybe that’s why I took to this issue and this team so early because I was given so much to explore in just one issue. I wasn’t entirely thrown into a world that I didn’t know. Claremont acknowledged the world these characters fit in and then got the story moving without dwelling. Whatever the reason was back then, EXCALIBUR was at the top of my must read and remained there for a very long time.
The idea behind “Looking Back” is to do just that – look back. While I want to provide context to you, the reader, I don’t want to rehash the book and tell you everything that happens in it, or even provide a review. These books have impacted how I read X-Men comics, and even comics in general to a degree. EXCALIBUR SPECIAL EDITION is one that holds a special place for me. If you’ve never read this issue, I once again highly recommend it.
Next week, I’m planning on taking a step back and talking about the issue that started it all for me – UNCANNY X-MEN #225.