Excalibur (Comic Book)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A Marvel Comics Super Team, where the X-Men franchise intersected with the Marvel U.K. imprint.

After the Mutant Massacre storyline left the X-Men broken, members Shadowcat and Nightcrawler were sent to Muir Island in Scotland to recuperate. As a result, they weren't with the X-Men when the team sacrificed their lives to defeat the adversary on national tv during The Fall of the Mutants, and like the rest of the world, didn't know the X-Men got better afterwards. Chris Claremont and artist Alan Davis decided to use this opportunity to put the characters into a new team that incorporated the British characters Captain Britain and his Magical Girlfriend Meggan, who had little U.S. exposure at that point but ties to the X-Men through Cap's sister Psylocke.

So Phoenix (Rachel Summers), who had previously been lured to a parallel dimension by X-Villain (and Large Ham) Mojo, escaped to Muir Island shortly after the X-Men's deaths with Mojo's Warwolves hot on her trail. It is also decided by Obstructive Bureaucrat Saturnine that Phoenix is a threat to all reality and a group of interdimensional bounty hunters known as the Technet are sent to capture her. Kitty and Nightcrawler as well as Cap and Meggan are soon brought into the fray, banding together for protection while reminiscing about the X-Men and deciding to keep Xavier's dream alive. Then the quirky metal creature and living portal known as Widget found them, and the team was thrown into a series of interdimensional Wacky Hijinks across The Multiverse for a while. But no team with Mutants can ever stay light-hearted for long in the Marvel Universe, so after a while, they returned to their angsty X-Roots and eventually became just another mutant book.

Since then, the team has broken up and reformed a couple of times, with different membership each time. Currently defunct, and the Spiritual Successor Captain Britain and MI: 13 (even featuring Excalibur the sword) was also cancelled after 15 issues. Has no relation to the short-lived Excalibur title that followed Professor Xavier's adventures on Genosha (aside from Marvel and/or Chris Claremont wanting to keep the name in print).

Tropes used in Excalibur (Comic Book) include:

In General:

  • British Accents
  • Britain Is Only London (Averted)
  • Captain Geographic
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Crazy Gang, and their creator, Mad Jim Jaspers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pete Wisdom started off as a jaded, cynical Deadpan Snarker. During Tieri's short run on New Excalibur he became the butt of the humour. In the Wisdom miniseries and Captain Britain and MI: 13 he gets a few snappy lines but for the most part he seems to be playing Straight Man to the weirdness of the rest of the team.
  • Death Is Cheap (Well... it is a comic book, after all.)
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Crazy Gang.
  • Fisher King: The exact nature and extent of Captain Britain's ties to Britain varies with the writer. In one of Chuck Austen's comics, Captain Britain was beaten up and this caused earthquakes in Britain. This never happened before or since.
    • When he's (temporarily) killed during Secret Invasion, it's said that everyone in Britain felt it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: There have been many, over the years. Meggan's heroic sacrifice was especially sad, because it was in a tie-in book for the House of M crossover where she saved the whole universe and nobody read it. At least she's finally back now, after bringing some hope to Hell for good measure.
  • My Local: The team would often go there to celebrate after a win. Or commiserate after suffering a beating.
  • Oddball in the Series: This series was not only Lighter and Softer than the other x-related titles, took place in a different part of the country, and had many non-mutants on the roster (a rarity for "X-teams"), but it features somewhat obscure Marvel UK characters that had little to nothing to do with the X-Men, and the stories were mostly sci-fi and fantasy based when most x-titles focused on whatever mutant hysteria was going on at any given time.
  • Poor Communication Kills
  • Progressively Prettier: When Nightcrawler first appeared in X-Men he was short and creepy looking. When he was moved to Excalibur, Alan Davis purposefully drew him standing at six feet tall and modeled his facial features after Errol Flynn. Sure, he was still a blue elf but he was noticably more chamring than his earlier Dave Cockrum incarnation. Other artists have followed suit for the most part.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Captain Britain (and the entire Captain Britain Corps).

Original Series:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Magical Computer that used to live under Captain Britain's ancestral home.
  • Another Dimension: It almost seemed like the original Excalibur team were hopping into another dimension every other week. More cynical readers might speculate that this was because the book was usually written by Americans who didn't know the first thing about the UK, and this was the easiest way to hide that fact. (That said, The Multiverse was already a well-established feature of Captain Britain stories; it was shown early on that Brian was only one of a dimension-crossing corps of near-infinite Captain Britains.)
  • Bounty Hunter: The spectacularly incompetent Gatecrasher and her Technet.
  • Chess Motifs: The Hellfire Club.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Subverted. Rachel Summers eventually ditches her original spiked red bodysuit (which was based on her Hound costume) and settles for the blood-red ensemble of Dark Phoenix. But she's not pulling a Face Heel Turn; she just prefers these colors over "Light" Phoenix's costume. "[Dark Phoenix] might have been a threat to the universe... but she had great taste in clothes!"
  • Evil Sorcerer: Gravemoss.
  • Executive Meddling: Put an end to the Wisdom/Kitty Pryde relationship.
  • Expy: Brigadier Alysande Stuart of W.H.O. (do you see what they did there?) was a Gender Flipped version of Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stuart from Doctor Who. Her brother, Alistaire, was W.H.O.'s "scientific advisor"; the same role the Doctor had at U.N.I.T.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Fun with Acronyms: Most of the fictional government agencies had one of these. Sadly.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Plenty! There was the R.C.X., the Weird Happenings Organization, the Department of Unknown and Covert Knowledge (don't... uh, don't think too hard about that one.), S.T.R.I.K.E. and Black Air.
  • Government Conspiracy: Black Air.
  • Heel Face Turn: Colossus, who previously had a Face Heel Turn following his sister's death and joined Magneto.
  • Kill and Replace: Poor, poor Courtney Ross. It does not pay to be the exact physical duplicate of a ruthless otherdimensional dictator.
    • Also the Warwolves - extradimensional creatures who could suck out a person's ... let's say Life Force, leaving just their empty skin, then put on the skin and pass as the person (despite being shaped like quadrupedal animals in their natural form). At one point they scour the globe to find exact lookalikes for the other X-Men so they can impersonate them.
  • Lighter and Softer: This series was originally conceived as being more lighthearted than the various X-books that were being published at the time, which were pretty dark.
  • Lighthouse Point: Their base of operations, since it was the convergence of all realities.
  • Ms. Fanservice: When she disappeared in Uncanny X-Men, Rachel was a stick-thin tomboy who usually wore gym clothes. When she reappeared in Excalibur, she was built like a porn star (perhaps literally - she got her new body in the Mojoverse after all) and wore a skintight, stiletto-heeled, spike-studded, red leather catsuit when on duty, and as little as possible off duty.
    • Meggan had her moments too (frankly, most women drawn by Alan Davis do; though Davis actually drew Kitty to look like a young girl ... not that that stopped many people).
  • Public Domain Character: There are a lot of references to Arthurian myth.
  • Superpower Lottery: Phoenix outpowers everyone else (combined) by quite a bit, and for that matter outpowers most of the Marvel Universe, being the human host to a Cosmic Entity; she gets psychologically damaged or written out to compensate.
  • The Chessmaster: Merlyn. And Roma. But mostly Merlyn. Roma is a Chessmaster to most characters, but to Merlyn she's just another pawn.
  • Wedding Day: Captain Britain and Meggan
  • West Coast Team: When Excalibur found out the X-Men were still alive, they decided to remain together, having bonded over time, and styled themselves as the X-Men's European branch.
    • For all intents and purposes, they were also the British Avengers, partly because there were no other super-teams who could play that part, and partly because mutants were less controversial in Britain than in the U.S. at the time (just like Canada, one suspects that the British took whatever superheroes they could get)
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Feron the sorcerer accidentally turned himself into a waterfall, and his disappearance went uncommented on until the book's penultimate issue, five years later.
    • In more of a "What Happened To Our Dramatic Reveal?" vein, the moment when Excalibur found out the X-Men weren't dead went completely unrecorded, as it became more and more awkward to explain why the X-Men hadn't been in touch with them. Eventually the writers were forced to admit, in the Letter Column, that Excalibur did in fact know, and they'd been in touch via phone.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Kylun, a huge sword-wielding badass raised in an alternate reality, has the mutant power of...perfectly reproducing any given sound. Fortunately, he doesn't really need a mutant power to kick ass.
  • Whip It Good: the whip was the Weapon of Choice of Miss Steed, the Black Queen of London's Hellfire Club.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: In the "Girls' School From Heck" three issue mini arc, Kitty finds herself enrolled at a boarding school where all the other students are troublemakers to such a degree that no other school will take them, an outcast at first she starts bonding with the students after a particularly violent field hockey match, and then goes on to band the various cliques together in an outrageous scheme to save the school when it's threatened to close because of financial complications. Why does that sound familiar?

New Excalibur:

  • Hollywood Atlas: Chris Claremont is English, but he hasn't been back here for about thirty years, so his portrayal of the UK is mostly based on the Hollywood version, or else painfully out of date. Whereas Frank Tieri tended to assume that the UK is exactly like America.
  • Kudzu Plot: See The Chris Carter Effect above.
  • In Name Only: This team consisted of a few returning Excalibur characters, a whole bunch of Chris Claremont's personal favourites, and a few Excalibur villains (most of them were sad victims of Villain Decay and/or Badass Decay). And they made so little use of the setting that it could easily have been set in New York or California without changing any of the content.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Chris Claremont was seriously ill for several months while working on this title, so Frank Tieri took over during that time.

Captain Britain and MI: 13:

  • Back from the Dead: Captain Britain.
  • Badass: Blade, duh.
  • Black Comedy
  • Continuity Nod: Paul Cornell is really good at these.
  • Continuity Lock Out: Averted- while it's fun to know what the Shout Outs and Continuity Nods mean, you don't need to understand them in order to understand what's going on.
  • Covers Always Lie
  • Media Research Failure: the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, makes an appearance in the first issue. Inevitably, when the newspapers commented on this they got everything wrong, calling him SuperGordon and/or saying he "leads a counterattack" against the invading Skrulls. In the comic, although he proves himself to be a competent leader, Gordon Brown does not develop superpowers and start wading into the fight (although that would be cool).
  • Deal with the Devil (Played with: Pete Wisdom willingly releases a whole bunch of demons in order to get Merlin back so he can resurrect Captain Britain... which becomes a subversion of this trope when some of the demons decide that the rules of magic mandate that they offer him a reward.
    • The irony, of course, is that Wisdom could easily have just said "No, I Don't Want Anything". The imbalance of input/output would then have exploded the demons, and all that Britain would have to do would be to mop up the remaining Skrulls.
      • Also, the demonic Doctor Plokta is willing to give you what you want... anything you want... in return for your soul. What the characters do about this is up to them. Doctor Plokta dangles Captain Britain's (sorta) dead wife in front of him, offering to bring her back to life in return for his soul. He decides to Take a Third Option.]]
  • Death by Origin Story: Faiza Hussein
  • Defector From Decadence: John the Skrull (Sorta. He was originally sent to infiltrate human society, and liked it much better than the warmongering Skrull society, so he decided to stay.)
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Blade's papier mache sword, made from the pages of magical books. "Good against demons. Not so good in the rain."
  • Expy: Captain Midlands is a joke version of Captain America.
  • Five-Man Band (?)
  • Government Agency of Fiction: MI: 13, of course.
  • Heroes-R-Us: MI:13 is a British Government agency.
  • Humanity Ensues: John the Skrull
  • I Shall Taunt You: Horribly subverted: John the Skrull is a cheeky, chirpy character who keeps up a constant stream of Witty Banter and taunts even when the situation seems hopeless. He'd be a Deadpan Snarker if he was, y'know, deadpan. The Skrull invaders eventually get fed up and decide to just shoot him.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: Doctor Plokta's dream corridors.
  • Little No
  • Magitek: The pentagram tesseract
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: the evil Doctor Plokta
  • My Greatest Failure: Pete Wisdom is pretty cut up over the deaths of Temporary Love Interest Maureen Raven and fellow team mate John the Skrull.
  • Off-Model: There was an annoying one in the Wisdom miniseries where Alistaire Stuart suddenly appeared to have aged several decades. This one stuck around for quite a while -- apparently the artist made an error, thinking that he was supposed to be an old man -- it was lampshaded a couple of times but ended up being explained and resolved in Captain Britain & MI:13 as Alistaire having been cursed with a variable appearance after an unfortunate dinner incident with Morgan le Fey. He was intentionally drawn slightly different every so often throughout the series because of that.
    • There's also a single panel early in the "Hell Comes To Birmingham" story where Spitfire's burnt hand switches from right to left.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dane Whitman AKA the Black Knight
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Spitfire has it under control. Apparently. At least until Dracula and his vampire army shows up...
    • and even then it's probably all a ploy by Wisdom to infiltrate Dracula's ranks. After all, why NOT use one of your vampires to get into the enemy camp?
  • Prequel: Paul Cornell laid out the groundwork for this series in his Wisdom miniseries.
  • Public Domain Character: Dracula
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: from the Skrull's perspective, at least- John the Skrull.
  • Ship Tease (the cover of issue 7)
  • Shout-Out: Paul Cornell does this a lot, too. Two of the biggest Shout Outs are John the Skrull (a Skrull pretending to be John Lennon) and Tink, the fairy princess, but there are loads more.
  • Shown Their Work: Paul Cornell asked a group of Muslim women for help with characterizing Faiza. They're listed in the credits.
  • Take a Number: An issue has Kitty Pryde getting 10^23 from the dispenser -- which is probably a reference to Avogadro's Number.
  • Techno Babble: "This is a pentagram tesseract, an intrusion of magical fields into another dimension."
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: John the Skrull
  • You Fail Biology Forever: So ... Black Knight's heart is made of stone now? How does he...? Uh, never mind. A Wizard Did It.