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Excalibur Special Edition #1

“The Sword is Drawn”

Writer: Chris Claremont

Penciler: Alan Davis

Inker: Paul Neary and Mark Farmer

Colourist: Glynis Oliver

Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

Editor: Ann Nocenti

Original publication date: April 1988

In this mega-sized debut, the regular team—Anna, Mav, and Andrew—explore the origins of Excalibur in Marvel UK, the X-Men franchise, and Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn (1988). We also discuss our own origins—our individual histories with Excalibur, and what makes us love it enough to want to dissect it on a podcast for 126 hours! Come for Mav’s argument no one should re-read “Mutant Massacre”; stay for Anna’s argument everyone should always re-read Dave Cockrum’s 1985 Nightcrawler series; and thrill to Andrew’s argument that Excalibur is really a grief support group masquerading as sex farce.

This episode has an enhanced video version! Watch here:

On pre-Excalibur Captain Britain:

“Under Alan Moore and Alan Davis, Captain Britain became superhero cosmic horror—a deeply human meditation on the innate cruelty of the superhero’s burden.” -Andrew

On pre-Excalibur Nightcrawler:

“I think the 1985 Nightcrawler series informs what makes Kurt so successful in Excalibur… His ability to think outside the box & manage volatile personalities with calmness and empathy becomes the basis of his leadership.” -Anna

For more, see Anna’s guest thread for “The Claremont Run” on the ‘85 series! 

On the "Mutant Massacre":

“I like to think of the Mutant Massacre as one of the most important crossovers that no one should go ever go back and read.”-Mav

For more on “Mutant Massacre,” see Andrew’s thread for “The Claremont Run” on how it all started with a misunderstanding in the writer’s room!

On a key Kurt scene:

“Up until this moment, Kurt’s been wallowing in his own pain and trauma, but now Kitty needs help… So he yells at Captain Britain while really yelling at himself.” -Mav

On Rachel’s new costume:

“Rachel’s costume is a complex sexiness. It’s a dominatrix outfit, but it’s also a manifestation of her guilt and trauma. The spikes and impenetrable shine resonate with Rachel being asexual or at least untouchable (unless you want to get hurt).” -Anna

For more on Rachel’s backstory, see Andrew’s thread all about it on “The Claremont Run”!

On the X-Men continuity context:

“This is the collateral damage of some horrible decisions that the X-Men have made, and everyone is going to suffer emotionally at a spectacular, almost suicidal level… that helps us look at Excalibur as having moral high ground over the X-Men.” -Andrew

On the opening dream sequence of Sword is Drawn:

“The issue starts off with a nightmare image of Kitty’s grief given shape in her dreams, but at the same time, it’s playing with that metatextual tone that’s really going to define Excalibur.” -Andrew

For more on this sequence, see Andrew’s thread on “The Claremont Run”!

On why we love Excalibur:

“I love that it’s a group of misfits, alone in the world, together in saving it. Just like classic X-Men, but with more joy & optimism than the main title had at the time.” -Anna

Want more?

You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and on her podcast with Andrew and Michael Hancock, Three Panel Contrast (@3PanelContrast).

You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).

You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast).

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!