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Excalibur #4

“Still Crazy After All These Years”

Writer: Chris Claremont

Pencils/Plotting: Alan Davis

Inker: Paul Neary

Colourist: Glynis Oliver

Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Publication Date: January 1989 

In this episode, Anna, Mav, Andrew, and our special guest, romance comics expert Sydney Heifler (@romancecomicbks), discuss Excalibur #4, “Still Crazy After All These Years.” We barely talk about Murderworld, but do talk super-smooches, super-styles, super-symbolism, super-shapeshifting (that’s definitely not Freudian at all), and why it’s super important not to tickle people without consent (looking at you, Kurt).

This episode has an enhanced video version! Watch here:

On the iconic cover:

“Anti-climax is the big theme. From this cover, we know this is a book that’s going to undermine the conventions of the superhero genre, while pointing out, quite incisively, the major problematic tropes of that genre.”-Andrew

On romance tropes:

“I was going in cold, but we open the issue with romance tropes. I know what this is about. This is right out of a romance comic. But you also get a lot of women alone in panels where they’re not crying about a man. Which you don’t get in romance comics.” -Sydney

Newbie first impressions:

Sydney: “I did not know that Nightcrawler is fine as hell. I feel like I’ve been cheated. Where was that Nightcrawler in the X-Men movies?”

Anna: “My work here is done.” 

But then there’s the inappropriateness of Kurt’s flirting:

Anna: “Kurt, unfortunately, has tickled people before. This is something of a go-to move for him.” 

Sydney: “Tickling to get close is the worst move in the entire world and I hate him in this moment.”

Anna: “It plays into the logic of: ‘I’m not sexy touching you, I’m playful touching you.’”

Mav: “Kurt’s tickled people before, and it gets passed off as cute. But the consent’s not there. It’s weird and problematic in every way, but it feels like we’re supposed to excuse it, because the comic wants us to fall for the idea of Meggan and Nightcrawler.”

On Meggan as romance heroine:

“Meggan isn’t in the same visual rhetoric as the other characters. She also communicates, primarily, in thought balloons. That’s straight out of a romance comic. If a woman is freaking out about a man, it’s always in thought balloons. Speech is constricted.”-Sydney 

On the character development of Courtney Ross:

“Courtney gets put in the Playboy costume, in a Good Girl art style. But then she uses a feminine mask to distance herself from the monsters. To take control of the situation through a performance of femininity.”-Sydney

“Courtney announces through thought balloons the manner in which she’s constructed her identity. She calls herself the ice queen. She understands genre tropes. And is allowed to deconstruct them.”-Mav 

Kitty and Rachel go shopping!

“This is something you never see in romance comics. These women go shopping, and buy clothes, and it’s not about a man. It’s about them, and the relationship and power dynamic between them.”-Sydney

More shopping:

“Brian has suggested that Rachel dress more conservatively. And at first, Kitty buys into that. But Rachel switches Kitty’s clothes and makes the point: my clothes are part of my identity. See how uncomfortable you are when I switch your clothes for mine.” -Anna

Want more?

Want more?

You can find Sydney Heifler on Twitter (@romancecomicbks).

And! If you want to learn more about her work, check out her recent deep-dive essay into the history of romance comics, published in PanelxPanel!

And as usual: 

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). 


-GGW Team