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Excalibur #8

“Excalibur’s New York Adventure”

Writer: Chris Claremont

Penciler: Ron Lim

Inker: Josef Rubenstein

Colourist: John A. Wilcox

Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Original publication date: May 1989

In this episode, Anna, Mav, and Andrew are joined by specialist in superhero style Monica Geraffo (@monicamarveloux) to discuss the sartorial splendors of Excalibur #8, “Excalibur’s New York Adventure.” We talk tracksuits, unstable molecules, impossible garments, and, as usual, lots of politics of representation in a story where Brian’s gym togs nearly get him arrested and Meggan tries out a number of looks—and skin tones. Also, Kitty yells at the New Mutants, Kurt steals a jet, and Rachel doesn’t hug Jean, for reasons that infuriated us all.       

This episode has an enhanced video version! Watch here:

On guest penciler Rom Lim:

“I loved Ron Lim at the time, he was one of my favorite artists. This isn’t his best work. This feels like a rush job.”-Mav

On fashion vs costume:

“The words ‘fashion’ and ‘costume’ get thrown around a lot in comics scholarship, and it’s not the same definitions a fashion scholar would use. Costume is static; fashion is ever-changing and purely aesthetic.”-Monica 

And why we should study superhero style: “Superheroes are defined by duality. If you only talk about the costume, you’re only talking about what they’re wearing half the time. You’re only talking about half the story, and half the character.”-Monica

On clothes and agency:

“It’s important to think about whether this is clothing the character chose, or whether it’s been given to the character. Because you need to know whether the clothes are saying something about the person who’s wearing it, or are they saying something about the person who’s giving it.”-Monica 

On metaphors of assault:

“The Coney Island girls all know someone who’s been assaulted by a partner, but the thing that they do is dress her back up so that she looks cute and flirty… They exist in this unspoken world where they can’t escape being defined by men, and male violence. They pick each other up but can’t change the situation.”-Monica 

On racial appropriation:

Anna: “Is there a way to tell a racial transformation story that’s not problematic?”

Mav: “As a fan and a scholar, I want to have it both ways. If you are a mutant that’s a shapeshifter, what race or gender are you really? I think the exploration is important. But it’s still humans that are reading and writing this. There’s a blackface element to it. There’s a ‘you are masquerading’ element. Yes, her race is ‘mutant,’ but you can’t divorce it from the cultural context.”-Mav

More racial appropriation:

“Mutant as a fantasy racial category always risks appropriation because it has the potential to consume every other identity category. Superpowers often sit uncomfortably with metaphors of difference because of the ways metaphor stands in for reality.”-Anna  

On impossible superhero costumes:

“In classical art, there’s a difference between nakedness and nudity. Nudes tell a story. Nakedness is porn. Superhero costumes are nudes. But here, sans costume, Brian becomes naked.”-Anna

On Brian’s gendered journey:

“There’s a convention in romance where an aggressive masculine figure needs to be humbled to make him an appropriate partner for the empowered woman.”-Anna 

On Meggan channeling the Goblin Princess:

“Meggan tells the man who tries to assault her ‘you made me get angry.’ It showcases the paradox of how men’s aggressive behavior is complicit in women’s aggressive behavior.” -Andrew 

Want more?

Want more?

You can find Monica Geraffo on Twitter (@monicamarveloux) and Instagram (@monicamarvelous). And we’d like to extend a hearty recommendation to check out her recent article for The Middle Spaces, “Not So Fast! The Case for Revisiting the Costume Designs of 1990’s The Flash TV Show.” 

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