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Excalibur #14

“Too Many Heroes”

Writer: Chris Claremont

Pencils: Alan Davis

Inks: Paul Neary

Colours: Glynis Oliver

Letters: Agustin Mas

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Original publication date: November 1989

Summer’s rolling in, which means it’s time for an epic crossover! Anna, Mav, and Andrew are joined by Sean Ross of the Secret Wars & Beyond Podcast to slice-and-dice our way through the too-silly-to-exist shenanigans of Excalibur #14, “Too Many Heroes,” featuring appearances by the Silver Skateboarder, Deathlok-Captain America, a too-giant Giant-Man, and… Chris Claremont and John Byrne? Amid this tidal wave of mayhem, we retreat to the safety of Phoenix force cocoons to discuss the history, pain, and joy of crossovers, Excalibur’s still-deft character work, and how clothes make the mutant. Plus, Sean convinces us the name of our podcast is deeply meaningful and not a silly inside joke, as we’d first assumed. 

This episode has an enhanced video version! Watch here:

Sean explains the podcast title so much better than we ever have:

“Oh gosh, oh golly, oh wow isn’t just a silly refrain. I think it’s actually Excalibur’s mission statement. Where X-Men is intended to make you gasp with its pathos, Excalibur wants you to feel that sense of wonder you felt when you encountered your first comic. It wants you to approach it with that same sweetness, innocence, tongue-in-cheek playfulness. But it doesn’t speak down to you; it runs through the field with you. That’s the role Excalibur plays in the X-Men universe.” -Sean

On the significance of that glorious cover:

“It’s all about this cover. This cover is brilliant. You don’t know they’re joke characters from the front side; you have to flip to the back. It also references the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition, which I was obsessed with, and still carry around a PDF copy of.” -Mav 

On the Claremont and Byrne cameo:

“Byrne had fired many shots at Claremont, and this is one of the first—and only—times Claremont fires back. But it’s self-effacing. Claremont’s being served by Hellfire Club women, Byrne by She-Hulk, the implication being that they’re both driven by sexual desires. I don’t think anyone would debate that Claremont’s more self-aware than Byrne.” -Andrew

On the significance of those cocoons:

“These capsules are absolutely supposed to remind you of Jean Grey’s capsule in Jamaica Bay, which was part of the ‘Dark Phoenix’ retcon that Claremont wasn’t a fan of.” -Sean 

On the significance of clothes:

“This issue does a lot of character development through clothing. It starts at the very beginning, where you see them on the balcony, and everyone’s loving their regal garb—except Rachel.” -Mav

On Kurt’s happiness on this adventure: “Cross-time Caper is fun for Kurt because it allows him to have adventures that aren’t defined solely by him being a freak and a monster. He can experiment with identity and engage in conflicts that don’t involve people chasing him with pitchforks.” -Anna 

On Meggan’s new costume:

“Meggan doesn’t make a lot of choices. But she chooses this outfit, which will become her iconic outfit. And—Kurt gets to see it first.” -Mav

On Brian’s sympathetic reaction to Kurt/Meggan:

“Brian’s more sympathetic than he’s been. There’s a sadness and self-consciousness to him here, where he’s seeing how much happier his girlfriend is with another man.” -Anna

“Brian is seeing how much fuller and more complete Meggan is with Kurt. If you’ve ever been in a relationship and it’s ended, and you see your ex with another person, and you’re like, ‘oh that’s them fully shining. That person wasn’t at their best with me.’ There’s a bittersweet-ness to that where you’re happy for them, but sad, as well.” -Sean 

On self-reflexive Galactus:

“There’s a point being made about seriousness and stakes. Galactus is the world-devourer. When he arrives, things get serious. I think Claremont’s saying, these event cycles are spiraling out of control—remember when it was sacred, remember when it was special?” -Sean

On Brian’s chivalry:

“Brian’s quick decision to try to kill AU Nigel for his thoughts about Rachel says a lot about who Brian is and who Nigel is. In this parody issue, that beat’s important. It’s gendered, but it’s who Brian is. He hasn’t lived up to it, but his job is to be a paragon.” -Mav

On that horrifying Giant-Man scene:

“One of the secrets of successful satire is to take it very seriously. This does that. There are stakes, and the Hank Pym scene is objectively horrifying. Hank is destroying the world by existing, then gets murdered by Namor. This is a Watchmen-esque, ‘look at the consequences of superpowers.’” -Anna 

Want More Sean Ross?

Want More Sean Ross?

You can find Sean Ross talking Secret Wars, Astro City, and wading through a never-ending read pile on the Pulp 2 Pixel Podcast Network!

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