“The Times They Are A-Changin’”
Writer: Michael Higgins
Pencils: Ron Lim
Inks: Joe Rubenstein
Colours: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Agustin Mas
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: August 1990
In this episode, Anna, Mav, and Andrew recruit author Darby Harn to help them make sense of some less-than-stellar storytelling in Excalibur #26, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” It’s another Higgins/Lim joint, and while the art’s a bit better, the writing’s a bit worse, recycling multiple past and present traumas. But we still find plenty to talk about, exploring different interpretations of Rachel’s sexual and romantic affinities, unpacking sexual violence tropes, and cringing our way through a Kurt/Meggan subplot that should be more fun than it is. On the bright side—we enjoyed some of the fashion! Meggan’s green and black crop top + midi pencil skirt for the win.
Content warning: this episode features discussion of sexual violence.
On the enduring appeal of Excalibur:
“Excalibur had a kind of British sensibility – a Terry Pratchett, Monty Python-type irreverence that was unique among Marvel comics at that time. The comedic tone never really rubbed off on my as a writer. But I loved reading it.” -Darby
On why it’s worth revisiting Excalibur:
“The origin of Excalibur is so fixed in grief and trauma. And we’ve been living through this moment, this last 18 months, of real grief and trauma in the world. I think Excalibur has a great appeal right now for folks who are maybe feeling dislocated, feeling burdened by grief, and are looking for something that’s escapist, and often silly, but that’s also reflective.” -Darby
On Rachel’s symbolic nightmare:
“Everything that happens here in terms of the threat Rachel is presented with is deeply, deeply sexualized. It begins on the very first page, where she has a sexualized nightmare and experiences relief afterwards, surrendering to a post-coital calm.” -Anna
On sexual violence tropes:
“One of the things we can look to when evaluating the politics of stories involving sexual violence is – who is this violence serving? Who’s subjectivity is it prioritizing, and does it deepen their character?” -Anna
On fill-in responsibilities:
“I think this story is an example of poor curation of intellectual property. Higgins shouldn’t have had access to Days of Future Past. Or Days of Future Present. You don’t touch that in a fill-in issue.” -Andrew
On romantic multiplicities:
“Rachel having a romantic relationship with Franklin doesn’t mean she can’t have a relationship with Kitty. I read Days of Future Past as depicting a poly family. In that word where they’re literally being hunted, they’ve been able to let go of preconceived notions, and just have the relationships that they want and need to have.” -Mav
On cringe-y flirting:
“We’ve talked before about Kurt being better or more complicated than the ‘nice guy’ trope in his behaviour with Meggan. Here, he’s not. Here, he’s manipulative in a way he’s never been before. It’s not good.” -Anna
Want more Darby Harn?
Of particular interest to listeners of the pod should be his recent novel Ever The Hero! About which Publisher’s Weekly had this to say: “Harn’s entertaining debut uses super powers as a metaphor to delve into class politics in an alternate America.”
He’s also a senior writer for Screenrant, and a contributor for Star Wars News Net and Movie News Net. He’s also part of The Movie News Network podcast team, talking all things movies, TV, and pop culture.
And as usual:
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).