“Someone Will Die for This!”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils & inks: Ron Wagner
Colours: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Tim Harkins
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: December 1990
A little late for “Back to School” but just in time for the comics studies + girlhood studies + Excalibur matchup of your dreams, it’s Anna, Mav, and Andrew discussing Excalibur #32, “Someone Will Die for This!” with comics scholar Dr. Charlotte Johanne Fabricius! We’re bringing our A-game (and our very best penmanship) to the opening salvo of the “Girls’ School from Heck” storyline, talking aim at the power, possibility, and danger of Kitty’s journey out of (or into?) girlhood. Plus soft men, weird curves, and hard balls… Did we mention this story features subtext?
On Margaret Thatcher’s fantasies:
“This opening dream sequence is a satirical send-up/psychoanalysis of Margaret Thatcher. This fantasy appeals to her perception of herself as an antifascist – which she was not. She’s maternalistic and powerful and a beloved symbol of authority.” -Andrew
“Feminine adolescence is a site of tremendous anxiety – about gender, about sexuality… Pop culture representations of girlhood are often about positioning girls in relation to the world, including capitalism and heteropatriarchy.” -Charlotte
On Kitty’s relationship to/with her headmistress:
“Then there was that kiss with Miss Rutherford. Kitty reacts by touching her cheek. But the way that it’s drawn, I couldn’t completely deduce where Miss Rutherford’s lips were. It’s probably very deliberately ambiguous.” -Charlotte
On girlhood and superheroes:
“Girlhood lingers around feminine-coded superhero bodies. There’s an extended girlhood in which girls aren’t really allowed to, but are also not expected to, grow into women. It’s a space of restriction and possibility.” -Charlotte
On Nightcrawler’s gender fluidity:
“I was a bit disappointed Nightcrawler wasn’t gender-swapped, but maybe he doesn’t need to be. I want Nightcrawler to be a gender fluid character. But I also try to be cautious making that claim. At the very least – there are aspects of his embodiment that lend themselves to that possibility. He’s got a literally soft masculinity – he feels like velvet!” -Anna
“Initially, I was confused by Nightcrawler being the only member of the team who’s not gender swapped. But then I was like, “Oh, Kurt’s gender is ‘Kurt.’ That tracks.” -Charlotte
On sticks, balls, and symbols:
“What I found most interesting in terms of agency was the hockey scene – and the violence of it. It’s never Kitty directly impacting Phoebe or the other way around. It’s always via the sticks and ball. Which is symbolic on multiple levels. Kitty’s turning her newfound solidity around and making it a force.” -Charlotte
On our villain of the week:
“I really like the idea of a supervillian who’s smart enough to figure out he can actually make far more money just by going legitimate with the powers that he has. Every villain should have figured that out.” -Andrew
Want more Charlotte Fabricius?
Find her on Twitter (@CharlotteJFab).
Plus! Check out her very fabulous (open access!) article “Precarious Lines. Heroism and Hyper-capability in 90s Nightwing Comics.”
You can also find her book chapter “New and Improved? Disability and Monstrosity in Gail Simone’s Batgirl“ in the anthology Monstrous Women in Comics. (Co-edited by previous podcast guest Dr. Sam Langsdale!)
And as usual:
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).