Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils and inks: Mark Badger
Colours: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: May 1991
The sages foretold: lo, there will come a story, told in three parts, in which jokes are stale and motives are baffling. Nobody likes it; nobody wanted it. Yet it exists. And thus, Anna, Mav, and Andrew must discuss it. But the sages also foretold a savior: a shining beacon of righteous insight destined to cleave “The Promethium Exchange” in twain, and create from the sum of these parts something better, worthy of the mantle of Excalibur. That savior is Nola Pfau, two-time Eisner Award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Women Write About Comics. In other words: here’s an hour-and-a-half of awesome talk about a not-awesome comic formally known as Excalibur #37, “House Call.” Feel free to skip the comic. But skip this episode at your peril.
On mutant families:
“People talk about differences between the X-Men and Avengers – how the X-Men are family and the Avengers are co-workers. That really rings true to me, not just in that the X-Men have external lives when they’re not superheroing, but also in that those external lives are so interconnected and messy in the way that real families are. These are people who may not always get along, but always care deeply for each other, and will always put everything aside for each other.” -Nola
On the mutant metaphor:
“The X-Men are not out there acting like policemen. They’re not out there being cops for the world. They are, very often, fighting government and fighting the police. Because they are showing up for the most marginalized. They are showing up for the most vulnerable. And they continue to do that, even when the world makes them look like the villains for doing it.” -Nola
On humor and trauma:
On humor and trauma: “We’ve talked many times about Excalibur as a team founded in trauma. But it’s also a ‘funny book.’ For me, when the humor’s at its best, it’s similar to the thing I love about Kurt’s humor: it’s rooted in trauma, a reckless protest against the impossibility of his existence.” -Anna
On gender stereotypes:
“Meggan is absolutely an avatar of the hyperfeminine bimbo stereotype in superhero comics. When she is used to actually interrogate and challenge that stereotype, she is fantastic and amazing. When she’s in the hands of someone like Lobdell, that doesn’t happen.” -Nola
“Everything about Kurt’s body and powers is built for movement—for transition from one place to another. And that extends to his characterization. Like Meggan, he’s not the things that happen to him. He’s always what he does to move on from that—what he does to grow past that.” -Nola
On Nightcrawler's humor:
“Kurt jokes about things in a way that doesn’t make light of those things. It doesn’t ignore his trauma; his humor is informed by trauma. Choosing to laugh at the things that happen to you, choosing to laugh at your own pain—that’s a powerful choice. It’s a reclaiming of power from a place you didn’t have it before.” -Nola
On brief shining moments:
“X-Men: Gold is not a good series. But there’s a moment from it, after Kitty leaves Colossus at the altar, that I often think about, and that I used in my first essay on Nightcrawler and disability. Colossus says, ‘Kurt, can I not be here, please?’ And Kurt says, ‘Yes, of course.’ That’s Kurt’s power – the power to escape.” -Anna
On Lobdell quirks: “Lobdell’s favourite character is Brian. I think Brian is exactly the type of character that Lobdell sees as the hero.” -Mav
On Kitty and the Soul Sword:
“Kitty having Illyana’s Soul Sword was important because it was a tangible artefact of their love for one another that couldn’t be denied, because of the tying of it to, specifically, Illyana’s soul. We talk about things like soulmates when we talk about love, and when we talk about romantic contexts.” -Nola
“There’s different forms of disability. There’s a situation where you’re going to get better, and it’s going to take time. And there’s a situation where you’re not. And I think for people who identify with that second type of disability, it feels like a little bit of a slap in the face when a character is magically cured, out of nowhere, for reasons that are jubilant and joyful and disavow the very concept of the hero’s journey through that disability.” -Andrew
Want more Nola Pfau?
Check out her recent essay on Paul Smith’s X-Men: “Reading Between the Lines: How Paul Smith’s Fluid Style Made Him the Best X-Men Artist of All.”
And! Check out her co-coverage – with Corey Smith – of S.W.O.R.D. at ComicsXF!
Also! Nola’s also co-covering Inferno with Chris Eddelman!
Plus! She covers a whole lot of stuff over at Women Write About Comics.
Wait – there’s more!
Check out Anna’s recent essay on the symbolism of teleporting in Uncanny X-Men #147!
You can learn more about the history of Greer Nelson (The Cat/Tigra) in this essay by Anna (excerpted from a longer book chapter), “On Marvel’s First Female Superhero Written by a Woman.”
And here’s that original Nightcrawler essay, about escape, and disability, and a bunch of other stuff: ‘Til Death Do We Part, at Least for a While: My Undying Love Affair with Undying Superheroes.
And how ’bout a Claremont Run thread by Andrew about Kurt’s defining joy?
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).