Excalibur #55

“The Ghost of Braddock Manor”

Writer and pencils: Alan Davis

Inks: Mark Farmer

Colours: Glynis Oliver

Letters: Michael Heisler

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Original publication date: October 1992

The last time Excalibur threw a party, Meggan became a vampire and tried to eat a dog. So expectations are high! But this issue’s up to the challenge, and so’s our guest, comics and pop culture scholar Jeffrey A. Brown, author of many fabulous books including, most recently, Love, Sex, Gender, and Superheroes. We talk plenty about those four topics in this episode, in which multiple blonde ladies smooch Brian, Kurt and Cerise spend seven minutes in heaven, and a bunch of less-fun stuff gives us lots of mixed feelings. It’s a mega-sized ep for a mega-sexy issue!

Content warning: This episode includes discussion of sexual violence.

On context:

“I was really struck by the outrageousness of the kissing and grabbing and presentation of kisses as sex. It wasn’t just soap opera. It felt like a key party.” -Jeff

On character beats:

“Davis is starting to refine the distinctions between the character voices, and he’s getting those distinctions without imitating Claremont. He’s making these characters his own and they’re defining themselves while creating internal consistency.” -Andrew

On sexual symbolism:

“Talking about sex in the superhero genre is fascinating because it says so much about how weird we are about sex. Superhero comics are dripping with sexuality, yet sex is often sublimated or transformed into violence. This issue of Excalibur is a really good example of that.” -Jeff

On the appeal of impossible monster boys:

“Speaking as a fellow big strong lady: I like seeing Kurt be seduced by a woman who’s not beholden to earthly gender norms.” -Anna

On sexual possibilities:

“Kurt’s character arc is largely tied to his sexuality and gender expression. So for him to develop feelings for Cerise based on her helping him develop new ways of exploring that—I think that’s more than sexual. I think it opens a lot of possibilities.” -Andrew

On fridging:

“Alysande is masculine-coded in many ways. But here, we see her in a feminine setting, in a silky nightie, in front of the mirror, applying lipstick with her butt facing us. And this is where she gets killed. Which makes the violence deeply gendered. I’m tired of this shit.” -Anna

On sexualized threats:

“In some ways, the closing image of Jamie is the most shocking one in the issue. He’s explicitly naked, with shackles on his wrists and ankles, and hair trailing down his chest into his loincloth… Superhero comics depict metaphorically naked bodies, but no one gets ‘actually’ naked. Bodies are painted with bright colours. Jamie is the return of the repressed.” -Jeff

Want more Jeffrey A. Brown?

Want more Jeffrey A. Brown?

He’s low profile online, but you can find his fabulous scholarship wherever fine books are solid! Here’s a few words about his most recent book:

Love, Sex, Gender, and Superheroes examines a full range of superhero media, from comics to films to television to merchandising. With a keen eye for the genre’s complex and internally contradictory mythology, comics scholar Jeffrey A. Brown considers its mixed messages. Superhero comics may reinforce sex roles with their litany of phallic musclemen and slinky femme fatales, but they also blur gender binaries with their emphasis on transformation and body swaps. Similarly, while most heroes have heterosexual love interests, the genre prioritizes homosocial bonding, and it both celebrates and condemns gendered and sexualized violence.

 

 

 

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). 

Enjoy!

-GGW Team