“For Whom the Bell Trolls!”
Writers: Alan Davis and Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Joe Madureira
Inks: Josef Rubenstein
Colours: Kevin Tinsely
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: November 1992
Not a dream, not a hoax, not a fuzzy image of Cable on a video screen asking who the heck’s calling at 3 am. The real X-Men are here, in the same room (er, sewer) with Excalibur, and also—trolls! (By which we mean Phumm, Phop, Phay, Phlopp, Phlegm, Phough, Gambit, and Jubliee.) Anna, Mav, and Andrew plus special guest writer/podcaster/X-pert Austin Gorton wade through hugs, hurt feelings, and humongous Joe Mad art in Excalibur #57, “For Whom the Bell Trolls!” In which Cyclops is mean, Nightcrawler is sad, and the Sword Strokes lettercol keeps igniting romance.
“At times, the X-Men were just a family and friends hanging out. It was that juxtaposition, of the everyday stuff and the punching and fighting I already associated with superhero comics, that drew me to X-Men comics.” -Austin
On overdue hugs:
“I like that Kitty and Kurt got to hug people. It’s two years too late, but it matters. We needed those hugs.” -Mav
On visual symbolism:
“I don’t know if there’s another artist who burned so bright and hot and burned out as fast as Joe Mad did.” -Austin
On Joe Mad's style:
“Joe Mad’s style is influenced by manga. He’s also into non-iconic abstraction; he uses a lot of stylistic distortions for metaphorical purposes. He excels in light fantasy settings. Which makes him a great fit for Excalibur.” -Andrew
“Joe Mad incorporates the thin line of the Image revolution, the humor and horror or Art Adams, the precision of Jim Lee, and elements of manga, and combines it with an expressiveness that is wholly unique to him.” -Mav
On Joe Mad's Nightcrawler:
“World knows I think Nightcrawler’s very pretty. But I think some artists, including Alan Davis, sometimes draw him *too* pretty. Because for Kurt’s character to work, you have to believe some people would respond to him as a monster.” -Anna
More Nightcrawler style:
“It’s hard to believe people would be running toward Alan Davis’ Kurt with torches and pitchforks. With Joe Mad’s Kurt, you can see why some people find him off-putting. There’s an uncanny valley-ness about Kurt here that Beast doesn’t have.” -Mav
On meaningful regression:
“Kurt deferring to Scott is that feeling when you revert to an infantile role with your parents or an older sibling. It’s the pain of having your character growth denied. There are literal dark shadows over Kurt as he sees himself falling back into that role, but he doesn’t know how to escape it.” -Anna
Want more Austin Gorton?
You can find him on Twitter (@AustinGorton) and you can find him at his blog, The Real Gentlemen of Leisure where he’s reviewing all of X-Men. Yes, all of it. For real. Nothing else to do but tip our hats!
You can also find him writing about comics at sites like Comic Book Herald and ComicsXF.
Plus! You can find Austin chatting tropes and tones on A Very Special Episode, a regular podcast in which the hosts of Saved by the Bell Reviewed & friends discuss “very special episodes” from across pop culture!
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).