“White Lies, Dark Truths”
Writing and pencils: Alan Davis
Inks: Mark Farmer
Colours: Gylnis Oliver
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: May 1993
Some truths are dark and many lies are white in the not-aptly-named Excalibur #65, “White Lies, Dark Truths.” We talk about that plus KISSING with scholar, educator, and psychotherapist Dr. Valentino Zullo! Do Cerise and Kurt really love each other? How can we tell? What does love mean, anyway? We’re not sure, but Alan Davis sure draws it pretty <3 We also discuss the climax of Brian’s character journey and what it means—for him, and for the future of a book that Davis is going to be leaving soon… But put that out of your mind because Rachel’s back in red and there’s hugs to be had.
On mental health and comics:
“Superhero comics are committed to understanding trauma through a non-diagnostic lens. That can be productive in the sense that—mental health isn’t just understood as a function of biology. It’s understood to be linked to social factors.” -Valentino
On space and heat:
“Davis uses the confined space to heat up the relationship. It’s very believable to me that these two people, trapped in this place, would experience a romantic relationship that might not feel real outside of this space.” -Valentino
On love and consent:
“I want to love this scene so much, but I don’t like the way Cerise is framed as a prize for Kurt. Kurt has to explain the situation and tell her how to use her powers… and her agency remains uncertain because we don’t really know who she is or what she understands about sex and relationships.” -Anna
On character and projection:
“I’m realizing through this discussion how much we’ve all projected onto Cerise. There’s not a lot there in the story. But Davis draws her so beautifully, you want to believe there’s more to it. That happens a lot with Davis.” -Valentino
On Brian's journey:
“Davis has been working on this character, on and off, for almost a decade. I don’t know if *I* believe Brian Braddock is this person. But Davis does, and this is his definitive statement on the character.” -Mav
On nationalist imagery:
“His name is Captain Britain. He leads a team called Excalibur in a book called Excalibur. And his reward is to be resurrected and healed by an Arthurian goddess. You can’t reject British colonialism while steeping yourself in all the icons and symbols of it.” -Andrew
On Brian's will to live:
“The change I see in Brian is his willingness to be resurrected. He has something to live for now. Maybe that’s Meggan, maybe it’s a new heroic purpose, but in any case—he chooses life. And that’s different, and important.” -Anna
“We sometimes criticize Davis’ writing on this show, but it’s worth emphasizing how grateful I am as a reader of serializes stories who is used to plot threads just being dropped. Davis has a lot of respect for the reader, knowing they care about these plots and want them resolved.” -Anna
On good punches:
“The religiosity of Peter is only present visually, it’s not part of the plot. But it still feels deliberate that Kurt is the one who gets to punch him. Kurt punching an evil priest was satisfying to me.” -Anna
On a top Nightcrawler panel:
“Kylun got to use his powers! It doesn’t do that much, it scares a few of the Warpies a way, but still. I was so proud of him. You go, Kylun!” -Mav
On getting clear:
“I especially love the reunion page as a contrast to the very cold, frustrating scene where Rachel left. This is everyone hugging with Rachel and Kitty in the centre—what more could you ask for. This is a top-five Excalibur panel.” -Anna
Want more Valentino Zullo?
You can find him on Twitter (@ValentinoLucaZ).
And! Check out his personal website, with links to lots of what he gets up to.
Plus! Check out the comics’ reading guides Valentino helps put together, part of the Get Graphic Program at the Ohio Center for the Book!
And don’t forget to read and submit to the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, where Valentino is an editor!
And as usual:
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).