“Beginnings, Middles, and Endings”
Writers: Scott Lobdell & Chris Cooper
Pencils: Paul Abrams & Jose Kleber de Moura Jr.
Inks: Andrew Pepoy, Keith Champagne & W.C. Carani
Colours: Chris Matthys
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editors: Bob Harras & Suzanne Gaffney
Original publication date: September 1994
This week, we reckon with change and cosmic constants like the fact Charles Xavier is still a jerk in Excalibur #81, “Beginnings, Middles, and Endings,” in which Brittanic and Meggan rekindle their bonds, Kitty and Douglock forge new ones, and Charles and Moira cheat on their partners. (Maybe? It’s complicated.) Joining us on this jolly journey through melodramatic tropes is comics scholar Bryan Bove, who’s ready to forgive a romantic cliché or two and so are we, because some of us are loopy from end-of-term burnout and some of us were up all night reading Lucifer fanfiction.
“I really like to play with the idea of what academic scholarship can be… I love making critical comics because I want the reader to engage with the comics the way that I did.” -Bryan
On disability and sexuality:
“I love that Charles gets to have a romance and that he gets to express his sexuality, because characters with disabilities, even today, often don’t get to have that.” -Bryan
“I’m having a hard time with this comic book in 2022, because Moira is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who discovers she’s patient zero of an airborne virus, and her first response is to f-off to Paris. That’s hard to read.” -Andrew
On unproductive callbacks:
“This scene calls back to Brian’s proposal on the beach, but it’s rendered so differently. Davis made Brian so beautiful and touchable, and here, Meggan is a consistent spectacle but his body us off-panel, closed-off, fully clothed and awkward.” -Anna
“It’s depressing to see Meggan go from a character who potentially interrogated and critiqued performative femininity to a character who just mirrors Brian but it’s romantic now.” -Anna
On character work:
“Douglock is trying to satisfy Kitty. Problem is, what she wants is a sincere reaction. And that’s the thing he can’t give.” -Andrew
On understandable behaviours:
“I’m forgiving of Kitty’s reaction to Douglock in the sense that—it’s easy to say you’re accepting of robots as people. It’s harder when the robot is wearing the face of your dead friend.” -Mav
On romantic tropes:
“I’m all for romance. Problem is, this story does the thing where—in order to locate a badass female character within a romantic narrative, they feminize her, and diminish her agency in the process.” -Anna
Want more Bryan Bove?
For more on what Bryan Bove gets up to, from writing to comics to writing about comics and comics about writing (and X-Men and queerness and disability!), check out his website.
You can also find him on Twitter (@nerdbove) and at most social platforms under the same handle.
You can also check out his critical autoethnographic comic “‘Bobby…You’re Gay’: Marvel’s Iceman, Performativity, Continuity, and Queer Visibility” in The Routledge Companion to Gender and Sexuality in Comic Book Studies!