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Excalibur #83

“Bend Sinister”

Writers: Warren Ellis & Scott Lobdell

Pencils: Terry Dodson

Inks: W.C. Carani

Colours: Joe Rosas

Letters: Jon Babcock

Editors: Suzanne Gaffney & Bob Harras

Original publication date: November 1994

We’re (still) back from the winter break and reeling from term prep, but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited (positively possessed!) by the start of a brand-new era for our beloved British-y mutants, with a new regular writer (Warren Ellis) who brings lots of baggage but definite skill at scripting. Dr. John Edward Martin helps us slice through atmospheres of horror in a story that sharply exploits tropes in the service of something truly uncanny! Who’ll get to Kitty first—the evil sword, the demon weed, or the fashion police??

On identification:

“I came to the X-Men right about the same time Kitty Pryde did… and she became, along with Peter Parker, one of the first characters I strongly identified with.” -John

On the greatness of Mr. Kurt Wagner:

“I love the gentleness of Kurt and how he embodies everything that the X-Men stand for—the outsider-ness, the acceptance, the courage… While being a swashbuckling romantic, he was all of those things.” -John

On tone:

“This comic does what a lot of good horror movies do, which is that it opens with a sense of something being slightly off… Kitty’s sense of alienation builds to corruption.” -John

On the uncanny:

“Demons and the supernatural don’t scare me in and of themselves, but what does scare me is exactly what we have in this comic—the combination of the familiar and the strange that Freud called the uncanny.” -John

On writing:

“To me, this one line captures Douglock’s pathos better than the entire ‘Douglock Chronicles.’ That’s what a good scripter can do.” -Andrew

On retconning:

“I prefer the Soulsword as a manifestation of Illyana’s trauma that she uses as a weapon compared to what’s presented here, which is—an evil sword drove her mad.” -Anna

On symbolism:

“Does Kitty with the sword in her stomach reflect an ideal self or a nightmare self? The ambiguity there can be powerful.” -Anna

On reflections:

“The mirror scene deconstructs the character… we see different types of mirrors reflecting different views of Kitty… She’s multiple things simultaneously, reflecting possession but also her inherent character.” -Andrew

Want more John Edward Martin?

Want more John Edward Martin?

You can him on Mastadon under the handle @passableghost.

He organizes the Comics Studies at UNT outreach initiative through the library (,  serves as the Book Review Editor for The Edgar Allan Poe Review, and is a Board member of the Digital Cultural Studies Cooperative ( which, among other things, has organized three Star Wars-themed scholarly conferences called Realizing Resistance, Episodes I, II, III.


And as usual:

You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and at Sequential Scholars (@seqscholars). 

You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun) and at Sequential Scholars.

You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast).


-GGW Team