Writer: Warren Ellis
Pencile: Carlos Pacheco
Inks: Scoot Koblish & Bob Wiacek
Colours: Ariane Lenshoek
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor: Matt Idelson & Paul Tutrone
Original publication date: November 1996
The Ellis era of Excalibur reaches an appropriately multiversal conclusion in Excalibur #103, “Bend Sinister—Reprise”! We’re joined by comics scholar Dr. Daniel Stein to pick up the pieces and talk about how they relate to serial storytelling and the emotionality of work-for-hire creation and who really owns these stories anyway—a writer? A company? A reader? Maybe a little of all three…? We liked this one right up until the final page, which we hated. But the last caption says the best is yet to come… Will it prove prophetic??
On Kitty's perennial POV:
“This is Kitty’s issue. She wakes up, and we share her perspective. She gets the first word and the last word.” -Daniel
On Kitty's skills:
“I love that we see Kitty use all her skills in this issue. She does some fighting, but she’s also the one who figures it all out while the two dumb boys are fighting.” -Anna
On serialized stories:
“This issue feels like commentary on how serialized superhero comics work. Over time, you build up characters, including multiple versions of characters… but at some point, the story usually returns to the ‘prime’ versions.” -Daniel
On claims and conclusions:
“It feels like Ellis is leaving the series by staking a claim—their may be other versions of these characters, but these are my versions.” -Daniel
On Kitty's dark reflections:
“The doppelgangers are most effective for me when they’re takes that I recognize. There are versions of the Sprite and Ariel costumes that propose—what if Claremont never stopped writing? What if Kitty hooked up with the Starjammers?” -Mav
On Piotr's many journeys:
“Piotr has been on a journey to recover from toxic masculinity… and while some of that character growth has happened off-panel, I like seeing it emerge again here, where he has to choose between being a cop and an artist or maybe a third thing.” -Anna
“I like that Kurt defeats his doppelgangers by rediscovering joy.” -Anna
Want more Daniel Stein?
Dr. Daniel Stein is Professor of North American Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Siegen, Germany. He’s been researching (mostly American) comics since the late 2000s, with a special interest in early newspaper comic strips and superhero comics, and issues of representation and serialized storytelling therein. He is the author of the book Authorizing Superhero Comics: On the Evolution of a Popular Serial Genre (published by Ohio State in 2021), and is currently finishing another book titled Strange Fruit and Bitter Roots: Black History in Contemporary Graphic Narrative (under contract with University Press of Mississippi).
And be sure to check out his article “Black Bodies Swinging: Superheroes and the Shadow Archive of Lynching,” published in Closure 7.5, recipient of an Honorable Mention for the Comics Studies Society Article Prize in 2022.