“Death in Venice”
Writer: Ben Raab
Pencils: Mel Rubi
Inks: Rob Hunter
Colours: Kevin Tinsley
Letters: Richard Starkings & Kiff Scholl
Editors: Kelly Corvese & Jason White
Original publication date: January 1998
We’re fighting for our lives in the present when we’re not flashing back to our uncanny pasts in Excalibur #116, “Death in Venice”! Our guest, comics scholar and art historian Josh Rose, guides us through the gooey catacombs, surveying the sticky surrealism of Kurt Wagner’s shocking showdown with his longtime archnemesis (who is definitely exactly who you think it is!) with some detours through the relationship between art & comics—and art history and comics studies.
On comics and art:
“I don’t see a difference between comics and art. To me, if I study art, I should study comics.” -Josh
On callbacks (or lack thereof):
“It was so odd that Hickman & Davis’ Giant-Size Nightcrawler picked up the Sidri as an antagonist, with absolutely no connection to his story, establishing the Sidri’s deep history with Nightcrawler.” -Anna
“There were moments of disconnect between the art and story that kept taking me out of it, like when Kurt describes the reaper’s eyes as black, but they’re coloured red.” -Josh
“A bottle of India ink used to cost about ten dollars, but it would last me a long time. They used approximately 46 bottles of ink on this issue.” -Mav
“One of the ways this story achieves narrative parallelism with the original Brood Saga, is that the Brood Saga was basically a series of vignettes on death from the perspectives of different characters.” -Andrew
“Kitty and Kurt having space adventures was the first time I fell in love with their relationship… This emphasizes their thematic link; at various times, they’ve each been the soul of the X-Men.” -Anna
On Colossus as leader:
“It does make sense for Colossus to try to take over as leader in Kurt’s absence—and that he would go in with no plan whatsoever, and it would go catastrophically badly immediately.” -Andrew
Want more Josh Rose?
Josh Rose is Professor of Art History at Dallas College: Brookhaven. After earning a BFA in Painting and realizing studio art was not really his calling, he earned a MA in Art History from the University of North Texas. He researches surrealism, surrealist photography, and the intersection of comics and art history. He has also dabbled in alternative newspaper cartooning, with his strip Cosmo earning a place in Andrews McMeel’s nationwide college cartoon collection Strip Search in 1999. He’s also tried his hand at curating, serving as sole curator of the 2016 exhibition Heroes in the Making: The Art of Comic Production.
For a window on what he gets up to, check out his website!