Wednesday, March 4, 2015

X-Men: Excalibur III by Chris Claremont issue #1

Excalibur is an off-shoot of the X-Men series which Chis Claremont and Alan Davis started in 1988 with a debut edition entitled Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn. This series is heavily based in United Kingdom where English superheroes are the central characters and they are led by Captain Britain and his girlfriend-shapeshifter Meggan. Certain X-Men characters like Nightcrawler, Phoenix, and Shadowcat became its members as well. The series had a good, solid run until 1998. Later on in 2005, it was re-launched as New Excalibur, but was then again changed to a 2008 series, Captain Britain and MI13.

With the original team from its eighties-nineties run disbanded for good, Claremont decided to pick this up again in 2004 but it had nothing to do with the old UK-based series itself at all. 

This time, it focused on Professor X and Magneto and their efforts to rebuild Genosha, the mutant-populated nation that Grant Morrison destroyed when he started writing for X-Men. As someone who is familiar with the way Morrison operates as a writer, lots of crazy shit happened in the X-verse courtesy of said bastard. Look, I'm a fan of the man, truly, but there are moments he can be pretty challenging to enjoy.

But I digress.

Known as Volume III, this version of Excalibur is something I've been dying to read because its basically a love letter to the fans of the ever-enduring core relationship between the bookend-soulmates who are Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. To the long-suffering and rabid faction of the X-fandom exposed to the X-Men: First Class film, these two dorks were christened 'Cherik', and theirs is a relationship so rife with conflicting ideologies, repressed desires and debatable subtext concerning the nature of their dynamics which remains ambiguous yet dangerously possessive to this day. Personally, this 'friendship' is far too consuming to be simply platonic, so it's enough to raise some eyebrows and DON'T YOU DARE ARGUE WITH ME ABOUT IT! 

In any case, y'all should know by now that I SHIP IT immensely and it is a great honor to experience more about this relationship in comics canon. You see, if you cut me, I bleed Cherik, so better prepare yourself for the bloodbath that is about to coat the paragraphs of my upcoming reviews for the Excalibur III issues for this week and the next. I'd apologize in advance but you have been forewarned way before when I officially started with my X-Men comics diet last January so you better not complain about the amount of shippiness and fangirliness that you are about to read from this point forward. Cherik is the oxygen, drugs and food that sustain my saddest nights on this planet and I will inhale, snort and devour it any goddamn chance I get. So let's start this orgy.

A little background and context: Genosha has been decimated horrendously and it's presently in utter shambles while its mutant citizenry is clamoring for survival, searching for a leader to govern them. Unfortunately, Unus the Untouchable appointed himself as that which is really gross--and the asshole has some followers too. There was also a Magneto imposter walking around for a while, causing havoc in New York and abducting Professor X nilly-willy, either to store him naked inside a water tank or just so he can tie him up in chains, Christ-style against a wall. This first issue, Paint It Black, opens with Charles Xavier soliloquising, and he apparently made a decision to leave the X-Men behind  so he can go to Genosha, knowing they will survive without him anyway. After all, he's been a figurehead for a good decade now as opposed to a leader who actually joins his team in the battlefield. Or something to that effect; I really don't know why Charles felt the need to just up and leave IN SECRET until I got to the last page of this issue. Of course, of-fucking-course, that's the reason why.

Anyway, Charles is by himself here, overlooking a large statue that resembles Magneto (it might as well be; Magneto did blackmail the United Nations to hand him Genosha so he can protect it). Charles continues to express his regrets about failing the people around him lately because he considered himself as the shepherd to his flock and now he had led them astray. I suppose he's also referring to the mutants in Genosha. To add more flavor to this self-pity party is Charles also hallucinating ex-fiancée Moira MacTaggert who is wearing the skimpiest clothes because Chuck is kind of a pervert. He has some conversation with that hallucination as he tries to carry this coffin that weighs one hell of a ton because it looks like it's made of stone and granite. Delusion-Moira asserts that it's some sort of penance for Charles to pull that heavy object as if he's Jesus carrying the cross to the top of the hill. Just as he was needlessly punishing himself, Unus the Untouchable jerkwad tries to kill Charles because he's just juvenile and stupid. Luckily, Charles had just encountered a young girl named Wicked who has the mutant ability to channel spirits as weapons. She reluctantly tries to help him. She also has a friend named Freakshow, a dense-looking boy who can transform into a monster. He proceeds to swallow Unus whole. It was hilarious. Fuck you, Unus.

So after that anticlimactic confrontation, Freakshow and Wicked helped Charles carry the coffin to an old house somewhere in Genosha and he happily thanked and sent them on their way. As the kids leave, a familiar voice greets Charles from behind and asks him what's in the coffin. Apparently, Magneto's corpse, he answers. The last page reveals that it's the real Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) standing in front of Charles and wearing the world's dorkiest orange sweater. They shake hands, eager to start what was always meant to be and written in the stars: FOR THEM TO WORK TOGETHER, UNITED IN PURPOSE AND METHOD.

So, in summary, Charles runs away to Genosha and takes the corpse of the poser-Magneto with him (I hope they'll reveal the reason why soon) so he can meet up with the real Erik who apparently faked his own death and has been hiding from the world since. I suppose they're both in Genosha to make amends with its people because they are considered the leaders of the mutant revolution no matter how much their views and methods clash. It's therefore a personal failure and injury to see such a civilization like Genosha become a wasteland because they were unable to save it. Now they feel obliged to fix that mistake together. So--if you think about it--they're keeping this all in clandestine mode, so neither the X-Men nor the Brotherhood know their whereabouts. Basically, THEY ELOPED. Not exactly literally, of course, but this is an elopement in spirit. Should it really surprise any of us? It's been a long time coming, you know.

It was always going to happen--it was only a matter of when

Get ready to read more about Charles and Erik totally embarking a domestic-bliss mode as they share a quiet dinner by the balcony overlooking the sunset. More of this shippy gayness and sad retrospective conversations coming up in the next issue!


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