RSS Feed
Feb 14

Excalibur #7 annotations

Posted on Friday, February 14, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Excalibur hunt the Warwolves.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. The story is “Verse VII: The Unspeakable and the Uneatable” by Tini Howard, Wilton Santos and Oren Junior. The title refers to the description of fox hunting in Oscar Wilde’s 1893 play A Woman of No Importance: “The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.”

PAGE 4. Excalibur bury the Sword of Might beneath the lighthouse.

Brian asked for the Sword of Might to be kept well away from him at the end of the last issue. The original Excalibur lighthouse also had a sword outside it for a long, long time – Magik’s Soulsword, which appeared outside the lighthouse when she died in Inferno. But this time the plan seems to be to bury the cursed sword as far underground as possible.

The portal to Otherworld has a blood red colouration that we haven’t seen from other Krakoan gates.

PAGES 5-6. Captain Britain visits Jamie.

Jamie insists that he’s the king of Otherworld – Betsy promptly corrects him to point out that he’s only the king of Avalon, one realm within Otherworld. It’s pretty obvious that he’s a puppet monarch, rather pathetically insisting that his crown proves he’s important – despite the fact that he seems to be sitting alone in a ruined castle. From the look of it, Jamie is so satisfied with the mere fact of being king that he isn’t actually doing a great deal, such as trying to exercise any real control over the population. But he does still retain an awful lot of personal power over the environment – which might be another reason for the inhabitants of Avalon to steer well clear of him.

PAGES 7-9. Apocalypse persuades Captain Britain to hunt the Warwolves.

Exodus. Exodus was mentioned (in Krakoan) in Apocalypse’s grimoire in the previous issue, where he was described as a mutate assistant of advanced age. Apocalypse obviously has plans for him, but he dodges Captain Britain’s question of why Exodus is here, simply replying “Because he can be.”

Apocalypse also thanks Exodus for “notes I have kept hidden for centuries”, implying that he deposited them with Exodus at some point in the distant past. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Exodus was still working with Apocalypse in his earlier published stories (when he was mostly a worshipper of Magneto), merely that he held on to them.

As in all his Hickman-era appearances, Exodus is a bit of a blank slate character here. Considering that he’s on the Quiet Council, you suspect there’s more going on with him than meets the eye (there could hardly be less).

Otherworld and Krakoa. Apocalypse essentially claims that Otherworld has become part of Krakoa, and Betsy doesn’t directly challenge him on that – perhaps because she thinks he’s trying to change the subject. But what Apocalypse is asserting ought to concern Betsy on two levels. For one thing, Krakoa is supposed to be mutant-exclusive, and Otherworld has a huge population of its own. For another, she’s supposed to have some sort of duties to Otherworld too, and Apocalypse is basically claiming to have annexed it for a foreign power. Her lack of concern over this is a bit weird.

Apocalypse’s grimoire. We’ve seen excerpts of these notes in data pages over previous issues. Apocalypse lets Betsy read it – or at least claims to be giving her the whole thing. Who knows?

Warwolves. Apocalypse wants the heads of the five Warwolves because “we are in need of a multipart dimensional component that can act as a homing beacon between realms.” The Warwolves are indeed Excalibur villains from the original 1980s run, who fought the team in the first storyline. As Betsy says, they’re from the Mojoverse, and they were sent to Earth to pursue the escaped Rachel Summers. They were sent to London Zoo since Excalibur #2, despite being fully sentient. Unfortunately, the last time we saw the Warwolves was in Nightcrawler vol 4 #11-12 (the 2014 run), where they’d escaped and were working for Tullamore Voge. I suppose we have to assume they were recaptured as some point.

PAGES 9-10. Captain Britain and Jubilee discuss Shogo.

Shogo prefers being a dragon and doesn’t want to go home to Krakoa. Betsy suggests asking Meggan for help.

PAGE 11. Data page on the Warwolves, as an extract from Apocalypse’s grimoire. The Krakoan words are (obviously) WARWOLF and MOJOVERSE. Apocalypse broadly tells us that institutionalisation in the zoo has affected the Warwolves’ intelligence and diminished their powers. Rather oddly, he claims that “most species … become more violent, animalistic and harmful under the guidance of homo sapiens“, though it’s surely easier to think of animals that humans have domesticated than animals that we made more aggressive.

PAGE 12. Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom and Jubilee find that the Warwolves are no longer in the zoo.

The sign outside their enclosure is taken directly from Excalibur #2.

PAGES 13-14. Wisdom introduces Captain Britain and Jubilee to Cullen Bloodstone, who has bought the Warwolves.

Cullen Bloodstone. This is the son of Ulysses Bloodstone, and the younger brother of Elsa Bloodstone. He was a regular character in Avengers Arena, and he was indeed a student at the Braddock Academy. As a child, he was possessed by an otherdimensional creature called a Glartrox; his Bloodstone ring keeps the thing under control, and he’s been learning to access its abilities consciously. He’s played as an adult here, but given that Avengers Arena wasn’t that long ago, he’s probably meant to be 20 at a push.

Bloodstone has bought the Warwolves in order to kill them, but he intends to have a nice fox hunt first. This… seems unnecessary, but then the Bloodstones are all mad. On some warped notion of honour, Bloodstone will only let Excalibur have the Warwolf heads if they join him in the hunt. This is the “game as an end in itself” ethics of Arcade or Kraven.

Pete Wisdom has not yet been to Krakoa, despite having a gate just outside his home. He seems to be a little bit suspicious of the place – or maybe he just feels that he wouldn’t fit in on the happy clappy island.

PAGE 15. Cullen’s invitation to the hunt – not quite presented as a typical data page, and the better for it, because the computer text doesn’t really fit the tone of this book. Again, Cullen stresses the importance to him of sportsmanship (at least as he conceives of it).

PAGE 16-25. Excalibur compete with Cullen to hunt the Warwolves on his estate.

Pete Wisdom is not there, which Cullen mentions in passing at the start of the scene. No reason is given, which seems like a plot point.

Fox hunting. The Hunting Act 2004 banned hunting in its traditional form, but it doesn’t actually prevent dogs being used to flush out an animal, nor does it prevent drag hunting, which basically uses an artificial scent trail for the hounds. Consequently, fox hunts do still exist in England in some form, and Cullen isn’t being quite as “retro” as Betsy seems to suggest here.

Gambit has been told that this is a mission for the Council, not for Apocalypse. He’s understandably not happy about being strung along like this, and nobody else really seems to fully grasp the problem. For whatever reason, Gambit seems to be the only person on the team who retains the degree of scepticism of Apocalypse that you might expect; Rictor is an outright cheerleader for the guy, but everyone else is at the very least giving him way more benefit of the doubt than you might expect.

Cullen seems to turn against the mutants because he regards it as unsportsmanlike for them to use their powers. He never told them not to, but perhaps he just thinks that’s self-evident in framing it as a fox hunt. At any rate, he switches direction and decides to hunt mutants instead, muttering about taking them down a peg. It’s hard to figure out whether Cullen has any very coherent psychology going on.

PAGES 26-27. The Krakoan trailer text reads NEXT: FIGHTING FAIR.

Bring on the comments

  1. Evilgus says:

    The art again seems to can’t keep with the script… While colourful, it still makes me long for the imagination and visual flourishes of Alan Davis. There’s just not much flourish for a book on magic, after all. Or the Warwolf body horror.

    Betsy continues to be a passenger in a book where she should be front and centre.

    The bit that sits least well with me is the hunting of the Warwolves. It was always emphasised they were sentinent (they had their own names!) and though had horrific powers, they themselves were a bit… pathetic. Hence why Nightcrawler gave them clemency and got them in the zoo. In subsequent appearances they seem to have been blended with Predator Xs in terms of presentation. But yeah, having our heroes hunt any creature feels a bit off!

    I agree all the characters should be questioning Apocalypse more! But I like the idea he is slowly co-opting them, one by one. Rictor and Rogue seem on side already.

    Plenty of story promise in concepts around Captain Britain/Pete Wisdom’s allegiance to Krakoa, or UK, or Otherworld.

  2. MasterMahan says:

    I wonder if suddenly adult Cullen invited Excalibur to the Warwolf hunt as a Secret Test of Character. If they refuse, pointing out that hunting and killing sentient beings for sport is morally abhorrent, they pass. If they go along with it, pursuing and murdering warwolves because freaking Apocalypse asked them to, they’re monsters.

    If so, he would have a point.

  3. Si says:

    The poses of the warwolves on the cover look familiar. Particularly the one on the bottom right. I can see it in my mind’s eye giving the thumbs up?

  4. Karl_H says:

    Putting killing the warwolves in the context of a fox hunt almost seems like lampshading the ethical issues.

    I wasn’t reading Marvel when Age of Apocalypse came out, but the closer Jay & Miles get to it on their podcast, the more I start thinking that Apocalypse’s new direction/motivation is utterly irreconcilable with his past. He gets everything he wants in AoA, right? And none of it is about magickal schemes spanning millennia?

  5. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Does he, though? He gets a scorched continent and a band of sycophants. And while that may be the ultimate goal of the AoA Apocalypse, it isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal of vanilla Apocalypse.

    Obviously, the magic angle is new, as far as I know (and the comments on this blog suggest it’s completely new, end of story). But Apocalypse has shown an interest in the well-being of mutants as a whole, not just ‘the strongest, fit to survive’. Right after M-Day he wanted to help the remaining mutants (obviously, by leading them), while the AoA ‘not fit to survive’ version probably ought to finish off the dying species instead.

    Now, I’m going by what Apocalypse was saying himself, and maybe we’re not supposed to believe that. That story was sort of a mess, anyway, but the way I remember it the main forces driving the conflict were the Horsemen and the X-Men, with Apocalypse himself just… keeping to himself in his levitating base above Xavier Mansion? And then the Celestials murderkidnapped him and he was never seen again, until inexplicably coming back in… X-Men: Black back ups, I think?

    (Well, technically there was an Apocalypse in Messiah War, but that was an alternate future anyway).

    Also, didn’t Remender expand the Apocalypse mythology in Uncanny X-Force? As in, I think I remember reading about how Apocalypse was, how best to put it, pruning the garden of humanity and mutantkind and whoever else, so they become worthy to pass the judgement of the Celestials once they inevitably return? I’m pretty sure that was in a comic book by Remender.

    So. If I didn’t imagine that, that could still fit with Krakoan Apocalypse’s actions.

  6. Luis Dantas says:

    It is probably too much to expect an extremely long game of pitting the Celestials against Hickman’s cosmic take on the Phalanx, but who knows?

  7. Moo says:

    “… it isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal of vanilla Apocalypse.”

    Vanilla Apocalypse? I still have his album!

    All right stop
    Collaborate and listen
    Apocalypse is back with my brand new invention
    Something grabs a hold of me tightly
    Fly like a horseman daily and nightly
    Will it ever stop?
    Yo, I don’t know
    Turn off the lights and I’ll glow
    To the extreme, I rock a mic like a vandal
    Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle

  8. Thomas says:

    With Fallen Angels gone this book gets more scrutiny from me. Howard seems a bad fit for this book. It’s an awkward mix of old plot threads and bad character interpretations plus a total lack of knowledge about character powers. I think this gets cut at 12 issues

Leave a Reply