|First appearance||Excalibur Special Edition #1 (1987)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont (writer)|
Alan Davis (artist)
|Base(s)||The Lake House (Empress Matilda Docks, Rotherhithe);|
|Member(s)||Notable former members:|
the Black Knight
Phoenix (Rachel Summers)
Excalibur is a fictional superhero group appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. They are depicted as an offshoot of the X-Men, usually based in the United Kingdom. Conceived by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer Alan Davis, they first appeared in Excalibur Special Edition #1 (1987), also known as Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn.
The first Excalibur consisted of the British superhero, Captain Britain, his lover, Meggan, and three former members of the X-Men. An eponymous Excalibur series featuring the team lasted from 1988 until 1998. Originally, the series involved cross-dimensional travel that incorporated as many elements of Captain Britain's mythos as it did the X-Men's.
Between Excalibur's disbanding and reformation, a short-lived series entitled Excalibur chronicled the efforts of X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier and his former nemesis, Magneto, to rebuild the mutant homeland of Genosha. Although written by Claremont with the same title, it had no connection to the superhero team.
Excalibur (vol. 1) 1988–1998
Excalibur's original creative team, writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer Alan Davis, incorporated elements of two Marvel properties: the X-Men and Captain Britain.
The X-Men are a group of mutants—evolved human beings born with extraordinary powers—who use their abilities to defend a society that both hates and fears them. Claremont had authored their series since 1976, guiding them to tremendous success. He borrowed four characters from the X-Men, who formed the team under the mistaken impression that their fellow X-Men were dead:
- Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) – a German mutant who possesses the ability to teleport, becomes nearly invisible in shadows, and has a demon-like appearance.
- Phoenix (Rachel Summers) – a telekinetic and telepathic young woman from a dystopian future. She plays host to the Phoenix Force, a powerful cosmic entity which once posed as her mother, Jean Grey.
- Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) – A teenage computer expert with the ability to "phase" through solid objects.
- Lockheed – A small extraterrestrial dragon kept as Kitty's pet.
A Marvel UK property, co-created by Claremont in 1976, Captain Britain is a protector of Great Britain, endowed with superhuman powers by the legendary wizard, Merlyn. Alan Davis and Alan Moore, during their joint early-1980s stint, established that the Marvel Universe's Captain Britain was one of many from various dimensions and that one of his main roles is guarding the lighthouse that is placed at the convergence of realities.
Excalibur, which also featured shapeshifter Meggan, first gathered together in Excalibur Special Edition #1 (1988) and were soon featured in a monthly Excalibur series. With the help of a manic, dimension-hopping robot named Widget, they embarked on a series of adventures through parallel worlds.
Claremont left with Excalibur #34 (1991). Beginning with Excalibur #42, Davis returned to the series, this time as both writer and penciller, and resolved many plotlines that Claremont had left unconcluded. He also added several new members, including the mystic Feron, the warrior Kylun, and the alien Cerise; and also introduced the size-shifter Micromax (in an interview in Wizard #6, Davis said that he was adding four new team members to the team. Presumably, if Davis' run had not ended prematurely, Micromax would have become a full member of the team during Davis' tenure, rather than the start of Lobdell's).
In a jarring transition, Captain Britain was lost off-panel, Meggan was suddenly catatonic from losing him, and the newer members were summarily dispatched. Marvel stationed the team on Muir Island, off the coast of Scotland, and tied the series closer to the X-Men mythos, casting off most Captain Britain-related elements, in addition to the characters that did not have close ties to the X-Universe, like Kylun and Feron. Phoenix was written out and, when Captain Britain returned, he began using the alias "Britannic". Lobdell also introduced Douglock, an amalgam of two previously deceased members of the New Mutants: the techno-organic alien Warlock and the linguistic savant Cypher. Nightcrawler's former lover, the mystic Amanda Sefton, also joined the team, using the codename Daytripper.
Revisions made under Warren Ellis included reverting Britannic back to Captain Britain and adding Pete Wisdom, a cynical British spy who could manifest solar energy in the form of "hot knives" that could be shot out from his fingers. Ellis also developed a romantic relationship between Wisdom and Shadowcat. At the insistence of Marvel editors, Ellis also added Wolfsbane, a Scottish werewolf-like young woman from the New Mutants and X-Factor, and Colossus, the Russian X-Man who can turn his flesh into organic steel.
Sales fell and Marvel canceled the series, partially so Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Colossus could return to the X-Men. The series ended with issue #125 (1998), featuring the wedding of Meggan and a de-powered Captain Britain.
Excalibur (vol. 2) 2001
In 2001, a four-issue limited series titled Excalibur, featuring Captain Britain, Meggan, Psylocke, the Black Knight, Sir Benedict, Captain U.K., and Crusader X, detailed Captain Britain's rise to become king of the extra-dimensional realm of Otherworld.
The solicited cover to issue #1 featured a new costume for Captain Britain that was different from the one that he actually received in the comic, but the cover was unused.
Excalibur (vol. 3) 2004
In 2004, Marvel Comics launched a new ongoing series titled Excalibur, this time dealing with the efforts of Professor Xavier and Magneto to rebuild the devastated mutant nation of Genosha (which was destroyed at the beginning of Grant Morrison's X-Men run).
Other cast members included Callisto, another mutant leader and former member of the Morlocks, and newcomers such as Wicked, Freakshow, Shola Inkosi, and Karima Shapandar. Archangel and Husk also appeared in the series. The grouping never laid claim to the name Excalibur, despite the title of the series. The series' last issue was #14, released in May, 2005. Events of the "House of M" storyline concluded Xavier's and Magneto's partnership. Afterward, the mutant members of the group showed up in the "Son of M" series, where it was revealed they had all lost their powers due to the "Decimation." However, they used Quicksilver's stolen Terrigen Mist to bring their powers back, which caused them to go out of control, but the effect wore off later, leaving them human. Ironically, issues of Uncanny X-Men during the time of this Excalibur had much in common with the original Excalibur: lighthearted stories by Chris Claremont, colorful art by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, characters including Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers, and even a cameo appearance by Captain Britain.
New Excalibur (2005–2007)
The letters page of the final issue of Excalibur (vol. 3) announced a relaunch of the title as New Excalibur in November, 2005. This incarnation of the book was written by Claremont. New Excalibur has more in common with the original series than the Genosha-based book had, for it features Captain Britain and Peter Wisdom as main characters and takes place in London. Other characters include the reformed villain-turned-X-Man the Juggernaut, the former X-Women Sage and the Dazzler, and Nocturne, formerly of the Exiles.
As with many of Marvel's late 2005 books, it spun out of the after-effects of "House of M". Four issues of Uncanny X-Men laid the foundation for New Excalibur. Captain Britain brought the team together in New Excalibur #5, preceding an attack from Lionheart, Albion, and the Warwolves. Later, the team faced an attack by Black Air and Black Tom Cassidy, who was depowered due to "M-Day." Black Air retreated after the Dazzler, Wisdom, Nocturne, and Captain Britain trounced them. Black Tom surrendered after the Juggernaut talked him down and made him feel guilty about killing the Juggernaut's friend, Sammy Paré. Sage confronted the Dark Charles Xavier from Shadow-X in an astral fight, where Sage shot his astral form and won.
Psylocke joins New Excalibur and assisted them during an attack by the Shadow King, who was responsible for the creation of Shadow-X. Psylocke plunged a psi-blade into Dark Xavier, saved New Excalibur, and vanished in a flash of light. Captain Britain believes her to be dead, unaware that she has joined the Exiles. Since the incident with Psylocke, New Excalibur has met up with a repowered Chamber, visited and saved Camelot (while the Black Knight temporarily traveled with them), and have attempted to help the Juggernaut with some troubles stemming from his powers that he received from the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak. Nocturne had a stroke and the team is trying to help her recover.[volume & issue needed]
Later on, Albion tells his story to Lionheart. He is a Brian Braddock from another world, where their first World War never ended and he chose the sword over the amulet. He brought his world peace, but people kept starving and dying. When he met an alternate Captain Britain, he moved onto the latter's world and from there began a killing spree on the Captain Britain Corps. He then meets Shadow-X and Michelle Scicluna, a Black Air agent, and they prepare to take on New Excalibur. Rivalry sets them apart, though, and Sage infiltrates them as Diana Fox. Albion manages to take down all of England's energy-using objects and conquers it, with Sage developing a new persona, completely subordinate to him. They kill both Dark Cyclops and the Dark Beast, forcing New Excalibur and Shadow-X to ally to make what might be their last stand. Dark Marvel Girl, the Juggernaut, and the Dark Angel create a diversion, at the cost of the latter's life, to allow the Dazzler, the Dark Iceman, and Pete Wisdom to combine their powers and blind all of the Captains while Nocturne, who has left the hospital while possessing a Captain's body, evacuates the civilians. Captain Britain arrives to face Albion and tries to bring Sage back to normal and the two Brian Braddocks prepare to face off. Captain Britain then defeats Albion, as Dark Marvel Girl finds the device that Albion had used and is able to reactivate all of the technology in Great Britain.
New Excalibur #24 was the final issue of this title, with the storylines carrying over into the crossover miniseries X-Men: Die by the Sword.
X-Men: Die by the Sword
Psylocke and Thunderbird travel to Earth-616 to visit Captain Britain and Nocturne during New Excalibur's victory party. However, during the party Captain Britain is wounded by a strike force led by an armored lady called Rouge-Mort. While Psylocke tries to care for her brother, everybody else tries to fight. Realizing that they cannot win, they teleport to the Panoptichron. There, the Dazzler discovers that Longshot, while alive, does not remember her and is about to kill herself to ease her pain when Mystique comes to talk her out of it. Nocturne happily reunites with her former teammates, while Sage is deemed the best option to care for Captain Britain. Meanwhile, Cat, using the scanner, realizes that Roma and Saturnyne are in trouble. The Corps then suffers a lot of losses, despite Saturnyne's intervening. While Cat checks on Brian, Blink, Morph, Sabretooth, Thunderbird, and the Dazzler join the battlefield. The Dazzler battles Rouge-Mort, who has badly wounded Roma, while Morph battles James Jaspers by morphing into the Fury, but his plan is quickly foiled. Sage, Psylocke, and Wisdom recruit Albion to their cause, who proves to be a match for James Jaspers until Jaspers turns into the Fury. Merlyn then comes to his daughter to finish the job, only to be beaten by Psylocke. Captain Britain then makes his move on the Fury and, with the help of Blink and Albion, vanquishes him for now, leading to Merlyn's defeat. However, this victory comes with a price as Roma dies, though not before transferring her knowledge into Sage's mind. Saturnyne then promises to free Albion from jail to lead the Corps, while Sage and Nocturne switch teams with Longshot, who now remembers the highlights of his past. New Excalibur, now with only four members, disbands after the final battle with Merlyn.
Excalibur (vol. 4) 2019
Betsy Braddock, returned to her original body, has spent time reconnecting with her brother Captain Britain and his wife Meggan. Although she is excited to move to Krakoa, Betsy is hesitant to use the Psylocke codename and actively avoids Kwannon, who's body she had taken over for many years. Egg informs her that he and the rest of The Five have resurrected her brother Jamie although she is reluctant to let him back into her life. Apocalypse informs her that a new Krakoan gateway has appeared but it is being blocked from the other side. As the gate leads to Camelot, he requests that she speak with Captain Britain and use his amulet to travel there and investigate. Betsy and Britain travel to Camelot and are confronted by Morgan le Fay, who is trying to work out why the gate has appeared as it is siphoning her magic. Believing it to be the fault of Earth's mages, she attacks Betsy, taking control of Captain Britain to do so though Betsy escapes using the amulet. On Krakoa, Apocalypse summons Rogue, Gambit and Jubilee, informing them of the situation and uses Rogue's powers to weaken the gate enough for it to be destroyed however, the resulting magical explosion encases her in a flower coffin. Bestsy takes Rogue, Gambit and Jubilee to the older Excalibur lighthouse but finds that Morgan has burned it down. Rogue's flowers make her an extension of Krakoa and a new lighthouse made of plants is constructed, with Rogue as it's light. Mages from Clan Akkaba, those misguidedly loyal to Apocalypse, attack the lighthouse but Excalibur fight them off. Despite the protests of the others, Apocalypse arrives and promises to protect Rogue while the others head to Camelot to rescue Captain Britain however, Morgan's forces are too powerful and they have to retreat, leading Betsy to take up the mantle of Captain Britain until she can free her brother. Apocalypse finds Rictor, who has lost control of his powers, and convinces him to come to Krakoa.
Apocalypse sends Gambit and Rictor underground to steal magic-infused crystals while, unbeknownst to Apocalypse, Prestige (at Gambit's request) telepathically infiltrates Rogue's mind and helps to free her. Apocalypse is enraged when he finds out Rogue has been awoken prematurely as this interferes with his plans. As revenge, Rogue kills Apocalypse, who is later resurrected on Krakoa by the Five and arrives in Camelot to convince Morgan le Fay to allow them to settle their grievances with a duel between Captain Britain and her brother. When Betsy defeats Brian, Apocalypse reveals that he has crowned Jamie as King and Morgan is taken away to be experimented on by Apocalypse. Brian, freed from Morgan's control finds that he is no longer fit to be Captain Britain and officially bequeaths the title to Betsy.
Lightning Force (Earth-597)
From an alternate Earth where the Nazis have won World War II, and led by Hauptmann Englande, the Lightning Force team consists of Meggan, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler. The team first appeared in Excalibur #9.
European Defense Initiative (Ultimate Marvel)
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the European Union Super Soldier Program owns a team of superheroes named the EDI (European Defense Initiative) which is also codenamed Excalibur. It is the European equivalent to America's Ultimates. They first appear in The Ultimates 2 and are involved in the origins of Thor. They aid the Ultimates in defeating the Liberators in New York. Captains France, Captain Italy, Captain Spain and the new Captain Britain reside there. The now-villainous Reed Richards-led Children of Tomorrow killed Captains Italy and France, with Spain and Britain remaining. Britain then joined the Ultimates.
Led by Yeoman UK (Brion Burdack), the Excalibur of Ee'rath featured versions of Thor, the Black Knight, and Spider-Man. The team first appeared in Excalibur #1.
The Griswald family accidentally fall through a portal and end up in Earth-99476, where the dinosaurs never died out. The Britainicus Rex and his Excalibur-equivalent team of that world are able to help them return to Earth-616. They also have a short battle with a dinosaur version of the Fantastic Five, with Saur Fantastic, the Invisiguanadon, the Dinotorch, a green hairy Thing, and Arachnosaur.
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