Excalibur (2004 Series) #1
Quick Rating: Good
Title: Paint it Black (Forging the Sword Part One)
In the ruins of Genosha, Professor Xavier seeks a new purpose.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Aaron Lopresti
Inks: Greg Adams
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Art: Andy Park
Publisher: Marvel Comics
We begin our “X-Men Reloaded” journey with the all-new Excalibur, which doesn’t appear to have anything to connect it to the previous series other than the fact that Chris Claremont is writing it. In the aftermath of Magneto’s death, Charles Xavier has lost his faith in his own dream, and hopes to find renewed purpose in the ravaged land of Genosha. As he travels, he wrestles with his own demons, voices from his past, old enemies and a surprise last-page guest star that 99 percent of you already know about because the spoiler is all over the Internet.
If that last page figure is, indeed, who it seems, it’s pretty disturbing that someone, even Claremont would undo so much of Grant Morrison’s work so quickly. However, the way it’s presented, you can’t be totally sure that things are what they appear – the good professor does spend much of the book hallucinating, and things aren’t necessarily what they seem. I’m willing to give this book the benefit of the doubt, at least into next issue, to find out what’s going on. Claremont’s dialogue isn’t bad in this issue either – even during his heyday in the 80s he had a tendency to be really wordy with his dialogue, but he tones that down in this book, the way he has in his current JLA run, making things more conversational and less expository and melodramatic – and this is a book that could easily have lapsed into melodrama.
On the art side, I’m much more satisfied with the issue. I’ve been a fan of Aaron Lopresti for years, going back to his Sludge run for Malibu comics. He’s a really good storyteller and he has a very delicate balance with his artwork – it’s detailed, but not so detailed as to detract from the story the way a lot of artists work these days. He manages to make each character distinctive – Xavier looks older, but wizened, Wicked may be clad in leather and fishnets, but he’s resisted the urge to give her giant… um… “endowments” the way so many comic artists would. Pretty much everyone, even the giant lizard-man, look pretty realistic.
I’m not sold on this series yet, but I think there’s enough good in this first issue to give it a chance and see where it’s going. If one must “reload,” at least Marvel is doing it with some good ammo.