Excalibur has always danced to the beat of its own drum. This was most clear during the team’s initial run — while they were part of the extended X-Men family of books, they were just a little different. The stories were offbeat, the enemies were a little sillier, and even the team itself was something out of a fantasy. Excalibur Epic Collection: Girls’ School From Heck collects some of the team’s strangest stories.
Showed diversity before it was a buzzword
The 1990s were an interesting time in pop culture. The era has become known for every piece of entertainment being incredibly gritty, obscenely extreme, and over the top in its sexuality. This phenomena even crossed over into regular grammar as the letter “s” was temporarily removed from plural nouns and replaced with a “z.”
The comic book industry was also affected by this wave of new cool. The pages of the X-Books saw morose heroes like Cable and Archangel reach peak levels of popularity while bombshells like Psylocke and Rogue constantly graced covers. The storylines featured death, big guns, skimpy clothing and had names like “X-Tinction Agenda”.
Then, there was Excalibur over in England. The group was also a merry band of mutants. The team even included former full time X-Men like Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde. But while Rogue was appearing on swimsuit issue covers, the beautiful Meggan was more than just eye candy. Captain Britain was ridiculously heroic, but never gritty. Plus, with titles like “No Man is an Island (But No Island is a Man Either So it Works Out),” the reader knows they are in for something different from a ’90s comic book: action-packed and silly fun.
One and done
Part of the fun in collecting comic books is reading a storyline and seeing where it takes our heroes. Still, sometimes the creative team working on the title forgets that the book itself charts the development of its cast. The comic ends up being a series of long story arcs with the occasional break. Readers are never given enough time to catch their breaths.
Girls’ School is a little different. While the book does include the titular story arc and another featuring Doctor Doom, it is filled with one-shots that allow the reader time to collect their thoughts. Weird War III is an odd callback to the team’s earlier adventures and the opening story deals with how Nightcrawler is dealing with the effects of the “Mutant Massacre”. These quick hits do a great job of providing character backstory and engage readers.
Has the X-Men drama we know and love
For all the things Excalibur did different, there were some things best left the same. X-books are filled with action and adventures and Girls’ School is no different. The team engages in many thrilling battles over the course of the book. Being this is a comic book, this includes facing alternate Nazi versions of their friends, possessed teammates, and long time enemies. The book is very exciting.
Of course, this is part of the X-family of books, so naturally, there is plenty of human drama. Nightcrawler loves Meggan who is in love with Captain Britain. Rachel is still trying to deal with the power of the Phoenix while dealing with questions about herself. Finding friends and siblings thought to be dead are all in a day’s work for the band of superheroes.
Girls’ School is also a very funny book. Whether it is Kurt changing up a story regarding Brian’s expensive airplane or teaming with She-Hulk to fighting a living pile of garbage, Excalibur is a book that is unafraid to take risks and have a good time.