Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis v.1
Written & Penciled by Alan Davis
Inked by Mark Farmer
Published by Marvel Comics
I haven’t been going to the library for comics lately – with all the comps piling up, there just isn’t time to read many of the books I buy for myself, much less stuff I’m halfway interested in but don’t want cluttered my shelves forever. (I know, boohoo for me, having too many free comics.) But I was at the library the other day to pick up some CDs I’d been curious to hear and there was a graphic novel shelf displaying a very nice variety of books, including manga, a Dash Shaw book, a Walking Dead, and a couple superhero titles. This particular book, collecting Alan Davis’ run on X-Men spinoff Excalibur from issues 42 to 50 from the early 1990s jumped out. I’d read the comics years and years ago, recalled them fondly, but long ago lost them in one of my many purges.
I’d been reading some heavier comics and wanted something bright but a little dumb, so I grabbed it. It’s not bad. But don’t go out of your way to read it either.
The Good: Alan Davis was then, and remains still, a very good superhero artist, with bold, clean lines, lots of uncluttered detail, strong character acting, effective layouts and imaginative designs. Here, as the series’ writer, he also exhibits his sense of humor, offering a playful series that gives readers an offbeat, character-based sense of silliness.
Davis also comes up with some storyline to keep all five team members active, rather than choosing to spotlight one or two lead characters. It’s an effective juggling act, even if some of the storylines don’t really add up to much in the end.
The Bad: The book’s main plot winds up far too convoluted, as Davis takes extraordinary pains to explain dozens of loose ends from the previous forty-one issues of Excalibur. It’s the sort of continuity pandering that I probably liked more as a kid, but don’t have the patience for any longer. Additionally, many of the new characters introduced – Cerise and Feron in particular, or the upgraded Widget – don’t really contribute very much. In fact, even Kylun’s tale, which gets plenty of page time, fizzles out in the big finale.
Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis v.1 provides readers a goofy lark, but only the committed Excalibur reader is going to really appreciate the details Davis puts into his plot. Others will likely find the ride jarring and uneven. However, at least it looks great. Basically, this book’s exactly the sort of thing you can read, enjoy, and give back without missing at all.