X-Calibre 1 – Wait, he took his finger?!!?

Credits: Written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Ken Lashley, inks by Tom Wegryn and edited by Suzanne Gaffney.

Cast: Earth 295 versions of Switchback, Cain (Juggernaut) Marko, JWarren Kennenth (Angel) Worthington III, Kurt (Nightcrawler) Darkholme, Erik (Magneto) Lensherr, Raven (Mystique) Darkholme, John Proudstar, Dani Moonstar, (Dead Man) Wade Wilson, Damask, Apocalypse and Irene (Destiny) Adler.

Plot: A mutant known as Switchback has fled Detroit, part of Apocalypse’s American dystopia. She has arrived at the Savage Land and is guided through it by the monastically dressed Cain. He shows her the valley refuge known as Avalon.

In Manhattan, nightclub owner Angel is met by Nightcrawler who wants passage to the Antarctic, where the Savage Land is located and to find his mother Mystique who is rumoured to be acting as a coyote, moving refugees to Avalan, for a price. Nightcrawler is directed to find John Proudstar.

In Westchester, Magneto calls Mystique and convinces her to agree to take Nightcrawler to Destiny to confirm information Magneto has received.

Nightcrawler meets Proudstar who is performing a ‘ghost dance’ with the rest of his tribe in an abandoned church. He is angry with Mystique (who is rumoured to fleece the refugees) and takes that anger out on Nightcrawler who responds by teleporting with Proudstar’s pointing finger, severing it. Proudstar agrees to help, reluctanctly and Nightcrawler leaves, without the finger.

Another person who leaves is Dani Moonstar, who is working as a plant for Apocalypse who is seeking Avalon and reports to her master, after killing one of his guards. Apocalypse is not amused with this wasteful action, but assigns her and ‘Dead Man’ Wade to work under Damask to go after Nightcrawler and find Avalon.

On a submarine called Excalibur, Nightcrawler sits with the escaping refugees as they escape America. In Avalon, Switchback meets Destiny who as soon as she touches Switchback’s hand, sees a vision of Avalon burning.

Notes: Whilst many of the titles that were part of the Age of Apocalypse fitted nicely into the new setting, not all of them did so, one was the transition from X-Force to Gambit and the X-Ternals and the other is Excalibur to X-Calibre. It’s hard to see where this title connected to its progenitor. It had one character that was retained, but the theme and the type of stories were nothing alike and it’s really to this comic’s detriment.

Well let’s get the bad out of the way, because there’s a lot of it and I like to end on a positive. And here, we, go.

From the brevity of the plot, you can see that Ellis has a problem with pacing, what happens is well written, but not very much happens. The colours are garish, which is as much a product of the era as a failure of this particular comic. There’s also the character design for the villains, which leeches all the gravitas from Apocalypse.

So what did I like? Well I did enjoy Cain Marko showing up as a reformed Juggernaut and a new character was a good choice by the writer, it speaks to a world larger than just the X-Men and the more familiar related characters.  It also showcases Ellis’ strengths as a writer, ideas and character interactions, matched well by Ken Lashley’s pencils. The scenes between Magneto and Mystique are full of tension and those between Angel and Nightcrawler do well in telling you that this isn’t our Kurt.

It’s really Kurt’s show, the usually swashbuckling ladies-man is now a much colder and darker character. In one scene were in the 616 he’d put in a glib line or a priest-like caring word he teleports someone’s index finger off their hand. After he does it, his only comment is “rude to point.”

You can see the writer and the penciller doing really well with what they had, but to be honest, this seems the most … unnecessary part of the Age of Apocalypse. I have it because I am a bit of a completist, but if I missed out, I don’t think I’d be worse off for it.

Next time: Back bto clones and webslinging.

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