Excalibur (comics)

Excalibur (comics)
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Excalibur Special Edition (1987)
Created by Chris Claremont
Alan Davis
In-story information
Base(s) The Lake House (Empress Matilda Docks, Rotherhithe);
Braddock Manor;
Muir Isle
Member(s) Notable former members:
Captain Britain
Black Knight
Moira MacTaggert
Phoenix (Rachel Summers)
Pete Wisdom

Excalibur is a Marvel Comics superhero group, an off-shoot of the X-Men, usually based in the United Kingdom. Conceived by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer Alan Davis, the original Excalibur first appeared in Excalibur Special Edition (1987), also known as Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn.

The first Excalibur consisted of the British superhero Captain Britain, his lover Meggan, and several one-time members of the X-Men and related mutant teams. An eponymous 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.

Captain Britain reformed Excalibur to defend London in a series entitled New Excalibur, which ran from 2005 until it was replaced in 2008 by Captain Britain and MI13.

Between Excalibur’s disbandment 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.


The original Excalibur

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 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 their X-Men teammates were dead:

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 Captain Britain's emotionally unstable, shapeshifter lover Meggan, first gathered together in Excalibur Special Edition #1 (1988) and were soon featured in a monthly series. With the help of a manic, dimension-hopping robot named Widget, they embarked on a series of adventures through parallel worlds.

Davis left with Excalibur #24 (1990) and Claremont with Excalibur #34 (1991), leaving a number of various plot points unresolved before his departure. A year later, Davis returned as both writer and illustrator with Excalibur #42. He rejuvenated the series, returning to the (mostly) lighthearted tone of his original run, while resolving many of the plotlines Claremont had left dangling. 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's run had not ended prematurely, Micromax would have become a full member of the team during Davis's tenure, rather than the start of Lobdell's.)

Excalibur team gathering.
Art by Alan Davis.

After Davis left again in 1993 (issue #67), Uncanny X-Men writer Scott Lobdell filled in for several months (issues #68-82). In a jarring transition, Captain Britain was lost off-panel, Meggan was suddenly catatonic from losing Captain Britain, and the newer members were summarily dispatched. In addition, the tone of the series changed as well, from a lighthearted, fun comic to a more grim and depressing series. Marvel stationed the team on the fictitious Muir Island, off the coast of Scotland, and tied the series closer to the X-Men family, casting off most Captain Britain-related elements entirely, in addition to the characters that did not have close ties to the X-Universe (like Kylun and Feron). Phoenix was disposed of to bring in Britannic (an altered Captain Britain). Lobdell also introduced Douglock, who was eventually revealed to be the deceased, techno-organic alien Warlock of the New Mutants, reborn with the form and memories of his former teammate, the deceased Cypher. Nightcrawler's former lover, the mystic Amanda Sefton, also joined the team, using the codename Daytripper.

In 1994, Warren Ellis assumed writing duties (issue #83) and, using his dark sense of humor, helped the book gain its own voice once again. Revisions made in his time 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" from his fingers. Ellis made Wisdom the romantic interest of the much younger Shadowcat. At the insistence of Marvel editors, Ellis also added Wolfsbane (Rahne Sinclair), a Scottish werewolf-like young woman from the New Mutants, and Colossus (Peter Rasputin), a Russian X-Man who could turn his flesh into "organic steel."

Ellis left in 1996 (issue #103) and Ben Raab, his replacement (issue #106), failed to find a voice for the series, often borrowing plotlines from other X-books. 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 depowered Captain Britain.

Excalibur (vol. 2, 2001)

In 2001, a four-issue limited series titled Excalibur, featuring Captain Britain, Meggan, Psylocke, Black Knight, Sir Benedict, Captain U.K., and Crusader X, and written by Raab, detailed Captain Britain's rise to become king of the extra-dimensional realm of Otherworld.

Originally solicited as Excalibur: Sword of Power, the subtitle was absent from the published issues, and, due to an error, the indicia described it as Excalibur volume 1. In addition, the solicited cover to issue #1 featured a new costume for Captain Britain, different from the one he actually received in the comic, and the cover was unused.[1]

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). Aside from the name and the writer (Claremont), it has no connection to Marvel's previous Excalibur titles.

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, Juggernaut, the former X-Women Sage and 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[2] 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 Dazzler, Wisdom, Nocturne, and Captain Britain trounced them. Black Tom surrendered after Juggernaut talked him down and made him feel guilty about killing 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.

Recently, Psylocke joined New Excalibur and assisted them during an attack by the recently-revived Shadow King who was responsible for the creation of Shadow-X. With Nocturne, Juggernaut, Dazzler, and Pete Wisdom under Shadow King's control, Captain Britain being beaten by his own team, and Sage unconscious, Psylocke faced the Shadow King alone. She plunged a psi-blade into Dark Xavier, saved New Excalibur, and mysteriously vanished in a flash of light without explanation. 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 Juggernaut with some recent troubles stemming from his powers that he received from the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak. The series revealed that Professor Xavier was meant to be the Juggernaut. Recently, Nocturne has had a stroke and the team is trying to help her recover.

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.[3] 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 Dark Beast forcing Excalibur and Shadow-X to ally to make what might be their last stand.[4] Dark Marvel Girl, Juggernaut, and Dark Angel create a diversion, at the cost of the latter's life, to allow Dazzler, 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.[5] Captain Britain then defeats Albion, as Dark Marvel Girl finds the device Albion had used and is able to reactivate all of the technology in Great Britain.[6]

At the end of New Excalibur #24, Marvel announced that this would be 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.[7] 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 they can't win, they teleport to the Panoptichron. There, 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.[8] The Corps then suffers a lot of losses, despite Saturnyne's intervening. While Cat checks on Brian, Blink, Morph, Sabertooth, Thunderbird, and Dazzler join the battlefield.[9] 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[10] only to be beaten by Psylocke. Cap 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.[11] New Excalibur, now with only four members, disbands after the final battle with Merlyn.

Collected editions

Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
Excalibur Classic, Vol. 1 - The Sword is Drawn Excalibur #1-5; Excalibur Special Edition November 2005 978-0785118886
Excalibur Classic, Vol. 2 - Two-Edged Sword Excalibur #6-11; Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem August 2006 978-0785122012
Excalibur Classic, Vol. 3 - Cross Time Caper, Book 1 Excalibur #12-20 February 2007 978-0785122029
Excalibur Classic, Vol. 4 - Cross-Time Caper, Book 2 Excalibur #21-28 November 2007 978-0785122036
Excalibur Classic, Vol. 5 Excalibur #29-34; Excalibur: Weird War III May 2008 978-0785131229
Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis, Vol. 1 Excalibur #42-50 June 2009 978-0785137405
Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis, Vol. 2 Excalibur #51-58; Excalibur: XX Crossing February 2010 978-0785144557
Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis, Vol. 3 Excalibur #59-67 July 2011 978-0785155430
X-Men: Fatal Attractions Excalibur, vol. 1 #71; X-Factor, vol. 1 #92; Uncanny X-Men #304; X-Men, vol. 2 #25; Wolverine, vol. 2 #75; and X-Force, vol. 1 #25 August 2000 0-7851-0748-7
Origin of Generation X: Tales of the Phalanx Covenant Excalibur, vol. 1 #82; Uncanny X-Men #316–317; X-Men, vol. 2 #36–37; X-Factor, vol. 1 #106; X-Force, vol. 1 #38; Wolverine, vol. 2 #85; Cable, vol. 1 #16; and Generation X #1 June 2001 0-7851-0216-7
Excalibur Visionaries: Warren Ellis, Vol. 1 Excalibur #83-90 May 2010 978-0785144564
Excalibur Visionaries: Warren Ellis, Vol. 2 Excalibur #91-95; X-Man #12; Starjammers #1-4 August 2010 978-0785149293
Excalibur Visionaries: Warren Ellis, Vol. 3 Excalibur #96-103; Pryde and Wisdom #1-3 December 2010 978-0785149521
Excalibur: Forging the Sword Excalibur vol. 3, #1-4 November 2004 978-0785115274
Excalibur: Saturday Night Fever Excalibur vol. 3, #5-10 June 2005 978-0785114765
House of M: Excalibur - Prelude Excalibur vol. 3, #11-14 August 2005 978-0785118121
New Excalibur: Defenders of the Realm New Excalibur #1-7 August 2006 978-0785118350
New Excalibur: Last Days of Camelot New Excalibur #8-15 March 2007 978-0785122210
New Excalibur: Battle for Eternity New Excalibur #16-24 December 2007 978-0785124559
X-Men: Die by the Sword X-Men: Die by the Sword #1-5 (epilogue to New Excalibur) March 2008 978-0785127918

Other versions

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 Fraulein, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler. The team first appeared in Excalibur #9.

Calibur (Earth-924)

Led by Cap'n Saxonia, the team consists of the Hulk, Spider-Girl, Doctor Strange, and Iron Fist. The team first appeared in Excalibur #49.[12]

Excalibur (Earth-148)

Led by Yeoman UK (Brion Burdack),[13] the Excalibur of Ee'rath featured versions of Thor, Black Knight, and Spider-Man. The team first appeared in Excalibur #1.

Excalibur (Earth-99476)

The Griswald family accidentally fall through a portal and end up in Earth-99476, where the dinosaurs never died.[14] The Excalibur-equivalent team of that world are able to help them return to Earth-616.[15][16]

In other media

Video games

Excalibur is mentioned in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. In the briefing that follows the Wakanda incident, Captain America and Iron Man mention that Excalibur has been absorbed into The Fold.


It was announced that Guy Ritchie was attached to an Excalibur film project, from a script by former Excalibur writer, Warren Ellis. However, despite Ellis' involvement, there was no explicit indication that this was an adaptation of the comic property, and it appears more likely that this is instead a take on the Arthurian legend.[17]


  1. ^ "Marvel Comics for December". Comics Continuum. September 20, 2000. http://www.comicscontinuum.com/stories/0009/20/. 
  2. ^ Uncanny X-Men #462-465
  3. ^ New Excalibur #18
  4. ^ New Excalibur #19-22
  5. ^ New Excalibur #23
  6. ^ New Excalibur #24
  7. ^ X-Men: Die by the Sword #1
  8. ^ X-Men: Die by the Sword #2
  9. ^ X-Men: Die by the Sword #3
  10. ^ X-Men: Die by the Sword #4
  11. ^ X-Men: Die by the Sword #5
  12. ^ "Calibur". Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix2/caliburkeng.htm. 
  13. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe vol. 2, #2
  14. ^ Excalibur #9 (1989)
  15. ^ Excalibur #51 (1992)
  16. ^ "Earth-99476 (Dino-World)". Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix2/dinoworldexcalibur.htm. 
  17. ^ "Guy Ritchie Attached to Direct Excalibur". Not Yet A Movie. March 4, 2010. http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/notyetamovie/news/?a=15523. 

External links

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