I remember hating Excalibur #18 when it came out in 1989. In general I wasn’t well disposed to any non-Alan Davis issue of the comic anyway, but the lengthy “Cross Time Caper” storyline had already shown signs of coming off the tracks and this issue was full of super ugly, off-model, inconsistent art.
At the time I did not realise that this issue, and to some extent issue 19, was intended as a parody of anime. In particular Speed Racer and Dirty Pair, actually only Speed Racer and Dirty Pair. What artist Dennis Jensen was apparently doing was portraying Kitty and Brian turning into anime characters the longer they stayed in the alternate Earth they’d ended up in. But only them, not the rest of Excalibur. And apparently only the “Lovely Pair” looked like anime characters in this world, as the evil anime Jamie Braddock looked like evil normal Jamie Braddock pre-lobotomy.
Nowadays I can appreciate the Cross Time Caper as a whole, as I’m not waiting a month between issues and getting annoyed the lack of plot movement. Nevertheless, Excalibur #18 is still a horrible comic.
When you had Bret Blevins working at Marvel at the time, having an artist who inked Carmine Infantino in the 70s draw your anime parody seems an odd choice. A clue to why it’s so sloppy and all over the place may lie in the inker credits “Dan Adkins & Co”. Never good sign when there are multiple inkers, even less of a good sign when there’s no space to list them all.
Ignoring the horrible, clunky art, the story is a mess too. There’s some barely comprehensible plot with Meggan’s powers behaving oddly around Rachel’s Phoenix powers. The whole “my powers are behaving strange” is one of my least favourite superhero plots and here it gets two issues worth of story.
And the villain is an alternate reality Jamie Braddock which means… Reality Altering. Claremont really likes that power, I wonder if him giving Jamie that power was another “can’t use Jim Jaspers” work around like the Adversary? Plus the comic is Claremont at his most verbose, possibly attempting to hide the art with as many speech bubbles as possible.
A rotten comic. Thankfully #19 had Rick Leonardi on it, who I hated when I was 14 years old, but what did I know, I was a teenager. Rick Leonardi is awesome. Go get his work on Cloak & Dagger, it’s pretty neat.
I’ll leave you with more of Claremont’s homage to the Dirty Pair from #18.