Excalibur: Air Apparent
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Ron Lim, Brian Stelfreeze, Dwayne Turner, Jackson Guice, Rick Leonardi, Erik Larsen, James Fry Inks by Al Gordon, Karl Story, Klaus Janson, Tom Palmer, Joe Rubinstein, Erik Larsen, Don Hudson
Published by: Marvel Comics
During my first couple of years of collecting comic books, trips to the comic store were a rare thing. Sometimes this was due to me not having a lot of money, and other times because the closest comic store to me was two towns away in Quincy Ma. and getting rides was a pain in the ass. So on the rare occasions when I made it to New England Comics, I bought every damn thing I could!
It was during one of these trips to NEC (in late 1991) which introduced me to an X-Men team I didn’t even know existed: Excalibur. I knew Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, and Phoenix from reading back issues of Uncanny X-Men, but I had no idea they had formed their own team. Excalibur had escaped me because my local convenience store and CVS didn’t carry the book. But when I saw the special edition Excalibur: Air Apparent, I had to have it, even it was $4.95.
In the book’s prologue, Excalibur receives a briefing from Alysande Stuart of the Weird Happenings Organization, who informs them that a scientist called Jonathan Cayre has acquired the Air-Walker technology created by Galactus and that he’s getting ready to test the technology on human physiology. Stuart decides to split the team up, sending each member on individual missions with the goal to stop Cayre’s plans.
Nightcrawler tracks down Cayre’s assistant, the nuclear-warhead robot called Norm at a mall. Shadowcat heads to a lab beneath Cayre’s home, where she finds a proto-type of the Air-Walker that Cayre has created. Meggan is sent to another laboratory, where she is tasked with planting a bomb and a virus to eradicate all of Cayre’s research, but her mission is complicated when she runs into the mercenary called Coldblood.
Meanwhile, Phoenix ends up in a pub where Cayre was rumored to be. She battles some of the locals who are protecting him and eventually learns that Cayre has been transformed into a hideous creature due to his own experiments.
Captain Britain is sent to a village which Air-Walker has been terrorizing, but Cap’s first attempt to stop him doesn’t go as planned. While all this is going on, at Excalibur’s Lighthouse, two bumbling WHO agents break in with the intention of discovering Excalibur’s “secret.” – Good thing Lockheed is home.
As I said earlier, Excalibur: Air Apparent was my introduction to the team. But as it turned out, this book was the perfect jumping on point for me. Not only did I get a full story, but I also got to see each Excalibur member on their own. These chapters showcased their personalities, their powers, and I learned what each person brought to the team. Air Apparent also give me great insight into the characters I didn’t know before like Meggan and Captain Britain.
Another cool thing about Excalibur: Air Apparent were the different art teams. The Ron Lim bookends are out of this world. The entire team looks heroic, and the WHO uniforms are better than anything the S.H.I.E.L.D. people ever wore. Air Apparent was also the first time I saw the work of Rick Leonardi and Jackson Guice, two artists whose work I would come to love and two artists who I’ve actually met.
The day I bought Excalibur: Air Apparent was the first time I spent over $100 at a comic store. Later when my mom heard this, she flipped out on me for spending so much. But then my uncle said this to her: “At least he’s reading something he enjoys instead of going to a corner to buy drugs.”
This was the first and only time that uncle stood up for me, and it worked. My mother never again mentioned my comic book buying habits.