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Warren Ellis, Excalibur

Been doing what I can to catch up on some comic reading, especially with a couple of stressful weeks under my belt at work and dealing with car problems. One of the books I got to was this, the first collection of Excalibur written by Warren Ellis.

What’s interesting is how much of the Excalibur series is being collected into trades… I think pretty soon you’ll be able to have collected editions of almost the entire thing. Crazy. But back to this particular collection. It’s good. I remember being relatively interested – a decent mix of new / established artists (this one features everyone from Bill Sienkiewicz, Larry Stroman, Terry Dodson, Ken Lashley, and Carlos Pacheco), a fresh breath of air as far as the pacing and writing thanks to Mr. Ellis and the accompanying storylines that gave some pretty stale characters (there’s a reason the X-Men shipped them overseas…) a nice edge to them. Looking forward to revisiting the continued stories in volume 2, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read these books.

That said, these books aren’t without their problems. There’s a certain level of repetition to certain linguistic traits and sayings that make me think that either there was a rush on the book, there was a real editorial focus on Pete Wisdom saying “sod off” and spouting off about ripping someone’s head and spitting down their throat, OR that Warren Ellis was trying to establish this character’s voice in the pre-collection focused era where single issues were the main form and so… you have certain liberties there.

And the aforementioned slew of artists? Although done tastefully, at least in volume one it is a bit jarring as the styles switch frequently and sometimes without any particular reason. Was Ken Lashley slow to produce pages? Is that why we were given a few pages of Dodson work interspersed? I appreciate, however, the direction it took when Stroman came aboard, where they gave him a specific story thread to illustrate, and Lashley another, so that the change of artist acted in accordance with a scene change. Interesting idea that I think must have been established after the inconsistencies early. I believe this was remedied with Pacheco as he comes on full time, and I think that’s when the Ellis era really starts cooking. Not rewriting the wheel here… but also not relying on well treaded roads either.

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