Excalibur (Vol. 1)...Not Such a Laughing Matter

There are many unsung heroes and series that have fallen by the wayside, either because they never caught mainstream popularity or they were caught short before they were given a proper chance.  Or in some cases, a series is not taken seriously because the general tone of it is simply too silly, this was the case with Excalibur (Vol. 1).  At first it seemed promising with super strong Captain Britain helming a British team with former X-men Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Phoenix, but it quickly degenerated into a farcical sit-com with recurring MarvelUK comedic villains like the Crazy Gang and the Technet which kept serious comic reader from taking this X-men spin-off too seriously.  
Now, I just recently completed my set of Excalibur (Vol. 1) and was able to read the entire original 70 issue run (before it became more X and less England).  And while I can say that yes the hilarity of the situations sometimes overwhelms the gravity of them, if you watch these issues really closely you can find some rather important events and stories in this limey bunch.
First and foremost, it brought a whole new selection of characters to introduce American readers to.  Following the trend started with Psylocke in New Mutants and Uncanny X-men, reader were treated to Captain Britain and his lady love, the empathic metamorph Meggan and their host of enemies including Gatecrasher, Technet, Crazy Gang, Sat-yr-9 as well as friends like Courtney Ross and the Queen's W.H.O.  Aside from these new characters to know and love, we also got to watch the agonizing recovery of Shadowcat and Nightcrawler after the events of the Mutant Massacre and the dramatic return of Phoenix (Rachel Summers) after she was kidnapped by Spiral months earlier in Uncanny X-men.
And speaking of the Phoenix, this volume is where we first got our first taste of the Phoenix Force's true nature and history.  It was here that we learned of the mages Necrom and Feron (whose visions gave the Phoenix the firebird form its keeps to this day).  We also learned the truth about how Rachel traveled physically from the future to our timeline as well as the Phoenix Force's effects on the universe around it.  
Last but certainly not least, Excalibur is where the Marvel Universe first got the designation as Earth-616.  Each Earth in the Multiverse is assigned a Captain Britain variation as its protector and in an issues of Excalibur, Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne references Brian Braddock as Captain Britain of Earth-616, and this numerical reference has since been widely adopted online and by many (but not all) Marvel writers.
Easily written off as a joke book where they sent Kitty and Kurt to die for a while, the first 70 issue run of this comic book is truly a hidden gem and a definite should read for die hard X-fans.

Posted by Renchamp

While I agree that some serious stuff went down around Excalibur (Rachel being sent into the timestream to become Mother Askani), I don't think this book is quite a must read for me... yet. But, some of those issues with the big stuff: yeah, I'll get those. (I really can't get around a lot of the camp.)

Posted by Gold Dust Boi

Yeah I get that totally...its hard to take even Galactus seriously when hes sandwiched between School Girls From Heck and the N-men...

Posted by Hawkeye446

@Gold Dust Boi said:

Yeah I get that totally...its hard to take even Galactus seriously when hes sandwiched between School Girls From Heck and the N-men...

HAH! This is one of the greatest comments I have read, ever. ahahah!

My favourite Comic series, great blog, nice work :)

Posted by charlieboy

This was my favorite book and was definitely one of the best marvel had to offer back in the late eighties and early nineties. Much better than the other books at the time. I love Alan Davis and his work on this series also Claremont as well.

Posted by Brazen_Intellect

I was also a fan of the original Excalibur as it had many of my favored X-characters in it but as you said it was insanely inconsistent. While characterization was overall very good, the plots were many times hokey and the rogues gallery was downright terrible.

Like X-factor now, the book had the benefit of not being as tied to events as the main X-books allowing it to set its own tone, but many of the villains used in the stead of established ones of the past left much to be desired.

Even with all its faults I still look back on this run fondly, it may have been rough at some parts but the charm of the characters kept me throughout the 125 issue run.