The definitive, chronological, and up-to-date guide and trade reading order on collecting Excalibur comic books via omnibuses, hardcovers, and trade paperback graphic novels. A part of Crushing Krisis’s Collecting X-Men: A Definitive Guide. Last updated November 2019 with titles scheduled for release through March 2020.
Excalibur is one of the most peculiar of all of the original line-up of X-Men spinoffs, and that’s a large part of why it is so beloved by fans.
A light-hearted departure from the main X-Men series, Chris Claremont packed up three of his favorite X-Men – Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Rachel Summers (Phoenix II) – and flew them across the pond to the pencils of former Marvel UK collaborator Alan Davis. They added Marvel UK characters (and non-mutants) Meggan and Captain Britain (Psylocke’s brother) to create an irreverent, firmly British spin on an X-book.
It initially launched in the wake of “Fall of the Mutants” in Uncanny X-Men. Claremont’s flagship book found the mutants besieged from foes on all sides.
The lighthearted Nightcrawler and idealistic Kitty Pryde were both early sacrifices to this status quo as casualties of “Mutant Massacre” a year earlier. By the time they healed the X-Men were no longer a fit for them – and, in continuity, believed to be dead!
Meanwhile, Claremont creation Captain Britain had wrapped up a 10-year run at Marvel UK across a number of different comic titles and anthology. The latter five years of his life were stewarded a by a rising star artist named Alan Davis (as well as, briefly, Alan Moore), but with Davis moving on to work on Batman and the Outsiders it looked like the end of the line for Captain Britain.
Claremont collaborated with Davis on a pair of annuals that imported the character (and his sister, Psylocke) to the states, but he was too unknown in the American market to support his own ongoing there.
(There was also the problem of Rachel Summers, who had been supplanted as team psychic by Psylocke, and who brought her own complications of her extensive future knowledge, connection to Cyclops, and massive powers.)
This was the genesis of Excalibur, which saw Claremont reteaming with Davis and using his extensive knowledge of British culture (he was born there) to return to Captain Britain, to give Nightcrawler room to be the dashing swashbuckler he always hinted at in X-Men, and to write Kitty’s coming of age away from the horrors facing the X-Men.
The challenge of the “Excalibur” brand name is that X-Men fans tend to associate it as much with Kitty and Nightcrawler as they do with Captain Britain, but the former two characters have long since been reabsorbed by the core of the X-franchise.
Claremont relaunched the title in 2004 as focused on Xavier and Magneto living on Genosha, but the name never made any sense. He later introduced a “New” version set in London that paired Captain Britain with Dazzler and Juggernaut, but didn’t capture fan’s hearts like the original did.
In 2019, the Dawn of X relaunch curated by Jonathan Hickman tapped the “Excalibur” name for a new spin on the concept. This book focused not on the Britishness of the brand name, but the magical connections to Otherworld. It also swaps Brian Braddock for his sister Betsy, and duplicates the import of fan favorites Kitty and Nightcrawler by bringing in Rogue and Gambit – along with Jubilee, Rictor, and Apocalypse!
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- Where to Start Reading Excalibur
- Excalibur (1987) Special Edition & (1988) #1-125, -1, Annuals 1-2, & Specials (Oct 1988 – Oct 1998)
- Excalibur (2001) AKA Excalibur: Sword of Power #1-4 (Feb 2001 – May 2001) by Ben Raab
- Excalibur (2004) #1-14 (July 2004 – July 2005) by Chris Claremont & Aaron Lopresti
- New Excalibur (2006) #1-24 (Jan 2006 – Dec 2007) by Chris Claremont with Frank Tieri
& X-Men: Die by the Sword (2007) #1-5 (Dec 2007 – Feb 2007)
- Dawn of X: Excalibur (2019) #1-(ongoing) by Tini Howard & Marcus To
Looking for Captain Britain? A guide to his comic collections used to live here, but he has now expanded into his own detailed guide page!
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Each Excalibur series has its own unique feel, which means it’s easy to jump in at multiple points. In fact, even the original series has a few distinct periods.
(1987) Special Edition & (1988) #1 – Why not start at the start? This issue is written to be entirely accessible to a new reader, both introducing Captain Britain to X-Men fans and the other way around.
(1988) #42 – Alan Davis returns to the title as both author and artist for a stunning run that includes an expanded cast and major developments for the Phoenix Force. While this relies on plot that came before, it still feels like a fresh start. Note that you can pick this up with Epic Vol. 4.
(1988) #83 – Warren Ellis takes over the title just before Age of Apocalypse and gives Excalibur a more mutant feel while still preserving its Britishness and tendency toward the occult. If you’re looking for a slightly darker run on the title, this is where to start.
New Excalibur (2006) #1 – I don’t highly recommend starting here, as this series is not universally well-regarded. However, if you’re looking for a lightweight modern read and enjoy Captain Britain, this is a fine place to jump in.
Begins October 1998, parallel to Uncanny X-Men #236, New Mutants #68, X-Factor #33, and a month ahead of Wolverine’s first regular series – and the stable of X-books would never fall to less than five again! Inferno occurs just a few months into this series.
Excalibur was my favorite book in the 90s because of its stable core of lovable characters, and its sensible handling of alternate timelines.
Chris Claremont and Alan Davis launched the title together, with Davis departing at issue #17 while Claremont ran twice that long until #34. Scott Lobdell briefly took over before Alan Davis’s run as both author and artist starting from #42. Lobdell would fill in again on the other side of Davis’s run, starting with #68 (along with a number of co-writers) until Warren Ellis took over for his run with #83.
Excalibur did not have traditionally named Annuals until 1993. Prior to that, Marvel issued one (or more!) yearly double-length specials, continuing the tradition from the series’ one-shot debut. As with the debut, these would sometimes be square-bound rather than stapled. Technically each of these specials has their own volume name, like Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem (1989) #1, but for the purposes of this guide I treat them as if they are a part of the main 1988 volume of Excalibur.
- Epic Collections
- Oversize Hardcover
- by storyline or single issue
Vol. 1: The Sword Is Drawn (2017 paperback / digital)
Collects Special Edition and (1988) #1-11, & Mojo Mayhem (1989), and an Excalibur story from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #31-38. Also collects Captain Britain material from Captain Britain (1976) #1-2 and The Mighty World of Marvel #7 & 14-15.
Vol. 3: Girl’s School from Heck(2019 paperback / digital)
Collects (1988) #31-41, Weird War III, The Possession, & Air Apparent; Sensational She-Hulk (1989) #26; and material from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #75
Vol. 4: Curiouser and Curiouser (2020 paperback)
Collects (1988) #42-58, XX Crossing (1992), and material from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #110
Volumes 5 and on: Not yet announced, but these volumes will collect (1988) #59-125 and Annuals 1-2. Given the current coverage, this should take 4-6 additional volumes.
#1-5: Not collected in this format
#6-7: X-Men: Inferno Crossovers(2010 Oversize Hardcover)
Collects an obscene amount of the supporting Inferno books outside of Uncanny, X-Factor, and New Mutants. Collects Power Pack (1984) #40 & #42-44, Avengers (1963) #298-300, Fantastic Four (1961) #322-324, Amazing Spider-Man (1962) #311-313, Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #146-148, Web of Spider-Man #47-48, Daredevil (1964) #262-263 & #265, Excalibur (1988) #6-7, and Cloak & Dagger (1988) #4.
#1-51 & 53-65: Not collected in this format
#52 & 66-67: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014 Oversize Hardcover)
Kitty Pryde stars prominently in the original Days of Future Past storyline, collected in this hardcover along with a series of time-traveling and alternate dimension tales from Uncanny X-Men (1963) #141-142 & Annual 14; New Mutants Annual 6; X-Factor Annual 5; Excalibur (1988) 52 & 66-67; Wolverine: Days Of Future Past 1-3; plus material from Fantastic Four Annual 23 and Hulk: Broken Worlds #2.
#68-70: Not collected in this format
#71: X-Men: Fatal Attractions Omnibus (2012 Oversize Hardcover, ISBN 978-0785162452)
A massive collection focusing on the core of the Fatal Attractions story from Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor. Collects Uncanny X-Men #298-305, 315, & Annual 17; X-Factor #87-92; X-Men Unlimited #1-2; X-Force #25; X-Men #25; Wolverine #75; & Excalibur #71.
#72-77: Not collected in this format
#78-82: X-Men: Phalanx Covenant (2014 Oversize Hardcover)
Collects Uncanny X-Men (1963) #306, #311-314 & #316-317; Excalibur (1988) #78-82; X-Men (1991) #36-37; X-Factor (1986) #106; X-Force (1991) #38; Wolverine (1988) #85; & Cable (1993) #16.
#82: Cable & X-Force Omnibus (2019 oversize hardcover)
Collects X-Force (1991) #32-43 & Annual 3; Cable (1993) #9-20; New Warriors (1990) #45-46; and Phalanx Covenant crossover issues X-Factor (1986) #106; Excalibur (1988) #82; and Wolverine (1988) #85.
#83-125: Not collected in this format except for excerpts of #100 in Onslaught – see Marvel Universe Events
Special & #1-5: Classic, Vol. 1 – The Sword is Drawn (2005 paperback, ISBN 978-0785118886)
Also collects the eponymous 1987 one-shot Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn (which comes after Uncanny X-Men #228). [Special on MU]
#6-7: X-Men: Inferno, Vol. 2 (2016 paperback)
A 2016 TPB Collecting the second half of the Inferno event, including Uncanny X-Men (1981) #241-243, Excalibur (1988) #6-7, X-Factor (1986) #37-40, New Mutants (1983) #73, Cloak & Dagger (1988) #4, and Power Pack (1984) #44. Excalibur does not appear in Vol. 1.
After issue #34, Excalibur appears in Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #31-38 (published much earlier) and in Thor (1966) #427-429
Excalibur: Weird War III (1990): In Classic Volume 5, above. Comes after #34. [MU]
After Weird War: Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #75 and Sensational She-Hulk (1989) #26.
Excalibur: The Possession (1991): Not collected, except for in Epic Collection, above. Comes after #41 [MU]
Excalibur: Air Apparent (1991): Not collected, except for in Epic Collection, above. Comes after #41 and The Possession [MU]
After Air Apparent, Captain Britain appears in Knights of Pendragon (1990) #1, 4-8, 10-12, 18. See Captain Britain for more information.
#42-50: Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis, Vol. 1 (ISBN 978-0785137405)
#59-67: Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis Vol. 3 (ISBN 0785155430)
#68-71 & Annual 1: Not collected, except for #71 with Fatal Attractions hardcover, above. Annual 1 comes after issue #65, but was written by Evan Skolnick rather than Davis. [Single issues: eBay]
Note: An out-of-print X-Men: Fatal Attractions (ISBN 0785100652) TPB collected only the actual Fatal Attraction issues: Excalibur #71, Uncanny X-Men #304, Wolverine #75, X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, and X-Men #25. A 2016 TPB omits Excalibur entirely.
#72-81 & Annual 2: Not collected. Annual 2 precedes issue #83. Issues #78-81 collected above in the Phalanx Covenant hardcover, but not elsewhere as of this writing. [Single issues: eBay]
#82: X-Men: Origin of Generation X (Phalanx Covenant) out-of-print (ISBN 0-7851-0216-7)
The “Generation Next” crossover that launched Generation X; collects X-Factor #106, X-Force #38, Excalibur #82, Uncanny X-Men #316-317, X-Men #36-37, Wolverine #85, Cable #16, & Generation X #1.
#82: X-Force: Phalanx Covenant hardcover (ISBN 0785162712)
Collects X-Force #38-43, Excalibur #82, and X-Factor #106.
#83-90: Excalibur Visionaries – Warren Ellis, Vol. 1 (ISBN 0785144564
(At issue #86 Excalibur becomes X-Calibre #1-4 for four months as part of the Age of Apocalypse crossover, which does not interrupt the numbering of this title.)
#91-95: Excalibur Visionaries – Warren Ellis, Vol. 2 (ISBN 0785149293)
Also collects X-Man #12 and Starjammers #1-4
#96-103: Excalibur Visionaries – Warren Ellis, Vol. 3 (ISBN 078514952X)
Also collects Pryde & Wisdom #1-3.
#104-125 & -1: Not collected. Ben Raab takes over at issue #106. Excalibur #-1 occurs after issue #110. The 1997 Colossus one-shot occurs between #113-114. The Kitty Pryde: Agent of SHIELD mini-series ends concurrent with #115-117. [Single issues: eBay]
Here Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Colossus return to the main pair of X-books, starting with Uncanny X-Men #360. Wolfsbane is next found in the New Mutants, Vol. 2. Captain Britain and Meggan can be seen next in the following volume of Excalibur.
A four-issue mini-series continuing the story of Captain Britain, Meggan, and Otherworld.
In the Marvel Universe, this series acts as one of the precursors to the company-wide event House of M focusing on the Scarlet Witch.
The third volume of Excalibur begins directly after Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, with Professor X and a retconned-to-life Magneto collaborating to bring together a team of misfits in Genosha in the wake of the destruction wreaked by Cassandra Nova.
Despite writing by Chris Claremont and consistent art from Aaron Lopresti, the hodgepodge of background characters that made up the new team (Callisto is the biggest name) never gels. The book is mostly a vehicle for Xavier to narrate, and Claremont does so with little nuance while closing up some plot holes prior to House of M (like reviving Magneto, and dispensing of Age of Apocalypse refugee Sugar Man).
#11-14: House of M: Excalibur – Prelude (2005 paperback, ISBN 978-0785118121 / eBay / digital)
Somewhat expensive, though it only vaguely acts as an introduction to the huge, universe-altering House of M event.
New Excalibur (2006) #1-24 (Jan 2006 – Dec 2007)
& X-Men: Die by the Sword (2007) #1-5 (Dec 2007 – Feb 2007)
Chris Claremont returned to write Excalibur for a third time. Though early issues teased at bringing back old members Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Marvel Girl (AKA Rachel Summers), by issue five the team resolves to an unlikely combination of Captain Britain, Dazzler, Juggernaut, Nocturne, Sage, and Pete Wisdom. Frank Tieri took over writing duties for issues #9-15.
X-Men: Die by the Sword (2008 paperback, ISBN 978-0785127918 / digital)
Collects issues #1-5 of the limited series that acts as epilogue to New Excalibur. Features Psylocke and The Exiles. [Find this series in digital on Amazon/Comixology and Marvel Unlimited]
Rising star Tini Howard helms this magic-focused title anchored by Betsy Braddock as Captain Britain and including Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee, Richtor, and Apocalypse.
#1-?: Vol. 1
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