So here’s what happened.
About a month ago, I picked up the four phonebooks of Essential X-Men on a whim. For those unfamiliar, phonebooks are cheap black and white reprints of old comic books. It’s one of the few ways we see long runs of classic comics kept in print. These were the first umpteen issues of Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, including the Phoenix Saga, and they are darned good. I’d never read ‘em before. The energy of the writing is very engaging, and the plotting is solid and fairly complex. This is the X-Men before they got weighed down with too much continuity. Fun.
After finishing ‘em, I had that completist impulse to go read all the X-Men. I quickly did what I always do when I get that urge; I read the rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks FAQ and remind myself of the hash they made of Jean Grey until the impulse goes away.
This time, I was reminded that Warren Ellis’ run on Excalibur represents one of the few significant big chunks of Ellis’ work I’ve never read. After a little more struggle, I convinced myself that it would be OK to read just the Ellis issues, and dropped over to EBay in hopes of finding ‘em. You never know.
That’s where it got bad. I searched on Excalibur, and found an absolutely complete run of every Excalibur-related comic in the world. I mean, everything — the Alan Moore Captain Britain Jasper’s Warp graphic novel, the Wisdom and Pryde mini, the whole damned thing. With no bids on it. And less than an hour to go in the auction, so I didn’t have time to sleep on it and think better of the idea in the morning.
There are now two boxes of Excalibur on my floor, and I’ve been reminded as I reread the FAQ while writing this entry that somewhere in the middle of it all there are gross Phoenix retcons. The Warren Ellis issues start around #85. Fortunately, most of the intervening stuff is Claremont and/or Alan Davis, but there’s a bunch of Scott Lobdell in there too.
If I don’t make it out alive, don’t send in a search party. The risk is too great.