It’s a common theme in comics for superhero teams to be linked together, with different members appearing on other squads. UK-based Excalibur started off as an offshoot of the X-Men, but eventually developed their own identity. The team was created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis, first appearing in 1987 in the pages of Excalibur Special Edition. In the modern day, superheroes like Captain Britain, Black Knight and Pete Wisdom are associated with the team. But this wasn’t always the case.
The original Excalibur consisted of Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Shadowcat and Lockheed, with the team formed under the impression that the X-Men were dead. In the 1980s, Claremont decided to add one of his Marvel UK characters, Captain Britain, into the mix as the leader of the team and protector of Great Britain. From there, the team gradually shed its mutant origins, becoming a team that stopped threats to the UK, while still being tied to the X-Men universe. Since the creative shift, there have been several core members:
At first glance, it might be tempting to dismiss Captain Britain as an imitation of Captain America, but there stories are different. Brian Braddock came from an aristocratic family, along with his sister Psylocke. Braddock was involved in a motorbike accident and the ancient wizard Merlyn empowered him with mystical abilities from the Otherworld.
Braddock is part of a interdimensional corps, as every Earth in the Multiverse has its own Captain Britain. Each version is assigned to protect their version of England. Captain Britain’s powers include superhuman strength, speed and durability, flight and superhuman perception. His powers are tied to his emotions, meaning that if he’s feeling confident he becomes extremely powerful. If he starts to doubt himself then Captain Britain will lose his strength.
As the leader of Excalibur, Captain Britain coordinates the team and acts as a symbol for England’s fortitude.
As an empathic metamorph, Meggan’s upbringing was turbulent. She was born in a blizzard to a British Romanichal family and adapted to the cold by growing fur. Her family saw her as a monster, so she picked up on their feelings and grew claws, webbed feet and patagia. Meggan was hidden away by her family, which made her illiterate and out of touch with the world.
Eventually, Meggan met Captain Britain and they married each other. Meggan’s powers are based around empathy, giving her the ability to sense emotions and sensations. This has allowed her to control the elements, change into a variety of animals and produce mystical effects. She can also mimic the powers of other superhumans, making her the most powerful member of Excalibur.
Dane Whitman comes from a family who’ve watched over the mystical Ebony Blade for centuries. Originally, Whitman didn’t believe in magic, as he came from a scientific background. He became the Black Knight after his uncle tasked him with restoring the family’s honour, giving him the Ebony Blade to look after.
The Ebony Blade comes with a curse that drives the wielder insane. Black Knight is the only one who can master the sword, making him a valuable asset to the team.
As a member of the British Secret Service, Pete Wisdom acts as a link between Excalibur and the British government. His contacts have proven to be useful in the past, with him being a part of MI-13 and MI6. Wisdom has a cynical approach to the world, having seen a lot blood during his work with different agencies. Wisdom has also acted as the leader of Excalibur when Captain Britain has been unable to do his duty.
Wisdom has the mutant ability to absorb solar radiation and release the energy through his fingers. Calling them ‘hot knives,’ Wisdom has claimed the energy is as hot as the sun. He’s used them as projectiles and for close physical combat as well.
Excalibur is certainly one of the most diverse superhero teams. As a proud Englishman, it’s great to see my country represented, so I’d love to see the team appear in another ongoing series one day.