Review by Ian Keogh
While faltering at the very beginning, the remainder of Excalibur’s introductory volume The Sword is Drawn was largely enjoyable and increasingly well drawn by Alan Davis. That’s continued in Two-Edged Sword, with practically every page he produces a storytelling masterclass. The opening two-part story has the main cast arrive in New York to be transformed in the midst of a demonic invasion, offering the opportunity to design multiple variations of Excalibur. Read here, it’s not apparent how threadbare this idea would become over the next volumes, and for all the distracting wackiness, any story where everything can change at a millisecond’s notice because magic is involved is never going to fully engage.
What follows is the individual team members out in New York. The most interesting aspect is Meggan continuing her chameleon-like transformations to find acceptance among whoever she chances across. Kitty Pryde’s portion depends heavily on a familiarity with contemporary X-Men continuity, as she bawls out the New Mutants, and Captain Britain loses his powers in embarrassing circumstances. This chapter is drawn by Ron Lim, who’s nowhere near the artist Davis is, and the quality of the pages drops considerably.
Davis returns for the title story, in which an alternate world version of Excalibur manifest on Earth to rescue a colleague. They’re from a world where the Nazis won World War II and occupied the UK, and have odiously arrogant and bigoted personalities. Chris Claremont is particularly good in working in Kitty’s Jewish heritage. It’s only a small sequence toward the end, but harrowing, and the coda to the Nazi Excalibur story is a character piece that’s the best written in the book, focussing on Kitty, her inquisitive nature and her self-doubt. Unfortunately, due to illness, Davis only draws the opening chapter and it’s left to Marshall Rogers to complete it, and the art shows the short notice of it being commissioned. His page layouts are certainly preferable to those of Lim earlier in the book, but some of his bodies are very strange indeed.
The only art to match Davis is that of Art Adams on the final story, which visits the world of Mojo and his constant search for maximum TV ratings by enslaving and manipulating superheroes. It’s a return for the X-Babies, cute mini-versions of the X-Men, who arrive on Earth and locate Kitty. From there it’s one long slapstick chase sequence whose charm depends on your tolerance for the X-Babies, in-jokes and the manic Mojo. Imagine Groucho Marx in a body conjured up by H.P. Lovercraft. He doesn’t take long to become very tiresome.