|Excalibur (1st series) # 28|| || |
Issue Date: Early September 1990
Story Title: The Night They Tore Down the Gilded Lady
Staff: Terry Austin (writer), Colleen Doran (penciler), Bret Blevins (inker), Brad Vancata (colorist), Phil Felix (letterer), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor-in-chief)
Captain Britain and Meggan spend an evening of their own in one of Brian’s college haunts that is to be sold: the pub the Gilded Lady. The evening is not off to a good start as the landlord doesn’t remember Brian and he insults the regulars by refusing to drink alcohol. Things get worse when a woman named Cooter with illusion powers and her superstrong cousin, Bash, are trying to pull off a scam, making everyone believe they are selling gold at ridiculously low prices. In the ensuing battle, the building is more or less destroyed and the bad guys escape, using the same trick as before.
Captain Britain and Meggan sneak away from their teammates for one evening on town. As they fly off to London, Meggan remarks she must be dreaming. Someone pinch her, she asks. Cap rises to the task and the two of them begin a game of tag until they have reached London. Putting on civilian clothing, they enter the Pub called the Gilded Lady for its “wake.”
Brian recalls that this place and the Flying Finish were two of his favorite haunts back in his college days. Looking at the old art nouveau building, Meggan asks why it has to be destroyed. Brian explains about gentrification of this one time strictly working class area. The pub’s been sold, along with a lot of the surrounding territory, to foreign investors who plan extensive renovation in order to appeal to a more prosperous upscale crowd. Some call this progress. It feels more like murder to her, Meggan observes.
Brian remarks that, call it what you will, it is the last night of life for his old friend, the Gilded Lady. Sitting down at a table he adds that he hasn’t got that many old friends left that he can let one go so unmourned. Speaking of which, whom does he see approaching but his bosom mate and confidante of many dull evening’s discourse? The Lady’s noble landlord Brendan O’ Reilly.
Brian greets O’Reilly profusely. Clearly not recognizing Brian, the landlord asks what they’ll be having. When Meggan asks why he is selling the pub, he explains that the pub’s been in his family since his grandfather’s time. They offered him too much money. Tomorrow he’s off to visit his niece in America. Now what can he fetch them? The first round’s on the house.
Meggan opts for some lager, whereas an embarrassed Brian orders lemonade. O’Reilly considers him a fancy-pants upperclass ponce, as he strides off and Meggan jokes that he just disappointed Mr. O’Reilly as badly as the other man did him. Fine thing when a man can’t drink anymore, Brian sighs. There, there, Meggan teases him comfortingly before announcing that she is off to the loo.
At the counter, some regulars ask O’Reilly who ordered the sugar water. The lady with the hair? The bloke with her, O’Reilly replies sourly. He asks the regular Tim to run those drinks over, as his American buyer has just come in and he has to sign the final sale papers.
Brian muses that this wasn’t such a good idea. He can’t even drink anymore. He doesn’t know when to stop. The next moment, Tim and the regulars put down a mug of beer in front of him and order him to drink up, to rise to his feet and join them in their toast to the Lady.
Brian apologizes. He doesn’t drink anymore. Him either, Tim replies, but he don’t drink any less either. He continues that Brian spurned the hospitality of those good honest boys and insulted the memory of this noble establishment. He orders him to drink up or they’ll be forced to administer their good cheer directly down his gullet. Brian shouts back an insult and things are about to get nasty when behind him a voice announces that there is no need to fight.
Meggan, having taken Brian’s shape, announces that while her brother has a touchy stomach he will gladly match them toast for toast. To the Lady – Hurrah! Close to tears, Tim remarks that he has touched his heart with his display of conviviality. He offers up the next toast and Meggan matches them.
Brian worries. As Meggan has never imbibed before what effect might the alcohol have on her system? And indeed Meggan whispers to him, asking if it would spoil the act if she was to get sick all over herself?
Attention please, comes a newcomer’s voice. The speaker is a sexy blonde, accompanied by a hulkish skulking man with a bag. Cheerily, the blonde greets everyone and introduces them as Cooter and her cousin, Bash. They were prospecting for gold in the north country recently when they made a rich strike. Touched by the solemn occasion and wealthy beyond their dreams, they decided to share their good fortune with all of them. She opens the bag and shows them ordinary rocks while urging the men to take a gander at those glittering beauties. They are for sale cheap. Those are rocks, the O’Reilly protests. No, Cooter claims, they are gold nuggets. And suddenly… that’s what everybody sees.
They are selling this sack of nuggets cheap to their poor friends in order to spread the wealth around, Cooter offers with a winning smile. Any takers? Everybody offers their money. Cooter begins to sell the rocks, until one drunk fellow insists that they are all daft. Those are nothing but old river pebbles.
Cooter asks the others to pardon her. Getting seductively close to the man, she explains to him that some time ago she discovered she possessed the ability to amplify other people’s greed, making them suggestible to seeing what their greed wants them to see. She begins to play with him as she adds that sometimes she encounters someone too honest or of too little imagination to respond to her manipulation. She suspects the later in his case. Tossing back her hair, she calls her cousin and Bash hits the man. Another satisfied customer, Cooter purrs.
The poor man falls right against Meggan (still looking like Brian). Happily, some men smell a fight brewing and want to participate. Cooter touches the first of them, reminding them certainly they can find better things to do with their time than fight. She shows them the rocks. Her mottos is “make love, not war.” Overcome, the men faint. Why do all the weak sisters fall for her? Cooter sighs. Coming on to Meggan, she purrs that “he” is just her type. She might even consider giving him a special rate.
Still feeling drunk, Meg wonders why the lady is offering her a handful of pebbles. The real Brian has just come back and impatiently orders Cooter to let go of his girlfriend and put down those stupid rocks. Oh, Baaashhh, Cooter singsongs… and cousin Bash slugs Brian.
In the meantime, the patron O’Reilly has signed Mr. Abernathy’s contract, handing over the Gilded Lady. As they toast each other, Brian comes flying above their heads.
Meggan has returned to her true shape and starts reading Bash the riot act. Cooter in return slaps her and Meggan slaps her back. Bash grabs Meggan and, from the corner he has landed in, Brian shouts at him again to unhand his girlfriend, thinking to himself that either his head is getting softer or the walls are getting harder.
While still feeling fuzzy in the head, Meggan expands her body to She-Hulk size to handle Bash. While flying to the rescue, Cap wonders what happened to the old days when a fair maiden would demurely wait to be rescued. Some men would call this progress as well, he supposes. He stops pondering these matters as Bash is thrown into him.
Abernathy shouts at O’Reilly to do something. They are destroying his property. O’Reilly calls the police.
Cap has gotten sick of being beaten up and is ready to deal out some blows. Quickly, he realizes that Bash is no ordinary bloke and maybe he shouldn’t have pulled his punches. After landing in a wall, he decides “no more Mr. Nice Guy.”
Cooter decides she has to get rid of the still woozy Meggan and suggests to the onlookers that Meggan is a genuine mermaid, easily worth a fortune. The men try to grab Meggan, who also influenced by Cooter’s suggestion changes physically, displaying a fishtail.
Facing Bash again, Cap thinks back on how his mother always said he had a head like a rock, which was good she figured because he was stubborn as a mule. It’s a pity she never met this obstinate fool. He hits Bash again, shouting at him to stay down and calling him an “idiot.” Bash gets up again telling him not to call him names. Now he went and made him mad.
Outside, the police are thinking that all they have to handle are a few high spirited lads with a tad too much to drink. That moment, Captain Britain is slugged through the wall (again). The men are at a loss at who goes in first.
Back inside, the men are still fighting about the “mermaid.” Meggan realizes that, in her slightly inebriated state, she is highly susceptible to Cooter’s suggestions. She makes an effort at regaining control and shifts into a less desirable form, a werewolf. With Meggan growling and clawing at them, the men’s ardour instantly cools and they remember supper waiting for them at home…
Outside, Captain Britain is about to rush inside the pub again to face Bash for another round, when the whole men whom Meggan frightened come running out and into him.
Meanwhile inside, Cooter is getting very nervous when she sees Meggan. Her orders of “nice doggie. Play dead” don’t help at all. She calls Bash for help and orders him to fight Meggan. At this moment, Cap makes his entrance (by smashing another hole in the wall). Furiously, he boasts that Bash thought him down for the count but he reckoned without the iron jaw and thick skull of the Braddock family. Did that come out right? he wonders.
With Bash busy, Cooter decides to use another illusion on Meggan by transforming into her heart’s desire: Brian, in a dressing gown (and romantic mood) with roses and champagne. However, Brian suddenly transforms into Nightcrawler and Meggan finds herself confused.
Cap grabs Bash’s fists and finally manages to smash him into Cooter. Tears in his eyes, Bash shouts that Cap made him hurt Cooter. Before Cap can properly apologize, he is thrown through another wall. That snaps Meggan out of it, who transforms into a super-muscular version of herself to punch Bash’s lights out. This time he stays down.
Cap sees Bash on the ground and figures he turned the oaf’s lights out after all. Of course he did, Meggan assures him. One Policeman suggests they better come out. The whole place is about to come down.
Cap flies their prisoners out as he announces that the Gilded Lady has breathed her last. So has her costume, Meggan thinks to herself, as she is dressed barely in rags. Outside, the new owner Abernathy asks O’Reilly that he wouldn’t consider tearing up their little contract, would he? Not likely.
With Bash trussed up, Cooter explains that she is an American college student who ran out of money on vacation and decided to use her talent to raise funds for her trip home. Is that wrong? Yes! comes a chorus of replies. Then perhaps they’d like to tell her what’s she charged with, Cooter purrs. Legally, if people want to spend their money on worthless rocks, that’s their business, isn’t it?
Soon, Cap and Meggan are off, angry at the nerve of that woman. As O’Reilly walks through the wreckage, suddenly he sees gold bricks. Those are his bricks, Abernathy shouts. Not any more, O’Reilly replies as he tears up the contract. As everybody gets involved in the fight, Cooter quickly takes charge of the police car where Bash is stashed and drives off. Does he fancy a trip to America? she asks.
Captain Britain, Meggan (both Excalibur)
O’Reilly (owner of the Gilded Lady)
Abernathy (new owner)
Tim and other patrons
The notes in the issue make a joking reference that, while Meggan probably doesn’t see the gold illusion because she is honest, Brian on the other hand has little imagination because he once went mad when faced with the prospect of magic. Actually, at the time when he had his breakdown, he was mentally influenced by Necrom.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
Excalibur Classic Vol. 4: Cross-Time Caper Book 2 (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Ruth