Captain Britain and MI13 #3

Issue Date: 
September 2008
Story Title: 
The Guns of Avalon – part three

Paul Cornell (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jesse Delperdang with Scott Hanna (inkers), Brian Reber (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramacna (letterer), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Hope is almost lost as the forces of Avalon and Britain both are overwhelmed by the Skrulls now also wielding magic. Pete realizes he might be able to stem the tide by doing something terrible – opening the doorway to the dark dimension where evil beings are imprisoned. The voice urges him to do so and reluctantly he complies, freeing scores of evil creatures, but also Merlin who has healed himself from his madness. Still capable of using madness, he resurrects Captain Britain, intending to truly make him a symbol of a diverse Britain. Captain Britain is able to draw Excalibur and confronts the magical Skrull in Westminster just after said Skrull beat the Black Knight and threatened Faiza.

Full Summary: 

London. The newly created Super Skrull embodying all the magic of Britain promises his army that now that they have magic they will soon have Avalon as well. They finish Britain, then join the rest of the army and take the world. Any questions?

He empowers them with the Pendragon Force to give them more strength, then conjures a scrying orb that shows the British forces. Victory conditions here aren’t about killing the monarch. There’s always another. He finds the remains of the human military. They will meet them on Westminster Bridge.

Alongside the military are the Black Knight and his new ally, new superbeing Dr. Faiza Hussein. The commander is on the lookout as he explains that if the Skrulls take Parliament, even now that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has left, they can go on TV and it’ll look like they’ve won. So they are going to show the world that they have to get through two para and three commander Royal Marines and one Royal Anglian and even an Avenger to do it. They are going to show them commitment. They are going to make them pay for the bridge. They are going to see if the @#$%&#%’s can swim.

The Back Knight urges Faiza to leave. Do superheroes run? she replies stubbornly and answers her own question. No, they don’t. Okay, he agrees but when he says so they need her to run. Because it’s going to get grim at the end. Because he’s not going to be at his most charming… and because the world will need doctors. They say magic has gone, but the Ebony Blade is still… still its tiresome self. And hey, he guesses Skrull blood doesn’t count for the curse! He hasn’t turned to stone! Isn’t he lucky?

He didn’t know before? Faiza asks astonished. She tells him to hang on and not give her, like, chivalrous orders (although that was kind of great) and not go all berserkery because… she doesn’t know how she knows but she does. There’s still hope.

In Avalon, neck-deep in Skrulls, Pete Wisdom shouts at Spitfire that they need evacuation. Before he has finished the sentence, the superspeedster has carried him a couple of miles away from the cave. What are they going to do? she asks him. She knows he is considering something terrible. She can smell it.

They have the magic, boy. Hurry! the voice urges Pete. Leaning back, Pete explains that the voice told him he’d learned a lesson of magic. He thinks it’s that magic needs sacrifice. That’s why he couldn’t draw Excalibur. It wanted him to know there’s no other way. He thinks he knows what it wants. But… it’s too much!

Too much? Jaqueline asks incredulously, then informs him she’s going back to save John. Or take as many of them with her as she can. She says – if he has a last card, play it now! With that thought she leaves Pete alone.

Back inside the cave, John the Skrull has his back to Excalibur, surrounded by all the Skrulls. They say they’ve taken magic? he asks. Well, all right. He could do the Spartacus thing. Change into one of them, get lost among them. Live for five more minutes. But they know what? He’s not going to die looking like them. He doesn’t want to be one of the fascists who made his people into morons! Who took something beautiful like Excalibur here and made it into just a but of metal!

He reaches for the sword, but finds he still cannot draw it. Even without magic, Spitfire, who has just come back, realizes hope is still alive.

In London, the Skrull army led by the magic Skrull have almost reached Westminster Bridge while in Avalon Oberon, Tink and their army still battle fiercely. They stole their magic, Tink shouts, but they’ll take only scorched Earth.

From afar, Pete sees the battle, thinking of Tink. The voice orders him to leave and go where he must. It continues that it has escaped its bonds. There are no guardians to limit his passage now. Pete knows who has the last of British magic. He knows his name. He knows what he must do.

Having reached the doorway Oberon warned him against, Pete points out that he knows what the voice wants him to do. He wants him to let him out. And all that’s evil with him. Why is it always him? Pete asks desperately. When they need someone who’ll do his duty? And never mind that it’s a terrible thing. But okay damn it, who else is there?

He lights up hotknives from his fingertips and tosses them at the doorway. Only you, Pete Wisdom, only you. the voice replies. This is what you are for.

All hell breaks loose literally as freed demonic being spurt from the opened doorway. And after them comes Merlin. Not in the shape he’s worn when last Wisdom’s previous team Excalibur met him, but that of the skull-capped pointy-eared, dark-robed wizard. He introduces himself as Merlin. After all that, he wouldn’t be too pleased if he weren’t, Wisdom replies sharply.

Merlin admonishes him not to mock him. He was Merlin the Mad. When his darkest self, held inside, gained control. Merlin the Murderer. Of his own daughter. That sacrifice will serve for much now.

In his hands, he holds a bloody black shard, explaining that a shard of the Fury pierced his side. While he was imprisoned he plucked it out. Drew out his own evil.

So being in there protected him from the magic-stealing bit, Wisdom asks, getting back to business. He saw the invasion, guessed its plans, Merlin replies. He let his champion die to have him spared. And now Wisdom must sleep, he decides as he touches Wisdom’s forehead. What follows is a dream and the reality that stands under all.

He is on his way from reality, he states, referring to Brian Braddock, whose spiritform lies peacefully on a sailing ship. Where characters and continuity cease. And there is less and there is more. But this he does not allow.

Merlin grabs the Fury-shard harder, his blood flowing. It kills superheroes, he recalls the nature of the Fury. It is the nature of magic to make reversal of such words, he announces and shatters the shard. Its energy crackles around him.

Merlin transports himself to the real Britain. What brings life to heroes is what has made such heroes fall. And at the center point of Britain he’ll bring “the hero” back for all. He smashes his staff into the ground. And with a cry of agony a form begins to rise from the ground below him. The cry is heard all over Britain and Avalon and the Black Knight smiles hopefully, seemingly recognizing the voice.

Everywhere in Britain, all Union Jack flags are suddenly torn away, flying towards the rising figure and wrapping around it. Yes, yes! Merlin cries. The symbols come to him! Now he’ll be one idea! One symbol! No longer uncertain! No longer one of many! But like their flag one thing that contains many! All that has been lost: go and take it back, he orders his hero.

In Avalon, Spitfire is injured, trying to protect John the Skrull. Do they see that? he asks the Skrulls. She was going to give her life for a Skrull’s. He expects them to kill the two of them. Instead they stare uncertainly at a newcomer.

Elsewhere in Avalon, Tink shouts at the invaders to finish it. They’ll get no pleading from her. Suddenly they too see a new arrival. It’s him! Tink shouts and Oberon cries hopefully that it’s hope for magic. He has the sword!

At Westminster, the Black Knight orders Faiza to look out while the magical Skrull kills soldiers left and right. Faiza finds she can use her new powers to manipulate the other Skrulls, but not the magic Skrull leading them.

The magic Skrull fires a blast, barely deflected by Dane’s shield. Calling them little creatures full of doubt he tells them to surrender honorably. There is a place for them in the Skrull Empire.

Dane orders Faiza to run. With the battle cry Camelot, he attacks the magic Skrull. Horrified, she hears his cries of agony. It’s only her now.

The magical Skrull wonders why magic chose to be kept here. With such a small people. It grabs Faiza, telling her she venerates the small. They look no further than their shore. They make epics of domestic trivia. They mourn their empire. They whine and complain. They do nothing. It drops her, remarking that she is the last defender of the bridge, of the prize beyond. If she surrenders and kneels it will spare her.

No, Faiza decides. She thinks that’s bravery? it asks angrily. Tiny things! Witihn the Skrull empire they will know grandeur. They will know pride and determination and…

He thinks it will find they know already, a new voice remarks, and Faiza begins to pray when she sees him. A flash of energy hits the magical Skrull.

We just don’t like to make a fuss, Captain Britain, holding Excalibur in his hand, explains.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, John the Skrull, Spitfire, Pete Wisdom (all members of MI 13)

Black Knight

Dr. Faisa Hussain


Other fairies
British soldiers
Magical Skrull

Diverse Skrulls
Diverse demonical beings

Story Notes: 

The Pendragon Force can give people super powers or make them the best they are (See the two UK Knights of Pendragon series).

The Ebony Blade’s curse drives its bearer to madness whenever it draws blood, and eventually turns him to stone.

One recognizable being among the fleeing demons is the demon queen Lilith.

Merlin’s shape is the same one he used before in appearances in Doctor Who comics (Doctor Who Monthly #60 & 67 when those were still published by Marvel). Perhaps he is trying to make a point here by taking a different shape than the ones Wisdom and Captain Britain already know.

Merlin refers to events in the X-Men: Die by the Sword Limited Series when he talks about killing his daughter and being infected by the Fury.

The Union Jack is the British flag which unites flags of England, Scotland and (Northern) Ireland.

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