Excalibur (1st series) #102

Issue Date: 
October 1996
Story Title: 
After the Bomb

Warren Ellis (writer), Casey Jones, Rob Haynes (penciler), Scott Koblish, Jason Martin (inker), Comicraft (letterer), Ariane Lenshock (colorist), Suzanne Gaffney (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

While Nightcrawler and Moira MacTaggert watch news footage of the Onslaught disaster in New York, Shadowcat and Wisdom are on the mainland where they talk about how Excalibur have the British government’s respect as heroes for saving London, and of how the Prime Minister mentioned they are not like their American mutant cousins. Back on Muir Island, Brian Braddock reminisces about Captain America, an old friend who is believed dead after the Onslaught event, and after Meggan suggests people hate mutants because they simply exist, not because they are different, she asks Brian to set a wedding date with her. Moira, Nightcrawler and Douglock watch as Spoor is removed from Muir Island along with all the other incarcerated mutants, while in Germany, Daytripper, Colossus and Wolfsbane investigate Margali’s disappearance, but cannot find her. Back on the mainland, Shadowcat and Wisdom are attacked by Americans who have come to warn them that while Britain may love Excalibur, they are not welcome in the States. Later, Moira announces that X-Factor have been given orders to take Charles Xavier into custody, and as everyone gets depressed about it, Wisdom cheers them all up before they go out to the pub.

Full Summary: 

Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, the mutant leader of the British super hero team known as Excalibur, and Dr. Moira MacTaggert, world renowned scientist and owner of Muir Island, home to Excalibur and a very important research center, sit in the kitchen and watch the satellite television feeds. A news reader is repeating the same announcement again, one that has been reported many times over in the wake of the deadly Onslaught in America. The news reader reports that the Avengers and Fantastic Four are among many heroes missing or presumed dead. The news reader goes on to note that it also appears the membership of the X-Men remains untouched – Kurt changes the channel, where the same topic is being addressed, only this time, the news reader is talking about the intensification of anti-mutant feelings, as many people ask “Why did the X-Men survive when our greatest heroes didn’t?”

With images of Captain America and other major heroes appearing on the screen, Kurt turns to Moira and tells her that he cannot believe they are gone, especially not them as they all seemed bigger than that, as if they could not die. Moira asks Kurt if he understands now why she did not want him to go to America, adding that with all those heroes gone now, people are going to turn to Excalibur.

On the mainland of Scotland meanwhile, at The Chalk & Cheese pub, Pete Wisdom and Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde, lovers and teammates in Excalibur are reading the newspapers and enjoying a breakfast. Wisdom reads Kitty an article in which the Prime Minister made an official statement, clearly stating that the government does not consider Excalibur a threat to society and that the team’s acts during the London crisis were “most helpful” Kitty mumbles that it seems the Prime Minister makes it sound like Excalibur lent a hand decorating or something. Wisdom smiles and tells Kitty that it gets better, reading a passage which gives an example of how Excalibur’s selflessness can be seen as an example of what the government would build upon following an election victory.

Wisdom adds that other statements clearly separate Excalibur as “creatures” far different from their American cousins. The waitress hands Pryde and Wisdom their breakfast and Kitty tells Wisdom that she doesn’t like that statement, as when she was growing up, people like Wolverine and Cyclops were her role models, and adds that she isn’t so sure she wants to be different from them. Wisdom tells Kitty that it isn't just people like Wolverine and Cyclops, but people like Cable who carries around a gun bigger than he is. Bringing his food up to his mouth he tells Kitty that the Americans have just lost a handful of the biggest icons in history, and that compared to Captain America, anyone wearing an “X” looks scary.

Watching Wisdom eat, Kitty tells him it is disgusting as he adds that the X-Men tend to destroy everything in front of and behind them, that anyone can know where they have been because it is on fire. As he sculls some orange juice he tells Kitty that he is glad everyone in Britain loves them, because it means people will stay away from them, and they can get some work done by being a ‘big happy advert for the niceness of mutants’. Kitty doesn’t reply to that, instead she tells Wisdom watching him eat is like carcrash: ‘Horrible, but strangely fascinating’.

Back on Muir Island, Brian Braddock, formerly England’s foremost super hero, Captain Britain, reminisces about Captain America. He tells his girlfriend and teammate, the enigmatic Meggan that Captain America had a presence that is not easy to put into words, but that whenever he hears the word “super hero”, which Brian believes has been overused so that it has no meaning any more, he thinks of Captain America. Brian adds that the American’s loved Captain America, in a way he could never understand, not even like he was loved when he was Captain Britain.

Concerned, Meggan asks her beloved if it bothers him, and as he tends to the damaged Moonlight Flit he replies that it doesn’t really, as Britain and America are two very different countries, and that it is not like the British to love someone unconditionally. Flying up to the top of the jet to join him, Meggan says that she hopes it works the other way. Brian asks her what she means, and she answers that she thinks it is possible that people cannot hate unconditionally as well, mentioning the Americans seem to do it with mutants, without even trying to understand them. Meggan adds that she believes it is not because the mutants are different to humans, but because they are simply there.

Meggan grabs a tool and tells Brian he missed a bit, pointing out where it is after he asks she tells him to fix it. Jokingly, Brian tells Meggan she has a great future ahead of her as a dictator, and flying upside down, Meggan looks at Brian longingly and tells him that in that case she wants to set a date for their wedding. Brian smiles and agrees.

Outside, helicopters hover over the famous Island as a new phase between Excalibur and the British government are being made. Moira MacTaggert has agreed to Alistaire Stuart’s new official paranormal investigation ministry, the Department, at taking on responsibility for the mutant criminals incarcerated at Muir Island. Within one of the security cages strung beneath a helicopter, one of those mutants is not particularly happy about this, and shouts out to Moira, Nightcrawler and Douglock below. ‘I am Spoor! The most terrifying creature ye’ll ever see’ he calls out. Kurt mocks that he is going to miss him as Moira says that it is just one less headache and one less distraction.

However for one super hero in particular what seems to be an ongoing headache is about to enter a new degree of distraction. Her name is Amanda Sefton and as “Daytripper” she is a member of Excalibur, alongside her longtime friend Piotr Rasputin, the Russian Mutant Colossus and Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, Moira MacTaggert’s foster daughter, who have accompanied Amanda to Winzeldorf, Germany, in search of her mother, the headache.

With Amanda’s hand on his arm, Colossus tells her that just because Margali vanished after they separated her from the demon beneath London doesn’t mean she returned home. Amanda reminds him that they cannot find her anywhere else before telling Wolfsbane to hold back as she scans the caravan. Doing a mystical scan, Amanda tells her teammates that Margali may be injured which will only make her more dangerous. Upon receiving nothing through the scan, Amanda decides to go into the caravan in case her mother is blocking her spell.

Wolfsbane steps forward and reminds Amanda that Kurt wanted her to stay with Colossus and out of harms way. Rahne uses her considerable lupine strength and rips the caravan door from its hinges. As she tells Amanda and Piotr that it is empty the trio hear a loud and wicked laugh which fills the surrounding forest. Hesitantly, Amanda suggests that they go home, and Colossus agrees.

Back on the mainland, Kitty and Wisdom have finished breakfast and gathering up their papers. Wisdom thanks Annie the waitress and tells her he threw in a tip for her amongst the cash. Kitty mocks him about giving a tip to the waitress while she gets nothing for playing packhorse carrying the papers. Putting an arm around her, Wisdom tells Kitty he doesn’t need to butter her up because she is already his. Kitty mocks him about his charming ways and sheer elegance that won her over. Wisdom states that he didn’t win Kitty, but earned her as he says goodbye to Annie. As the duo leave the pub, they don’t see several other men start to walk for the door also.

Outside the pub, Wisdom and Pryde find themselves confronted by four men, two of them whom have guns. The assailants tell the duo not to make a sound and as other men from inside the pub corner Pryde and Wisdom find themselves surrounded. One of the men tells them that they want a word with them, as another announces that they can just kill them here and now. Eyeing Wisdom up, Kitty mentions rather sarcastically that they wouldn’t want to mess with two armed men and three unarmed men, Wisdom plays along and blowing cigarette smoke out of his mouth tells Kitty to try and not kill any of them.

Kitty throws up all the papers to distract the men as Wisdom flicks his cigarette at one of them. Kitty and Wisdom engage the men getting rid of the guns firstly, and claiming them for themselves. A burly redhead picks Kitty by her shirt and as he gets ready to punch her as another man gets ready to kick her from behind, Wisdom warns Kitty and tells her someone is behind her, which of course Kitty already knows, and going intangible the assailant from behind glides right through Kitty, knocking out his friend with his foot.

Holding onto the guns, Wisdom tells Kitty he will just watch if it is all right with her, as Kitty continues to fight the assailants commenting on how they are not much of a workout, but will do none the less. Kitty adds that she suspects Wisdom just likes watching her getting hot and sweaty, which is fine of course, as long as he applauds and worships her. As Kitty knocks two guys out at the same time, Annie the waitress walks out and asks Wisdom if everything is all right. Wisdom tells her that Kitty has everything under control.

Annie approaches one of the men and asks him if he would like a towel to go with his nose which is spread all over his face. As Kitty keeps punching someone, Wisdom asks her if she is done playing with them. Kitty asks him to giver her a minute as one of the men still has his eyes open. Wisdom asks the guy with his nose spread all over his face if he sees the woman dancing on the throat of his friend, and tells her that she is his girlfriend.

Kitty turns to Wisdom and tells him that he is a bad influence on her and that if anyone asks she is going to tell them that he made her do it. She turns back to the man who has his nose all over his face and asks him what his story is. Holding his blood-dripping nose, he tells Shadowcat that he is from inside the White House, working for the American government and that they were sent to tell her that the English may love Excalibur, for the moment, he adds, before telling her that Excalibur are not welcome in America. He continues, bitterly adding that soon the British will be convinced not to love Excalibur also, and that to sum it up, he is here to tell Excalibur that they are living on borrowed time.

‘Last time I looked, I held American citizenship, bub’ Kitty snaps back, folding her arms. She asks him where gets off threatening American citizens abroad. The man opens his mouth and reminds Kitty that she is a mutant and starts to ask her what makes her think she counts, until Wisdom sticks one of the guns in the mans eye, telling her that they got his message and its time for him to get ready for Excalibur’s.

A little while later, Excalibur’s supersonic plane known as the Midnight Runner, which Kitty and Wisdom frequently borrow to go to the mainland, returns to Muir. An agent of the Department goes over to Moira, with a list, telling her hat they have airlifted all eleven mutants out and just need her signature now. Kitty and Wisdom rush over with the leader of the mobsters, who has his mouth covered up so he cannot talk. Wisdom tells her that they found the one who was missing from the holding cells.

The agent of the Department asks Moira if he is on the list and adds that he didn’t know she had lost one. Moira catches on quickly and tells the agent that he is the Crimson Goatgouger, an obscure super villain from Aberystwyth, who is a very slippery character…like two others Moira would like to mention. Wisdom tells the agent that it is vital he keeps the “Crimson Goatgouger’s” mouth covered as he can control a persons mind by his voice. Wisdom adds that he breathes through his fingers before asking the agent to give Alistaire Stuart this note, which explains everything, including the American interest in him. The agent complies with the request and starts to get him caged up so they can leave. The American just shoots Pryde and Wisdom a filthy look. As the helicopters leave with eleven – twelve – super villains, Kitty and Pete erupt into laughter, and Moira stands with her hands on her hips asking for an explanation, or if they would like their slapping now.

As night falls, Excalibur gather in one of the lounges of the Research Station, Meggan and Brian gaze out the window looking at the stars, while Moira talks to Kitty and Wisdom and Douglock play a game. Amanda returns with Piotr and Wolfsbane and goes over to her brother Kurt who has his arms outstretched for her. Stroking her pet dragon, Lockheed, Kitty tells Moira that she doesn’t look too good and asks what’s wrong. Moira tells her that it has been a while since she had to think on her feet like that. The doctor pauses before telling Kitty that she had a call from friends in the U.S. who told her that those American government agents visiting them was not coincidental, before announcing that X-Factor is going to be given orders to take Charles Xavier into custody following the Onslaught tragedy in New York.

The rest of Excalibur falls silent as they overhear what Moira has to say, until Douglock suggests that they must blame Professor Xavier for Onslaught. Wisdom tells his depressed teammates to snap out of it. Kitty sternly reminds Wisdom that it is Charles Xavier they are talking about, until Wisdom cuts her off and reminds Kitty that it doesn’t matter as a while ago they were all accepting that Xavier no longer existed. He tells them to put the angst away, as the bomb has been dropped, now it is time for life to go on. He says that no amount of sulking or worrying is going to change anything, and they have their own lives to lead now. He tells them that with all that in mind he is going to put the Midnight Runner on auto pilot and go to the pub, alone if he has to. Kitty smiles and tells him that with her around, he doesn’t have to go anywhere alone. One by one, the others follow, and one by one, they all smile.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Colossus, Daytripper, Douglock, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Pete Wisdom, Wolfsbane (All Excalibur)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Annie the waitress


Agent of the Department removing the criminals

American agents at the pub from America

In Flashback/Brian’s Memory

Captain America

Captain Britain
Nazi soldiers

In Holographic Image

Captain America, Iron Man, Thor (All Avengers)

Invisible Woman (Fantastic Four)

Story Notes: 

The Onslaught crossover occurred in most books during August and September of 1996, where as a result of destroying Onslaught, the Fantastic Four and most of the Avengers were transported to an alternate world, where they all had short-lived series entitled “Heroes Reborn”. Excalibur battled the Hellfire Club and a crazed Margali Szardos at that time.
Actually it is Val Cooper who takes Xavier into custody for the US government. The members of X-Factor were not aware of this at the time and protested against that move.
Nightcrawler and several other members of Excalibur upon returning to Muir Island after the London battle with Margali learned of what happened to Xavier and wanted to go to America to help out, but Moira put her foot down and told them they were not going. [Excalibur #101]

Amanda’s “headache” gets more complicated. Sometime between now and Excalibur #108/X-Man #26 (they take place on the same day) Margali switches her body and Amanda takes her mother’ place as Belasco’s prisoner. “Amanda” (Margali) then quits Excalibur. However with the help of Nightcrawler, Amanda gets her own body back, Margali is freed from Belasco and Amanda becomes Limbo’s guardian. [X-Men Unlimited #19]
Captain Britain and Meggan finally get married in Excalibur #125, a lavish event which not only features every former Excalibur member and ally, but many characters from Captain Britain’s own series, as well as several X-Men. Sadly, it is also the final issue of the series in which Kitty, Kurt and Piotr return to the X-Men.
Captain Britain and Captain America teamed up to fight the Red Skull in the first Captain Britain series (around issues #15-25). The flashback scene here depicts Brian in the wrong (and miscolored to boot!) costume. At the time of the story he was wearing his original red outfit.

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