Excalibur (1st series) #105

Issue Date: 
January 1997
Story Title: 
Hard Truths

Keith Giffen (Writer), Bryan Hitch (Penciller), Paul Neary, Bryan Hitch & Riggs (Inkers), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Ariane Lenshoek (Colorist), Malibu (Separations), Paul Tutrone (Assistant Editor), Matt Idelson (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)
Based on a story by John Arcudi

Brief Description: 

Colossus and Wisdom are forced to work together to counter the MLF who are attacking Muir Island, while Dani Moonstar, leading the MLF hopes she can somehow sabotage the mission, before reflecting on the fact that her former teacher created protocols on how to kill she and her friends in the New Mutants and X-Men. Moira MacTaggert and Nightcrawler think of ways to defeat the MLF, but when Kurt’s plan backfires, Moira’s takes a different twist when the MLF find the Xavier Protocols, they use the unconscious Meggan and Captain Britain whom they have been carrying around as test subjects, to see that the area is not booby-trapped. Moira puts a force field in place, keeping Meggan and Brian safe behind. Dani finds this a prime opportunity to abort the mission, and does so, pleasing Moira. Meanwhile, after discovering Doug Ramsey’s body still in his grave, Kitty uses other means to somehow get Douglock to admit that he is in fact a resurrected Doug. But these too fail. However, when Kitty breaks into Doug Ramsey’s parents’ home and discovers that they have turned his bedroom into a den, she realizes that they have dealt with their grief and moved on. Kitty does so too, by saying goodbye to Doug Ramsey and introducing herself to a pleased Douglock.

Full Summary: 

Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde screams as she phases up through the ground, more specifically, a graveyard in Westchester - where she had just used her mutant power to phase inside the coffin of her dead best friend, Doug Ramsey. Kitty’s Excalibur teammate Rahne calls to her, as the techno-organic Douglock declares that he knew this was a bad idea. ‘Shut up, Doug’ snaps Rahne as she tends to Kitty. ‘Douglock’ says Douglock, correcting Rahne, who just tells him to ‘Shut up!’ again. Rahne asks Kitty if she is going to be all right, and tells her that if she is going to be sick then she should do it away from her, or else she will be joining her.

Kitty boasts that she will be okay, that she just needs a moment to catch her breath. Douglock walks up to Kitty and apologizes for Kitty’s distress, before beginning to remind her what he told her - but Kitty interrupts him and holding a hand up to keep him away, she asks Douglock what he has done. ‘There’s a body in that grave!’ Kitty reveals, sweat pouring down her face as she does so. Douglock knows this, ‘Yes, Doug Ramsey’s’ he declares. Kitty exclaims that it is not possible, as she knows that Douglock is Doug Ramsey. ‘What have you done?’ she whispers again.

Douglock begins to say that he doesn’t understand what Kitty means, before realizing that Kitty expected the grave to be empty. Douglock crouches at the grave of the fallen New Mutant and asks Kitty if she thinks he rose from this grave then replaced his body with that of a “John Doe”. He even offers the suggestion that he killed the “John Doe” in a desperate attempt at covering up his tracks. ‘After all, one never knows when an intangible mutants might decide to stop and pay her respects…up close and personal!’ snaps Douglock before asking Kitty if this is what she really thinks of him.

‘When you put it that way, it does sound a little…’ ‘A little?’ scolds Rahne, before Kitty admits that she is a jerk, and asks the others if they are satisfied. Kitty apologizes to Douglock, calling him ‘Doug’ she claims that she never meant to - before she gets to say what it is she claims, Douglock reminds her again that his name is not Doug, but Douglock. He declares that he is not, nor has he ever been, Douglas Ramsey, and asks Kitty if this is really so hard for her to accept.

Douglock declares that he doesn’t mean to sound harsh, but that he is fast reaching the limits of his tolerance for this nonsense. ‘Douglas Ramsey is dead! A hard truth, but a truth nonetheless’. Kitty walks up to Douglock and asks him to tell her why he looks exactly like Doug, ‘why did you choose his face of all things’. Douglock replies that he cannot tell her, for all he can tell her, and all he knows, is that he is not her friend Doug Ramsey, before adding that he knows, he wishes, for Kitty’s sake, it was otherwise, but it is not, he is simply Douglock, no more, no less. Rahne exclaims that it works for her, but Kitty is still not convinced.

Meanwhile, on Muir Island, Scotland, the Research Center owned by world-renowned scientist Doctor Moira MacTaggert, and home to Excalibur, most of the remaining members of Britain’s greatest super team, and the good doctor herself, are finding themselves at the mercy of the mutant terrorist faction known as the Mutant Liberation Front. Moira runs behind Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin, the powerful Russian mutant as he rushes down a corridor, telling him to stand down, but Piotr replies that they don’t have time to.

Moira catches up to Colossus and points out to him that running off half-cocked is not going to help the situation. Peter Wisdom joins Moira and Piotr informing them that the perimeter breach has been confirmed, and that Brian and Meggan are down. ‘Can you say “We’re up the creek” boys and girls?’ Moira declares that the MLF are after the Xavier Protocols, and exclaims that the cannot let the Protocols fall into the MLF’s hands. ‘Close enough’ jokes Peter, before Colossus tells Moira that if she has a plan, there is no time like the present.

Moira uses voice commands to turn the alarm off, and tells Colossus and Wisdom that they have to slow the MLF down, to use their familiarity with the complex to their advantage. Moira adds that she will have Nightcrawler help them as soon as she has finished with him. This puzzles Wisdom, but Moira tells him to try living up to his name, as she needs Kurt to get the vault door closed. She mentions that Kurt is no Hank McCoy, but that any port in a storm will do. ‘I’m sure he speaks well of you, too’ Wisdom says to Moira in reply to her comment about Kurt. ‘Move!’ barks Moira before she rushes off in a different direction to the men. ‘Luck to us all!’ shouts Colossus. ‘”Luck to us all” What are you, the mutant Pollyanna?’ mocks Wisdom. Colossus just grunts.

Elsewhere in the complex. The foot soldiers used by the Mutant Liberation Front confirm that the interior maintenance corridor is secured, however, one of them thinks that this operation is going down too easy, that he doesn’t like it. Suddenly, Michael McCain, the aptly named ‘Fourarm’, who is carrying the unconscious Captain Britain, tells the soldiers that there is nothing for them to like, or dislike, and begins to tells them to get their sorry butts into gear, when Danielle Moonstar steps forward and tells Fourarm that he is forgetting his place, as she was placed in charge of this operation.

Richard ‘Wildside’ Gil, carrying the unconscious Meggan, tells Dani that it is hard for them to forget, what with she reminding them every other sentence that comes out of her mouth. Wildside then declares that the drones might have a point, as striking Muir Island is not supposed to be like a milk run, so he believes it to be a set up. Fourarm snaps that he cannot smell anything he can’t handle, and asks the foot soldiers what they are all standing around for, ‘move out!’ As the soldiers rush forward, Fourarm shouts behind them that they are supposed to be a point-team, ‘Get up there and point us in the right direction!’ Dani tells Fourarm that she will not remind him who is in charge again. ‘Yeah, yeah’.

As the MLF trio walk behind the soldiers, Danielle thinks to herself that this is not good at all, as when she volunteered to lead this mission, she hoped she could keep the bloodshed to a minimum, even figure out a way to sabotage the mission and keep the Xavier Protocols from falling into the MLF’s hands. But it doesn’t look to be turning out that way. The former New Mutant can not believe that Xavier actually provided a blueprint for taking down the X-Men. Putting her mask back on, Dani wonders what her former teacher was thinking.

Back in Westchester, Kitty, Wolfsbane and Douglock enter a pizza parlour. Kitty blabbering that it has been ages since they have been here and that it was almost like a second home back in the ol’ “Nose to the grindstone” days. Douglock begins to state that he has never been here before when Kitty cuts him off halfway through his speech, exclaiming that their favorite table is free. Kitty reminds her younger teammates to not accidentally shut off their image inducers, or else they would have a lot of explaining to do.

As Kitty declares that she will go and get the slices of pizza, Douglock begins to tell her what he wants on his, but Kitty exclaims that she remembers, and will be back in a flash. As Rahne and Douglock take their seats, Douglock sighs and mutters that Kitty is persistent. ‘Is that what it’s being called now?’ asks Rahne. A grouchy looing waitress takes Kitty’s order at the counter, Kitty asking if Gino is not on tonight. The waitress realizes that Kitty is a bit out of touch and informs her that Gino has not worked here for nearly a year. ‘You gonna order or what?’

Rahne asks Douglock if he realizes why Kitty brought them to this place, to which Douglock replies that he does, as Kitty hopes that by exposing him to environments familiar to Douglas Ramsey she can jar loose feelings that he does not have. Douglock informs Rahne that Kitty’s obsession with proving that he is Douglas Ramsey reborn worries him, admitting that there are times he wishes he were Doug Ramsey, if only to ease Kitty’s pain.

Wolfsbane knows what Douglock means and tells him that for a while, even she harbored a secret hope that Kitty was right. ‘Oh, puh-leeze! Not you too?’ asks Douglock. Rahne tells him that there is no need to be so rude about it, so Douglock quickly apologizes, pointing out that he is still trying to get the hang of sarcasm. Kitty arrives back with the trays of pizza, and sitting down next to Rahne she hands her two slices with anchovies, and asks her how she can eat that stuff, before passing Douglock two slices with heavy sausage, just the way he likes them.

Kitty exclaims that the old-hang out hasn’t changed at all, except that Gino is not here anymore, but she thinks she saw Cassie in the back room, so the pizza should taste just as good, ‘but let’s face it, Gino made the best pizza this side of Italy…’ suddenly Kitty notices that Douglock is pulling the slices of sausage off his pizza. She asks him what he is doing, and Douglock replies that he doesn’t like sausage. ‘You love sausage!’ exclaims Kitty, before Douglock holds his sausage-less pizza up to his mouth and smiles, telling Kitty ‘No, Douglas Ramsey loved sausage’.

Back on Muir Island, Moira screams ‘Shut it off!’ as she and Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner are tinkering with some equipment. Moira points out that they are shorting out the force field. Kurt tells Moira to face it, that it is not going to happen, reminding her that they have been trying to re-seal the unit for days, and barring a miracle they are not about to figure it out in the minutes left before the MLF overruns this part of the Center.

Moira declares that the force field will have to do, that she will re-route the auxiliary power lines, and give the field extra-punch. She tells Kurt to link up with the others, as she can handle it herself from here on. Nightcrawler asks Moira if she is certain, and Moira snaps ‘go!’ As Kurt teleports away, Moira thinks that Kurt may not understand what she is about to do - in fact, she is certain he wouldn’t.

Pulling at some wires, Moira thinks that she is sorry about the deception, but she has no intention of strengthening the force field, quite the opposite in face - she is going to shut it down!

Elsewhere, Colossus hides in the vents above a corridor, watching several storm troopers walk beneath him, watching them play right into Excalibur’s hands as the stand before the men’s room. Thinking the toilet suspicious enough to warrant an investigation, they enter the toilet, where inside, Wisdom has flooded the sinks. Standing on the vanity Wisdom declares that this is going to get ugly, when the storm troopers kick the door down, just as Colossus drops from the shaft above, ‘I believe the word is incoming’ he exclaims, bringing circuits down with him, causing an electric shock to follow, as the power meets the water.

Moira wonders what the men are up to, and rushes out of the vault where the Xavier Protocols are kept to find them.

‘Yup, pretty ugly all right. Guess that’s why they call them shock troops’ Wisdom jokes. Wisdom gives Colossus a thumbs up and tells him it is good to know he got the brains to match the brawn, to which Colossus takes as a compliment, for Wisdom’s sake.

Nightcrawler suddenly teleports up behind the MLF, informing them that this is as far as they go. Reacting to the stench of brimstone that emanates from Kurt’s teleportation, Fourarm asks what the smell is. Kurt tells Fourarm that he is very witty, ‘see if you can laugh this off!’ Kurt exclaims as he sets the timer on a bomb. ‘No!’ cries Danielle, to which Wildside tells Kurt to ‘listen to the lady’, and points out that it is not them that he should be concerning himself with, asking Kurt if he thinks they were lugging Meggan and Brian around for the good of their health.

Wildside informs Kurt that his teammates are looking to be in rough shape, to which Fourarm asks Kurt how he thinks Meggan and Brian will stand up to his concussion grenade. Kurt realizes his fault and quickly teleports to a cliff side on Muir and heaves the grenade off the side of the island, where it explodes in mid-air, over the water. Kurt is furious at his mistake, realizing that the MLF were using Meggan and Brian as living shields. He hopes Moira has an ace up her sleeve, because their hands have just been tied.

Wildside motions to all the motionless shock troopers and declares that they are all worthless. Moonstar asks her teammates if they believed this would be made easy for them, before Fourarm declares they should just forget them, as they were cannon-fodder anyway. ‘There’s that compassionate streak that so endears you to us, Fourarm’ mocks Dani, to which Fourarm asks if she was taking a shot at him. ’You figure it out’ replies Dani, before telling her teammates to coma along, and to watch out for anymore nasty surprises. ‘Sounded like a shot to me…’ mutters Fourarm.

Moira tells Kurt, Colossus and Wisdom, who are all bickering behind her, to keep it down, as she is trying to concentrate. Wisdom reminds Moira that she is the one who called them back, to which Kurt points out that she had no choice, as Brian and Meggan are being used as…’living shields’ Colossus and Wisdom declare in unison. Wisdom declares that they understand, but that they are not doing anyone any good sitting here twiddling their thumbs, before exclaiming that the force field will slow the MLF down, and give the four of them time to come up with a plan. Moira reveals that she has shut the force field down. ‘Funniest thin, I could have sworn I just heard you say you had shut the force field down’ exclaims Wisdom.

DanI, Wildside and Fourarm enter as chamber, and seeing a unit, the Xavier Protocol’s, Fourarm asks if Excalibur take them for idiots, leaving it open like that, unprotected, and figure they will walk into whatever booby trap they have got rigged up. Motioning to Brian and Meggan, Fourarm asks Wildside if he is thinking what he is thinking…’test subjects!’ exclaims Fourarm as he and Wildside throw Meggan and Brian towards the device, Wildside adding that Meggan’s perfume was beginning to get on his nerves, so he is glad to be rid of her.

Watching the events unfold on a monitor, Moira exclaims that she was not expecting that, and reveals to the men that she was hoping to trap the MLF in the field, but as she always says, ‘any port in a storm’. She activates the force field over the area, preventing the MLF from getting to the Protocols.

Wildside declares that some force field just kicked in, as Fourarm reminds the others he said it was probably booby trapped. Dani points out that it could have been the three of them contained in there, as Fourarm curses Excalibur before asking what they should do now. Dani tells Michael that he could try yelling at the force field for all the good it has done, before declaring ‘The advantage is theirs now’ and that she is aborting the mission. She tells Wildside and Fourarm to stand by for teleport-out.

Moira smiles, ‘Music to my ears’, and realizing Dani has not truly switched sides, she whispers that was well played.

Back in the States, Kitty, Rahne and Douglock arrive at an old house on a farm, Rahne knows where they are and tells Kitty that she is beginning to worry her. Kitty asks Rahne to indulge her this one last time, before Douglock asks if this is the Ramsey home, and points out that it doesn’t appear if anyone is home. Kitty becomes intangible and floats up to a bedroom window, informing her teammates she was counting on there being no one home.

Douglock asks if this is breaking and entering, to which Rahne supposes technically is, but Kitty begins to explain how it can not be breaking and entering - if Doug Ramsey is still alive, when suddenly, entering a room, she screams ‘No!’

One hard truth later, Kitty stands before Doug Ramsey’s grave, and speaking to Cypher she tells him it was pretty silly of her to think that if Doug - Douglock saw his old room then it would snap him out of it. Kitty reveals that it isn’t Cypher’s room anymore, that his parents have turned it into a den, they know he is gone. Kitty realizes that Doug Ramsey’s parents have dealt with their grief and gone on with their lives, adding that there are pictures of Doug all over that room, but it is not his room anymore.

With a tear-stained face, Kitty says goodbye to Doug Ramsey, it hurts her so much, but she knows it is good to let it out. Douglock and Rahne watch Kitty, Doug wishing he could have spared Kitty all of this, but Rahne thinks that Kitty will be okay now. Kitty walks over to Douglock and introduces herself, informing him that she is finally pleased to met him.

Characters Involved: 

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

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Fourarm, Dani Moonstar, Wildside (all MLF)

MLF Storm troopers


Story Notes: 

Doug “Cypher” Ramsey was killed in New Mutants (1st series) #60. Since Excalibur first ran into Douglock [Excalibur (1st series) #78-80], Kitty and some of the others have always believed him to be Doug Ramsey, or a merger of Doug Ramsey and his alien friend the New Mutant Warlock who was killed in New Mutants (1st series) #95. As it turns out, Douglock is actually just a resurrected Warlock, as revealed in his short-lived M-Tech series.

Shadowcat, Wolfsbane and Douglock journeyed to Westchester, to try and uncover the mystery of Douglock, in Excalibur (1st series) #104.

Several continuity miss-haps arise between this issue and the last:

Firstly, Moira MacTaggert was trapped on her own in a sub-lab, but in this issue she is with Colossus and Wisdom.

Secondly, a forth member of the MLF, Selby, was present last issue, but is gone without mention this issue.

Thirdly, the MLF originally came to Muir seeking to retrieve Moira’s data on the Legacy Virus, and it was only once they arrived that they learned about the Xavier Protocols, which was the focus of their attack this issue.

Image inducers are a device that enables someone to appear as someone else. They were most commonly worn by members of the X-teams with some notable mutation, usually Nightcrawler (who often used the device to appear as his idol, Errol Flynn), and the Beast. Why Wolfsbane would need to use an image inducer when she can just return to her human form is anybody’s guess.

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