Excalibur (1st series) #109

Issue Date: 
May 1997
Story Title: 
Dragon Moon Rising

Ben Raab (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciller), Scott Koblish (Inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (Letterers), Kevin Tinsley (Colorist), GCW (Separations), Paul Tutrone (Assistant Editor), Matt Idelson (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

Continuing to get Cerebro on-line, Nightcrawler and Moira MacTaggert are caught up in an explosion when Cerebro malfunctions, however Kurt manages to teleport them to safety, and not willing to admit defeat, Kurt promises to try again, before asking Moira how her research on the Legacy Virus is going, and learning that she feels terribly alone. Working out in the gym, Wolfsbane is shocked that Daytripper just up and left, to which Kitty remarks it is odd Daytripper didn’t say goodbye to Nightcrawler. Colossus informs the girls of what Amanda said about her not feeling herself lately, and admits that he doesn’t look forward to telling Kurt Amanda is gone. After hearing the explosion of the Cerebro lab, Kitty phases up to it, unaware that Nightcrawler and Pete Wisdom have engaged in battle with Spiral. Kitty grabs Spiral and phases her back down to the gym. Meggan wakes up and is tended to by Wisdom, who thinks that she is acting odder than usual when she claims to see a strange person. Displaying a new aspect of her powers, Meggan literally commands the molecules of the floor to separate and allow her to pass, so she can get to Spiral. But Spiral is being tossed around by Kitty, Colossus and Wolfsbane, before being trapped by Nightcrawler. Meggan races to Spiral’s aid, claiming that Captain Britain is in danger. But the others aren’t convinced, as Spiral has been a long-time enemy of theirs. But after Spiral gives her story of how she was assaulted by the Dragons while she was on the Wildways and forced to do their work, and Meggan reveals that she and Brian were to be wed, a somewhat reluctant Excalibur agree to helping Spiral, but as they teleport away, realize they may be making the worst mistake of their lives, as does the strange being that has been following Meggan around as he watches Excalibur leave. Meanwhile, Captain Britain tries to hold his own against the Dragon’s in their lair, where they inform him that he is going to be the catalyst which sets loose the Crimson Dawn upon the world. Weakened, Brian knows he must hold on so he can learn what happened to Meggan, despite the excruciating pain he is under.

Full Summary: 

Muir Island, Scotland, the world’s foremost genetic research center and home of Excalibur, Britain’s premiere super heroes, and world renowned scientist Doctor Moira MacTaggert. The famous scientist enters a lab where Excalibur’s very own Cerebro has been set up, and seeing Excalibur’s team leader Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner busy with Cerebro, Moira asks him if he is having any luck yet. ‘Lots - and all of it bad!’ Kurt replies, joking that by the time he gets their mutant tracking device on-line, not only will the next generation of mutants have missed out on the opportunity to learn to control their powers, but so will their children’s children!

Moira tells Kurt that he shouldn’t be so hard on himself, reminding him that she saw him working with some of the X-Men’s best technicians when they were in the States, so she has full confidence that he will get this “cyber-beastie” up and running in no time. Continuing to tinker, Kurt replies that he hopes so, before he begins to initiate the primary diagnostic sequence - except that he starts receiving feedback - ’It’s going to blow!’ Kurt grabs Moira as system after system malfunctions within the unstable Cerebro, however Nightcrawler uses his mutant power to teleport himself and Moira out of harms way, literally in the nick of time, as the lab explodes a moment later.

Meanwhile, several levels below, in the gymnasium, Kurt’s teammates - Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin, Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde and Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair are working out. Moira’s daughter, Rahne exclaims that she cannot believe Daytripper has gone and adds that it isn’t like her to just up and leave. Kitty remarks that sorceresses can be ‘pretty flaky’, before saying that what she finds weird is how Amanda didn’t even say goodbye to Kurt.

Colossus agrees, remarking that it was very cold of Amanda, reminding Kitty and Rahne that Kurt and Amanda have been together since their earliest days as X-Men, yet all she wanted Kurt to know was that she “hasn’t been herself lately”, whatever that means. Colossus adds that he does not look forward to telling Kurt, as he knows he will be devastated.

Suddenly, there is an explosion, and Kitty asks the others if they heard it, exclaiming that it came from the Cerebro lab. Piotr transforms to his steel-form and declares that they have to get upstairs immediately. Kitty places her feet onto Colossus’ hand, asking if he is already for a “Fastball Special”, and as she phases through the floor, she adds ‘As Nightcrawler would say… “allez oop!”’ As Kitty phases up, Piotr hopes that they are not too late.

Upstairs, the sprinkler system goes off, and Moira tells Kurt how sorry she is about all his hard work. ‘Well, win some, lose some’ Kurt replies, searching through the rubble until he finds the Cerebro helmet. ‘Alas, poor Cerebro…I obviously did not know you as well as I thought!’ he states, before declaring that he is not giving up yet, as he would not only be doing the world a disservice by admitting defeat, but he would do so to the man whom he owes his very life - Professor Charles Xavier.

‘Speaking of “not admitting defeat”, how goes your search for a cure to the Legacy Virus?’ Kurt asks. Head in her hands, Moira mimics what Kurt said - “Win some, lose some”, adding ‘Guess which one’s more than the other’. Kurt tells Moira that she is not going through this alone, but walking away, Moira mutters ‘Aren’t I?’ Kurt decides that now, more than ever, Moira needs her loved ones around her, anything to take her mind off being the sole non-mutants infected by a mutant-specific disease.

Suddenly, there is a teleportation signature, and with the portal open, the time-dancing Spiral makers her presence known, with a unconscious Meggan at her side. Spiral greets Kurt, ‘Long time no see’ she remarks, reminding him it has been many months since they clashed, though she is certain he remembers her. Kurt is surprised to see Spiral and asks her what she is doing here, not to mention what she has done to Meggan. Kurt tells Spiral to answer him without her usual ridiculous riddling and obfuscation or else he will dissect her - limb from limb!

Nightcrawler’s sword clangs against one of the six-armed Spiral’s many swords, while Spiral points out that Nightcrawler handles the steel well, however she exclaims that his lesser-limbed strike is not match for her four-armed assault, and with that she knocks Kurt to the ground. Standing over the unmoving body of Kurt, Spiral reveals that she has done nothing to his Elfin compatriot, but that she could simply not handle the Time Dance, which she says is eminently unfortunate, as she needs all of Excalibur alive.

Suddenly, Spiral screams, as a blast of intense heat strikes her in the back. Pete Wisdom steps forward and tells Spiral that it is “Eminently unfortunate” for her, that he has not had his daily cup of Java yet, because there is nothing that boils his bile more than dealing with six-armed freaks before morning coffee! Spiral remarks that she doesn’t know him, but that she can sense a kindred spirit burning within him - a man of many faces!

With a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, Wisdom introduces himself, before snapping back that the only face he has is the one she is looking at. Nevertheless, Spiral remarks that she senses there is much more to him than he is willing to admit, however as she continues talking, Spiral doesn’t notice Kitty Pryde phase up through the floor, ‘By the Wildways - who?’ gasps Spiral as Kitty makes her intangible also and pulls her through the floor.

Wisdom watches, ‘Yeah, well…nice boots, babe,’ he remarks, commenting on Spiral’s fluffy boots, before telling her that next time she ought to watch where she steps around here, - you never know who you might be stepping on. ‘Ya smart-mouthed git!’

Suddenly, the unconscious Meggan stirs, and wonders if she is home. Wisdom asks her if she is okay, to which the founding member of Excalibur asks where Brian and Spiral are. Wisdom takes hold of Spiral and tells her to take it easy, ‘If you’re talking about that tart with the extra arms…’ he remarks, before informing Meggan that Kitty is about to give her the “grand tour” of the island, though he hopes she will drop her off somewhere between floors.

However, as Wisdom tries to calm down his frightened teammate, Meggan’s hysteria is only exacerbated by a most unexpected sight - a faint figure appears before her, and wide-eyed, Meggan asks Wisdom if he sees that man. “Man”? asks Wisdom, as the man in front of Meggan says to her ‘Your beloved, O, Faerie child…is in danger most grave!’ before vanishing. Wisdom tells Meggan that he knows she can see all kinds of crazy natural things out of her elemental powers, but the two of them are the only ones here!

Meggan declares that she saw him, and he spoke a dire warning about Brian! Meggan tells Pete that they have to find the others, and making subconscious contact with the molecules that comprise the floor, Meggan beckons them to part so that she may pass - and miraculously enough, they obey! As Meggan flies down through the large hole in the floor, Wisdom watches her go, thinking that he will never get used to seeing Meggan do things like that, and remarking that the next thing you know, she will have changed from her civvies into her costume.

Wisdom thinks that it is like Meggan can actually “talk” to nature, and make it do what she wants. Wisdom tells himself to listen to the way he is talking - the next thing he knows he will actually be impressed that Wolfsbane is paper-trained! A bamf signals the arrival of Nightcrawler, who tells Wisdom, who is lighting another cigarette, to not just stand around, as they must stop Spiral! As Kurt bamfs back out, Wisdom jumps down into the hole, mumbling that he thought Meggan and brawny Brian Braddock went to London to get hitched - so if Meggan is here, where on Earth is Captain Britain?

The answer to that question lies in Hong Kong, where the missing hero is somewhat worse for wear, thanks to the supernatural might of the emerald A’yin, the multi-appendaged behemoth Barak, and the seductive Albino with the poisonous kiss - Ra’al. Collectively, these three are known as the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn! A’yin points out that it has been far too long since they last set foot on the world of their birth, to which Ra’al agrees, noting that much has changed since their departure, though the power within this hallowed ground they stand upon still resonates to the very core of her being as it did centuries ago!

Barak throws Brian Braddock, the mighty Captain Britain to the ground and queries what the power within this “little” one is, before asking Ra’al if she is sure that it is sufficient to loose the Dawn, pointing out that Spiral could have lied to them.

Ra’al tells Barak that his suspicions are justifiable, but points out that they possess the upper hand now, not Spiral. Ra’al goes on to declares that finally, after ages within their ruby realm to which their servitude has been indentured, they have come home! Ra’al points out that once they have combined Braddock’s ancient magicks with the modern sorcery of this century’s “technology”, now only will the Crimson Dawn break across the face of the Earth - but the children of the Middle Kingdom shall bow down before the three of them - ‘And the world shall call us MASTER!’

Brian has regained consciousness and after listening to the Dragons’ plan, he is unsure whether or not he can take them on alone, so he knows he must get out and find help. Barak notices Brian trying to make a getaway, and picking Brian up in one of his enormous hands, Barak tells him that the only place he is going - is to his death! A’yin uses some mystical gas around Barak, causing him to wonder what his teammate is doing. A’yin tells Barak to release Captain Britain, then he will disperse the cloud, reminding Barak that Brian cannot be killed until they have siphoned enough of his powers, before ordering Barak to bind Braddock in preparation for Ra’al’s psychic surgery.

‘”Surgery”? Sorry, chaps - but I don’t rather fancy a go under any kind of “knife” - psychic or otherwise!’ exclaims Brian, leaping up and punching Barak in the face. Brian thinks to himself that he makes a fine show of bravado right now, but knows that the longer he is away from England, the weaker he is going to get! Barak compliments Brian on his well struck blow, before pointing out that he still owes him one after their last tussle, boasting that when mighty Barak comes to claim a debt in battle - the other must pay in blood!

Brian is hammered across the room, and he knows that he cannot take this punishment much longer, but he is holding on, for he must live long enough to find out what happened to his beloved Meggan. He recalls that they were to be officially wed, when some mysterious energies yanked Meggan out of the jewellery store window. Upon seeing Spiral, Brian immediately assumed her to be responsible for the assault on his bride-to-be, but astonishingly, she wasn’t. Instead, these three demons from the Crimson Dawn - the mystical force responsible for saving the life of his twin sister, Betsy - had crossed over into this world, seeking a power source to shatter the barrier between the two realities. That “source” just happens to be Brian.

Ra’al is impressed at how Barak delivers a killing blow, yet Captain Britain still stands. She wonders if Brian will swoon from the taste of her toxic kiss instead, and the bile flows from her mouth and as it covers Brian, it begins to burn his flesh, leaving him motionless on the floor. A’yin tells Ra’al that Braddock’s efforts were valiant, but futile at best, to which Ra’al agrees, before admitting that she finds his resilience rather stimulating.

Ra’al informs Brian that in him they have chosen their avatar well, before informing him that Spiral promised to deliver them a power even greater than that of their new “soul sister”, Psylocke, and so now they have him. She smiles as she suggests to him that he continues to remain still, for though it is relatively painless for her to enter his mind, once she has begun to probe his essence with her psionic needles - it will definitely hurt!

In the brief time since Brian Braddock became the living embodiment of a nation’s strength, he has endured more physical, psychological and emotional pain than most people experience in a lifetime, yet he would gladly relive any and all of it again, so that he wouldn’t have to endure this particular agony a second longer. But if he is ever to see Meggan again, he must endure - assuming he can, and a mighty scream can be heard all around as Ra’al continues her assault.

Back at Muir Island, Kitty phases back into the gym, telling Piotr and Rahne that they aren’t going to believe what the Shadowcat dragged in - ‘Like anyone could forget these tacky Eighties boots’ Kitty adds as she tosses Spiral towards Colossus, who bats her away. Slammed against a wall, Spiral tries to explain that she is here to help, however Wolfsbane growls and leaps at Spiral, calling her a liar and reminding her that they know she is ’Two-faced spaleen witch’. Grabbing two of Spiral’s hands, Rahne points out that she won’t be able to cast any spells like this.

But as Rahne is suddenly blasted across the room, Spiral boasts that she needs six arms to cast some spells - but not all. A bamf signals Kurt’s arrival in the room, and landing on Spiral, he pins her down with his swords, shouting ‘Enough!’ and warning Spiral that if she moves an inch - or blinks - then her corrupt master, Mojo, is going to need a new second-in-command. Spiral reveals that she no longer serves ‘That bloated sack of proto-plasm’ and his inane quest for higher ratings and public adoration.

Spiral claims that she is here for more dire reasons, reasons that may not only destroy herself, but one of Excalibur’s own! Noticing Meggan emerge through the hole she created in the ceiling, Spiral asks Meggan if this is not true. An alarmed Meggan informs her teammates that something awful has happened to Brian, that he is in danger and Spiral is here to help them. Shadowcat points out that there isn’t a single dictionary in the world that doesn’t have a picture of Spiral next to the definition of the word “evil” - or “duplicitous”, or “dishonest” for that matter.

Meggan tells Kitty that she is wrong, as Spiral isn’t the one who attacked them, it was the Dragons. With his swords still poised over Spiral, Nightcrawler scoffs at this, and tells Meggan that London’s tube may look like giant serpents, but Spiral comes to Meggan’s defense, informing Excalibur that powerful beings have claimed Captain Britain, and his life is forfeit unless they all come with her. Spiral asks Kurt if he can really afford to take the chance that she is lying, to which a reluctant Kurt removes his swords, and declares ‘Tell me more’.

‘As do all great tales, so did this one begin on the endless mystical path known as the Wildways’ begins Spiral, claiming that there, away from Mojo and the life she once knew, she could be free, and thought that she would be for all eternity - but she was wrong. Spiral explains that the Dragons claimed to have journeyed from a place known as the Crimson Dawn - a place where magic far more powerful than even her own held sway over its unfortunate denizens.

Spiral continues, explaining that the Dragons asked for her aid, but she refused them, until they revealed a sight more horrifying than any of her Body-Shoppe conjuring. It was a sight so grotesque, so inhuman, that even Spiral had to avert her eyes. Apparently, such a fate awaited her if she didn’t help the Dragons escape into this world. Unwilling to suffer such a fate, Spiral accepted to their cult’s branding, and did as they asked - assuming her superior wits would allow her to outsmart them at some point. ‘Once again, I was wrong’.

Spiral declares that not only has she sealed her own fate, but that of Captain Britain’s as well. Shadowcat whispers to Colossus, and asks her former boyfriend if he has ever known Spiral not to have a hidden agenda. Piotr replies that he hasn’t, but points out that behind every one of her lies, there is often an element of truth. Nightcrawler tells Meggan that he realizes this is difficult, but a wide-eyed Meggan interrupts, asking Kurt if they cannot at least try to trust Spiral - for Brian’s sake, before revealing that they were to be married.

Kurt, Kitty, Piotr and Rahne all smile, before Kurt asks if there is anyone present who can think of a reason why they should not have their heads examined for trusting Spiral - ‘May you speak now, or forever hold your peace’. ‘ I always cry at wedding’s!’ exclaims Kitty. ‘Then by the power invested in me as Excalibur’s team leader - I pronounce this mission a “go”!’

Spiral begins a time-dance, which everyone watches with some interest, when Wisdom pokes his head through the hole Meggan made, asking if he missed anything much. ‘Oh, just one of the most romantic moments in this team’s history!’ Kitty informs him, adding that she will be happy to tell him all about it on the way - Wisdom suddenly interrupts by planting his lips on Kitty’s and kissing her passionately. Joining the others, Wisdom asks ‘What “way”? Where are we going?’

‘You’ll see’ Spiral replies, as the energy of her teleportation cocoon envelops Excalibur, whisking them to someplace other than here, and most members of Excalibur cannot suppress the concern that they might have just made the worse decision of their lives. But being watched by the mysterious being that has been following Meggan around, little do they realize, they are not alone.

Characters Involved: 

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

Dr. Moira MacTaggert


A’yin, Barak, Ra’al (all Dragons of the Crimson Dawn)


In Flashback


The Dragons of the Crimson Dawn

Story Notes: 

Daytripper - actually her mother Margali in Daytripper’s body - quit Excalibur in Excalibur (1st series) #108.

The issue title “Dragon Moon Rising” has nothing to do with the deadly Dragon of the Moon, a powerful enemy of the Defenders, as seen in Defenders (1st series) #152.

Moira was revealed to be infected with the Legacy Virus in Excalibur (1st series) #80.

The last time Nightcrawler and Spiral clashed was in Uncanny X-Men #10.

Psylocke’s ordeal with the Crimson Dawn took place in Uncanny X-Men #328-330.

A printing / binding error has pages 16 and 17 out of order in this issue.

Issue Information: 
Written By: