Excalibur (1st series) #14

Issue Date: 
November 1989
Story Title: 
Too Many Heroes

Chris Claremont (writer), Alan Davis (penciler), Paul Neary (inker), Agustin Mas (lettering), Glynis Oliver (colors), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Claremont & Davis (creators)

Brief Description: 

After the engagement party of Prince William and Princess Katherine, the mix of Phoenix’s and Widget’s powers carries Excalibur to yet another alternate Earth. Moments after arriving, a huge deluge hits Great Britain and, to save their lives, Phoenix entombs her teammates and herself in energy cocoons. When the others awake, Rachel’s cocoon is gone and they learn from an over-eager Rick Jones that the Avengers have taken it. Rick brings them to New York, where crazy versions of familiar heroes and villains are engaged in non-stop battle. The team splits up to find Rachel and Meggan gets a new costume. Finally, Phoenix awakes at Four Freedom Plaza. Before she can properly talk to the Fantastic Four, Galactus shows up as a cosmic Silly Cop, deeming this world to silly to exist. He advises Excalibur to flee, which they do just in time and seemingly destroy this world. It turns out that everything there was animated by the Impossible Man and Galactus warns him about ever doing this again, before making ominous threats regarding Phoenix. Once Galactus leaves, the chaos starts anew.

Full Summary: 

Prince William and Princess Katherine have announced their engagement and the entire country celebrates.

Billy, as well as Kate and the members of Excalibur, stand on a balcony and wave down to the cheering crowd. Nightcrawler points out how splendid they all look in their borrowed finery, a clear and useless attempt to cheer up Rachel who is sulking about having to wear a medieval gown.

They retire inside to the party and Meggan enthuses that she has never felt as alive as there. The queen mother explains that magic is paramount there. Meggan’s body and spirit cannot help but respond to it.

The king takes this opportunity to ask Captain Britain about his homeworld. He is fascinated by the idea of magic being subordinate to “science” and Brian explains that magic is almost non-existent where he comes from. England is also far less of a power than here. While they are in conversation, Nightcrawler makes excuses and goes to dance with Meggan. This does not go unnoticed by Kitty, or the fact that Alistaire Stuart, the object of her desire, asks Rachel to dance.

Captain Britain has actually noticed Meggan leaving and is somewhat surprised, but not so rude that he would excuse himself from the conversation. Behind him, an ogre, dressed like a butler, serves a tray and Cap recognizes him as the ogre he fought before. The creature explains that he is Lady Kat’s butler and only attacked them before on orders. Brian accepts the apology and the ogre happily slaps him on the back, forgetting his own strength, as a result of which Brian lands in the buffet.

While the royal family tries to keep their countenance over the embarrassing and amusing incident, the ogre offers Brian a hand, which he refuses forcefully, fearing an even worse disaster.

While Cap dries himself off, Nightcrawler commends him on handling that situation well. Meggan points out that Kitty is leaving and Kurt tells her that that the poor girl isn’t as good at hiding her feelings for Alistaire as she likes to think. Meggan and Kurt return to dancing, with Meggan empathically changing her looks to match Kurt’s.

Captain Britain watches with a clenched jaw, thinking that Kurt isn’t very good at hiding his feelings either. Or do they both believe him so thick he wouldn’t notice?

Kitty phases outside, with Lockheed mentally letting loose a hate tirade on Alistaire and Rachel, while at the same time being ashamed of it. She enters the train to find that Widget is munching on the chairs. Kitty chides the robot for eating the furniture. The creature reacts for the first time, asking for her identificatory nomenclature. Kitty introduces herself and Lockheed and grabs a box of metal junk for Widget to eat, which the robot instantaneously gulps down.

Afterwards, grown in size, it seems content and Kitty wonders what it does with all that junk. How does it generate an energy field capable of popping them from one dimension to the next? Her train of thought is interrupted by a flash. She looks outside to see what has caused it. An angry Phoenix is stalking towards the train, followed by a guy who is trying to chat her up.

Cap and Meggan explain to Nightcrawler that the guy is an analogue of Nigel Frobisher, who had already tried to chat up Rachel at home. Was it something he said, Nigel asks the insulted Rachel. Not what he said but what he thought, Rachel replies and, with a gesture, she tars and feathers, Nigel leaving him with a note saying ‘pig’ on his chest.

As the other members of Excalibur join them on the train, Brian begins to admonish Rachel for her behavior, until she mentally shows him the pictures she picked up from Nigel’s brain. Moments later, it takes all of Excalibur to keep Cap from going after Nigel himself.

Trying to stop Cap, Rachel powers up… and Widget begins absorbing that power. Widget once again manifests his energy effect and the train with Excalibur teleports away, leaving a group of surprised spectators. Are they dead?, Prince William wonders and his grandmother informs him of her belief that they have merely continued on their journey. Nigel mutters that he hopes they’ll rot. In response, Katherine’s ogre slaps him. Nobody speaks disrespectful of his chums.

Elsewhere, the train has landed. ‘Oops,’ Rachel announces. To put it mildly, Kitty replies sarcastically as they leave the train to check things out. The first thing they see is a lighthouse… from the look of things their lighthouse, but Meggan is doubtful. The water is wrong, she simply tells the others and they notice that the tide is unusually low and dropping. There is a strangeness to the air as well, Meggan adds, and the ground is trembling. Kitty takes out her glasses and stares into one direction. It is not the ground they have to worry about, she announces. It’s what about to hit it. She points towards a giant wave coming towards tem.

More lost in theoretical science than in the actual danger, Brian figures out that by the time that wave reaches shore it could be three hundred meters – 1000 feet – tall. The others panic but there is no time to get away. Too weak to carry everyone away, Phoenix encases the team in telekinetic cocoons before using what is left of her power to blunt the wave’s impact on the cliff. Water surrounds her and with her last strength she builds a cocoon for herself.

Some considerable time later, the cocoons have been washed ashore and crack, as the heroes free themselves. Brian blusters and Kitty points out that Rachel had to act fast to save their lives. Belatedly, they notice that Rachel isn’t with them or the train. They figure out that someone has been there and carried her cocoon away. A voice announces that if their friend was in one of those super-Tylenol capsules he can help. Showing them his Avengers card is Rick Jones, sidekick to the super heroes and honorary Avenger. He recognizes them as Excalibur, the British group that went missing a week back. Does Captain Britain perhaps need a sidekick? He has the experience. He begins talking about the cocoon before pointing out that he has his own costume.

Rick goes on to explain that the Avengers took it – the cocoon that is, not his costume. They only had room for one and left him to transport the rest. Kitty tells Lockheed to guard the train, while Rick takes them to their transport and explains the cocoon will either be in Avengers Mansion, the Fantastic Four HQ or Damage Co-ordination.

As they board the ship, Rick remarks that the ladies’ outfits are not very practical. Kitty asks for a pair of scissors, while Rick chats with Cap, taking it pretty much for granted that he will be his new partner. “Stark International transistorized multi-purpose cosmic-charged omni-phasic cutting device” Alistaire reads on the scissors, as he begins to shorten Meggan and Kitty’s skirts. As Kitty’s dress is somewhat fluffy, though, she ends up looking as though she were wearing a cheerleader outfit, much to her disgust.

Rick is momentarily startled by Kitty and Meggan and almost steers the plane into a huge obstacle that appears to be a solid yellow wall. The plane pulls up with the g-forces so intense that Rick passes out… much to everyone’s relief. Near the top of the atmosphere, the wall still goes on and the plane has too little air to sustain the engines.

They crash on top of the wall and Cap announces that according to the scanners they are on a living being. Rick awakes and explains it is Hank Pym. Not long ago, he regained Goliath’s supergrowing power. Only things got a little out of control. Rick shouts at Hank, who replies back. However, the volume of his lungs is so great that each breath creates a major distortion in local weather patterns. Hank announces that he can’t last much longer and that is for the best. Every breath he takes triggers a new disaster. He takes a step and is suddenly attacked by a flying Prince Namor, carrying a huge weapon. The Sub-Mariner blames Goliath for smashing Atlantis He zaps him and Goliath falls with spectacular results.

Excalibur finally make their way to Manhattan to see a wild battle between heroes and villains of different kinds. It’s what happens when you get caught up in Acts of Vengeance, a voice announces, that one forgets the human cost involved. It seems to be Captain America and Rick addresses him as ‘partner’, nervously asking if he is still mad about the eye.

Cap steps into the light, looking like the cyborg Dethlock. He identifies them as Excalibur and tells Rick that anger is illogical. Plus Tony Stark made him a better one. He orders the heroes to stand up and be counted and advises them not to take up her usual foes. He runs into the battle, ignoring Rick, who asks if he needs a sidekick. Captain Britain and Nightcrawler agree that the other Cap is a loony and so is the whole world.

Nightcrawler suggests they split up to find Phoenix. Meggan flies off with him to try Damage whatever, Kitty and Alistaire are to try the Fantastic Four and Brian is to look for Avengers Mansion. Calling him ‘Partner,’ Rick assures Cap he will show him the way.

And so, a little later, Kitty and Alistaire are welcomed by one of the robot secretaries at Four Freedom Plaza, where they are given a number and are informed that if they’ve drawn a whole, round or prime number, they are eligible for this week’s prize - a stray cold fusion toaster. Their number is 1023 – a rather big number, as Alistaire is about to tell Kitty patronizingly before she gives him a cold look. They get to the back of the line, which starts outside the building. A sign informs them that number 7 is currently being served.

Meanwhile uptown at Avengers Mansion, another brawl is taking place. Highlights include Loki, god of thunder, battling his evil stepbrother, Thor. Modok, with his head cracked open, gives a new meaning to the term ‘egghead’ and a duck-footed Namor is kidnapping the Scarlet Witch, while an obese Quicksilver is giving chase to them.

Rick addresses Iron Man, asking where the cocoon they found is. They are informed that Reed Richards has the cocoon. That moment, the Hulk taps Captain Britain’s shoulder, ready for a fight. Instinctively, Cap decks him and the Hulk reacts like a small child, beginning to bawl. Rick berates Cap for hitting someone with the mind of a baby. Having had enough and utterly confused, Brian flies off, while Rick tries to comfort a thumb-sucking Hulk, informing him that he is his partner.

Meggan and Nightcrawler land before the HQ of Damage Co-ordination. A confused Bullseye, an apple on his head, lies on the ground, an arrow having hit the bullseye on his forehead instead of the apple. Hawkeye walks away, whistling innocently.

Meggan remarks that she’s read a comic book about Damage Co-ordination. Kurt corrects her. That’s Damage Control and he suspects that lot is somewhat different. Before a door with the sign ‘complaints’ wait the original Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and Baron Blood. All of them dead, as Kurt observes. Perhaps that’s the reason why they are complaining.

They pass a hairdressing saloon, where the Enchantress is trying to convince Medusa that all of the hair will have to come off. Mysterio greets them and shows them the way to a shop for spare costumes. Nightcrawler is at first unwilling but then happily accepts another version of his costume in lieu of the medieval clothes he was wearing. He walks outside the changing room to admire Meggan’s new look. A deeply green outfit with black m-style pattern around her hips and shoulders.

Mysterio is trying to interest them in some mauve lame, but Nighcrawler asks for the cocoon. Mysterio suggests they try ‘lost property’ upstairs. Across from them, several different version of Wolverine are studying their lines, predictably “I am the best there is at what I do.”

At ‘lost property,’ the Stranger informs them, pointing to two gentlemen at computers in an adjoining room, that whenever anything comes up here, those two grab it and turn it into the catalyst for the latest cataclysmic cosmic continuity caper. One gets an idea, the other figures he has to top it, back and forth. The two middle-aged gentlemen (with a not coincidental resemblance to Chris Claremont and John Byrne respectively) are being served by scantily clad ladies in Hellfire Club lingerie and by a skimpily dressed She-Hulk respectively.

The Stranger suggests that Kurt and Meggan are welcome to wait for their lost property. It’s bound to show up eventually. Kurt thanks him and rushes out. He’s had enough of that pair to last him several lifetimes.

Back at Four Freedom Plaza, Kitty and Alistaire are getting impatient. The line isn’t moving. It’s like everyone in this world either wants Richards’ help or to punch his lights out. While Kitty muses, Alistaire is being accosted by a rude robot. A Watcher remarks that he knows what’s going on, but a Watcher never interferes.

That moment, both Brian and Kurt and Meg join them. Kitty sees that Meggan has a new outfit, while she is still stuck in her pink frilly dress. Somebody up there must hate her.

“Up there,” Reed Richards is engrossed in the mystery of the cocoon. Suddenly, an energy surge emits from it and the Phoenix effect blasts apart the room.

Rachel awakes confused. Seeing the FF (with mixed up powers. Richards is the Torch, Ben Mr. Fantastic, Johnny invisible and Sue a She-Thing) Rachel tells them she is not attacking and she isn’t a bad guy. She asks for their help, when suddenly Galactus appears.

Rachel tells him to back off, reminding him that he gave his word never to harm Earth. That was a different Earth, Galactus replies, calling her “starchilde,” and a pledge made to a different Reed Richards. Rachel vows he’ll be up against every superbeing there is. As if on cue, tons of heroes come flying in and attack Galactus. Excalibur stands back. Rachel asks the others to help. Galactus has no right -

Galactus informs her that this world or its fate are no concern of her. In this instance, even by human standard, he has every right. The world is doomed and he advises them to go.

While the other heroes keep on attacking, Galactus assembles his Cosmic Converter and remarks that, in all the infinite dimension, this representation of Sol’s third planet has grown too silly to be allowed to exist as it violates causality. There is too great a danger of the madness infecting other links in the sidereal string and thereby doing fundamental harm to the omniverse. He presses a button and the destruction of the world begins.

At that point Rachel has barely managed to return the team to the train. They see his energy wave front coming closer and the atmosphere catching fire. At the last possible moment, Rachel jumpstarts Widget and the train vanishes.

Of the world, only bare, barren rock remains. Galactus announces that it is done. That no life remains where none should have been. This Earth’s destiny was to be a dead world until the Impossible Man interfered. The Impossible Man sulks. He wasn’t doing any harm, just playing with his toys. Galactus tells him that this playground is closed forever. In his own way, the Impossible Man is as much a threat as the Phoenix-avatar. He warns him to find some other means of amusement or he will have to deal with him, as he will soon deal with her. Galactus’ ship flies off.

The Impossible Man sulks for a moment, then grins, as the chaos starts anew. “Hey, anybody need a partner?” a familiar voice calls.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)



Alistaire Stuart

Prince William aka “Billy the Kid”

Princess Kate

The queen mother

The queen consort

The king

Kate’s ogre

Alternate Nigel Frobisher


The Impossible Man

The Impossible Man’s versions of every hero and villain imaginable

Story Notes: 

Instead of the usual back cover pin-up, this issue sports a wraparound cover having Excalibur fight… pretty much everybody.

Excalibur fought Kate’s ogre in issue #12.

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