Excalibur (1st series) #26

Issue Date: 
August 1990
Story Title: 
The Times They Are A-Changin’

Michael Higgins (writer), Ron Lim (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Agustin Mas (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor-in-chief)

Claremont & Davis (creators)

Brief Description: 

Rachel’s nightmares of her lover Franklin’s death (in the timeline she comes from) are subtly altered by an outside force, to the point where she doesn’t recall his death. While Captain Britain acts in a peculiar way, leaving Meggan dejected, Rachel and Kitty meet an adult Franklin Richards in town, who apparently traveled back in time same as Rachel. Back at the lighthouse, Franklin asks Rachel to psi-link with him, while Kitty realizes a strange force is keeping he away from Rachel. With Nightcrawler and Meggan’s help, she realizes that Franklin is actually Mastermind. To snap Rachel out of her stupor and scare Mastermind, Kitty adopts the look of her future self and Meggan pretends to be the Black Queen. They confront Rachel and Mastermind. He is not impressed, but they succeed in shocking Rachel out of her trance. Using her power, she defeats Mastermind and Kitty keeps her from doing something to him she might regret. They are later joined by Moira MacTaggert and the real Captain Britain, with whom Mastermind had switched places earlier. Mastermind is back in his prison but doesn’t realize it, as Phoenix allowed him to believe he succeeded in stealing her power.

Full Summary: 

(Rachel’s dream)

Again, she relives that horrible moment, the death of one who was more than a friend. His name is Franklin Richards and, in the alternate future time continuum in which she once lived, she witnesses his annihilation at the hands of the Sentinels, unable to do anything to save him.

(the present)

Rachel sleeps fitfully, as the nightmare is replayed in the darkest region of her subconscious. It’s a moment Rachel will never forget unless, of course, something compels her to – a force that can tamper with her very mind. And that is precisely what is happening. Once more, Rachel’s thoughts flash to the moments that preceded the fateful occurrence. This time, however, things will be different.

(Rachel’s dream)

The X-Men, carrying the sleeping Kate Pryde with them, walk through the subway tunnels, led by Wolverine. Colossus informs the others that Kate is still unconscious and he hopes she remains so. The less her younger self Kitty knows of what’s happened to them and may happen to her the better.

Wolverine and Franklin suddenly both hear something, Sentinels above them. Alerted to the danger, Rachel attacks the robots with her telekinesis, saving her lover’s life. He thanks her, joking that a noble death is still a death and he isn’t ready for that yet. Wolverine impatiently reminds them that he is as sick of death as everyone, so how about they just get on with this little mission before it is too late for all of them? What does he have to do, take the others by the hand?


Rachel’s sleep becomes a peaceful one and why shouldn’t it? She has no idea of the elements that have invaded her mind. She is unaware that lies have replaced the bitter truths of reality.

In the morning, a radiant Rachel joins a tired and grumpy Kitty at the breakfast table. Kitty tells her dragon off for bothering her when she is trying to read her computer journal. Rachel advises her not to take everything so seriously. Kitty agrees, telling her she needs a shopping spree. She saw this “rad” outfit at a boutique and she could use some new computer software. Of course, Rachel doesn’t really have to go shopping. She can just transmute her clothes. But shopping is more fun, Rachel points out. Kitty is still not sure and now Widget begins to bother her, as well. She tells him to scram and play with Lockheed.

Elsewhere in the lighthouse, Nightcrawler is trying to comfort a dejected Meggan, who feels that her lover, Brian Braddock, doesn’t love her anymore. Kurt urges her to leave the past behind and think about her future.

As Widget and Lockheed join them, Meggan sadly agrees, but she can’t let go. Nightcrawler spells out what she can’t: Brian seems like a changed man, but, he continues, she can’t let him hold such sway over her. She has to think of herself.

Captain Britain enters. Seeing the two on the couch, he icily remarks that this is a touching scene. Kurt tries to clarify the situation but Cap isn’t interested and suggests they just get on with it. He has better things to do. Lockheed and Widget fly around him and he orders them to get away. He shoots them a murderous look and they scram.

Cap announces that he doesn’t need the aggravation. He’s getting as far away from there and all of them as possible. With that, he leaves.

Kurt suggests they leave as well to cheer Meggan up. With a smile, she agrees and lifts him up to fly them away. Kurt thinks to himself that he cannot move to quickly as she is still on the rebound.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Kitty are also leaving the lighthouse, literally walking on the water to the shock of a man in a motorboat. Without looking, his friend just asks if this is his messiah complex again.

After arriving at the coast, the girls head for Seth’s boutique, where Rachel instantly falls in love with the newest collection. Annoyed, Kitty leaves for Software Central, asking Rachel to meet her later at the coffee shop.

Rachel gets distracted by something or someone else, though, a handsome young blond man listlessly looking at leather jackets. Rachel tells herself this isn’t possible. He’s from another tine and reality. But then… so is she. She addresses him as Frank. He turns around and calls out her name happily. Rachel Summers and adult Franklin Richards embrace.

What happened to Kate, Rachel asks and Frank explains that her plan worked like a charm. Project Nimrod was a tremendous success, only Nimrod himself fled back to this area. That’s why Kate sent him here to tie up some loose ends. Rachel happily promises that they can take care of him together. Nothing will keep them apart now.

As they leave the boutique, Kitty happens to see them. Curious about the guy, Rachel just met she follows them to the coffee shop and finds her friend totally enraptured. As Kitty looks at the man, she exclaims that she knows him, in spite of Ray’s protest that she can’t know Franklin. Frank just states it’s a long story, while Kitty searches her memories. She can’t quite figure it out, but something is really weird here. Something doesn’t ring quite true.

The three return to the lighthouse. Kitty chides Lockheed and Widget for making a mess, while playing and wants to introduce them to their guest. One look at Franklin and the two small critters take off instantly to Kitty’s surprise. She apologizes and remarks that they did the same thing with Captain Britain earlier.

She walks down to the cellar to check out her new software, while Rachel and Franklin sit down on the couch. Rachel wants to know more. As this could take long to tell, Frank suggests she create a psi-link between them.

Downstairs, Lockheed and Widget refuse to let Kitty work in peace. Finally noticing that her dragon seems really worried, she follows him upstairs… or tries to. She walks up the stairs to find herself back in the cellar. Again she tries. With the same result.

In the meantime, Rachel begins to forge the psi-link.

Kitty tries another tack by simply phasing through the ceiling… to no avail. She is back where she started.

Power engulfs Rachel and Franklin, as he thinks that he is only moment away from what he desires.

In the meantime, Meggan and Nightcrawler walk in, not noticing anything amiss, though Meggan believes she heard Rachel’s voice. Hearing a noise from the cellar, they go take a look.

“Franklin” is getting ready to receive Phoenix’s powers and reaches for it, shouting that the power is his once more.

Rachel becomes insecure for a moment, sensing danger, but decides it was her imagination. After all, what could possibly be wrong now that she is in Franklin’s arms again? Yet Franklin is an illusion, and the man behind that illusion rejoices, as he can use Rachel power to touch the glory of God. His torment is finally over.

Downstairs, Kitty tries to convince Kurt and Meggan that Rachel is in danger. The others are dumfounded. There isn’t anyone upstairs, they insist. Kitty explains that Rachel is up there with Franklin Richard. A confused Meggan asks what Rachel would be doing with the child of the Fantastic Four’s Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman.

Kitty tries to explain that she is talking about a future version of Franklin, from the same timeline as Rachel. Kurt points out that this is impossible. Rachel once told him she saw Franklin die! Of course! Kitty shouts. That’s what’s been bothering her all along. Although she wasn’t fully conscious then, when she was in Kate Rasputin’s body, she was there when Franklin died. It’s all coming back to her now.

Who could be behind this? she wonders. Who else? Nightcrawler grimly states. He’s been after the Phoenix power for some time and is a master of manipulating the minds of others. Kitty gets it and agrees. Taking that into account, she announces, she has a plan.

Meanwhile, on Muir Isle, Moira MacTaggert’s research is about to be interrupted by a most unlikely turn of events, as she notices an anomaly in one of the sleeper cellblocks. She goes to check it out and shouts out in surprise at what she sees.

Back at the lighthouse, Nightcrawler and Meggan snicker as they see Kitty’s disguise: Kitty has tried to change herself into a middle-aged version of herself, wearing a khaki prisoner overall and a dowdy hairdo. Jokingly, she tells them to get used to the look. She may just adopt it for real in the future. Now it is Meggan’s turn. Meggan focuses – she generally doesn’t use her powers that way – and changes her shape to look like Jean Grey as the Black Queen.

Kitty slaps her forehead, as she recalls they still have one unsolved problem. How to get up to Phoenix? She already tried. Kurt suggests teleportation and they ‘port upstairs to Rachel’s side.

Rachel shouts out as she sees “Kate,” believing for a moment it is really her mentor from the future. She turns to Franklin, who has suddenly disappeared. Megan begins her Black Queen spiel, threatening that there is no place in the world he will be able to escape the vengeance of the Black Queen, while behind her Lockheed takes care of conjuring up an impressive fiery effect.

Suddenly, there is laughter, as the mystery foe asks if they truly thought he’d be deceived by such a pitiful effort. Astounded, Rachel demands to know what’s going on.

Via mindlink with Kitty, she quickly learns the truth and her surprise turns to rage. She vows her foe will pay. Said foe laughs at the situation. Only Lockheed and Widget have been able to sense who he truly was. He has no desire to hide anymore. Perhaps they will find this adopted guise more familiar. He turns into a laughing, Captain Britain. Although that persona – he switches to Franklin Richards – was useful as well.

Is he afraid to show his true face? Rachel demands. He agrees and shows himself to be Jason Wnygarde – Mastermind. The master of illusions challenges Rachel, announcing that the power is his now. He is like unto a god! Will Excalibur attempt to defeat him with more of their childish masquerades? That will no longer be necessary, Rachel retorts with a cold smile. Excalibur no longer needs someone who simply looks like she might be Phoenix. He counted on deceit to keep Rachel’s mind clouded – but that’s over now. He may have tapped into the power, but she is the power!

The Phoenix effect rises, as Rachel attacks him mentally and physically, demanding to know how dare he toy with her. How dare he display such contempt for her feelings, her very life! Instead of killing him, she decides to let him feel what he fears most again. Living with the emptiness after the power has left him.

Kitty urges Rachel to get a grip on herself and not let this overwhelm her. Rachel breaks down in her arms. She confides that she wanted so much for Franklin to be alive. She wanted to believe that Kate didn’t die. Why can’t there ever be a happy ending?

Some time later they are joined by Captain Britain (the real deal this time) and Moira MacTaggert. Cap explains how Mastermind deceived him and trapped him in the sleeper cellblock in his stead. Moira didn’t realize about the switch until earlier this evening.

Rachel remarks that Mastermind won’t give them any trouble for the time being. He’s back where he belongs and this time should be quite content to remain there. After all, they let him believe he succeeded. In his mind at least, he is one with the universe.

Characters Involved: 

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



Moira MacTaggert


in Rachel’s dream / memory:

Ariel, Colossus, Franklin Richards, Rachel Summers, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

This story is another untold tale from before the Cross-time-Caper started. It does, however, suffer from sloppy continuity, as Widget seems already integrated into the team, when originally Excalibur had barely met him before being whisked away to other dimensions (issues #10-12).

Phoenix II originally adopted the Black Queen look (thanks to Mastermind) in X-Men (1st series) #132-134.

Phoenix II connected Mastermind with the Phoenix force 8as a punishment) in X-Men (1st series) #134. Uncanny X-Men #175 revealed that he still yearned for that power.

The death of future Franklin Richards is shown in the alternate future in the famous “Days of Future Past” storyline in Uncanny X-Men #141-142.

Kate Pryde-Rasputin’s eventual fate is revealed in Excalibur (1st series) #66-67.

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