Excalibur (1st series) #32

Issue Date: 
December 1990
Story Title: 
Someone Will Die For This!

Chris Claremont (author), Ron Wagner (artist), Glynis Oliver (colors), Tim Harkins (letterer), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor in chief)

Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

Kitty starts her term at St. Searle’s less than successfully when she immediately makes enemies of the most popular girls who spend the rest of the time hazing her. Even worse, for some reason her phasing power is restricted at the school. Kitty plans to run away, while learning that the school has troubles and will probably soon be closed. However, then she decides to face her enemies and takes apart their leader, Phoebe Huntsman, during a game of field hockey. In the meantime, Excalibur manages to foil an art robbery but the culprit, the new Vixen, disappears right under their noses. Elsewhere, Mesmero has found a successful (and legal) new career as hypnotherapist for the wealthy and rich (such as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who has a fantasy of being a female Captain Britain who leads and guides an Excalibur consisting only of male young teens). Unfortunately, however, some criminals demand he use that new role for their benefit.

Full Summary: 

A caricature of a German SS-officer, all monocled and gun drawn, announces that they will teach the degenerate democratic swine the power of the eternal Reich. All forces attack, he orders. Destroy Excalibur!

London is under siege as Nightcrawler and, strangely enough, male versions of Meggan (Morgan), Phoenix (Arizona) and Shadowcat (Dark Tiger) dispatch of the Nazi forces with ease and some truly hoary puns and one-liners.

Afterwards, an unusually cheerful Commander Dai Thomas and Brigadier Alysandde Stuart (of the Weird Happenings Organization) thank them. The other boys make fun of Nightcrawler, who seems to carry a torch for the brigadier, when they are joined by a stern female Captain Britain, who asks them if this is a way for young gentlemen to behave. Dai Thomas asks her not to be so hard on the boys.

Cap informs him it’s part and parcel of their responsibility to set a proper example to the rest of their generation, and the nation as well. Not act like a gang of rough-housing tearaways. If they are no longer needed, they’ll be on their way. Excalibur is already overdue for today’s lessons and tests. The boys gulp except for Nightcrawler, who reminds them he told them to study.

Later, in Excalibur’s lighthouse after the test. The boys go to bed, Cap serves them hot cocoa and reads them Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” before tucking them in.

Alone, she sighs, wondering if they will never lean to properly put away their clothes. In time. With guidance. Standing outside the lighthouse, she muses that they represent the bright and shining future of the realm. Nurturing the one helps safeguard the other. Both the province and destiny of Captain Britain. A burden willingly shouldered, fate eagerly embraced.


And with that, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wakes up from her trance, as her psychologist orders her. The PM is astounded by his skills and he replies that he sees it as his privilege and pleasure to use his small therapeutic skills to help people arrive at a true perception of themselves, to achieve their full potential. They say good-bye and the therapist, alone reveals himself as the mutant hypnotist Mesmero, believing he has finally hit the jackpot.

In the meantime, Kitty finds herself in the office of Miss Rutherford, the headmistress of St. Searle’s school for young ladies. Kitty wonders a bit about the name, remembering it was supposed to be St. Cyril’s. Miss Rutherford tells her she knows going to an British school as an American will be quite an adjustment.

Kitty thinks to herself that it won’t be worse that the transitions she had to make when she joined the X-Men and later Excalibur. While Miss Rutherford talks about the school’s traditions, Kitty’s mind wanders, though she tells herself it’s not the headmistress’s fault she doesn’t want to be here. She recalls how Excalibur got lost and how miserable both she and Courtney Ross felt. She wonders if Courtney looks after her as a way of holding onto a link with Captain Britain. This is her old school too. She told Kitty it wouldn’t be so bad. And if she wants early admission to university, especially Oxbridge, she’s got to put in her time here. Ministry of Education says so.

Miss Rutherford tells Kitty that entering class in midterm won’t be easy. Until she starts making friends, she’ll be a bit of an outcast. So what else is new? Kitty thinks. Unexpectedly, Miss Rutherford gives her a peck on the cheek and asks her to come to her, should she need anything, even if only a shoulder to cry on.

Kitty thanks her, touched. As she looks for her room in the tower, she thinks that she hasn’t had anything resembling a normal life for ages. She’s in for a surprise. Three girls are already there, looking through her things. What the heck are the doing in her room? she shouts. Why, helping her unpack, of course, replies a blonde girl who’s already put on Kitty’s leather jacket.

So, she’s the new girl. The American from Chicago, the other two girls state scathingly. Guilty as charged, Kitty replies, telling herself she’s trying to be nice. One of the girls holds up Kitty’s journal reading to the others that poor child apparently lost her heart to some brute named Peter who dumped her. Fed up with playing nice, Kitty pushes the girl aside, grabs her journal back and shoves the other girl against a wall.

The dark-haired girl, Veronique, tries to apologize as she hits the light switch and the room goes dark. The blonde with the leatherjacket, Phoebe, tells her never to apologize, especially to the likes of Kitty as she slams her. Kitty is too surprised to fight back. What happened to her phasing power? she wonders. Her natural state should be to be intangible.

Phoebe swears as her hand smarts and warns Kitty her nails better be intact. Kitty slams into her, telling her to forget about the nails and worry more about her face!

Suddenly, the light goes on and somebody grabs Kitty by the sweater, telling her this will be quite enough. Miss Rutherford, a teacher and several other girls stand in the doorway. Miss Rutherford demands an explanation. Phoebe instantly replies that Kitty started it. They were trying to help her fit in when she tore into them like some kind of hooligan. Wildly, Kitty shouts back that’s not true. They were into her stuff! How else were they going to make her feel at home, than by putting her things away for her, Phoebe explains. Miss Rutherford orders Kitty into her study and the other girls to their rooms.

Back in the study, Kitty insists it wasn’t her fault. Miss Rutherford asks if her only response was violence. Perhaps this will inspire her to find a better, gentler way. She orders her to copy the sentence “St. Searle’s teaches young girls to become young ladies” a thousand times in superb penmanship. Calling her “Katherine,” she insists it’s for her own good. Remarking she prefers “Kitty,” she hands Miss Rutherford her first page.

Perhaps one reason she persists in such childish behavior is her continued affectation for a child’s nickname the headmistress observes. Taking a look at the page, she announces that such a scrawl may suffice in their once and former colonies, but here in Britain they still treat the act of writing as an art. She tears up the page and tells her to begin again.

Much, much later, Kitty has finished her pages and Miss Rutherford sends her to bed. Walking upstairs to her room, Kitty figures her hand hurts worse than Phoebe’s. She can’t remember the last time she had written so much. More importantly, she’s been trying to phase all evening. But no matter what, she stays solid. She wonders if this is permanent. She enters her room to find it a mess. All her best stuff is gone. She wants to go home, but not before she gets even, she tells herself.

At the National Gallery in London, the Vixen is angry at her new boys for not being able to break in quicker. Worse, they are welcomed by Nightcrawler and Phoenix of Excalibur. The Vixen makes a run for it and Meggan and Captain Britain follow. Captain Britain warns his lover about the Vixen. She may have no superpowers of her own, but she’s as dangerous and wily as they come.

They run after her. Brian muses whether Vixen is leading them into a trap. Because of Vixen his sister Betsy was blinded. Part of him is terrified what might happen if he ever got the chance to pay her back. Part of him can’t wait.

They turn a corner to find a swearing man stuck in a garbage can. Meggan helps him up and they realize it is their old annoying acquaintance, junior banker Nigel Frobisher, who immediately tries to hit on Meggan. He tells them which way Vixen went and they run off, unaware they’ve been had, that Nigel is in fact the new Vixen.

Back at St. Searle’s, Kitty isn’t very successful either. In her time, she’s met gods and demons, saints and madmen. She’s travelled to the furthest reaches of time and space and saved the world more times than she cares to count. She’s led a life beyond most people’s wildest dreams. But nothing has been the least preparation for these first weeks at St. Searle’s. Back in Chicago, she was so far ahead of her age group academically that she had virtually nothing to do with them. When everyone else was gearing up for junior high she was taking college level courses.

This is different. No one sits with her at meals or talks to her or shares their class notes or accepts her offers of help. Everything seems to go wrong around her and every time somehow it always seems to be her fault. It’s a rare day in fact that doesn’t find her before Miss Rutherford, writing yet another thousand lines and, in surprisingly short order, Kitty finds herself restricted to the school grounds for the entire term. If she lasts that long. Or doesn’t kill someone first.

At night, Kitty dresses in dark practical clothes, deciding that Courtney was right: better by far to make one’s own rules than to play by the others’. Although, she admits, she is starting to actually like this old dump. She’ll miss Miss Rutherford… but the rest…

She passes Miss Rutherford’s office and notices she is still up in a state of distress as she phones someone called Sir Ruber. Apparently, if the school doesn’t pay its debts by the end of the month, it will be closed. She begs him for help which is denied.

Kitty feels sorry for Miss Rutherford. She deserves better. The students, she figures, will do fine. Their kind always do. Heaven help their next school.

She figures she isn’t far from Excalibur’s lighthouse and wonders whether to hitch over there, but decides against it. Too many painful memories. She stumbles over a stone and falls against the wall or should, instead she falls though it. Her power is active again. A field effect then, she figures. Something about St. Searle’s itself. All the more reason to get away from there.

In a pub, she decides to call Courtney. At the last moment, she decides against it, against running. What would Courtney do in her shoes?

The next morning, the older girls meet outside for field hockey (Phoebe still proudly displaying the stolen leather jacket? The teacher, Mr. Reeve, reminds them to keep the broken bones and major trauma to a minimum today. This is sport after all, not total war. Don’t be so sure, Veronique replies sweetly.

Reeve notices the class is a girl shy. Phoebe Huntsman replies Pryde’s bed wasn’t slept in and some clothes are missing too. Perhaps she’s run away. Some girls are like that. But not her, comes another voice, Kitty’s. She’s here and she’ll play. If anyone will have her on their team.

Phoebe snarls Kitty should have kept on running, calling her Yank. She’s a Cubs fan, Kitty retorts. Call her a “Yankee,” them’s fighting words. Veronique wonders where she’s come from. The field was empty. She’s been here all along, waiting for them, Kitty assures them. No problem for a deadly killer demon Ninja. She can hide in plain sight. She challenges Phoebe to take her best shot. Her funeral, Phoebe announces, deciding Kitty will be goalie on the other team.

The game is brutal, but for all the punishment Kitty endures both teams remain locked in a scoreless tie. Until as all knew, it would the outcome comes down to Phoebe and Kitty going at each other. Kitty holds up the ball with her stick and returns it at Phoebe’s face. When the other girl is down, Kitty takes back her jacket, adding that a lot of things that are hers went missing. She wants it stopped. She wants them returned. She tosses the ball into the other team’s goal. One last thing: they win. Nice game, Feebs, she remarks. Let’s do it again some time.

Courtney, who has watched the game from some distance away with binoculars, is impressed.

In London, Mesmero wakes up in his townhouse, awakened by hostile droids who make him an offer he cannot refuse. To use his access to world leaders to subvert and control them. Are they nuts? he protests. The beauty of what he’s doing is that it’s a totally straight play from end to end. They trust him. Precisely, comes the reply. This is potentially too highly profitable to be left unexploited. He will either cooperate or he will be killed. Well, since they put it that way, he’s theirs, he promises. Until he finds a way to beat them, he adds in his thoughts.

Characters Involved: 

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

Cortney Ross / Sat-yr-9

Miss Rutherford

Mr. Reeve

Phoebe Huntsman, Veronique, third girl

Other pupils at St. Searle’s

Nigel Frobisher / Vixen II



Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In Thatcher’s fantasy:

Captain Britain / Margaret Thatcher

Arizona (male Phoenix), Dusk Tiger (male Shadowcat), Morgan (male Meggan), Nightcrawler (all Excalibur)

Commander Dai Thomas

Brigadier Alysande Stuart

Professor Alistaire Stuart


Story Notes: 

Arizona is a pun as this is the state in which the city Phoenix lies.

Oxbridge is an abbreviation for the two British elite universities Oxford and Cambridge.

Psylocke was blinded by Slaymaster (while he was working for the Vixen)in Captain Britain (2nd series) # 13.

Jamie turned Nigel into Vixen in issue #21.

The journal entry refers to Colossus and Kitty’s relationship, which was ended in Uncanny X-Men #183, due to events in the Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars mini-series. St. Searle's is probably a a homage to St. Trinian, originally created by cartoonist Ronald Searle. St. Trrinian was an anarchist girl school an anantithesis to wholeome boarding schools as shown in the works of Enyd Blyton. There have been a few popular films based on St Trinian.

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