Excalibur (1st series) #35

Issue Date: 
March 1991
Story Title: 

Scott Lobdell (author), Dave Ross (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Glynis Oliver (colors), Ken Lopez (letterer), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor in chief)

Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

The members of Excalibur try to find a kidnapped girl. Even though her kidnapper has been caught, there is no trace of the child. Rachel tries to scan his mind, but finds a strange force there. She and Commander Thomas follow an image she obtained to an abandoned building where they find the true power behind the abduction – D’spayre, who makes Rachel relive nightmares from the future she comes from. Meanwhile, Thomas finds the girl in a well and the girl’s hope at rescue enables Rachel to beat D’spayre.

Full Summary: 

She had it all planned. Someday when Princess Di didn’t want to be princess anymore, Amy would be the new one. At six years old, her political agenda consisted of making broccoli against the law. Oh, and everyone would have a cat. That was three days ago. Life has a way of changing priorities, even at six years old. Injured and miserable, she hovers in the darkness and the cold.

It’s the same all over London, a city of strangers mourns the plight of a missing child. While Gunther Gyles has confessed to the abduction, he has yet to reveal the whereabouts of Amy Keats. Hundreds of volunteers scour London as do the members of Excalibur.

Searching one building, Nightcrawler tells Shadowcat that they had planned a surprise party for her return. Then the phone rang and, of course, they got involved in the search. He promises her as soon as they find the poor girl, they’ll have such a party. No need to apologize, she tells him, just promise they can invite Amy. They’ll do their best, he promises.

While they continue their search of abandoned buildings in the area, Amy was last seen Captain Britain and Meggan scan she city’s rooftops. Meggan remarks Brian hasn’t spoken a word in half an hour. Is he still angry that Inspector Thomas didn’t let him “question” the suspect? Or is he upset that she volunteered them for their aerial search? They all worry. Why won’t he talk to her? Because he’s been praying, comes the surprising reply.

Outside New Scotland Yard, Dai Thomas fends off the reporters asking how they intend to find the girl, if the kidnapper claims to have no memory of the girl’s whereabouts. He replies that they have called in a specialist in cerebral disorders.

That’s a polite way to put it, Rachel Summers, said specialist, thinks to herself.

And, if Amy’s been left outside in this weather, Dai continues, referring to the downpour, he’d prefer to think happy thoughts.

A young officer hands Rachel a cup of tea and asks here where she went to university. He was a psych major himself at Cambridge. She attended a few classes at Xavier’s in the States, she replies evasively, but mostly it’s stuff she’s developed on her own. One might even say it’s hereditary. Maybe they can exchange theories over dinner, he suggests. She doesn’t date cops, she replies. He’ll quit the force, he promises.

The drenched Thomas comes in, mocking isn’t this a pretty picture – “love in the precinct?” Is she here to help or seduce his men? Fine thanks and you? she deadpans. He tells her to save her smart-mouthed comebacks for supervillains, he needs her to do that cosmic bird thing and sift through the mind of the suspect.

Whoa, Silver, she replies. If he thinks she’s going to pry open someone’s mind and to blazes with his civil rights… Just what he needs, he groans. A politically correct superhero! Turning Phoenix (much to the fear of her would-be suitor), Rachel telekinetically pulls off the rainwater of Tomas as she rephrases her statement. She came down to the station out of respect for Brian. In his own way he thinks highly of Thomas. Her? She thinks he’s an archaic, reactionary pig with a mad-on against heroes. Now, if that’s all, she will be going.

That’s just like them “superheroes,” he scoffs. They have all the time in the world to save the universe, but think nothing of turning their back on the little people. He holds up a newspaper with an article about the abduction. As something of an orphan, he thought Rachel would know what it’s like to be alone and afraid.

Cheap shot, she protests. He’s full of them, Dai states. Want to hear another or can they get started? Fine, she agrees.

He takes her to the room where Gyles is held. He insists he can’t remember where Amy is to his interrogators. Dai asks them to give him and Rachel five minutes. Sure, one of them agrees, but who’s the chippie with the legs? She’s his nice, Dai replies. Why? Nothing, the other man quickly replies.

Desperate, Gyles insists if he knew he’d tell them. They have to believe him. No, she doesn’t, Rachel replies coolly. He looks at her, explaining it’s like a giant black fist has grabbed his brain and won’t let go. He wouldn’t hurt her. He loved her! Rachel interrupts him, telling him he’s making her sick. She touches his face. Her mind to his mind. Her thoughts to his thoughts. Why does that sound familiar? Thomas asks. She saw it on Star Trek, she replies, now shush!

When Dai asks another question she telepathically tells him to shut up. He orders her to stay out of his mind. If she has anything to say, say it out loud! Out loud she tells him to shut up.

Gyles’ memories:

She relives the abduction. Gyles observed young Amy. He kidnapped her in the schoolyard, there was some kind of interference. He took Amy somewhere, but things are getting very vague. Some outside force is with them. Something that doesn’t want the girl to be found. She is trapped. Somewhere dark.

Rachel tries to go deeper, to the center of his mind, the core of his memory. She sees Amy somewhere, in an open land. The moors? An abandoned building in the distance. The girl whimpers for help. Rachel reaches out for her. The girl turns around, showing a monster’s face. Surprise! she gloats.

Who is it and what is it doing in Gyles’ mind? Rachel demands. She could ask the same question, “Amy” retorts. What has it done with Amy? Rachel asks. Where did Gyles leave her? “Amy” retorts, no way. It hates happy endings. Finds them depressing. It holds up a bomb. A psychic bomb, comes the reply. Rachel is not going to find the girl in time.

There is an explosion without sound, unless you count the noise of windows shattering for several city blocks thanks to the Phoenix effect.

Ouch, Rachel mutters, lying on the ground. Crazy skirt, a shaken Dai exclaims. One minute she’s talking to herself. The next there’s glass everywhere. Fine thanks and you? Rachel replies. Gyles has gone completely insane, muttering gibberish.

Did she get anything? Dai asks. Barely she explains Something has taken over his mind. She picked up some otherdimensional psychic residue. He was thinking more along the lines of a clue.

She recalls seeing an abandoned building on the moors. Does that help? He can think of six abandoned buildings on the moors. Can she use those headpowers of hers to contact the rest of her team? They can cover more ground if they investigate separately. They are called psionic abilities, Rachel corrects him. Consider it done.

The interrogators enter, asking what happened to the suspect. Rachel tells Dai that he’ll be fine in a week or two.

Meanwhile, the rain’s coming down harder by the moment. And an abandoned well is filling rapidly. At its bottom, Amy crouches. A dark being greets her. Is she frightened? it asks. Yes, she replies crying. Good. She is supposed to be… and it laughs at her terror.

Later, Thomas and Rachel exit his car at the place Rachel saw in the man’s mind. It’s here, she announces. She can feel it. Again with the “it,” Dai remarks as he opens the car’s trunk. He’s looking for a kidnapper and she’s expecting the bogeyman.

She’s mentally contacted the rest of Excalibur, Rachel announces. They are a good half hour away. If he wants to wait here for the rest of them…. He scoffs, the day he needs to hide behind a waif such as her, is the day he turns in his badge. Give him a second to get ready.

He dresses in combat gear and takes a gun and knife. Is he expecting the Russian army? she teases. At least he’s no dressed like he’s hoping to be picked up in Picadilly Circus, he retorts. Let her slip into something more comfortable, she replies and changes into her Phoenix outfit. That’s comfortable? he mutters. How does she breathe in that thing? Breathe? she asks as she flies ahead.

In his mind, he calls her an arrogant little girl. He’d think once you have the power to do anything you wouldn’t try so hard to prove yourself.

Rachel flies ahead, seeing the deserted mill. But a strange light comes from it. It blinds her even with her eyes closed. She can feel the light, taste it, as if it is in her very mind. She is Phoenix, she tells herself, she is—

Nothing! Ahab announces, surrounded by his hounds. She is on her knees before him. As his favorite she has earned the right to track his most elusive prey.

Rachel can feel her facial scars resurfacing, a permanent reminder of her role in the fall of mutantkind. Yes, master, she replies, she lives to serve. Against her will she begins to follow his orders, reliving her past. Powerless. Once again in the alternate future she came from where mutants were tracked down and killed by the government.

She remembers the place she is currently in, United Germany, the night she tracked… please no, she begs, as she finally finds Nightcrawler or Father Wagner as he is called now. When he survived the massacre at the mansion Kurt fled to Europe and joined the priesthood.

As a mutant right activist, he’s a constant irritant to the hierarchy, she announces. He retorts that her tyrannical government has no authority here. Germany stands as the vanguard for mutant freedom. Rachel fires energy at him.

Some distance away, Dai Thomas watches, seeing her firing at and speaking to nothing. Just what he needs, a goddess-wannabe gone round the bend!

Kurt prays for Rachel as Rachel telekinetically drops rubble on him. She lands, partially praying he isn’t dead, partially only wanting him alive because it’s her order. She smells brimstone – he teleported!

He strikes her from the back. He abhors violence, but he has to keep her busy to give Pietro time to take away the orphaned mutants. Rachel thinks while they may be safe, he is not, and she will live for the rest of her life with the knowledge she is responsible for his death!

Rachel imprisons Nightcrawler in a telekinetic field. And Ahab kills him in front of her with one of his harpoons. Rachel breaks down crying and apologizing.

Earth to Summers, Thomas asks, wondering why she looks so defeated. Defeated? a force that rises from Rachel asks. What a splendidly human concept. He guesses he owes Summers an apology, Dai states. Turns out I was the bogeyman all along.

The force coalesces and becomes a skeletal being. He grabs Rachel, telling Thomas that the bogeyman is a creature of fantasy. Unlike the illusion he placed in Rachel’s mind, he is quite real. He is D’spayre. And he’s Hope and she’s Crosby, Thomas shoots back. Where is the girl?

D’spayre tells him he should concentrate on defeating him, though it is impossible. He engineered the girl’s dilemma so that he could siphon off the despair and hopelessness of the masses. Then who should drop into his lap but the Phoenix? All he had to do was trigger memories of Rachel’s sordid past and he has enough cosmic angst on hand to expand his reign of terror over yet another dimension!

Thomas fires at him, of course in vain. D’spayre laughs that in the past physical assaults had an actual effect on his corporeal form. That’s why he had to return to his own dimension to heal. But then he has never been this powerful. And once he feeds on all of Phoenix’s cosmic level despair, he will be unstoppable!

How is he at siphoning off disgust? Rachel asks. It’s not his fault, really. He couldn’t have known. But she’s been used by everyone from Galactus to Nightmare and quite frankly she’s sick of it! Phoenix fire flares up as she slugs him away with all her strength, even Amy, barely afloat in the well, can see him.

Phoenix flies after him, threatening what to do if he’s hurt the girl. If she can wait another two minutes, she’ll be dead, he replies, then he’d be happy to tell her where she is!

Happens every time, Dai thinks. Take any two people in a costume, introduce them and they commence to destroy huge tracks of real estate. If it were up to him, he’d take the whole lot of them, wrap them up in baling wire and drop them down a well. He passes the well, and realizes Amy is there. He looks down and, thanks to Phoenix’s flare sees the child swimming in the water, about to go under. He has no way to reach her but one, so he drops his gear and jumps inside.

Rachel is doing badly as D’spayre seems to be getting stronger. Unnecessarily, he explains that, the more he beats her, the more depressed she becomes. The more depressed she becomes, the more he… She gets the point, Rachel interrupts. He adds that in the past he only created illusions and thrived on the despair of individuals. This time he manufactured an event that captured and tortured the heart of a city. With the death of the girl all of London will grieve and he will feast. Soon he will be as powerful in this dimension as in his own.

Nearby in the well, Dai manages to hold up Amy.

Outside, Rachel too is almost drowned by the water blast D’spayre sends at her. It also hits the well and Dai and Amy are now also beset by water from above. And Dai hits his head.

D’spayre gets ready for the killing stroke, remarking he couldn’t have done it without her. What makes him think death is going to stop her, Rachel threatens. D’yspare is not impressed.

In the well, Amy now tries to help the dazed Dai Thomas, telling him they can make it.

Above D’spayre experiences a stab of pain at Amy’s hope. Rachel too senses it and blasts loose. She fries him, telling him it’s funny the things you learn as you get older. As kids they don’t know they are supposed to give up. He couldn’t crush Amy’s spirit and her faith reignited Rachel’s own. He shrinks. D’spayre threatens to be back. Squishing him, Rachel replies she knows and she’ll be waiting for him.

That done, she telekinetically lifts Dai and Amy from the well. Amy asks her to help Dai. He saved her. Rachel is amazed that after all she’s been through. Amy’s only concern is for someone else.

While Amy asks how he is, Rachel gives him a psionic push. Fine, thanks and you? he replies weakly. He’s stealing her best line? Rachel asks. He supposes he should say “thank you,” he admits. Too bad D’spayre didn’t thrive on gratitude, Rachel quips, he wouldn’t have lasted five seconds against Dai.

Dai blusters as Rachel and Amy help him up and Rachel calls him a big softy. If she were twenty years older… She wouldn’t be dressed like that! he gets in the last word.

Characters Involved: 

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

Commander Dai Thomas

Police officers


Amy Keats

Gunther Gyles

in Phoenix’s memories:




Other hounds

Story Notes: 

“Whoa Silver” is a line from “The Lone Ranger” (Silver being his trusty steed)

D’spayre refers to Marvel Team-up #68.

Nightcrawler’s death as seen here doesn’t mesh with the prior revelation that in Rachel’s timeline Kurt died when the government soldiers first attacked the X-Men’s mansion (as depicted in Uncanny X-Men #188). The discrepancies can be explained however by the fact that the Phoenix scrambled Rachel’s memories (as revealed in Excalibur #52).

Galactus tried to kill Phoenix in issue #25.

Nightmare messed with her in issue #29.

Issue Information: 
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