Excalibur (1st series) #40

Issue Date: 
August 1991
Story Title: 
“The Trial of Lockheed”

Scott Lobdell (author), Dave Hoover (penciler), Candelario & Dzon (inkers), Oakley (colors), Brad Vancata (letterer), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor in chief)
Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

Surgeons work on the injured Lockheed while his teammates worry. Lockheed’s spirit, however, reunites with a ship of his people, the Flock. There he is put on trial, as they demand to know why he left their collective. Lockheed explains by telling them about his friends in Excalibur and the bond they share. Eventually, he even saves his fellow dragons’ lives and they decide to let him go, however he is banished from their collective. In the meantime, his friends continue to worry. Rachel and Captain Britain discuss vengeance and punishment, Dai Thomas receives distressing news and Excalibur is surprised when their friends from the X-Men come to visit.

Full Summary: 

A surgery, where several surgeons are busy working a difficult case. Taking up a knife, one surgeon muses that she had a cat once that died on her sixth birthday, run over by a truck. Her father tried to feed her some line about “animal heaven.” Did it make her feel any better? a colleague asks. Actually, it made her feel “people heaven” was a cop-out. What’s the point of eternal life, if you can’t spend it with your best friend? Let’s hope their patient won’t have to answer that question soon, her colleague states. All of them look at their patient, Shadowcat’s pet dragon Lockheed.

In the observation booth above the surgery, the members of Excalibur are waiting and Kitty’s eyes are glued to the window. Four hours later, their vigil has grown progressively less silent. Captain Britain assures her that nobody blames her for Lockheed’s injuries. Nobody but herself, she shoots back. She was stupid enough to fall for Dr. Doom’s “saving the world” shtick. Lockheed was wounded defending her. If he dies she’ll never forgive herself.

The blonde Dr. Edgerton joins them. The operation isn’t over yet. They were wondering if Kitty remembered anything useful. Near as she can tell, she just patched his fifth lung in as many hours. But he’s going to be all right, right? Kitty asks agitated. Brian Braddock says she is the best surgeon in the world! True, comes the reply, but Lockheed isn’t of this world. They are doing all that is humanly possible, the rest is up to Lockheed…

Lockheed, in the meantime, awakes and rises, relieved that he didn’t die. However, when he looks down, he sees his body on the operating table, the surgeons at work. His spirit form rises to the observation booth where he calls out for his friends who don’t hear him. He rises further up into the night sky, wondering if he is dead. But then he realizes this isn’t death, he is caught in an astral tractor beam that is yanking him into a spaceship hovering above… the same ship which transports the transient souls of his space faring race…

He finds himself aboard the ship, surrounded by dragons of his kind; some guards, one on a throne and around them the audience. The one on the throne welcomes him, remarking they have searched wide for him. Did he really believe he could hide? Surely he didn’t plan to escape the flock? A dark-looking dragon orders to get on with the trial and punish him for his crimes!

The judge states they all know why they are here. To pass sentence on the one they held most dear. How does he plead? he asks Lockheed, calling him traitor. Lockheed asks what the charges are. Angrily, the adjudicator states he has broken their most sacred law. Their age old race was founded on community. But he sought to scorn them with impunity. The penance for abandonment is well known. If he can’t live with them, he can’t live on his own… In other words, if he is found guilty, he will be sentenced to death. Will he be defending himself with science or art? He opts for painting so he can speak from his heart. A white screen is erected.

The adjudicator declares the Flock’s case. His crime was committed far from here. Does he remember his deeds while battling the Brood? They used the dragons as food. Lockheed fought bravely against them which made him the Flock’s greatest hero.

An image of Kitty Pryde appears on the screen. The adjudicator continues that he fled from them, even though he was due at the altar the next day. Why did he abandon his betrothed?

Lockheed explains that his motivation lies with Excalibur. On the screen, the team appears. He was instantly smitten with the youngest heroine, Kitty, and asks them to listen. The case maker immediately objects. The judge tells him to calm himself and overrules the objection.

Lockheed describes Kitty Pryde and how during her early teenage years she became a heroine. They met in deepest space and that moment he knew he’d met a kindred spirit.

Next the screen shows scenes from Nightcrawler’s life. Lockheed describes how Kurt Wagner retired from the big top to become Nighcrawler and fought beside the X-Men. After the death of his original team, Kurt, along with Kitty, clung to Xavier’s dream and became Excalibur’s backbone, even while his heart belongs to a woman he can’t have – Meggan.

The casemaker objects. These origins can’t be correct. Lockheed is telling them details of their lives before he met them. He must be making his up. And everyone knows humans don’t speak their tongue. The adjudicator agrees; it makes the story suspect. Lockheed concedes that he doesn’t speak the human language. But since all dragons are empaths, speech is not needed. And while he wasn’t always around answers can be found in humanity. While dragons are raised to serve the Flock, things are different on Earth. Humans revere individuality and friendship and that means you can celebrate a friend’s present and past.

The casemaker wants to object, while Lockheed’s intended points out he speaks with such passion and pride. She asks her father to let the objection ride and he does her the favor.

Lockheed notes that she should hate him but her look is one of undying affection.

He continues to introduce his next teammate: Meggan. When first she appeared, she had the looks of a monster but because of Captain Britain’s friendship she soon learned her body acted as a mirror. And she finally learned to complete her powers, falling in love with Brian. About her past, though, or her full name, she doesn’t have a clue.

Next is Captain Britain, who as a student had an accident which led to him returning to life as Merlin’s champion, this world’s Captain Britain. Ever since, he has wondered whether his powers are a blessing or curse. There are many captains throughout the multiverse but, unlike the others, Captain Britain has never just obeyed their mistress Roma.

Captain Britain, in the meantime, stalks through the hospital looking for Rachel. A patient asks if he is looking for the leather-clad redhead with the legs. He might ask her to dress more appropriately. Some of them are heart patients… A nurse informs him his friend is on the roof.

Cap finds her there. Penny for her thoughts? He asks. Thinking about the time she tried to kill Selene. How Wolverine “insisted” she back off. He hopes she has no intention of—Extracting vengeance from Doom? she asks. She’d love to. The old her would have ignored his diplomatic immunity. In the future she was born in, there were people who put themselves above the law. Once that happened, the next step was to rewrite those laws. Before anyone knew it, killing mutants became legal. Phoenix or not, she doesn’t ever want to cross the line that separates her from them. That’s why they have laws, Cap agrees. Sometimes to protect them from each other, sometimes from themselves. Of course, if Doom ever attacks her again, she replies with an evil smirk and the Phoenix effect flares out.

Back on the ship, the casemaker announces that in their mass collective astral state they felt that Phoenix flare. She’s the celestial avatar! Didn’t he know or didn’t he care? This otherwise insignificant human possesses cosmic power to destroy an entire galaxy in one sixtieth of an hour. For one such as this, he has chosen to turn his back on his brethren!

He would do it again, Lockheed proclaims, for she is a friend unto death! Lockheed explains Rachel’s past: how she was born into an alternate future where she lived as a hound and tracker forced by Ahab. Lockheed shows what happened to Rachel. She travelled back and joined the X-Men in the present. She soon angered Wolverine, who felt the need to slash her. Roma sought her with Technet and Gatecrasher. Mojo and the Warwolves chased her which eventually led to the creation of Excalibur.

He adds the mystery member of the group: Widget. And how he sent a child named Colin to another dimension…

At Scotland Yard are two friends of Excalibur: Commander Dai Thomas and Professor Alistaire Stuart of WHO. Dai asks Alistaire if he thinks Lockheed is going to pull through, seeing as how he is a doctor. Alistaire reminds him his doctorate is in archaeology, not xenobiology. Besides, he reminds Dai, he thought he hated superheroes, particularly Excalibur? Lockheed’s not a superhero, but a dragon, Dai points out. If he hated a guy on account of his pub mates, he’d be even more close-minded than he is. And who says he hates superheroes? He does, Alistaire retorts. All the time.

The phone rings and Dai answers it.
He hmms, then shouts what? agitated. He gives the order to cordon off all roads between there and the hospital. He’ll be along! Trouble? Alistaire asks. Thanks, he has plenty, Dai replies, as he leaves. Is he coming or not?

Aboard the dragon ship, Lockheed has come to the middle of the cross-time-caper, managing to make the audience fall asleep. The casemaker objects the “ploy.” Clearly Lockheed is trying to bore them to death. He shouts at them to awake and demands the sentence.

The ship rumbles, even he crew has fallen asleep. The casemaker realizes if they lose all power so far from their homeworld their souls would remain separate from their bodies. Only Lockheed is close enough to his own body.

Lockheed flies off, intending to help. It’s been years since he’s been at such a ship’s controls, nevertheless he has to try! He begins to stabilize the ship, to the surprise of the others as they awake, making them realize he could have escaped. He explains that’s his point. He couldn’t live without his friends, so he’d rather die.

His betrothed cries. The judge announces he is guilty but his death sentence will be commuted. He is free to go but will be exiled from the Flock. His betrothed tells him she harbors no ill feeling and would have been proud to be his wife.

As he leaves the ship and sees it depart, he wonder if in the future he might regret this. As his spirit sinks down, he sees a helicopter land on the hospital roof and wonders who is inside. He realizes it’s still touch and go, as he unites with his body.

Phoenix warns the rest of the team. There’s company! And it’s something special because the hospital staff is in a panic and everyone aboard resists her psychic powers. They run upstairs. If their visitors are trouble, Cap shouts, they need to take them down hard and fast. And if they happen to be their dearest friends? Kurt asks when they open the door. In disbelief. they stare at the visitors: Wolverine, Rogue, Jean Grey, Storm, Colossus and Psylocke. Sorry to learn about the dragon, kid, Wolverine announces. They came as soon as they heard!

Characters Involved: 

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

Commander Dai Thomas
Professor Alistaire Stuart

Adjudicator, Casemaker, Lockheed’s betrothed and other members of the Flock


Warwolves disguised as Colossus, Marvel Girl, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm and Wolverine

Lockheed’s narration accompanied by pictures:
Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat

Colossus, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Professor X

Dark Phoenix

Merlyn, Roma

Chinadoll, Ferro-2, Gatecrasher, Joyboy, Yap (all Technet)

Colin McKay


German mob

Story Notes: 

This is the only time Lockheed’s rhyming race has been shown. While later issues, as well as issues of Astonishing X-Men and SWORD have shown him to be intelligent, this story has never been referred to again, making one wonder whether it wasn’t just a vivid dream.

Usually, on the rare occasions Lockheed talks, it is only words or (if you believe Pete Wisdom) simple sentences.

Lockheed is referred to as the hero of his race here but, when he first showed up in Uncanny X-Men #166, it was inferred that he had only just hatched.

The story with Dr. Doom occurred in issues #37-39.

Actually, Meggan’s full name is revealed (without much ado) in the pages of “Captain Britain & MI13.”

Rachel tried to kill Selene in Uncanny X-Men #207.

How does Lockheed know about Colin?

Dai Thomas’ dislike for superheroes was pretty much over after he and Cap came to an agreement in Captain Britain (2nd series) #14. He never treated Excalibur in any negative way, apart from his usual gruff demeanor.

Rachel has known the X-Men are alive since the “Days of Future Present” crossover. It is unclear if she told the others, but the whole world knows since the events of “the X-tinction Agenda.”

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