Excalibur (1st series) #58

Issue Date: 
December 1992
Story Title: 
Troll Call

Alan Davis (plot), Scott Lobdell (words), Joe Madureira (pencils), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Ken Lopez (letterer), Kevin Tinsley (colorist), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor-in-chief)

Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

Both Excalibur and the X-Men’s blue team are prisoners of the trolls. Nightcrawler suddenly surprises everyone by seemingly switching over to the trolls’ side, explaining his looks have always made him an outsider. He proves his loyalty to the troll cause by leading them to the still free Excalibur members Cerise and Feron. Later, however, he uses his freedom to free his teammates and the X-Men. When the troll leader Phough holds a rallying speech to the other trolls, Kurt confronts and fights him. He and the other mutants manage to free Tom Jones’ mother, who is being held hostage, meaning Tom can end the fight and turn the bad members of the troll group into gold statues. The more peaceful trolls find a home in the Crazy Gang’s Wonderland, where the Jester regales them with tales.

Full Summary: 


“Is he finished yet?” Cerise asks the young mystic Feron, who is trying his level best to transform the golden statue of Meggan back to her normal form. No, he is not finished yet, he replies annoyed. Almost. She remarks dryly he has been “almost finished” for the past hour. Returning Meggan and Captain Britain to their original biological forms is not as easy as it looks, he lectures Cerise, even for one who has spent a lifetime training in the mystic arts. He bows his head. If truth be known, he admits uncomfortably, he failed basic alchemy.


The mysterious narrator summarizes what went on before: how the heroes were lured to the sewers beneath London and got blown up. He advises his audience not to do the big sob for Excalibur yet, for as past experience teaches them super heroes in general and mutants in particular are notoriously difficult to kill off.


However, in this case the X-Men’s blue squad and Shadowcat and Nightcrawler of Excalibur do find themselves prisoners of the trolls and bound with mystic, unbreakable chains. Cyclops asks if everyone is okay. She couldn’t have less fun watching 90210, Jubilee complains.

Gambit, chained back to back with Cyclops, asks Cyclops why his friend Tom Jones aka Alechmy called the X-Men for help, then tried to kill them. A big Puh-leeeaze, Jubilee lectures him. Like this is the first time a mutant’s gone bad. Duh!

Wolverine orders her to shush. If Alchemy wanted them dead, they wouldn’t be here grousing about it now. Kitty agrees though silently she somewhat doubts his word, teetering on the edge of animal rage as he is.

Nightcrawler finds he cannot teleport out of the chains. They all have their powers negated by them. Beast suggest that the chains are mystic in nature. Which means their best chance for escape lies with reinforcements, Cyclops admits, trying to make a grab for his boot radio. But before he can do that, the dungeon door opens creaking and the Troll Associates and Tom walk in. Their leader, Phoug, sneers that it had appeared the heroes would be sleeping through their own burial.

A small, old troll with a long beard (suffering from a bad case of lisping) orders him to be “thilent.” Thankth to Alchemy’s reluctanthe they still live. And they have buthisneth to discuss.

However, Wolverine goes ballistic, managing to break the chains and tries to attack Phough, who orders Alchemy to defend him. Asking Wolverine not to harm him, Tom throws himself into the path of Wolverine’s claws, muttering rubber. He explains that his ability to transmute elements allows him to turn his adamantium claws to rubber.

Interrupting his explanation, Phumm simply hits Logan. Phough sneers if that is the best they have to offer in resistance? Wonder of wonders that trollkind has waited until this moment to reclaim their rightful place as rulers of the world.

Right! Jubilee scoffs. Like mankind is going to turn over the keys to them. Keep dreaming. Phough literally laughs in her face.

Nightcrawler suddenly warns Phough not to let her distract them. She’s just trying to give Cyclops time to radio for help. What is he doing? Cyclops exclaims.

The old troll, Phelix, agrees. His mindsifting powers are always correct. They find his hidden radio. Why? Cyclops demands of Kurt. Gambit shouts that he is a traitor! He even looks kinda like a troll, Jubilee mumbles.

Nightcrawler addresses Phough, telling him he has always been an outcast, feared and reviled for his elfin appearance. He owes no allegiance to the X-Men… “allies” who never treated him as more than a mascot. Phough is intrigued. He asks Phelix’s opinion. The old troll remarks those feelings are all there in his heart. Certainly they have found a kindred spirit in their bid for world dominance. Because their number is less than two hundred in this reality, they need all the help they can get.

Phough orders Phen to free Nightcrawler and re-restrain Wolverine. Then they will all converge in the great hall.

And soon, in the great hall (where Mrs. Jones is kept a prisoner) the group of trolls address the other trolls in the crowd. Phough announces that the time for war is nigh. For too long creatures of the troll and fairy and elf realm have been forced to dwell within the bowels of mother Earth, but they all say: no more! they will be aided in their deliverance from suffering with the help of Alchemy’s Adamantium armory and Nightcrawler’s intimate knowledge of their enemies’ strategies.

For everyone who is less than sure about the battle to come there are two score eager to spill human blood. But first a moment of silence, Phough orders, for Phee and Phy, heroes who gave their lives to the troll cause. He pats Tom on the head, remarking their sacrifice is ironic since the mutant responsible has since seen the error of his ways, though with a some persuasion, namely his tied up mother.

Another troll warns him of encroachers at the outer perimeter. Phough looks into the scrying pool to see Cerise and Feron. Phough demands Nightcrawler now prove his loyalty. And he’s only too happy to rise to the occasion, Kurt.

At that moment, the two search the tunnels, Feron following the scent of magic while Cerise carries the transformed Cap, Meggan and policemen in a light construct.

The trolls find them. Nightcrawler hits Cerise and then jumps at Feron, who nervously asks him not to force him to hurt him. Somehow he suspects he won’t! Kurt replies wryly. There is a bampfing noise and they are gone, leading the trolls to the belief that the mystic slew what’s-his-name (Trolls are a shallow lot).

Meanwhile back in trolls’ lair, Gambit is still full of righteous indignation while Kitty tells Cyclops they both know that Nightcrawler would never betray them. Scott agrees but wishes he knew what he was playing at.

Oh ye of little faith, Kurt tells them one moment later, as he steps out of the darkness, illuminated by Feron. He tells Cyclops that, as leader of Excalibur, he is used to acting with a degree of autonomy. He felt any reinforcements from the States would no doubt arrive too late. He is sorry if his actions caused him any undue…

No need to apologize, Scott assures him. He took a big gamble. It paid off. Danke, Kurt replies. He orders Feron to free the X-Men while he will go to see the trolls about a horse (or something like that, the narrator states).

In the great hall, Phough is still doing the great rant, already making plans for centuries from now. He supposes peace is out of the question? a more mild-mannered troll suggests, much to Phough’s disgust. The humans will not rest until they are all dead, he claims.

Liar! Kurt Wagner calls him. The world has changed since the trolls last roamed Earth. He believes Phough realizes that. Phelix admits that Kurt again speaks the truth. Mayhap it is time for peace. Kurt thanks him. Phough calls Phelix a traitor and strikes him. He tells his audience that human treachery knows no bounds.

That does it. Kurt challenges him to a duel. Phough laughs at him. Kurt points out that his followers do not share his amusement. They seem ashamed of his cowardice. The trolls agree. He’s only an elf. Phough can take him. Of course, he can take him, Phough snarls.

Kurt strikes the giant, then evades his blows and strikes again and again. While he fights he doesn’t notice that one of Phough’s people is about to lend a hand, or rather to throw a battle-axe at Kurt’s back.

Fortunately, an optic blast smashes it apart as the X-Men have come, freed by Feron. Cyclops warns the Troll Associates that they have five seconds to throw down their weapons.

Six seconds later, they are all embroiled in a huge battle. The quoting metamorph in dragon from is attacking Cyclops. Kitty phases him out of the way, allowing Cyclops to retaliate with an optic blast.

Wolverine too is running true to form (except for his rubber claws). Psylocke helps up wise old Phelix who asks her to help him end this insanity. She asks him to open his mind and he helps her psionically direct her comrades to fight only the trolls intent on battle.

Spoilsport, Jubilee pouts while Feron uses his magics to protect the innocents with a mystical barrier. Rogue protects the unconscious Cerise.

Tom runs to his tied up mother who warns him to stay back. Phay notices and shouts a warning. A troll tries to interfere and Tom turns him to gold with a touch. Another troll hits him with his battle axe, threatening he sentenced his mother to death when he turned turncoat. All that’s left to be done is a throw of the switch. Which he does.

However, Nightcrawler teleports her out of the deathtrap in the proverbial nick of time. While he is exhausted Phough flies at him. Tom touches him too and turns him to gold. With that the battle is over.

Relieved, Tom hugs his mother. He explains he never meant to hurt anyone, not even the people Phough forced him to turn to gold. Speaking of which… when last he met X-Factor, he didn’t know enough science to understand the chemical make-up of human skin. Of course, that was before he completed his university degree course in advanced chemistry. And with that, he transforms Captain Britain, Meggan and the two police men back.

Tom suggests to one of the cops that the vile trolls might best be left as statues in lieu of a prison sentence. Whatever, he says, the cop replies. Just don’t touch him again.

Kurt apologizes to Cerise for striking her earlier. She replies that she’s thankful it was only part of his strategy and not another weird Earth custom, like her personal favorite, the lip massage. Instantly, she demonstrates.

Cyclops interrupts them, wanting to speak with Kurt. Nightcrawler wants to apologize. Scott tells him to forget it. He assessed the situation and took action. Cyclops couldn’t be more proud. His question regards what Kurt told Phough of his feeling of alienation… of not measuring up. It has been a while, Kurt tells him. He supposes time has a way of coloring our recollections. Time and distance, Scott agrees. Just a few of the reasons they need to keep tighter lines of communication between their teams. Kurt agrees, wishing that they could solve all their problems that easily.

Kitty wonders what to do about the innocent creatures who bought into Phough’s routine. Phelix explains that it is cold and hard underground. Phough promised them a land of milk and honey. With a smile, Kurt tells them that can be arranged…

Framing story:

And so they all came here, the narrator, the Crazy Gang’s Jester, tells them, in the Crazy Gang’s Wonderland!

The audience is enraptured, just one troll kid complains this may be the stupidest story he’s ever heard. Humans with powers? Evil trolls? Alchemy? He doesn’t mind a bedtime tale, but how about a little credibility, eh?

The Jester assures him he barely changed a word from the way Meggan related it to him. A younger kid asks him to tell another of his true stories. With a smile the Jester begins. Once upon a time there were three pigs…

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Cerise, Feron, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)


Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Jubilee, Psylocke, Rogue, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Tom Jones / Alchemy

Ophelia Jones (Tom’s mother)

Phay, Phee, Phlegm, Phopp, Phough, Phumm, and Phy (all Troll Associates)

Other trolls

framing story:

The Jester (Crazy Gang)

Story Notes: 

90210 refers to the popular teenage show Beverly Hills 90210.

Phee and Phy died in X-Factor (1st series) #42.

Cyclops calls Nightcrawler “son?” Rather odd, since their ages aren’t that far apart.

The Crazy Gang’s Wonderland was introduced in issue #54.

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