Excalibur (1st series) #68

Issue Date: 
August 1993
Story Title: 
Facades (or, “Whatever gets you through the Mourning!”)

Scott Lodbell (Plot), Dan Slott (Writer), Steve Buccellato (Penciler), Harry Candelario (Inker), Steve Buccellato (Colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Suzanne Gaffney (Editor), Bob Harras (Group Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

After returning from the “Days of Future Past” timeline, but losing Captain Britain in the Timestream, Excalibur can only watch helplessly as Meggan removes herself from reality, becoming one with nature. Micromax tries to impose various new forms of legislation on the team, but only Kylun seems interested in partaking in his training sessions. Cerise expresses her happiness at the return of Nightcrawler – but Kurt does not return her happiness. Rachel Summers acts extremely hostile, while Shadowcat mourns the loss of other friends of hers, and Feron begins to act kindly. These are the way that the members of Excalibur are dealing with the death of Captain Britain, but they do not get to deal with their feelings for long, as the Starjammers attack them, for housing a wanted war criminal. While the team thinks it is Rachel, the criminal is revealed to be Cerise, who willingly leaves with the Starjammers, but not before Nightcrawler, Rachel, Micromax and Kylun follow through the teleport, while Shadowcat and Feron remain on Earth to look after Meggan.

Full Summary: 

Braddock Manor, England, the home of the super hero team known as Excalibur. A team that may be a team no more. Sitting on a rock beneath a waterfall is the elemental Meggan. Tragedy has struck the founding Excalibur member, for on the team’s return from the future, her teammate and lover – Captain Britain – was lost in the Timestream. This meant that Meggan lost everything. Her heart’s desire; her sense of self and quite possibly her will to live. For Brian Braddock was truly the love of her life.

Nightcrawler, a.k.a. Kurt Wagner, founding Excalibur member and longtime friend calls to Meggan, who thanks to her metamorphic powers has become one with the waterfall. Crouching on a rock in the middle of the stream, Kurt turns to his teammate, Rachel Summers and asks her what they should do, for Meggan no longer eats or sleeps. He wonders if she can even hear them. He asks Rachel if she hears anything telepathically. Arms folded across her chest, Rachel tells Kurt that mutant powers are not going to save the day, and that they are just going to have to rely on the old-fashioned way – ‘being there for her’. She adds that she hopes it doesn’t take Meggan long to get over this.

A car pulls up the drive and part-time Excalibur member, the handsome Scott Wright a.k.a. Micromax opens the door for its passenger. He welcomes his teammate Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde back before informing her that she is over an hour late, ‘and time waits for no man, right?’ He suggests that with Captain Britain gone and Meggan out of the picture, they should get an impromptu battle session going, for they need to ‘keep that Excalibur-ball rolling right?’ But Kitty ignores Scott and uses her mutant powers to phase through him. As she marches up the stairs to Braddock Manor, she snaps that she does not care if the ball drops, for at this minute she doesn’t really care about anything, least of all his rules and regulations.

Suddenly, out of a nearby tree, Scott’s teammate Colin McKay a.k.a. the leonine mutant Kylun jumps from a tree, causing Wright to instinctively use his own mutant power to increase his physical mass. He asks Kylun what the meaning of this is, to which Kylun smiles and informs Scott that he was just testing his mettle, for he heard him talking to Kitty and thinks that a battle session is an excellent idea.

Wright and Kylun begin walking across the vast Braddock Manor grounds and Scott exclaims that it is god someone around here agrees with him on something, adding that the files at F.I.6. labeled this team as a peculiar one. ‘You know, imploding bathrooms, dinosaur dopplegangers, Cross-Time Capers…’ He declares that all he has seen during his observation period is ‘a bunch of angst-ridden super-types, all of whom are morbidly obsessed with death’.

Wright smiles and tells Colin that he is glad to see he is not caught up in all this doom and gloom. Colin reveals to Wright that every sunrise he sits at the grave of his beloved Sat’neen and honors her memory with an hour’s meditation on how she enriched his life. He admits also that now, as a marker in Brian Braddock’s name, he observes a similar ritual every sunset, and tells Scott that everyone has their own ways of dealing with death, but that he knows how to put it in its proper place.

Kitty is on the floor in her room, looking at photograph, of three of her closest friends – Illyana and Piotr Rasputin and Wolverine. She is crying – about the deaths of people she knew – Doug, then Brian and now Illyana is sick, maybe dying. ‘Everyone I loved and cared for goes away,’ she exclaims. Kitty turns to her sympathetic pet dragon, Lockheed and tells him that Rachel told her about a future version of herself, that she was all alone, all her friends and family were dead. She asks Lockheed if this is all she has to look forward to, when someone suddenly shouts ‘Stop!’

Kitty turns around and sees the pale-skinned boy magician Feron hovering behind her, telling her that he commands her to stop crying. Furious, Kitty clenches her fists and asks Feron if he doesn’t knock before telling him he cannot command someone to stop crying. Feron tells Shadowcat that he did not mean for her to get upset, but back at the order, Brother Francis and the other monks would follow any command he gave them.

Kitty smiles and realizes that Feron just doesn’t want to see her cry. ‘Kind of lame, but sweet,’ she says before telling him that it is not how it works in the real world, that it takes a little more, like a kind word and a hug. Feron looks rather nervous as he tells Kitty to hug him if she must. Kitty does, and thanks him, ‘Uh, Kitty, about those kind words…’ Kitty knows Feron will not be able to say any, and tells him not to sweat it.

Meanwhile, downstairs Kurt and Rachel enter the Manor and Kurt asks Rachel if she has forgotten what the death of a friend feels like. Rachel tells Kurt she is sorry if she sounded cold back there, but that where she came from she saw so much death, all one could do was cut themselves off from their feelings. She says she is sorry about Brian, sorry about everything, when suddenly, someone flies through the door behind them, sweeps Kurt off his feet, flying him upstairs.

It is Excalibur’s alien member, Cerise, who tells Kurt that she has missed him and starts to kiss him. But Kurt flips himself backwards, breaking his lover’s hold and telling her to stop he asks her what she thinks she is doing. ‘Lip massaging, what you call “kissing,”’ Cerise replies somewhat taken aback, before informing Kurt that it has been over fifteen Earth rotations since they last did.

Dropping to the ground, Kurt tells Cerise that they had good reason, for they lost Brian. He asks Cerise if she does not understand that on Earth this is a very solemn time called mourning which is used to contemplate how special life is and what a tragedy it is when they lose it. Cruelly, Kurt asks Cerise if this is a concept that the people of her world cannot comprehend, but upset, Cerise tells Kurt that they do understand, more than he will ever know, before flying away. Rachel witnessed this and Kurt tells her that if anyone needs him he will be in bed. Rachel points out that the day is not even half over, but Kurt declares that it is for him.

Outside, behind Braddock Manor, Kylun and Wright are continuing to train with sticks as mock swords, and as Scott blocks one of Colin’s attacks, Colin tells him he is improving. Micromax declares that he thinks he is getting the hang of this, while nearby, a group of people are watching the two mutants train. Micromax uses his powers to shrink, just in time to avoid Kylun’s thrust, but Kylun points out that while it was a good use of power, it leaves him in a weakened position. ‘Only for a moment,’ exclaims Scott as he uses his stick to topple Kylun over.

Kylun laughs and tells Micromax that he will make a warrior out of him yet. When suddenly, he reaches for his real swords. Wright tells Kylun he thought they were going to keep to using sticks. Colin declares that he thought so too, but motioning to the group that has been spying on them, he doesn’t think they will keep to sticks. Scott drops his stick, but a large green-skinned creature tells him to keep a hold of it, as he will need whatever help he can get.

Soon, Kurt is woken by an astral projection of Rachel, who tells him that they are under attack and need his help. ‘Hang on, I’ll be there in a bamf,’ Kurt replies, and as he reaches the area where Wright and Kylun were training, he asks who it is this time attacking them. Gatecrasher? Juggernaut? Evil twins? As Kitty and Feron arrive on scene, they see Kylun flung through some trees, and Rachel tells Kurt that it is a bunch of old friends attacking them.

Feron looks at the group of attackers and asks Kitty if these are their friends. ‘Yeah, imagine the trouble they’d cause if they were enemies,’ Kitty replies. ‘Not you!’ exclaims Kurt looking at the new arrivals – the Starjammers! Raza tells Kurt that he doesn’t look pleased to see them, as Hepzibah points out they haven't seen each other for a very long time. The Starjammers’ leader, Major Christopher Summers a.k.a. Corsair tells Excalibur that the deal is they are currently harboring a fugitive from the Shi’ar Empire and that they are here to take her back. He tells Kurt to let the Starjammers go about their business and there will be no trouble, but if they cross them then they will need to face the consequences.

‘Déjà vu alert!’ exclaims Rachel as Kurt agrees and reminds everyone that they have walked this path before. He tells Corsair that he is sure there must be a misunderstanding, and suggests they sit down and talk about it. Corsair apologizes to Nightcrawler and tells him that his people are sheltering one of the worst war criminals the Shi’ar empire has ever known, so the topic is not up for discussion.

‘In that case, Excalibur attack!’ exclaims Micromax as he increases his size, surprising everyone by jumping out of Kylun’s beard. He leaps at the Starjammers, as Kurt calls ‘No’ before mumbling that bureaucrats are supposed to make the best diplomats. He tells Corsair that it looks like they will have to play it his way, but thinks it only fair to warn them that the past few days have been pretty rough, and that what the Starjammers will call a mindless brawl, Excalibur will call group therapy!

As Hepzibah leaps towards Kurt she tells him she think that he should have stuck with “Excalibur attack” as it has a nicer ring. Micromax engages in battle with the big green alien Ch’od as Feron takes on Corsair, ensnaring him with a simple bind spell. Corsair cannot move as his hands and feet are restrained, but declares that he will not tolerate this, as he was bound and chained once in his life and swore he would never be again. He musters enough strength to slash the magickal bonds with his sword, causing Feron to suffer a backlash and get knocked out.

Lockheed, the Dragon holds onto Raza’s gun, and as Hepzibah kicks Kurt over she asks her teammate if he needs help. Raza replies that he doesn’t, and that the dragon will not be so feisty once he has tasted his steel, when suddenly, Raza cries out, as his cybernetic systems begin to freeze up as Kitty phases her hand through his body. When he falls, stunned, to the ground, Kitty asked him if he liked it and that it is what they call on Earth a “hand phaser”, which was only set to stun.

Rachel flies towards Wright and Ch’od who are still fighting and using her powers she pulls them apart, telling them that fighting is pointless and that it is time to call a truce before announcing that she is not going anywhere with the Starjammers. Ch’od tells Rachel that she must have a guilty conscience before asking her what it is that makes her think it is she who they are after. Before Rachel can reply however, Ch’od kicks a large rock at her, knocking her back.

Kurt asks Hepzibah if they are not after Rachel, to which the feline Starjammer informs Nightcrawler that he thought wrong. As he battles Kylun, Corsair tells Excalibur that they obviously do not comprehend what this is about, to which Kylun tells him to go ahead and enlighten them. Corsair declares that the Phoenix is “old-hat” and that they are after another member of Excalibur - a warrior of the Ghrand Jhar, a murderess responsible for countless deaths in the Shi’ar perimeter. A look of horror spreads to Kurt’s face as he realizes who it is that the Starjammers have come to collect.

‘Yes, Kurt. It is me. Cerise.’ Wearing the armor that she first wore when she came into the lives of Excalibur, the Shi’ar warrior walks over to Corsair and tells him that she would see this battle ended before more of her friends are hurt. Nightcrawler asks Cerise what the meaning of all this is, and Cerise’s reply is that it means the running, hiding and lying is all about to come to an end. Cerise kneels before Corsair and announces that she recognizes the authority of the Shi’ar and that she will answer for her crimes.

Corsair asks Raza to take Cerise into custody, but before Raza can act, Kurt teleports up to him and kicks him to one side, shouting ‘No!’ Kurt takes Cerise in his arms and tells her that she being a criminal of war and a murderess doesn’t make sense. He exclaims that he doesn’t believe any of it, but calmly, Cerise tells him that it is true – all of it. Sincerely, Cerise asks Kurt to forgive her for deceiving him.

Corsair asks Nightcrawler if it is over or if the two teams are to continue fighting. Swords ready, Kylun tells Kurt not to listen to Corsair, as Excalibur is more than up for the challenge. But Nightcrawler announces that it is over. Corsair asks Hepzibah to activate the stargate, to which she does, but not without exclaiming that she would much rather ‘stay and scrap’. Corsair leads Cerise into the portal as Kylun asks Kurt for instructions, but Kurt tells everyone to let them go.

Moments later, Rachel exclaims that she has “it” and Nightcrawler smiles, informing Excalibur that Rachel is telekinetically keeping the stargate open so they can follow from behind and hopefully catch the Starjammers with their defenses down. Shadowcat asks Kurt if he and Rachel worked this all out telepathically and tells him it was pretty sneaky. However, Kitty points out that he has forgotten one thing – Meggan!

Nightcrawler exclaims that he wasn’t thinking and realizes that someone should stay here with her, as now is when she needs them. Feron informs Kurt that the mystic backlash he received at Corsair’s hand has left him drained and therefore he doubts he will be much use on the mission, so suggests it should be he who remains behind to look after Meggan. ‘Volunteering and humility in one breath!’ jokes Kurt before telling Feron that they may have misjudged him. Kurt asks Kitty if she would mind keeping an eye on both Meggan and Feron, to which Kitty replies ‘sure’ and wishes him luck on the mission.

Kurt turns to Wright and tells him that he knows he has not been with the team long, but that his help would be much appreciated. Scott replies that his help is for the asking. Kylun exclaims ‘It’s settled’ and as he is about to leap into the stargate tells the others that he will see them on the other side. Before Kurt enters the portal, Rachel asks him to wait and reveals that she mind-scanned Cerise before she entered the stargate with the Starjammers. ‘Everything she said…it’s all true’.

Nightcrawler exclaims that he doesn’t care, and that he believes there must be more to it. Kurt exclaims that over the past few months he has gotten to know Cerise, and love her. He declares that she is no criminal and that be God he will prove it. ‘Or die trying,’ he exclaims as he rushes into the portal.

Moments later, Rachel and Wright emerge through the portal, Rachel tells the men to say “goodbye” to the stargate closing behind them, before asking Kurt what they are to do next, as this is his call. From their point on a small mountain ridge, the four heroes look down on the barren planet where they see Shi’ar guards surrounding Cerise, with the Starjammers standing by looking smug. ‘Don’t look at me,’ says Kurt ‘I'm making this up as I go along!’

Characters Involved: 

Cerise, Feron, Kylun, Meggan, Micromax, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat (All Excalibur)

Lockheed the Dragon

Corsair, Ch’od, Hepzibah, Raza (all Starjammers)

Shi’ar Security Personnel

In Photograph

Colossus, Magik, Shadowcat, Wolverine

Story Notes: 

Captain Britain was lost off-panel between Excalibur (first series) #67 and #68 when the team was returning through the Timestream from the “Days of Future Past”. He later returns as Britannic in Excalibur (first series) #75, but not without the loss of Rachel Summers.

Kylun’s lover, the Princess Sat’neen of the alternate world Ee’rath was killed by Necrom in Excalibur (first series) #46.

Doug Ramsey a.k.a. Cypher was killed by the Ani-Mator in New Mutants (first series) #60.

Magik is indeed dying of the Legacy Virus and passes away in Uncanny X-Men #303.

Issue Information: 
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