Excalibur (1st series) #79

Issue Date: 
July 1994
Story Title: 
The Douglock Chronicles part 2: Twisted Logic

Scott Lodbell (Plot), Chris Cooper (Script), Ken Lashley (Penciler), Harry Candelario & Randy Elliott (Inkers), Chris Matthys (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer), Suzanne Gaffney (Editor), Bob Harras (Group Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Britanic, Meggan, Shadowcat, a family, Zero and the mysterious techno-organic being arrive at a safe destination, which happens to be one of Stryfe’s old bases, filled with inactive droids, some miles beneath the Pentagon. While there, Kitty, upset about the techno-organic being resembling her dead friend, challenges him after he names himself Douglock. Britanic, Meggan and Zero try to figure out why Brian was summoned to Zero, and what Zero’s secret is, and when Zero finally realizes he has sentience, he discovers the secret - he has the secret of the Legacy Virus within him. However with Zero’s sentience, the droids wake and begin to self destruct. Moira and Xavier reminisce, before Moira delivers a startling revelation - the Legacy Virus has spread to humans. Val Cooper gives Forge some information on Shadowcat’s missing father, while Stephen Lang, part of the Phalanx learns that Douglock getting free of the Phalanx was part of a greater plan.

Full Summary: 

Britanic, Meggan and Shadowcat, one half of the British super hero team known as Excalibur find themselves teleported along with a family of four and a techno-organic being resembling the deceased New Mutant Doug Ramsey, by the android known as Zero. Upon arrival at their destination, they who were previously under attack by droids who were set upon killing them all. Upon seeing their destination, everyone realizes they may have been better off under attack.

Zero welcomes his newfound companions to one of the many bases belonging to his late master, Stryfe. The techno-organic asks Zero if it was prudent to teleport them all to these coordinates since there are 3,362 droids in the base, and the droids are trying to kill them. ‘Prudent? They’re going to kill us!’ screams the mother of Davey and Courtney as she holds her son, while her husband looks after their daughter.

Kitty Pryde points out that the droids seem inert, to which the Zero reveals that the androids are deactivated for the moment. The mother turns and declares that she doesn’t know who - or what - any of the people present are, and doesn’t care. She reminds everyone that she and her family were camping in the woods, and although they are grateful to them for saving their lives, whatever it is that they are tangled up in, she has had enough.

Britanic agrees, pointing out that none of them know what any of this is about, except Zero. Brian declares that Zero has told them nothing, including why Excalibur was summoned, through him, to seek Zero out, nor why the heroes aiding him is so important that he can feel the dire weight of consequences - but does not understand them. Brian frowns and declares that he will understand, even if he has to wring the knowledge from Zero’s broken body.

Before Britanic can continue, the techno-organic stretches his body and comes between Brian, informing him that an assault on Zero will cause him to take counter measures, adding that he did not leave the Phalanx womb to see Zero destroyed. Puzzled, Brian asks the techno-organic what he means by this „Phalanx“, but Zero tells them to both ‘cease and desist’, as there is precious little time and they cannot waste it bickering.

Zero tells Britanic that he cannot answer his queries because most of the data is unavailable, even to him, however what he does know, is that along with his growing sentience, a purpose lies hidden within him. Zero states that this is a purpose his techno-organic companion resembling Doug Ramsey and he are desperate to discover. Zero reveals that this hidden purpose is the reason Stryfe’s droids were programmed to destroy him, even to the point of slaughtering innocents, like the family present, to do so.

Zero declares that he could not allow that, so reminds everyone that he teleported them all here, to this base full of deactivated droids - the last place the droids would search for them. Zero is about to continue, when Meggan suddenly cries out. Kitty calls to her teammate as the father of the family asks her if she is all right. Meggan declares that she is surprised, as her elemental senses finally got a fix on their location. Meggan reveals that the twisted psychopath Stryfe built this base a few miles directly beneath…the Pentagon!

A few miles above, within the Pentagon itself, Forge tells high ranking government official Doctor Valerie Cooper that this could be serious trouble for certain persons. Valerie informs the mutant Forge that this is why she passed this file on to him in the first place, pointing out that she has never second guessed him since he replaced her as X-Factor’s government liaison. Forge confirms that she hasn’t yet. But Val suggests that it would be better if the team acted on this immediately.

Forge replies that he knows two Valerie Coopers - the one willing to bend the rules for the people she trusts, like the Val who gave him this file for instance, and the Valerie Cooper who doesn’t know when to let those trusted people perform without interference, like the Val who got caught up in a fiasco called Wideawake. ‘Which Val is it going to be today?’ Forge asks.

Valerie simply tells Forge that she had a feeling that when he took over she was leaving X-Factor in good hands, and now she is certain of it. Walking away, Val tells Forge that she hopes the same capable hands find that file. Forge watches Val go and thinks to himself that it will take more than that if the file pans out. Opening the file labeled “Pryde”, Forge thinks to himself that the source of this corporate information is too shaky. Carmen Pryde, Shadowcat’s father or not, is on his own for now.

Meanwhile, on a tiny Isle off the coast of Scotland, the Muir Island Research Center home base of Excalibur sits precariously on a bluff, a man made shelter to keep the violent North Sea at bay. Though even within these walls, humankind’s struggle against violence of nature goes on, albeit on a different front. In this case, nature had some help from a madman called Stryfe, the violence he created takes the form of a deadly virus called Legacy, and the struggle for a cure lies in the weary arms of Doctor Moira MacTaggert and Professor Charles Xavier.

Examining some samples, the founder of the X-Men points out to the world renowned scientist that the virus if definitely mutating, but wonders what it is mutating into. The comely Doctor reminds Xavier that the strain they initially identified targeted the victims’ DNA using the mutant variant in their genetic codes as the access point, with the same devastating result in every case. Moira points out some of the victims of the deadly virus - Revanche, Mastermind and wee Illyana and reminds Charles that each of their DNA sequences slowly broke up their mutant powers running them wild, consuming them.

Moira begins to cry and mentions Jamie Madrox, her long time assistant on Muir Island, and declares that the same thing would have happened to him if he hadn’t been murdered first. Moira mutters that Jamie may have been the lucky one, to which Charles asks if this is what they have come to, wishing their friends the least painful death possible. Charles reminds Moira that all these years, he thought he was preparing mutant kind to face the worst, he thought that if anything, the threat was megalomaniacs like Magneto, or the prejudice the spawned the Sentinels. ‘But to bury our families, our friends…even our adversaries…because of a disease?’

Charles declares that it is more than he can bear. Moira puts a comforting hand on Charles’ arm and tells him that he must not give up, that he is needed now more than ever. Moira then asks Xavier if he has forgotten the promise he made a lifetime ago when they were an item - a promise made to a starry eyed lass by a supremely confident young man….

(Flashback, a very long time ago)

The French Riviera, one hot sunny afternoon, young Moira Kinross looks up longingly at young Charles Xavier and asks him if he is sure that if events continue on their present course, that humans and mutants will face a common disaster. Charles replies ‘absolutely!’ that he is as sure that working together in peace, the two branches of mankind can avert that disaster. Charles feels that he can make it happen, he is determined to make that happen.

Moira puts a hand on Xavier’s newspaper and tells him that she doesn’t believe him, especially as he cannot even look at her when he is saying it. Charles and Moira embrace as Charles tells Moira he will make it happen, he promises. Charles asks Moira why she should take his word and points out that as he is a mutant and she is a human, they should test the hypothesis together.

A few meters along the beach, a handsome man says to his companion in French: ‘There’s a sight, eh, Paul? Geek love!’ Paul tells Karl not to say it so loud as they might understand, but Karl asks Paul if he can believe they are making a spectacle of themselves on a public beach. Suddenly, Karl takes off his shorts and begins running down the beach naked, after a mental suggestion from Xavier.


Charles and Moira laugh over the reminiscing, Moira telling Xavier that what he did was unethical. Moira points out that for a telepath to invade the mind and suppress the inhibitions of others, it was…’well deserved! Hilarious!’ cries Charles. Moira declares that Charles was irrepressible back then and asks what happened to the irrepressible young man. ‘I don’t know, Moira, another victim of this disease, I suppose’.

Moira begins to cry as she whispers to herself ‘No…not him…some other young lover I’m afraid…but never him’. Charles asks Moira if she is all right, to which Moira declares that she is not all right, before regaining her composure and exclaims that this is not how she wanted to do this, crying and all. Charles reminds Moira that they have been at this for thirty hours straight, they are stressed out and exhausted, so it is no wonder she is upset.

Charles suggests that they should quit for a few hours and get some rest, but Moira gets back to her feet and declares that she does not have time for rest. Across the other side of the lab, Moira exclaims that she has been trying to tell Charles something, and she is surprised that he hasn’t guessed by now. ‘Guessed what?’ asks Charles. ‘The unthinkable’ replies Moira, before ordering the computer to run program Finale.

Elsewhere, in the techno-organic womb that spawned the mysterious group called the Phalanx, the crowing center of that collective mind stirs. His name is Stephen Lang, and with his hardwired inputs to the Phalanx mainframe activated, he controls every facet of the collective - or so he thought. ‘Where is Ramsey?’ cries Lang before declaring that several coded transmissions require analysis and that counter intelligence passwords need deciphering, despite the summons after summons, the primary crypt is ographic, but the unit remains offline.

Stephen Lang orders the quarter master unit to report the current status of cryptographer Ramsey. Cameron Hodge approaches Lang and informs him that there is a system error and that the Ramsey cryptographic program is absent from all retrievable subsystems. Even though this defies probability, it would seem that Ramsey has been permanently removed from the Phalanx matrix. ‘WHAT? HOW?’ screams Lang, so Hodge reveals that this could have only happened with means of technology more advanced than their own, a category limited to Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse and Stry - Lang cuts Hodge off, exclaiming that he cannot tolerate failure. Someone tells Lang to calm himself, and reveals that this is a minor part of their grand design, so as long as the two of them work together, the plan is unassailable. Lang mutters ‘perhaps’ but that he still wants to know what happened to Ramsey.

Back at Stryfe’s base, Britanic asks Zero if to escape Stryfe’s droids, they need to hide in plain sight, among more of the droids, but wonders how long they will remain deactivated. Zero replies that he doesn’t know, which is why they must act quickly and discover the secret that the droids will destroy everyone here to protect.

The young girl with the family, Courtney approaches the techno-organic and tells him that she saw him in the woods with the blank man. The Doug Ramsey look-alike realizes Courtney is talking about Zero as Courtney reminds him that it was he who saved her. The techno-organic states that his actions were compatible with the situational parameters, ’uh-huh, I like you too!’ exclaims Courtney who is holding her stuffed bunny and tells the techno-organic that Milo likes her too.

‘Sp the stuffed animal likes you, eh “Doug“, snaps Kitty who then rudely declares that it is a warm gushy feeling all around – “Doug“. The techno-organic tells Kitty that his cryptographic systems detect a double meaning in her words, and voice pattern analysis reveals a high stress level. ‘you bet I’m stressed!’ snaps Kitty, declaring that she is stressed because it is obvious he is not Doug Ramsey, and that she will not allow a cold, unliving thing to make a mockery of her dead friend.

The techno-organic replies that he understands perfectly, however he points out that Shadowcat has mistaken him about his status, as he is a living being, who apparently does not conform to her somewhat narrow-minded definition of the term. ‘Narrow minded?’ gasps Kitty as the techno-organic asks Kitty if she would feel more comfortable referring to him as Douglock. ‘Why you misbegotten sonuva microwave!’ exclaims Kitty angrily as she plunges one of her phased hands into Douglock’s body.

As Douglock points out, Kitty phasing into his techno-organic body prompts massive systems disruption, and he thinks it is curious that such an emotional response should be triggered by a mere physical appearance. ‘Yeah, we real people are funny that way. Deal with it’ says Kitty harshly before walking away from Douglock and telling him to stay out of her way from now on. ‘I’m so glad we had this little chat “Douglock“’ she adds.

When Kitty regroups with Britanic, Meggan and Zero, the former member of the Mutant Liberation Front asks Kitty if everything is all right, to which Kitty remarks ‘just peachy’ and asks if they have made any progress. Brian states that he still has no answers, that he cannot remember why it was so vital to aid Zero, but then again, Zero is offering no satisfactory answers either.

Zero states that he has no answers, despite probing his own data files and attempts to explore his role in the larger world. The frustrated Brian points out that as Zero is the key, he must know the answers. Meggan tries to calm Brian, informing him that she senses Zero’s frustration and confusion are equal to his own, and tells him that patience and calm are their best means to further understanding.

Brian declares that he understands Zero’s artificial brain holds a secret so important that Stryfe reaches from his grave to destroy Zero, but that why he cannot access this information, he does not understand. Zero suggests that Stryfe must have protected the relevant files, as he is limited by that programming. Zero begins to apologize, when he suddenly grabs Meggan by her wrist and asks her what it was she just said. Meggan reminds him she said that patience and calm would lead to understanding, but Zero means what she said before that.

Meggan knows what Zero is referring to, and states again that she could sense his frustration and confusion. Britanic declares that he does not see the significance of this, when Zero tells him that it has no significance to their data search, or perhaps every significance. Zero declares that he only knows its significance to himself, and asks the others if they do not understand - Meggan sensed feelings, emotion, life from him, meaning at last, he is a fully sentient being. ‘I feel!’ he shouts.

Quietly, from above, previously inactive systems go online - Stryfe’s droids wake as Zero has become sentient. Young Davey tells Zero that he knew he had feelings long ago, to which Zero asks ‘how’ and Davey reminds Zero of how he saved him and his family when he did not have to. Meggan tells Zero that Davey speaks the truth, and suggests that he could have run from the danger, but instead he chose to stay and help. Davey tells Zero that he cared, and caring is an emotion.

Zero places his hands on the boy, and agrees, while mentioning that with awareness comes knowledge - and at last he knows! Before Zero can reveal what he knows, energy sparks above them as the droids make their alertness known by stating that directive 000.0 applies - delete Zero. As Douglock modifies his body to protect the family from the droids, Kitty declares that the droids are self destructing, trying to blow the base up, and with it, all of them.

Zero declares that it is because his sentience has finally overcome Stryfe’s programming, and in the name of their dead master, the droids will stop at nothing to destroy him and the knowledge he holds. ‘For within my systems, I possess his final ultimate secret - I hold the secret of the Legacy Virus!’ Excalibur look at Zero in shock.

Back on Muir Island, Xavier asks Moira what she means by “Finale“, to which Moira informs Charles that it is a theoretical model of the virus’s configuration and effects if its present development continues. Moira states that with any virus, Legacy is mutating with the possibility for different pathology should a new strain develop. Charles reminds Moira that they know all this, and while it may be relevant to their work, they do not even understand the basics of the disease yet, like modes of transmission, why some are affected more quickly than others, and states that they should be focusing on those.

Moira cuts Charles off and tells him to hear her out, and tells him that Finale scenario is not theoretical anymore, revealing that she has personally uncovered information that confirms their worst fears - she brings a DNA model up on the holodisplay, and informs Charles that what they are seeing is not just a slight variation of its pathology - ‘the Legacy Virus is spreading to the human population!’

Characters Involved: 

Britanic, Meggan, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Dr. Valerie Cooper


Professor Charles Xavier



Davey, Courtney and parents

Cameron Hodge, Stephen Lang & unidentified being, part of the Phalanx

Stryfe Droids

In Flashback

Charles Xavier

Moira Kinross

Karl & Paul (two beach goers)

On Computer Screen

Mastermind, Multiple Man, Illyana Rasputin (all Legacy Virus Victims)

Story Notes: 

Val Cooper was replaced by Forge as X-Factor’s government liaison in X-Factor (1st series) #93.

Illyana Rasputin passed away in Uncanny X-Men #303

Revanche had herself killed before the virus could kill her in X-Men (2nd series) #31.

Mastermind died in Uncanny X-Men Annual #17.

Multiple Man was believed to have died in X-Factor (1st series) #100.

This issue sees the start of the “Shadowcat’s father is in some kind of ill-defined trouble” subplot, that was summarily forgotten about and then dragged up again every few years by a different writer. While not exactly explained it was at least resolved in some way, as Carmen Pryde died in the Sentinel attack on Genosha as shown in X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #36.

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