Excalibur (1st series) #84

Issue Date: 
December 1994
Story Title: 
The Soulsword Trilogy - part 2: Dark Adapted Eye

Warren Ellis (writer), Daerick Gross (penciler), Bill Anderson (inker), Joe Rosas (colorist), J. Babcock (letterer), Suzanne Gaffney (editor), Bob Harras (group editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief), Based on an original idea by Scott Lodbell.

Brief Description: 

Britannic saves Moira from Shadowcat and the Soulsword, but not before Meggan suffers another attack, and the storm brewing around Muir Island gets worse. Gravemoss, the sorcerer who has possessed Nightcrawler’s body, tries to capture the Sword, but it goes back into Kitty’s body. In London, Shrill recovers from her latest attack before teleporting to Scotland where her amulet has traced the Soulsword. Amanda Sefton, at the request of her mother, arrives on Muir Island to try and help Kitty, but after an encounter with whom she thinks is Nightcrawler, she is rendered unconscious and thrown to her death. Moira, Xavier and Rory tend to Meggan and Kitty, before watching a video recording of Illyana Rasputin’s final moments, where Charles reveals that he believes it was then that Illyana bonded the Soulsword to Kitty. When everyone rushes to tend to Douglock, whom Gravemoss set on fire, Kitty wakes up and realizes what has just occurred, before she is visited by Shrill who proclaims she has to kill Kitty to end her own pain. After rendering everyone else unconscious, Gravemoss as Nightcrawler teleports to Kitty’s rescue, asking her to give him the Soulsword for safekeeping, but Kitty knows he is not entirely himself.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde smiles as she holds the Soulsword over the wounded Dr. Moira MacTaggert. Years ago, the same sword drove Kitty’s best friend, Illyana Rasputin, insane. Illyana was rescued by her friends, but she still died anyway, from a deadly virus. Illyana died, and the Soulsword vanished, at least, so everyone thought. Wearing the mysterious eldritch armor that often accompanies the Soulsword, Kitty to tells Moira to stop squealing and adds that getting a headache will not stop her from killing.

With fear in her voice and eyes, the world’s most respected pro-mutant human pleads with Kitty, telling her that it is the Soulsword twisting her, as it did Illyana. Annoyed, Kitty asks Moira if she cannot shut up, before threatening to cut her tongue out to get a moments peace.

Suddenly, Nightcrawler teleports in and in a calming tone tells Kitty that she does not want to do what she is about to do, before asking her to give him the sword. In a mocking tone Kitty says ‘oh, joy, it’s the monkey’. In body, that maybe true – but what Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde does not know, is that Kurt’s body has been taken over by a very powerful sorcerer named Gravemoss, who desperately wants the Soulsword.

At that moment, Meggan, who has been temporarily returned to normal, walks past Moira’s quarters, calling out to the Doctor. As she steps into the room, the empath asks what is happening before Kitty raises her voice and announces that “what’s happening” is that she is getting fed up, and proclaims that she is going to have to kill them all. As if on cue, Britain’s most famous super hero, Brian Braddock, a.k.a. the former Captain Britain, now known as “Britannic” smashes through the wall of Doctor MacTaggert’s quarters and grabs Shadowcat from behind.

The two struggle and as Kitty phases herself half into Brain’s body, he hits the back of her neck, rendering her unconscious. With that, the Soulsword falls to the ground. As Brian tends to Kitty, he tells her unconscious body that he has killed people before, and that it is not good.

Despite what Kitty just put her through, the ever-resilient Moira fusses over her, asking Brian what he did to her. Britannic tells Moira that there is a nerve cluster under the base of the skull, which is a useful place to attack if you want to render someone out-cold. Moira manages a small smile and asks Brian if he knows he almost sounds pleased with himself, before asking what happened to the ‘Shakespearean speech and ego on steroids’ that he bought back from his trip through the Time Stream.

Within Kurt’s body, Gravemoss smiles and realizes that everyone is ignoring the sword, and that he could just reach out for it… Brian admits that it is taking him a while to adjust to his experiences, and that if he sounds pleased with himself then it is just because he got something right for a change. Moira asks Brian how he knew about the nerve cluster, and Brian tells her that everyone seems to forget he was a physicist with an eclectic background before he became Captain Britain. He tells Moira that he does not know enough biology to do her job, but gets by.

He asks if they are going to the med-lab and “Nightcrawler” tells the others he will bring the Soulsword. Moira replies that she knows Charles will want to look at it, but as Gravemoss reaches for the Soulsword, it slips from his grip and returns into Kitty’s body, the same way it came out – through her stomach. Brian alerts Moira to it, and she figures that the sword is part of Kitty now. As the Soulsword returns to Kitty, Meggan has another attack, her skin shifts and eyes bulge, distorting her serene appearance. Moira gives her usual ‘Och’ before wondering what else could go wrong today, as “Nightcrawler” folds his arms and wags his tail crossly.

Meggan is taken to the medical lab, it was her elemental nature which reacted again to the foul nature of Gravemoss. Outside however, all around Muir Island, the atmosphere begins to have its own convulsions, as thick black rain clouds come from no where hang like a blanket over Muir Island as the sea starts to shake. A storm is coming – and it is going to be a killer!

Meanwhile, in London, the mysterious sorceress known as Shrill is helped back to consciousness by her male servants. Shrill announces that the Soulsword must have been sheathed, before proclaiming that the friction created by the Soul Steel existing in the same dimension – the Sword and her Eye – will not occur again. Shrill gets to her feet and holding up her brooch, she reminds her attendants that the fleck of Soul Steel in her brooch is so microscopic that it cannot harm her, but as “like” calls to “like” when the Sword was unsheathed, the brooch reacted, and traced it.

Shrill’s brooch glows eerily and a small pink light hovers above a map seen in the brooch, pointing to Scotland. The henchmen look shocked as one of them reminds Shrill that in Scotland, they still paint themselves blue and hunt their own food there. He asks her what will happen if one of the jocks decide that she looks edible. Shrill looks to the ground and tells her men that it is unlikely, but regarding the dangers of ending up in a cauldron filled with haggis and thistles, she decides to travel to Scotland immediately, and starts to cast a teleportation spell. She reminds the men that she has spent years in agony thanks to the constant usage of the Soulsword, before proclaiming that she will not succumb to that half-life again. She adds defiantly that if she cannot destroy the Soulsword – then she will destroy its holder!

Back on Muir Island, the storm still grows, as the Gravemoss-possessed Nightcrawler hangs by his tail from a branch jutting out of one side of a cliff leading to the sea. Gravemoss tells himself that he knew there had to be a blind spot between the research Station’s security camera’s and the rocky cliffs. He complains that he is sick of the preening spandex clowns saying “Ku-urt” and staring at him, so he is hiding and dreaming about eating their eyes. As Gravemoss licks his lips wickedly, he knows he is wasting time, and reminds himself that being on the Winding Way he only has a limited amount of time before spending a period of time powerless, at which point the body he possess will reject him. “Kurt” starts to climb up the rocky cliff side before deciding that if he is to kill everyone ahead of him on the Winding Way, he must capture the Soulsword very soon.

Suddenly, pink bubbles appear lighting up the intense darkness that currently stands over Muir Island. Gravemoss realizes it is a teleport signature, and as a beautiful young woman materializes on a ledge near him he searches through Nightcrawler’s memory to figure out who it is. Gravemoss is not impressed – it is Excalibur member Amanda “Daytripper” Sefton, a sorceress, who is currently romantically involved with Nightcrawler – the body he has possessed. Through the raindrops, Amanda smiles and greets whom she thinks it Kurt, before asking her what he is doing out in the cold.

Wit his eyes glowing yellow, “Nightcrawler” stares down at Amanda and tells her that he likes it in the cold, before asking her bluntly what she is doing on Muir Island. ‘Pleased to see you too!’ Amanda snaps back at “Kurt” before he leaps down off the rock he was on and apologizes, saying his mind was elsewhere. He asks Amanda how she is, and hugging herself closer into her costume Amanda replies that she is annoyed and has had warmer receptions from airline passengers while stewardessing.

Before “Kurt” can say anything, Amanda quickly adds that she is not even here to see him, before “Kurt” sweeps Amanda off her feet, asking her if he doesn’t like him anymore. Amanda laughs before telling him he has cold hands. The possessed Kurt just replies that he has cold hands but a warm heart. Amanda laughs again before telling her foster brother that she is here to see Kitty, as she believes she may be in some trouble, which Amanda thinks she can help out with. Using a move he picked up from Britannic, Gravemoss hits Amanda under the base of her head, telling her that they cannot have that, and adding that he is going to have to dump her, before tossing Amanda off the cliff, to the sharp rocks below in the rough sea.

Meanwhile, in the med-lab of the Muir Island medical center, where bad jokes shore up failing morale, Dr. Rory Campbell is assisting Moira and her dear friend and colleague Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men and the worlds most powerful telepath in their research against the Legacy Virus. Rory announces that Meggan has stabilized again as Moira drinks some of her infamous coffee next to Charles, as they tend to Kitty. Charles tells Moira that for as long as he has known her she always drinks coffee like ‘a hippo with a cleft palate’ and asks her if she must make noises.

Her face bruised from the injuries sustained at Shadowcat’s hands, Moira tells Xavier that he should try to sip anything around a whack to the lip such as she got, before asking him how Kitty ended up with Illyana’s sword. Charles, with his own cup of coffee, starts to hover across the room in his hover-chair, telling Moira he has some ideas, before complimenting Rory on his contacts on the mainland, as the coffee is excellent. Dr. Campbell replies that it was money well spent, considering the instant muck Moira makes was putting holes in his kidneys.

Moira walks over to Charles and defending herself, she tells Charles that for cheap coffee, it is good, before reminding Charles that she gave him a thermos full of it to take back with to the States with him last time he was here. At a computer, Xavier tells Moira that Jubilee still uses it to oil her roller-skates with. Moving on, he motions Moira to the computer screen, where he is examining the sensor array readings Bishop delivered earlier in the day.

One of the screens shows a young Illyana Rasputin lying in her deathbed and Moira and Charles become saddened. As they watch the recordings, Charles reminisces, saying that these were recorded when his ignorance caused a little girl to die. Moira tells Charles that if it was ignorance then they must share it equally. The Doctor steps away from the screen and hiding her tears, she reminds Charles that she is now paying the price for her penance. Charles cuts his former fiancee off before she works herself up into hysterics trying to apologize, but Moira cuts him off, asking her to tell him why he is making her watch the tape.

Shadowcat appears next to the de-aged Illyana on the screen as Charles reminds Moira that the child Illyana spent time in Limbo and returned as a young woman and that while there, she gained the Soulsword. When Illyana was reverted to a child, the Soulsword just seemed to disappear and was never seen again.

As the images of Kitty and Illyana become blurry colors, Charles tells Moira that in Illyana’s last few hours he set up devices to record every detail – air samples; heat output; cell degradation – anything that may have held a clue to the Legacy Virus. As the video enters a later stage, it shows Illyana entering the final stage of infection. Charles believes that there is magic in this time frame, and that somewhere across the dimension, the dormant Soulsword was bound to Illyana’s best friend – Kitty Pryde!

Examining the recordings, Moira realizes that the devices recorded an energy transfer, too low on the electromagnetic band to register on any other instruments. The transfer was totally invisible and shockless, which means Kitty would not have felt a thing. Xavier agrees before reminding Moira and informing Rory that the Soulsword had corrupting influence on Illyana, and guesses that even in its dormant state the blade had damaged Kitty’s mind. Rory asks if they could separate Kitty from the blade, before stopping himself, realizing that it is magic, before suggesting that if they could detect and quantify it, it becomes science – suddenly, the fire alarm sounds, Moira checks the sensors, which place it in Douglock’s quarters before the three rush to investigate.

“Nightcrawler” stands over Douglock’s burning circuitry as Excalibur’ newest team member tries his best to isolate the thermal activity. Covering his true reason for being present, “Kurt” tells the Professor and the Doctor’s as they enter the room that he heard the alarm and teleported there. He asks what is happening to Douglock as Rory Campbell uses an extinguisher on the alien boy. Crossly, Rory tells Kurt that he could have done something sooner to help Douglock, as the heat is now too intense for the fire-retardant foam.

Rory wonders if he can get closer to Douglock, before noticing that Douglock sounds almost human being in such pain. “Kurt” licks his lips, as Gravemoss within him says that he hopes so, as igniting an occult blaze inside Douglock was not easy. As the flames slowly subside thanks to the foam, Moira kneels by Douglock and in a panic wonders how she should treat him, what with him being machine, not to mention that she cannot even touch him thanks to the Transmode Virus Douglock carries with him as it would infect her with the smallest amount of contact.

As Britannic enters the room, Gravemoss moves to the back, realizing that Charles Xavier is a telepath and if he reads his mind, then he will know that Kurt isn’t really himself. Brain stands over Douglock now too and after proclaiming that he has had a small amount of contact with techno-organics, this is way out of his league however. Rory decides that this is all too insane as Xavier recalls Douglock saying “Systems crash” which to him suggests he is currently in a coma, which may have paralyzed the Transmode virus. Grinning, “Nightcrawler” says that he has an idea.

Back in the med-lab, Kitty rubs her sore neck as she sits up and realizes where she is. She wonders where everyone else is before remembering what just happened. Kitty is scared as she recalls the Soulsword coming out of her, hurting Moira and smoking. She looks across the med-lab to see Meggan on another bed, but she cannot remember doing anything to her. Kitty clutches her stomach as she realizes that Illyana must have bonded the Sword to her before she died. Talking to Illyana, Kitty tells her she was stronger than she is and asks how she is supposed to cope with the weapon if it poisoned its owner.

Kitty gets off the bed and complains that she never wanted this “dumped” on her, not to mention that the Soulsword will just leech out her humanity as it did Illyana – Kitty stops complaining and realizes that it was not Illyana’s fault. Kitty apologizes to Illyana recalling their friendship before drawing from her stomach again the Soulsword, deciding that looking at it may help her think it through. Kitty adjusts to the weird feeling the Sword creates when it is pulled from her body before hearing a scream in the back of the med-lab.

Kitty turns around and asks who is hiding in the shadows, when Shrill steps into the dim light. Shrill, powering up introduces herself and proclaims that every time the sword is drawn she is reduced to this, or even worse. She tells Kitty that she once tried to obtain the Soulsword from a previous holder, the demon known as Darkoth, adding that while she failed, the demon still regrets having met her. Shrill realizes Kitty is not evil, just ignorant, which she proclaims makes what she has to do difficult, but not impossible.

Shrill announces that she knows not how to destroy the blade, only its holder! As Kitty stands open-mouthed, Shrill asks her to not make a sound, as the silence makes it easier. Suddenly, “Nightcrawler” teleports in, telling Kitty that he will protect her, he just asks for the Sword.

Kitty can tell, by the obvious demented state Nightcrawler appears to be in, that he is not himself, as Shrill tells Kitty that she has to do what she is about to do, Kitty clutches the sword and wonders where the others are. Meggan is tranquilized, Moira, Xavier, Britannic, Rory and Douglock are all sprawled out injured on the floor, and Amanda is probably dead. Kitty Pryde is all alone.

Characters Involved: 

Britannic, Daytripper, Douglock, Meggan, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Dr. Rory Campbell

Professor Xavier

Nightcrawler (possessed by Gravemoss)


Shrill’s assistants

On video recording

Illyana Rasputin (as child)


Story Notes: 

Illyana lost control of the Soulsword during Inferno [New Mutants (first series) #71-73] and was reduced to childhood then too. After those events the Sword came to Kitty through the inexplicable bond she shared with Illyana (so Xavier’s comment that the Sword wasn’t seen after Illyana was reduced to childhood is factually wrong). Kitty eventually left the sword in the care of the demon Darkoth [Excalibur # 37-39]. In Uncanny X-Men #303 she sadly succumbed to the deadly Legacy Virus and it was shortly thereafter that the Sword returned to Kitty.

The Soulsword is mistakenly cited as having had a corrupting influence on Illyana. Actually she was corrupted because the sorcerer Belasco bonded part of her soul to evil. The Sword was merely a powerful magical weapon she forged from a part of her soul and lifeforce. [Magik Limited series]

Moira MacTaggert was the first and only human to contract the Legacy Virus, as revealed in Excalibur #81.

When he is talking about his experience with Techno-organics, Britannic is referring to the adventure he, Meggan and Kitty had during “the Douglock Chronicles” [Excalibur #78-80].

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