Excalibur (1st series) #85

Issue Date: 
January 1995
Story Title: 
The Soulsword Trilogy - part 3: Edge of Night

Warren Ellis (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Tom Wegrzyn (inker), Jon Babcock (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist), Suzanne Gaffney (editor), Bob Harras (group editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief). Based on an original idea by Scott Lodbell

Brief Description: 

Kitty tries to protect herself from both Gravemoss and Shrill, who want the Soulsword, and after she learns that the rest of Excalibur are all possibly dead, she slips away when Shrill attacks Gravemoss. Kitty remembers a training session she had with Wolverine and tries to draw strength from that and she attacks Gravemoss when he tracks her down. The two have a sword fight, and when Gravemoss appears to win, Shrill, with the last of her strength attacks him again so Kitty can finish him off, Shrill keels over before Kitty can do anything, but Daytripper arrives in time to attack Gravemoss and keep him suspended while Kitty uses the Soulsword to purge Gravemoss from Nightcrawler’s body. When Kitty reluctantly gives the Soulsword to Amanda for safekeeping, Amanda uses it to kill Gravemoss. Upon returning to her mother in Germany, Amanda gives Margali the sword, and later, Margali uses it to ascend the Winding Way faster than anyone else in history, which Amanda cannot prevent.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde is caught between to powerful beings. They both want the Soulsword she clutches, a “gift” she inherited from her now dead best friend, Illyana Rasputin. Shrill wants the Sword because every time it is drawn she suffers unbearable pain, the sorceress figures that if she can destroy its wielder, then it cannot cause her anymore pain. Gravemoss wants the Soulsword for its power, so he can use it to kill those ahead of him on the Winding Way, a path to mystical power. Adding to the decision Kitty has to make is the fact that Gravemoss currently inhabits the body of Nightcrawler, a close friend and her team leader.

Kitty, standing between “Nightcrawler” and Shrill needs to make her decision, and quickly, but she doesn’t know what to do. Kitty thinks to herself that Shrill’s metal eye, which glimmers like the Soulsword, must have something to do with the pain she receives, Shrill speaks into Kitty’s mind, announcing that her Soul Steel Eye has a purpose. Kitty asks Shrill if she is a psychic, but the reply is ambiguous, Shrill proclaims that as a magician, secrets are her province, before telling Kitty that while the Sword pierces souls, her Eye views them as they truly are, revealing for Kitty the sorcerer within Nightcrawler’s body.

Shrill announces that Nightcrawler’s body is displaced in another dimension before asking her not to give the Sword to Gravemoss as he only covets the blade. Drool drips from “Kurt’s” mouth as Gravemoss wickedly tells Kitty, calling her by her full name, “Katherine”, that Shrill is here to kill her, and would tell any lie to help her, however stupid. Backed into a corner of the Muir Island med-lab now, Kitty asks “Kurt” when he started calling her “Katherine”. ‘That’s your name isn’t it?’ says the sorcerer before asking for the sword again.

As if she was in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation Kitty says ‘Computer!’ before asking it to locate for her all residents of Muir Island. The computer screen flashes to show everyone unconscious on the floor of Douglock’s private quarters. Kitty goes wide-eyed when she sees everyone, and asks the computer to check for life signs, before telling it to belay that last order and review tapes for identity of assailant. The computer tells Kitty that the assailant was Nightcrawler, before revealing that the assailant used an arcane energy attack, not listed in the “Nightcrawler” database. ‘Magic!’ Kitty proclaims, grimacing as she says it.

As Gravemoss leaps for Kitty, she becomes intangible, phasing into the floor, while Shrill uses her undefined magickal abilities on him, knocking him back. Shrill speaks into Gravemoss’ mind, admitting that she knows why he wants the Sword, while as he catches his breath, she tells him that he tasted just a fraction of his power, and proclaims that he will not win.

Gravemoss is furious as Shrill attacks him again, calling the two women ‘Maggots’ he proclaims that ‘a little girl and a crippled witch’ will not stop him, and that when he gets the Soulsword he will use it to cut their skin off. While Shrill has distracted Gravemoss, Kitty uses her mutant power to phase through the floor, and down to the next level. Even one level down, Kitty can feel all of the Muir Island Research center shudder with magic, Gravemoss kills the electricity in the building, then seals off the whole complex.

Kitty phases through another few floors, before assessing the situation – she knows she is trapped, with two mad magicians who want her dead, and Excalibur, Xavier, Moira and Rory are all probably dead…she tells herself to deal with that later and concentrate on what is happening now. Kitty holds the Sword facing her, and disgusted, she plunges it into her stomach to get it out of the way.

Shadowcat hears evil laughter from Gravemoss levels above her, and she feels that he is going to come after her. Preparing herself, she ditches her jacket as it could restrict movement and she may need to move fast. She tells herself to concentrate and just fix in her head the voice, the old voice, strong with a cigar-smoke edge, and she starts to remember.


It’s some years ago, 13-year-old Kitty sits on the floor of the Danger Room, the high-tech training room at the Xavier School for the Gifted in Westchester, New York. Wearing her original uniform, she looks up at her role model, teacher and friend – Wolverine. Dressed in a tight top and sweatpants, Logan tells Kitty to stop daydreaming, as they have work to do now.

Kitty tells Logan that she doesn’t want to, and after all she can just phase through the bad guys right? Wolverine tells Kitty that it is a great idea, but what about if she needs to stop the guy, or she cannot use her power because she has an inhibitor collar on. ‘Yeah, well…’ Kitty starts to say before Logan tells her that he has taught her ‘bits and pieces’ of fighting techniques from places he has been, but today he tells her, he is going to teach her something that is from her home sort of – Israel.

Logan calls up to Colossus in the console room, asking him for a practice dummy, humanoid and flesh and bone analog, Piotr complies, asking Logan to go easy on Kitty. As the dummies appear on either side of the deadly X-Man, Kitty asks him what he is about to teach her – ‘some kind of Jewish martial arts? Spare me!’ she proclaims, unimpressed. Logan tells Kitty that no one is truly sure how the technique came about and that fighting systems come from weird places.

He tells Kitty that he learned this technique when some guy in Israel discovered that three parts of the body – the web between the thumb and forefinger, the heel of the palm and the tip of the elbow – don’t break, however hard they are hit, they just keep on working. Grinning, Logan tells his young friend that the art is only used by Israel’s Mossad, he adds that it is the scariest Secret Service in the world, and prepares to demonstrate why.

Logan drops his cigars and demonstrates not only the technique, but also the reasoning as to why he is often called the most deadly X-Man, ripping the dummies to shreds, and catching his cigars again before they have time to hit the ground. The aged X-Man looks down at the stupefied young X-girl as he asks her how long she thinks it took him to do that. Wide-eyed with a cross between fear and amazement, Kitty suggests five seconds. Logan tells her that as his smokes barely had begun to fall it was more like two seconds.

Kitty touches one of the dummies and tells Logan that he smashed its head in. Logan adds that he caved his rib-cage in, before reminding Kitty that even if crushing the dummies throat didn’t kill him, he would be too messed up to stop her from running away. Logan reiterates that, telling Kitty that it is important before proclaiming that he is not teaching her this so she can go and kill people, but so she can stay alive.


Kitty snaps out of her daydream, and tells Logan, not that he can hear her, that she tried to learn. Just then, Gravemoss, using Nightcrawler’s body still, teleports in, and Kitty instantly attacks him, jabbing him in the stomach she tells him to get out of her friend before she cracks his jaw. Attacking his arms now, Kitty tells Gravemoss that she will not hesitate to kill Nightcrawler’s body while he is still in it. Gravemoss teleports before Kitty can make her next move, and she tells herself that at least she gets points for telling one of the biggest lies in history, before feeling sorry it didn’t work.

Gravemoss’ teleport sees him end up in the quarters of his host – Nightcrawler! As he tries to deal with the pain, he tells himself that he is a strong magician and should be able to heal himself. Flames jump around on Kurt’s body as beetles crawl over, and Gravemoss reminds himself that he is an old man in a young body, and it is the body that knows how to fight, not he! He decides he will have to use magic on Kitty, before realizing that he is in Nightcrawler’s quarters. ‘How crass’ he remarks before spying the swords on the wall, swords that the body he is wearing knows how to use. He access Kurt’s memories of sword fighting, figuring that a little sword play will force Kitty to draw the Soulsword, and he adds that Kitty will not know how to use it!

A bamf later and Gravemoss appears behind Kitty. Shadowcat wonders if she is using her punch before seeing the swords “Kurt” holds in his hands. Kitty wraps up one arm in her jacket as she guesses Gravemoss gained Kurt’s knowledge when he possessed him. Kitty starts to get Gravemoss agitated by mocking him before drawing the Soulsword out from her stomach again.

Kitty tells Gravemoss that she is an X-Man, and he is trapped here with her. She knows she cannot go easy on him just because he is wearing Kurt’s body, and as the swords clang Kitty tells Kurt that she is sorry, before jabbing his body. Gravemoss strikes back however, an aim that could have killed her too. She proclaims to Gravemoss that someone taught her how to fight – swordplay included, and also how to stay alive while doing it. ‘his name was Logan, and he would have eaten you alive by now’ she spits out at Gravemoss, before the sorcerer strike back, using powers he sends Kitty flying back across the room.

Powered-up, Gravemoss stands before Kitty, admitting to her that she did give him a good fight, which deserves respect. He tells her that once he has ascended the Winding Way and attained the ultimate in occult force he will hang her thighbone from his throne. ‘Would that be nice?’ he smirks, before Shrill appears, and striking Gravemoss with a small amount of power, she tells him that it would be tasteless.

Leaning against a wall for support, Shrill tells Kitty that Gravemoss is the greater threat, but the pain she is suffering is massive, and she can only bind him for a moment. Shrill tells Kitty to kill Gravemoss, but the young mutant tells the ailing sorceress that she doesn’t need to, as she has remembered – Shrill cuts Kitty off, asking her what she is waiting for she tells her to just do as she says, before keeling over.

“Nightcrawler” smiles, as Gravemoss tells Kitty that he is going to snap her head off and spit down her neck. ‘No offense’ he adds, as he is struck down by a powerful magickal blast. ‘What?’ He screams, as Amanda Sefton appears, she says ‘What yourself’ before asking what the point of learning magic is if you will only get knocked out by a punch to the head. As she keeps Gravemoss tied up in a magickal bind, she asks him if he really thought she was “all washed up” when he threw her off the cliff, before adding that while he has the body of her boyfriend, he lacks the manners.

Kitty is glad to see her sort-of-friend and as Daytripper tells Gravemoss that sealing Muir Island off to stop people teleporting out, will not stop a person teleporting in. Kitty tells Amanda that she remembered that Illyana would use the Soulsword to purge people’s souls to break possession, and she shoves the sword into Nightcrawler’s body, opening up a rift in his body, where Gravemoss slides out.

As Kurt lay wounded on the ground, Gravemoss struggles to gather himself together, threatening Shadowcat and Daytripper. ‘Look at this maggot’ says Amanda annoyed before telling Kitty to give her the sword. Kitty tells replies that other people say she should keep it, as it was a part of Illyana. Amanda tells Kitty that it was never a part of Illyana, ‘just a tool with attitude’ and she tells Kitty that there is more of Illyana in a photo. ‘Give it up – give her up, I’ll see it’s kept safe and sheathed’ Amanda says as Kitty somewhat reluctantly hands the sword over to her. A flare of power, and the Soulsword is bonded to Amanda, and when Kitty walks away, Amanda viscously plunges the sword into Gravemoss.

Amanda returns to Germany later that day after insuring that all of Excalibur were alive, which they were. When Amanda left Cairo, she returned her mother to their caravan in Winzeldorf before she left for Muir, now upon arriving back there, she gave the Soulsword to Margali. When Amanda checked in on Margali, she discovered that her mother wasn’t weak anymore, and that she had moved up on the Winding Way. As Daytripper learns, Gravemoss had been directly ahead of Margali on the Winding Way, until Amanda…removed…him, Margali then took his place. Amanda bonded the Soulsword to Margali for safekeeping, but Margali only wanted the Soulsword so that she could ascend to power faster than anyone in history, and as Amanda sees the new and improved Margali, in horror, she realizes what she has done.

Characters Involved: 

Britannic, Daytripper, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat (All Excalibur)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Dr. Rory Campbell

Professor Charles Xavier

Margali Szardos



In Flashback

Colossus, Sprite, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

The computer screen that shows Kitty everyone else injured in Douglock’s room depicts Meggan in the room too, but in fact Meggan remains tranquilized in the med-lab from events last issue.

Amanda’s comment about the Soulsword never being a part of Illyana, fits in with Margali’s claim that Illyana was not the first or last to wield the Soulsword [Excalibur Flashback] and as revealed also, Amanda becomes the possible final wielder of the Sword, as it was deemed her destiny to wield it. However it doesn’t fit in with the fact that Illyana created the weapon out of her lifeforce.

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