Excalibur (2nd series) #4

Issue Date: 
May 2001
Story Title: 
Heir Apparent

Ben Raab (Writer), Pablo Raimondi (Penciler), Walden Wong (Inker), Avalon Studio’s Matt & Ian (Colorists), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer), Brian Smith (Assistant Editor), Ralph Macchio (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Bill Jemas (President)

Brief Description: 

With the heroes all captured by Mastermind, he reveals that this was a game of vengeance, vengeance for him for always been forgotten about while Brian got all the glory even though they had the same “father” and vengeance for the Warpies who were all turned into warriors by Black Air. Brian is about to be executed when the executioner throws off his disguise, and cutting Brian free from his chains, he reveals himself to be Sir Benedict, the dragon Brian recently befriended. Psylocke, Meggan, Black Knight, Captain UK and Crusader X are all freed and they begin to battle the attacking Warpies. Brian engages Mastermind in battle for the Excalibur sword, while Meggan starts to free the imprisoned Roma, and joining with Psylocke and Black Knight, she does. As Brian struggles against Mastermind, the sentient computer almost wins – until the now freed Roma comes to Brian’s aid and with the power of the Sword of Might, Mastermind is destroyed. The heroes are reunited and after an approval from Captain UK and Crusader X who were still upset about the death of every other Corpsman at the hands of the Warpies, Brian uses the powers of Excalibur to transform the Warpies back to their original state. After fare-welling Brian and Meggan, Betsy and Dane return to Earth, with Dane turning down Brian’s offer to join the new Captain Britain Corps he wants to create and Betsy joking about Meggan having a baby. After Brian is officially crowned King by Roma in front of citizens of Otherworld, Kang is revealed to have been responsible for resurrecting Mastermind, and ensuring Brian fulfills his destiny, while Widget is seen working for Kang.

Full Summary: 

Otherworld, where tragedy has unfolded – it lays in ruins, the Captain Britain Corps, save three members, are dead, Omniversal guardian, Roma, has been imprisoned, while Brian Braddock’s allies – his wife Meggan, sister Psylocke, best friend Black Knight and the two other Corps members, Captain UK and Crusader X are captured. Brian himself regained his powers and found the Sword of Might – Excalibur – until the person behind all of the destruction captured Brian, and revealed himself to be the sentient computer built by Brian and Betsy’ father – Mastermind!

Mastermind stands on stage before his horde of transformed Warpies, Roma imprisoned in a power-inhibiting dome behind him, Captain Britain in chains at his feet, Brian’s allies restrained near by – and an executioner looming over Brian. Wearing the Amulet of Right and clasping the Sword of Might, Mastermind now has control over all the Omniverse. He stages this mock trial, informing Brian that on behalf of the new ruling class of Otherworld he hereby accuses Brian and his allies of conspiracy to undermine the future with their ‘limited understanding and flagrant disregard of the sacred tradition of which you have heretofore been a part’.

Mastermind asks Brian how he pleads ‘Not bleedin’ guilty you bloody prat!’ Brian snaps back to his former guardian before telling him that he should hang for all the men and women he has slaughtered, and Brian asks Mastermind who he thinks he is to sit in judgment of anyone. ‘I am Mastermind, I am the future’ the sentient computer replies. Psylocke looks shocked and somewhat in disbelief asks if it is the ‘overbearing super computer that once manipulated me into becoming Captain Britain and nearly got me killed?’ Now back in her human form after being transformed into a creature, Meggan, still upset, looks up and declares that they all thought Mastermind had been destroyed.

Mastermind smiles and declares that there is more to life and death than what organic minds can comprehend and feels an explanation would be wasted on the ‘likes of you’. He feels that he should tell of the circumstance surrounding his return so that they can die with the knowledge of why they were made to suffer.


Mastermind reminds Brian and Betsy that he was created by their father, Sir James Braddock. Mastermind was an abstract node of the Omniversal knowledge given physical form to watch over 616 reality in the absence of Sir James Braddock. Mastermind’s first duty was an analysis and evaluation of Earth 616’s designated guardian – Sir Braddock’s own son, Brian. But Mastermind found Brian to be lacking. However he obeyed Sir Braddock’s wish that Brian succeed him. Even though Mastermind was capable of independent thought he could not disobey Sir James – ‘what good son could?’

Mastermind made himself useful as “Jeeves” the butler, even though he thought it to be a demeaning role for someone of his capacity, but it was essential to his primary directive. Soon after, the Warpies arrived, unfortunate children forever scarred by the destruction of their former home. The plight of the Warpies awakened Mastermind to what he believes to be his true calling and figured the reason Sir James created him before siring Jamie, Brian and Betsy – Mastermind’s siblings in spirit, if not in flesh. He believes that he was not made to test the mettle of his “siblings” but that Betsy and Brian were made to test his.

Much later, England’s top-secret intelligence bureau, Black Air abducted the Warpies from under the twins’ very own roof. Mastermind fought to save them as any father would – and as he believes Captain Britain should have. Despite Mastermind’s superior intelligence, he was trapped in a state of perpetual redundancy and began to chase phantom glitches within his own matrix, and thus began a digital damnation. The Warpies would then become part of Black Air’s secret campaign for global conquest in an attempt to build better killing machines through para-xenological technology.

The Warpies were now transformed in body and soul, their innocence lost forever. However, like Merlin had resurrected Brian so many times, Mastermind was given another chance to achieve his own destiny by an all-powerful benefactor. It was his turn to be the hero his “father” created him to be – the Captain Britain Brian Braddock was not. He planned to rectify the countless cosmic travesties during Brian’s tenure and reweave the fabric of reality Brian’s actions had so often torn asunder. This task however required even more power than Mastermind’s creator could grant him – and only one thing in the Universe was capable of such a feat.


‘The Sword of Might…Excalibur!’ declares Mastermind after telling his tale. He proclaims that as he was armed with the Amulet of Right – the talisman that awakened Brian to his destiny – the Sword possess enough power that not even the so-called “Gods” can fathom. Mastermind turns now to Roma, suspended in the power-inhibiting globe and he tells her that even with her ‘presumed divinity’ she fails to grasp the true nature of existence. He states that Roma’s own father, Merlin, taught her that reality is a ‘grand game of chess’, a game full of conflicting strategies – guile, manipulation, deceit and entrapment. Mastermind proclaims that they were the very tactics he used to ambush and supplant Roma – for that is all this is to Roma – a game.

Mastermind walks back over to Brian as he declares that Roma serves no purpose other than her own inconstant whims, and she is therefore as ineffectual in the greater scheme as the mortals whom she has so arrogantly placed herself with. Wickedly, Mastermind states that with the destruction of the Captain Britain Corps he has removed Roma’s precious pawns from the board, ‘your silly little game is over. Checkmate’. Defiantly, Roma simply says from her glowing blue prison that only the rightful ruler of Otherworld can wield Excalibur and not suffer absolute damnation.

Brian backs Roma up and tells Mastermind that he must be mad to think that a psychotic like himself could fit that bill. Mastermind smiles and tells his “brother” that one the contrary, for once the Sword and Amulet are one, there will not be an Otherworld – adding that of course Brian will not be alive to see that happen. The executioner stands with the huge axe and Meggan, hands bound behind her back, rushes over to Brian as the crowd of Mastermind’s followers cries out ‘Kill, kill, kill!’ Meggan trips and falls back to the ground and Betsy goes up to be with her. Meggan curses the power inhibiting bonds, but Betsy whispers to her distraught sister-in-law that Mastermind programmed her bonds for a telepath – not a telekinetic, ‘That’s our ace’.

The scorpion-like Warpie holds Captain Britain down and Brian looks at the huge ax out of the corner of his eyes. He whispers to his sister, knowing that she has the upper hand, but as the ax is raised into the air Betsy realizes that the executioner is too strong for her. She tells Brian that she is ‘so sorry’ when the ax comes crashing down – on Brian’s chains. Crusader X congratulates Betsy for succeeding, but she replies that it wasn’t her. Relieved, Meggan asks who it was – and the executioner unmasks himself, revealing himself to be Sir Benedict, the dragon Brian recently befriended.

Benedict knocks away the Warpies as Brian gathers himself asking Benedict what he is doing here. Benedict reminds Brian of what he told them back at the firewall – where Brian goes, Benedict will follow. Outraged, Mastermind tells Benedict that he can share Brian’s fate and orders “his children” the Warpies to kill them all. Benedict proves his worth again, unleashing a powerful fire blast on two of the Warpies as Psylocke produces her telekinetic sword, shattering her own bonds, she quickly cuts the powerful Meggan free. Meggan smiles now that her rapport with nature is back and she takes to the air as Psylocke frees Black Knight, Crusader X and Captain UK. The handsome Black Knight declares that this looks like ‘its about to hit the fan here’ adding that they need all the muscle they can get. Benedict says to Dane ‘speaking of which, I believe this one belongs to you mate’ and as he whistles, the beautiful winged horse Strider flies into view.

Raising the Sword of Might to the air and as it charges with power he exclaims that none of them have any idea of what is about to transpire. He informs them that reality as they know it will cease to exist and that a new order will rise – fresh, untainted and pristine, a flawless continuum of his own perfect creation! Striking the ground with Excalibur, the ground shatters all around Brian, as Mastermind declares it is all because of him. The two “brothers” approach each other and with the Sword of Might pointed at Brian, Mastermind angrily tells Brian that he cannot consider himself the best humanity has to offer, for it is statistically impossible, for humans are a blight festering within the comic corpus. Mastermind calls Brian fallible, inconsistent and shortsighted – which is exactly what he believes to be wrong with the Universe, and therefore Brian must be destroyed. Brian cries ‘No!’ and lunges at Mastermind, sending the two crashing through a nearby wall.

Back outside, more and more Warpies begin to attack and Betsy knows this, alerting her allies to the fact that they can only hold their ground for so long. Benedict jokes that the Warpies are pesky like locusts – but twice as hard to kill. The ruggedly handsome Crusader X exclaims that the way the Warpies killed all of his friends in the Corps, slow and painful deaths are too good for them. Linda McQuillan a.k.a. Captain UK reminds Bran that the dead Corpsmen were her friends too and they do deserve vengeance, but so do the Warpies, adding that no child should suffer as they did.

The Black Knight remarks the Linda is right, adding that it is weird that beneath the monsters are ‘a bunch of scared kids’, wondering if they could change them back to normal. The serene and beautiful Meggan lands near the imprisoned Roma and suggests some divine intervention may help. She puts her hands on the blue globe and chants ‘one with nature, one with nature’, for she can feel the frequency of the elemental vibrations, knowing the forcefield is about to give, Meggan realizes even she doesn’t have enough power to break it. She needs more – and finds it in the form of Psylocke, who puts her hands on the globe too, informing Meggan that her telekinesis should be able to tear the field apart at a quantum level. Meggan can feel it working and Betsy jokingly says ‘Hey, what else are sister-in-laws for?’ ‘Or old friends’ says the handsome Dane Whitman as he plunges his sword into the globe. The blue forcefield seems to shake – then blue is replaced by red as it explodes.

Inside one of the buildings, Mastermind and Captain Britain fight each other, Mastermind declaring that they are the ‘heirs apparent to a struggle as ancient as myth’ and compares he and Brian to Arthur and Morgana, the children of a shared destiny. ‘Born rivals to the bitter end and only one worthy of the power’. Still engaged in physical combat, Brian acknowledges that he is nowhere near as perfect as Mastermind fancies himself to be, and he knows that he is ‘certainly not the best humanity has to offer’. Brian states that there have been much better people before him wear the colors and that no doubt there will be many more one day, long after he is dead. He tells Mastermind that if thinks because of his failings it makes the computer the ‘second bloody coming’ he should think again.

Mastermind glows red and power surges from his eyes before he seemingly explodes, sending Brian flying back across the room. But Mastermind didn’t die, and as he grabs Excalibur he proclaims that at last Captain Britain is dead and the power belongs to he – until he turns around at the sound of Roma’s voice declaring that ‘Excalibur knows but one master, computer – and you are not he’. Roma enters the building and Mastermind tells her she made an erroneous conclusion, reminding her again that she fails to comprehend his role in the course of future history. ‘Though I am a pebble in the cosmic pool, the ripples I stir will echo unto eternity’ he declares before rushing over to Roma and slicing the sword down her middle, calling Roma an ‘anachronism’ he tells her the future has no place for her.

With the sword in her body, Roma exclaims to Mastermind that they two have much in common, for she too has seen the future, and while her presence is absent from the Omniverse – ‘so is yours’ she declares. Unleashing her powers on Mastermind, the sentient computer begins to convulse, and he can hardly talk properly anymore. He manages to ask Roma what she is doing, and calmly the goddess replies she is finishing the game. ‘Checkmate’. A bright light surrounds Roma and pours from Mastermind, as he exclaims that Excalibur is his destiny, before he fades from existence.

Brian gets up and asks Roma if she is all right and what Mastermind did to her. Holding up Excalibur, Roma replies that Mastermind did ‘nothing of any lasting consequence’ adding that the Sword of Might was not his to wield and it simply destroyed Mastermind as it does to all those who are not worthy of its power. She informs Brian that this why he must be its guardian from now onwards, and with it he shall protect the Omniverse, just as she has done in Merlyn’s absence. As Roma passes the sword to Brian he asks if he is supposed to replace her, and tells her not to ‘be daft’ as he is not a god, but just a man. ‘Sometimes a man is all it takes’ replies Roma before revealing that her time is near its end and like her father before her, she shall soon leave Otherworld, for her destiny lies elsewhere. As Excalibur is bonded to Brian, Roma tells him that his destiny waits just outside – if he has the courage to face it. ‘Story of my life…’ says Brian with a small smile.

Outside, the heroes gather themselves after the explosion of Roma’s prison and Betsy asks someone to tell her that they ‘didn’t just obliterate a goddess’. Linda informs her that Roma is inside the castle ‘giving ol` chips for brains a rather severe and overdue thrashing’. Meggan asks where her husband is – and Brian smiles as he emerges from the castle. Meggan flies over to him repeating ‘thank you’ over and over again as the husband and wife embrace. Benedict tells Brian that he looks like death warmed over, to which Brian tells him to ‘see the other fellow’.

Roma stands with the seven heroes and congratulates them on fighting hard and surviving but informs them that the ordeal is not quite over, for there is one final test to be passed. She motions to the Warpies and Crusader X turns away, still angry over the death of his allies in the Corps. Captain UK puts a hand on his shoulder as Captain Britain asks him for his approval. Bran frowns and tells Brian to get on with it before he changes his mind and starts bashing skulls.

Brian kneels, before all the Warpies, clutching the Sword of Might as Roma tells him to look inside himself, to see himself as he truly is, as the Sword, as Excalibur. ‘I am the Sword, I am Excalibur’ chants Brian, and Roma encourages him by exclaiming that by speaking the words they will unleash the divine spark within him. He promises to wield his powers wisely where lesser men would do so foolishly, and will not use them to hack – but to heal! With that Brian raises the Sword of Might above himself and a golden glow bathes the Warpies, and moments later, where warriors stood, now stand children smiling and celebrating, as they were before they were changed. Holding onto her beloved still, Meggan tells Brian that he has quite a gift and has given the Warpies something they have not had in a long time – if ever. Brian asks what that gift is, and the elemental replies ‘a future’.

Later on Otherworld, Brian and Meggan sit on a circle of grass in the center of the graveyard, where a monument to Sir James and Elizabeth Braddock stands. They turn around when they hear someone say ‘It can’t be any worse than you’re imagining y’know’. Standing up, Brian sees Betsy and Dane and asks what they are talking about – ‘death?’ Betsy tells him ‘Or you becoming the new Omniversal guardian. Brian tells Betsy that that is easy for her to say, as she gets to go home to Earth. ‘Where I’m feared and hated by a world I’m sworn to protect. Oh yes, my life is such a dream’ Betsy jokes.

Brian turns to his best friend and informs Dane that he is thinking about starting a new Captain Britain Corps 'sort of an interdimensional Knights of the Round Table' and tells him that if he promises to keep his hands off his queen, then he would be a most welcome Sir Lancelot. Dane smiles and admits that it is a tempting offer, but that he should probably get back to the Avengers, as he has been gone away too long. Meggan and Betsy hug and Meggan asks if this doesn’t mean ‘goodbye forever’ and if Betsy will come back to visit them sometime soon. Betsy smiles and tells Meggan that she cannot wait to come back to see how big of an arse her brother makes of himself after he takes the throne. She grins wickedly and tells Meggan that ‘next time I'm in town I expect to hear the pitter patter of little royal feet!’
Betsy presses a button on her wristband and as she and Dane, along with Strider, are bathed in a green glow, they all wave, before Dane, Betsy and Strider leave Otherworld. Meggan turns to Brian and tells him that ‘this is the big moment’ and asks him if he is ready. Brian takes his wife’s hand and tells her that he supposes in some ways, he has been ready his whole life. Brian smiles and together the happy couple walk from the graveyard.

Later, in Roma’s Starlight citadel – which is about to become Brian’s – citizens of Otherworld have gathered in the throne room, where Roma and Sir Benedict stand to one side of the throne, and Meggan, dressed elegantly in a pastel green dress stands to the other side. The crowd claps as the handsome Brian Braddock walks down the aisle and is presented the Sword of Might – Excalibur – by Roma. He walks up his throne and sitting on the royal seat, wearing the Amulet of Right and holding Excalibur like a staff he smiles as the crowd cries ‘Long live Captain Britain, long live the King!’

Meanwhile, somewhere in Space, Brian’s crowning had been watched on a view screen – by Kang the Conqueror! ‘King Indeed’ mocks the Master of Time as Widget hovers beside him. Addressing him as his master, Widget tells Kang that everything has come to pass as he predicted it would, that his reactivation of the Mastermind mainframe has successfully catalyzed Captain Britain’s ascendancy and he has at last fulfilled his destiny. ‘And so a new epoch begins’ Kang says, before declaring that a nascent timeline, divergent from the inevitable stream of future history now flows into the greater sea of cosmic chronology. He adds that the possibilities for temporal domination are infinite, and that ‘when time is conquered, then Kang shall reign supreme!

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain



Black Knight III
Captain UK

Crusader X
Sir Benedict



Mastermind II

Citizens of Otherworld



In Flashback

Mastermind II / Jeeves the butler

Sir James Braddock

Black Air Agents


Story Notes: 

The Warpies are children born in Great Britain that mutated because of magical energies from Otherworld that leaked through to the Marvel Universe, caused by the Jaspers Warp. Their births stopped when Linda McQuillan (Captain UK) was transferred to an earth whose Captain version had been killed. The story perpetuates a mistake as the Warpies were kidnapped – and Mastermind was disabled – by the RCX, not Black Air. Afterwards they actually lost their powers and became normal [Excalibur (1st series) #61-65].

Betsy became Captain Britain II while Brian was on a series of adventures around the world. Armed with her telepathy, she was given physical training by Captain UK and eventually operated as a solo. However, Betsy was led into a trap by the Vixen and Slaymaster, who beat her nearly to death and cut out her eyes. Brian came to her rescue, and after she recovered from her wounds Betsy left for Switzerland. She could “see” thanks to her telepathy. [Captain Britain (2nd series) #13-14]
Psylocke became a telekinetic after doing a “power swap” with Jean “Phoenix” Grey during the Six Month Gap, and while Jean Grey is arguably the most powerful telekinetic in existence, despite having all that power, Betsy is not trained in its use.

Psylocke never does get to make it back to Otherworld, for she is killed soon after. [X-Treme X-Men #2] Brian and Meggan come to Earth for the funeral (though they are only shown in one panel and the funeral is not shown) in what would be Captain Britain and Meggan’s final appearance to date. [X-Treme X-Men #3]

This issue marks the final appearance to date Captain UK, Crusader X, Widget and Sir Benedict.
Roam showed up in the Abraxas storyline in Fantastic Four (3rd series) #45-49 and seemingly died at Abraxas’ hands. Seeing as how she’s her father’s daughter though, it wouldn’t be too surprising if she had faked her death.

The mysterious ending with Kang has yet to be followed up on, as has the revelation surrounding why Widget is with him.

Issue Information: 
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