Excalibur (4th series) #17

Issue Date: 
March 2021
Story Title: 

Tini Howard (writer), Marcus To (artist), Erick Arciniega (color artist), Virtual Calligraphy's Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Jay Bowen & Nick Russell (production), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In another world, Betsy Braddock has appeared in the body of this reality's Betsy, a member of the Captain Britain Corps who just happens to be Queen of England! She brings herself up to speed on this reality by reading a protocol that the real Betsy of this world had written in case this strange event were ever to happen. Warren Worthington isn't bothered by it all, having been a member of this reality's X-Men for most of his life, he is used to strange happenings. The Queen's absence from the public is explained as her having a slight illness, but Betsy watches from the palace window and sees hundreds of well-wishers outside. Betsy determines that she has to get to the lighthouse and use the portal within to travel back to Otherworld. Warren enlists the assistance of his ex-wife, Kwannon, to take Betsy to the lighthouse, which is now the headquarters of British Intelligence, and no longer looks like a lighthouse. Betsy acts strange around this world's Kwannon, who doesn't like Betsy looking at her so intently. Inside the facility, the two women work together to get to the portal, and Kwannon allows Betsy to ask her three questions. Eventually, Betsy informs Kwannon that on her world, she used to exist in her body. Kwannon gets annoyed by this knowledge and practically throws Betsy through the portal. Betsy leaves, telling Kwannon that she is sorry, as she departs. Meanwhile, in London of Earth 616, Pete Wisdom is being questioned by Reuben Brousseau who demands to know where Captain Britain is, and wants information about the four mysterious Captain Britain who recently appeared and resemble Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee and Rictor. Wisdom isn't interested in talking to Brousseau and heads for Krakoa. He arrives to find Rogue, Gamibt, Jubilee and Rictor preparing to move themselves into the lighthouse, and updates them on the trouble Brousseau and his anti-mutant followers are causing in England. When they arrive at the lighthouse, they find it under attack by Marianna Stern and her followers in the Coven Akkaba, who are attempting to demolish the lighthouse in the hope of destroying the gate. Excalibur fight back against the Coven, but Marianna knows magic and casts spells against the team, although Rictor is able to shield the team from Marianna eventually, until they hear a screaming cry for help. Energy radiates from the lighthouse, and something falls into the water off the shore – it's Betsy. Excalibur rescue her from the ocean, and warn Marianna to leave.

Full Summary: 

London, inside the MI:13 building, where someone shouts 'Where is Captain Britain?' Peter Wisdom is sitting at his messy desk, reclining back in his chair, legs on his desk, eating some snacks, he casually responds 'Sorry, love, the information desk is actually down the hall -' but Reuben Brousseau from Coven Akkaba retorts 'I know you don't know the answer. As far as I can tell, no one does. Your official contacts at MI:13 don't. Your unofficial friends at Black Air don't either' the gruff old mkan declares, arms folded. Wisdom stands up, 'You think I'd know where she is? I'm flattered, but that's just tabloid gossip. Hope springs eternal' Wisdom remarks. 'You'd know where she is because you're both witchbreed' Reuben declares. Wisdom walks past Reuben and without looking at him, says 'Why, Mr Wizard, that sounds downright discriminatory'. Annoyed, Reuben retorts 'I'll do you a favor, Wisdom, and give you the facts!'

Reuben holds up a large book and states that Betsy Braddock is gone, and while that ordinarily wouldn't trouble Clan Akkaba much, but Brian Braddock, their preferred Captain Britain, is also nowhere to be found. 'It's possible he's in custody on that mutant island with his sister – or, worse, his brother' Reuben remarks. 'I see. Well, I have questions. Like...' Peter begins, as Reuben opens the book, and shows photographs of Captain Britain Corps members Jubilee, Rictor, Rogue and Gambit. 'See for yourself' Reuben tells Peter. 'Mutants. Not even citizens of Britain, standing in the colors of our nation. Claiming to defend it. We rebuke them'. He adds that they have evidence that their previous contact, Morgan le Fay, is in danger, and that mutants are to blame. 'Have you anything to say?' Reuben asks. 'Always do' Pete tells him.

'If you're an Englishman, and good at your job, you'll do what no one else in your position can – do and have a look around Krakoa. Understand that while we welcome your kind...certain traditions are for humans alone' Reuben tells Wisdom. Pete frowns and tells Reuben that he will keep it in mind, but he has to run now. 'Have I said something to offend you?' Reuben asks. 'Hardly. If I've got to head to that terrible margaritaville, I'd like a proper pint first' Wisdom calls back.

(in alternate reality)

In Case of Omniversal Trouble.

Captain Britain:

If you are reading this, it means that something has happened to displace me from my home dimension. As a member of the Captain Britain Corps, and a head of state, this is an eventuality that I must responsibly prepare for.

I must insist, that effective immediately, you refrain from showing your face outside of the palace in any way. The peace we keep with our allies is tenuous and precious to our kind. If it is known that I am missing, our enemies might strike against us.The England of our line is the safest home mutants have ever known. I do not know from where you hail or what kind of life you have led. If the prospect of such a paradise tempts you to stay, I must caution you instead to lean on the honor and virtue that makes you a fine captain and protect this place by turning away.

You must return to your home reality. You mustn't threaten the peace of the mutants here, those born here and the ones who have immigrated here in search of a life mutants have never had. I do not know who you are, but it is likely you are a version of me – so I urge you to look into the heart we share and do what is right, even when it is not popular or comfortable.

Avoid the temptation to check in on differences between what you know from your reality and others. This is a distraction at best, and at worst, a dangerous game. While you may have come from a reality with less responsibilities than the ones you have here, here you are queen of what is currently the safest nation in the world for mutants.

We have never had a home like this in all of our history.

It is our duty to preserve this for them. Further instructions and materials are provided within.

- Elizabeth R. III

It is a familiar place, a modern time, but an unfamiliar timeline. 'Oh my god... I'm brilliant' Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock – Queen of England – remarks as she reads a letter. 'That you are, Queen Betsy. But that was really more Prime Minister Wisdom's idea' Warren Worthington tells Queen Betsy as he puts a robe on and walks over to her. 'Oh God, you're kidding' Queen Betsy utters. 'A mutant queen and a mutant PM? I've never loved visiting England more' Warren tells Betsy, explaining that Wisdom thought if Captain Britain and the queen were going to be the same person, there should be a plan for inter-reality “mucking about”. 'Well, it's certainly helping me now' Betsy remarks, adding that she can't imagine how complicated this would be if she had to explain the multiverse to Warren. 'Well, I've also been a member of the X-Men for most of my life' Warren tells her. 'Ah, so you're aware of my tendency towards body-swapping' Betsy adds.

'Tendency? Is there something about you I should know?' Warren asks. 'Probably a great deal. But according to that letter? We're ought to avoid exploring those differences' Betsy responds. 'But the Betsy I know is bad at listening, too' Warren smiles. 'It's part of why I like her' he adds, his mouth moving closer to hers. 'Warren, what...why are you here? With the Queen of England?' Betsy asks, pushing Warren away. 'Right. I thought the bathrobe was fairly self-explanatory' Warren responds. He admits that aren't married, for obvious reasons, as his being American is so complex politically. 'I see' Betsy replies as she pours herself some tea. 'I shouldn't have expected -' Warren begins, but Betsy, as she stirs her tea, tells him not to feel awkward about it, and informs him that they were together once where she is from, too. 'Really?' Warren smiles, walking over to her. Betsy adds that it is different back there, and explains that they were never together when she looked like this. 'It – sorry. Right. Avoiding the temptation to dig up details' Betsy interrupts herself, and walks over to a window. 'Of course' Warren tells her.

Warren joins Betsy at the window, and they see a huge crowd gathered outside the palace, “God save the Queen” one of them holds up on a banner. “Get well” another banner says. Warren tells Betsy that he is sorry for all of this, and explains that he told her press corps that she wasn't well this morning, to buy some time – but he didn't think they would respond so dramatically. 'They really love her, yeah?' Betsy asks. 'They really love you, queen Betsy' Warren replies. 'No, they don't. I'm not here. That's precisely why I have to leave, remember? We've a plan to execute' Betsy responds, holding up her tea.

A moment later, Betsy strides down a lavish corridor, with Warren following her, asking her where she is going. Betsy tells him that the instructions are pretty clear – she has no ability to simply take herself to the Otherworld in the absence of an amulet or the Starlight Sword, so it seems like the way back lies at the lighthouse, where there is an Otherworld conduit of some kind. 'Should be simple enough' Betsy supposes. 'Well, all right, your Majesty, but allow me to call you an escort before you go bumbling off alone to the lighthouse' Warren calls out as he flies in front of Betsy. 'Bumbling? An escort?' Betsy asks. 'In the interest of leaving out details – I don't need an escort. I don't know about the queen, but I've spent a few years in the covert world' Betsy remarks.  'Well, you didn't here. And you don't know where you're going' Warren points out, suggesting that Betsy will need someone to cover for her and ensure she gets there unbothered and unseen. 'I suppose you think you're the right man for the job?' Betsy frowns. Warren holds up his cellphone, 'Absolutely not. As it is, I'm 90 minutes late for a board meeting' Warren replies, assuring Betsy that he is getting her the best mutant-for-hire, as he knows she will get her in and out without anyone seeing her. 'It might be a bit awkward though... her name is Kwannon. She's my ex-wife!' Warren announces.

Soon, Betsy is wearing a purple jumpsuit covered by a brown trenchcoat, and looks wide-eyed at Kwannon, out on a field behind the palace. Kwannon turns to see Betsy and Warren as she adjusts her gloves. She's wearing civilian clothing and carries a sword on her back, while a chopper sits nearby. 'We should hurry. Angel is probably running late for something' she remarks.


Back in the prime universe, on Krakoa, 'This should be fun! I've never lived with cats before. I used to think they were creepy, and I believed all those old wives' tales. Like that they steal your breath, or that they poop in boxes?' Jubilee tells Julio Richter a.k.a. Rictor and Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit as they help carry several boxes down some stairs. 'They do poop in boxes, Jubes' Remy replies. 'Oh my god, seriously?' Jubilee frowns. 'Dude, no, I don't want to live with a box of poop' Jubilee exclaims. 'Just the conversationalists I was looking for' Wisdom mutters as he approaches the trio. 'What's all this?' he asks them when he notices the boxes. 'What's it look like? We're moving' Jubilee points out. Wisdom asks 'Where' and Rictor tells him that they're moving to the lighthouse, because if Betsy comes back, that seems like where she would go. 'Who's asking?' Rictor adds. 'Thank god. Is it still standing?' Wisdom asks. 'That's where I'm trying to get – move!' he declares as he pushes past the others – but before he can step through a Krakoan gateway, Rogue steps in front of him.

'Not so fast, Pete!' Rogue exclaims, informing him that if he goes through this portal, he is right be the gate to Otherworld – and if he goes there and dies, he might not come back right. 'Ya heard about that new development?' Rogue asks, before telling him that he is welcome to travel freely to Avalon, and they would be happy to escort him for his safety – it's the least Excalibur can do. 'Believe it or not, I'd actually just like to head to that dreary little lighthouse, and I'm trying to beat a bunch of horrible hateful wizards there, so if you don't mind...' Wisdom starts to say. 'Coven Akkaba!?' Rictor asks. 'See? You knew exactly who I meant' Wisdom points out. 'We were just there' Rictor tells him, before asking him what makes him think Coven Akkaba are going to the lighthouse. Wisdom reports that Brousseau is using Captain Britain's absence to make a point about how a mutant Captain Britain was a terrible idea, and the rumblings of whatever happened on Krakoa made some people nervous.

'Oh, and they've managed to draw up some bizarre image of you all as Captain Britain. I don't know where they get these ideas – you're not even British!' Wisdom exclaims. Gambit informs Wisdom that those images aren't fake – they're real – but they're not exactly them. 'How did that happen?' Wisdom asks. 'Jamie Braddock' Rogue explains. 'Say no more' Wisdom mutters, before reporting that the bad news is that intel is starting to listen to these Akkaba psychopaths because they have a point – Captain Britain took that job and vanished – that is irrefutable. 'She did no such thing!' Rogue declares. 'She fought for her country – England and Krakoa – and she paid a hero's price' Rogue reminds Wisdom. 'Explain that to the local politically minded hateful wizards in a way that doesn't sound like Krakoan rubbish. Mutant tournaments? Dozens of swords?' Wisdom responds. 'Fine. Betsy is the Captain. Tell your bosses she's here, getting a massage, and if their wizard friends want to see for themselves, they can get bent!' Rictor suggests.

'Thanks, Rictor, but we're still trying diplomacy at the moment' Wisdom responds, adding that if Brian hadn't disappeared too, they wouldn't even be having this conservation. 'They'd just declare him Captain Britain, whether he liked it or not, and be done with it' Wisdom points out. 'I think that's why he did it' Gambit remarks, before asking Wisdom why he is heading to the lighthouse. 'When Mr Broussard was the one who darkened my desk with his presence, I couldn't help but notice he was alone' Wisdom reveals. 'Didn't have his little witch with him' Wisdom explains. 'Marianna Stern' Rictor and Jubilee utter together. 'Now, if you'll move, I'll be her there' Wisdom points out. 'It's Excalibur HQ, buddy, and my new place. So, we'll go with you' Gambit frowns. 'Welcome to Krakoa!' shouts a young mutant with pink skin, holding up a wreath of flowers towards Wisdom, who leaps away from her. 'The gate just told us it's your first time here! Would you like some flowers?' Curse smiles. 'God, no!' Wisdom snaps. 'Get me the hell out of here!' Wisdom declares, walking away from Excalibur.

in alternate reality:

'We're nearing the drop point' Kwannon telepathically tells Betsy, as she stands on the edge of the helicopter wearing a dark purple costume. The chopper approaches the King James III Memorial Center, and Betsy telepathically replies 'Already? There's no way, I don't see the lighthouse anywhere'. Kwannon explains that it isn't a real lighthouse, that it is British Intelligence, and has been called that since her father was in charge. 'Ah. Explains the silent blades. I like that trick, too' Betsy responds, adding that she really does know some stealth tricks. 'Of course you do' Kwannon replies without looking at Betsy, before asking her if, where she is from, the lighthouse is truly some old brick building. 'No, not just. It's an Otherworld conduit of its own' Betsy explains. 'Every reality has to touch the Otherworld somehow. Makes sense I'd just have to find it to get back to my reality' she supposes, while inside, security guards stand in front of a door marked “top secret”, and inside the room, pink energy glows in the form of a star.

Kwannon narrows her eyes, and glances sideways, where she sees Betsy looking at her. 'I know you're not from around here, but I don't like being stared at' Kwannon informs her telepathically. Betsy apologizes, before informing Kwannon that she knows her, where she is from, and revealing that, in one sense, they know each other very well, and in another sense, not well at all. Kwannon narrows her eyes again as she tells Betsy that she really respects the queen, so she is going to adhere to her rules as listed in the briefing – no details. Betsy informs Kwannon that she has some questions, and she is going to ask them. 'Don't answer them if you think it's a terrible idea. But to me, they're important' Betsy explains. Kwannon looks down from the chopper and informs Betsy that her ex-husband asked her to get his girlfriend to one of the most highly defended places in England without her being seen. 'And you're asking for more of my patience?' she asks. 'I know you're capable of it. We're very patient killers, you and me' Betsy declares.


The Lighthouse, where Rogue, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee and Wisdom have arrived, to find themselves under attack. 'Heads up mes amis! We're under attack!' Gambit calls out. 'What is happening?' Wisdom asks as part of the lighthouse is broken away, a large thundering noise can be heard. A gaping hole is now in the lighthouse, and Rogue looks through it to see Marianna Stern and several Coven Akkaba members, using a large industrial wrecking ball. 'There she is! Marianna!' Rogue calls out. 'This is private land, witchbreed! Last chance to get back through the gate before we burn it!' Marianna warns the mutants. 'This is Braddock land! And mah new apartment. It don't belong to you!' Rogue shouts back. 'Show me a Braddock who can come claim it!' Marianna exclaims, waving a finger at Excalibur. There is a rumbling as the coven attack cables to the lighthouse, and begin to pull on the cables with bulldozers.


Gambit tosses some kinetically-charged playing cards towards the coven, as Marianna shouts 'You monsters! All you know is violence!' Jubilee releases some of her plasma fireworks towards a bulldozer, while Rictor begins to create seismic waves in the ground as he tells Marianna that she is an idiot if she thinks the druids aren't going to hear about this and eat her alive. 'Please. Show me how angry it makes you!' Marianna retorts. 'Remind me how dangerous you are, witchbreed!' she shouts, while Rictor raises himself up on some ground and tells Marianna that she has it wrong – it isn't him that she has to worry about, as witchbreed have a law against killing humans. 'Druids don't though' he warns her. 'And they love me!' Rictor adds as he unlashes a powerful seismic surge which knocks over several of the coven members.

'We chased druids into caves once before – and we will do it again!' Marianna boasts as she releases a surge of magical energy, which traps Rictor in strong magical bonds. 'If they love you so, maybe they'll come if they hear you scream in pain!' Marianna exclaims. Rictor cries out as he struggles to break free. Marianna grins and tells her followers to get Rictor, to hold him down and tear him limb from limb. 'Show him the meaning of the old magics he doesn't understand!' Marianna declares. Rictor screams again, and his teammates look on in shock. 'They've got Ric!' Jubilee calls out. 'Cause he's always talking trash!' Gambit remarks.  'One, two... three!' Jubilee exclaims as she releases a powerful burst of plasma energy towards the coven members, but they surround themselves with a magical force field. Gambit throws more kinetically-charged playing cards towards them, and Wisdom joins in with his “hot-knives” - but their combined efforts cannot break the force field. 'See how they have no practice in their powers, my coven? Their magics are base and unrefined, useless against the practice and ceremony of true sorcery!' Marianna declares.

in alternate reality:

'I'll answer three questions. Make them good' Kwannon tells Betsy as she shoves pure psychic energy into a guard's head as they make their way through the facility. Kwannon continues down the corridor, while Betsy stops to check the guard's vitals. 'She's just unconscious' Kwannon telepathically remarks. 'I know. Only checking' Betsy responds. Kwannon reminds Betsy that the priority is making sure she isn't seen. 'She'll wake up pretty sure she just blinked' she explains about the guard. Betsy follows Kwannon down the corridor and points out that once they get to the portal and she is transported back to Otherworld, Kwannon will be in here with the queen. 'What do you say when security shows up?' she asks. 'Hah' Kwannon laughs. 'I do not plan to be here when that happens' she explains, adding that, in any case, she will be with a woman who will likely to be grateful to have her body back. 'Perhaps you're right' Betsy supposes.

They both take out another guard each with a surge of psychic energy, and Betsy asks her first question: 'Is there a Krakoa here?' Kwannon frowns, 'That ol mutant island?' she replies, before revealing that no one ever goes there, but that it does exist. 'Why?' Kwannon asks as they run down another corridor – although they have caught the attention of a guard, who uses a radio transmitter to report that there is a potential breach. 'No reason. How's my brother?' Betsy responds, asking her second question, before she knocks the transmitter out of the guard's hand, and after informing Betsy that Brian is the head of the British space program, she uses her telepathic powers to mimic the guard's voice and say 'Never mind, copy that' over the transmitter. Betsy follows up with her third question, and asks Kwannon if she has always lived in her own body. 'What?' Kwannon asks. 'Just what it sounds like' Betsy tells her. 'That last one was a waste of a question' Kwannon remarks, while taking possession of another guard's mind, and commanding her to access the top secret room, where the pink energy star is glowing.

'Here it is. I can feel it. My soul feels like it's drifting toward it, pulling me closer' Betsy announces as she puts a hand to the energy, telling Kwannon that she thinks she has to open herself up to it. 'So this is where I leave you' Kwannon states. Betsy asks her to wait. 'No more questions' Kwannon tells her. 'This isn't a question. I wanted to tell you something' Betsy responds. She closes her eyes and remarks that she will say this as plainly as she can: 'Where I'm from – we knew each other, like you said. It wasn't about Warren. And it wasn't good. I was forced to wear your body around for a time -' Betsy is suddenly interrupted when Kwannon puts a hand on her shoulder. 'Wait. Just listen to me!' Betsy exclaims, glancing backwards.

'I do not know why you have stolen the queen's body. And I do not know what you mean in threatening mine!' Kwannon shouts. 'It isn't a threat! Listen to me!' Betsy pleads, but Kwannon starts pushing her into the pink energy star, 'No more details! I think it's time for you to leave!' Kwannon snaps, revealing that she is reading Betsy's mind, and knows that she isn't lying about wearing her skin. 'Get your hands off of me!' Betsy exclaims, as she throws Kwannon over her shoulder. 'At least I know which hands are mine. Now, get out of here, before you break something you can't fix!' Kwannon warns Betsy, gritting her teeth and readying a psi-knife. The pink star increases its size as Betsy steps into it, looking back at Kwannon, she tells her that she is sorry. 'NOW!' Kwannon screams. 'I'm sorry!' Betsy calls back again, before vanishing in the pink energy.


Rictor is now free from the coven, and stands alongside his teammates and Wisdom as they continue to defend the lighthouse. The coven close in and Wisdom tells Excalibur that he hates to say this, but he thinks they might consider a tactical retreat. 'We don't have big bad Apocalypse around to help us win these fights!' Wisdom adds. 'You think it's gonna help things if we run off back to Krakoa?' Rictor asks. 'If we die, we're gonna end up there anyway!' Wisdom points out, when suddenly, everyone, including Marianna Stern and the coven members, clutch their heads as a psychic voice cries out to them: 'HELP!' and Wisdom tells the others that he thinks he knows that mind. 'No!' Marianna utters, as pink energy glows from within the lighthouse, extending outwards with a loud WHOOOOMMM sound, and something – or someone – falls into the water off the shore of the lighthouse.

Excalibur and Wisdom rush down to the shore, followed by Marianna Stern, where they witness a figure rise from the water. It's Betsy, wearing a long white gown, she telepathically cries out for help before collapsing into the shallows of the water. 'Betsy?!' Jubilee exlcaims, rushing into the water to grab her friend, while the others gather around her. 'Marianna Stern! Got a message for yer coven! There's yer damn Captain Britain! And we're taking her home now, so git!' Rogue snaps at Marianna, while everyone looks on, concerned for Betsy's safety.

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Jubilee, Rictor, Rogue (all Excalibur)

Captain Britain II

Pete Wisdom




Reuben Brousseau, Marianna Stern (Coven Akkaba)

Coven Akkaba members


(in alternate reality)

Warren Worthington III




Security guards

Story Notes: 

This issue contains a one-page information sheet on the King James Memorial Intelligence Center (on the alternate world where Betsy is queen), a state-of-the-art facility which replaced the crumbling Braddock lighthouse and acts as the connection to Otherworld. It is the center of British intelligence in this reality, and is overseen by Director Alysande Stuart, who in the 616 reality died many years ago.

Written By: