Excalibur (4th series) #19

Issue Date: 
May 2021
Story Title: 
Wild Violets

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 reality, Elspeth Braddock, one of the Captain Britain Corps members, locates the missing soul of Betsy Braddock, and traps it in a lantern. She assembles the Corps and they arrive at the Starlight Citadel in Otherworld, but Saturnyne refuses to meet with them. The Captain Britains are defiant and inform Saturnyne that they believe they can put Betsy back together, body and soul. Saturnyne still refuses – she doesn't want Betsy Braddock 616 back. The Corps journeys to Avalon where they give Betsy's soul over to Captain Avalon, her brother. In Excalibur's lighthouse, the body of Betsy is laid out on a table, and Gambit, Kwannon, Rogue, Meggan and Jubilee stand around it as Rictor reads from his book of spells. Captain Avalon holds his sister's soul. Rictor becomes upset when the Betsy won't just “come back together” as he has done so much work to try and restore her. The heroes discuss their options and Rogue reminds everyone that unless they can get in touch with Saturnyne, the gate to Otherworld will be closed, even though Meggan needs that gate. Rictor eventually realizes that someone else might be sabotaging his spell, and Kwannon agrees – so she kicks open the lantern containing Betsy's soul, which darts about the lighthouse before escaping through the gateway to Avalon. Rictor is annoyed, but Kwannon offers to go after her. Captain Avalon wants to come, but Kwannon prefers to work alone. Rogue isn't sure about this given Kwannon and Betsy's history, but Kwannon points out that the two of them will always be linked, and heads through the portal. Arriving in Avalon, she quickly locates furious psychic energy which has manifested in a well within the town of Jackdaw's Nest. The mayor, Frogmouth, sees Kwannon wearing the mark of X, and assures her people that Kwannon will save them. In the well, Kwannon finds a skeleton wearing the Captain Britain armor, but knows this is all theatrics, and enters the psychic realm, where she finds Betsy trying to run from her, and Betsy tells Kwannon that she is the last person she wanted going after her. Betsy feels defeated, that she failed, and wants to be left alone. Kwannon concentrates hard and is able to trap Betsy by allowing her to take over her body again. She leaves the well, and informs Betsy that she is taking her home. The village of Jackdaw's Nest is grateful as Kwannon departs, while Kwannon informs Betsy that she actually won, that the Captain Britain Corps were reformed when she took the Starlight Sword, and that she is needed. On Otherworld, Saturnyne looks on in horror as the glass mosaic of Captain Britain begins to glow. The Starlight Sword manifests in Kwannon's hands as she races back to the lighthouse, and places the sword in the hands of the Betsy body. The others gather around her, and Betsy suddenly wakes, and coughs up a choker necklace with a strange face on it. Another lifeforce flies around the lighthouse, passing through Rogue before escaping into the portal to Krakoa. The heroes realize that Betsy had been taken over by Malice – and now Malice is on Krakoa and she could be anyone!

Full Summary: 

Earth-13058, inside the Braddock Watchtower, the home of Elspeth Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain, one of many charged with a quest – retrieving a missing member of her corps. She has dedicated herself to the study of psionic sorcery rather than the blade, her docused totality turned inward – Elspeth's psychic powers are extremely honed, her mental reach is far and strong – and she is able to find even the most elusive of consciousnesses, even those hiding in deepest Otherworld. She wears a red, white and blue dress, with a long red cloak, and part of her hair is tied in braids. She sits in the middle of a circle of candles, and suddenly gasps, before she screams. 'Captain Britain!' a voice calls out – it's this reality's Nightcrawler, who tells her that he will go get help – but Elspeth tells him to stay there as she levitates upwards to a device spinning above her. 'What is happening?' Nightcrawler asks as he teleports up and brings Elspeth back down to the ground.

'I saw her! She's out there bouncing from one reality to another. She tried to escape me...I'm not sure why' Elspeth announces. 'If she's anything like you, Elspeth, she might have a problem accepting help' Nightcrawler suggests. 'Very funny' Elspeth replies, before instructing Nightcrawler to call the Corps. 'It has taken me weeks of near-constant meditation, but I've done it! I've found our missing captain' Elspeth declares, holding a ball of psychic energy in her hands.

Otherworld, there is a knock at a door. 'Yes?' the aquatic fish-woman Ryl asks as she answers the door, and discovers a Captain Britain standing there. There is another knock, 'Oh. Captain Britain' Ryl remarks as another reality's Captain Britain stands in the doorway. There is another knock, and a bearded Captain Britain appears, only to be told 'I know you're looking for the Majestrix in order to convene the court, but...' Ryl begins, before there is another knock and the dinosaur Britannica Rex and swan Violet Swan appear. '... Saturnyne must decline again today. Her schedule simply will not permit any more meetings' Ryl claims. 'Madame Ryl, be serious! This is unheard of. If the lady insists on occupying the Citadel, it's her duty to open the court chambers for the Corps to meet!' Elspeth Braddock declares. Ryl assures the Corps that she understands, but that the lady will not be doing that. 'Tell her this: If she's hoping for a different Captain Britain, he's retired, married and not interested' Elspeth declares.

'One side, Ryl. I'll deal with these insolent Captains myself!' Saturyne remarks as she approaches the door to the hall where the Captains are gathered. 'What is it you all gather to demand?' Saturnyne asks. One of the Captains announces that they have the spirit of the shattered Betsy Braddock of seat 616. 'She is the first of us to wield the Starlight Sword, and we demand to see her restored!' the Captain declares. Elspeth, carrying Betsy's soul in a lantern, informs Saturnyne that the 616 Captain was bouncing between realities, and had even managed to overtake one of their number, who had been sleeping at the time. Queen Elizabeth III steps forward and remarks that her double was harmless, and that she had plans in place for such occurences, and her double followed them nobly. 'It seems that since the duel where she was shattered, she had nowhere to return to. It's left her in a sort of limbo, ping-ponging from one reality to another. I was able to take her by surprise and collect her consciousness -' Elspeth begins, before Saturnyne narrows her eyes and snaps 'So what?'

Elspeth continues, reminding Saturnyne that the Citadel contains doors to every reality, so they believe that if they were to put her back in her proper doorway, it would restore her cleanly – body and soul. 'I see... No' Saturnyne responds. She begins to close the door to the hall, until Queen Elizabeth III steps into the doorway, preventing Saturnyne from closing it. 'That is where she belongs, Majestrix' she frowns. Saturnyne scowls and exclaims 'Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. Your Captain Prime stood against me. And whatever else it got her, it cost her her life...and you ask me to restore it?' Saturnyne adds that magic has a cost, actions have consequences. 'You want my help to restore that woman to life? She's the worst of all of you!' Saturyne shuts as she pushes Queen Elizabeth III out of the doorway and slams the door behind her. 'This is absurd. Let us in, witch! This Citadel is ours to defend!' one of the Captains shouts, while the Violet Swan honks loudly. Elspeth tells her fellow Captains to hush, and points out that they are sworn to Saturyne, but not controlled by her, so there is another way. 'If Saturnyne has locked the Citadel door to Betsy's home reality... we will take her home the other way – through the gate at Avalon!'

And soon, Elspeth and Queen Elizabeth III lead their fellow Captains to the kingdom of Avalon, where Brian and Meggan Braddock a.k.a. Captain Avalon and Gloriana, respectively, are waiting for them.

Earth-616, inside the lighthouse, where Julio Richter a.k.a. Rictor nervously looks through his book of spells, rubbing his head, he utters 'This should be working... why isn't it working? We have Betsy's... we have Betsy, yeah?' he asks. Captain Avalon holds his sister's soul in the lantern, 'Those were the words of the Captains Britain. This is what remains of our girl' Captain Avalon states. Rictor remarks that he wished the Captains would have stayed for a tutorial, to which Captain Avalon reminds him they are needed elsewhere, so they must try again. 'It's been hours, but... sure. We have her body. A body. One Jamie had made but it should be familiar. It should all go together. The ritual should just be there to ease it along' Rictor remarks, looking down at the unmoving Betsy Braddock laid out on a table before him. Surrounding the table are Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit, Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke, Rogue, Meggan and Jubilee.

'Psylocke, when you jumped her in the lab, you said it ain't Betsy – what was it – could it still be in there resisting us?' Gambit asks. Kwannon reports that she would recognize Betsy's psychic pattern anywhere, and that was not it – but she doesn't know what that was, and it seems to be dormant now. 'It's driving me nuts. I can't put my finger on it, but I know her' Rogue tells the others. A frustrated Rictor drops the book and clutches his head as he exclaims '$%&#! I don't know why she won't just...come back together! I've done so much work!' He declares that he has read and sacrificed and fasted – he fasted for this and is so hungry. '$#%&!' he shouts again. Captain Avalon tells Rictor that they have all the time they need and that he is not giving up on her. 'We do not have forever, mon ami!' Gambit remarks, and Rogue agrees, adding that Emma said if they can't at least get in touch with Saturnyne, it isn't safe to have the gate open to mutants. 'I'm tryna argue to the Council that we can keep it safe, but...' Rogue's voice trails off, as Meggan exclaims that she and Maggie need that gate.

'This stinks. Why don't we just go fly up on to Saturnyne's door and -' Jubilee begins as she moves around the room, to which an annoyed Rictor tells everyone to shut up and stand in their spots. 'Maybe she can't go back together. Maybe it's not going to work' Rictor laments, covering his face with a hand. Jubilee tells him not to get all self-sabotagey like that, and suggests to him that it probably isn't him making it not work. Kwannon announces that she thinks Rictor is right – she thinks someone is deliberately sabotaging the spell, that someone here is making it impossible for them and they can't admit it. Rictor asks Kwannon what she is talking about, and looking at the lantern, Kwannon asks 'Did you know plants like to be a little bit scared? If you grow them indoors, they never experience strong winds or storms. Scaring them can help them grow'. She then licks the lantern, breaking it, and setting Betsy's soul free. 'What did you just do!?' a shocked Rictor asks.

Betsy's soul darts about the room, 'She's getitng away – toward the gate!' Rogue exclaims. 'Betsy, what are you doing? Come back!' Captain Avalon calls out. 'Dammit, Psylocke!' Rictor complains as Betsy's soul escapes through one of the gates. 'Now it doesn't matter, I guess. Now there's no ritual at all. I can't believe you would do that' Rictor snaps. Kwannon calmly responds by telling Rictor that it was not working, that something had to change – and that she will go after Betsy. Kwannon walks towards the portal to Avalon as Rictor tells her that she shouldn't be the one to rescue Betsy. 'I don't think this is a rescue, Rictor. I think it's going to be a hunt' Kwannon explains. Captain Avalon asks Kwannon if he may accompany her, but Kwannon tells him that she prefers to work alone, and in this case, it may be necessary, as she isn't sure she is going anywhere that anyone can follow – she thinks this might be very personal.

'Ah don't  feel right about this – after everything between you two...' Rogue's voice trails off. 'Do you want to know my thoughts on it? You didn't ask' Kwannon responds, adding that she thinks Betsy won't fit back together because pain shapes them, it changes them so they don't fit where they once did. 'Sorry. I didn't mean ta -' Rogue begins, while Kwannon clenches her fist, and psi-energy manifests in the form of a butterfly around it. 'We lose parts of ourselves we don't even miss until we reach for them later and they're gone' Kwannon remarks, adding that she and Betsy will always be connected – it isn't to be solved – it simply is. As she steps into the portal, Kwannon tells everyone, for what it is worth, Betsy can't hide from her – and she doesn't think she can hide from Betsy, either – not anymore.

Avalon, where Kwannon appears wearing a modified costume, as everyone does who enters Avalon through a portal. 'Where are you, Betsy Braddock?' Kwannon telepathically calls out. 'I know you're perfectly capable of having a conversation with me at any time, because I know exactly how psychically powerful you are' Kwannon adds, informing Betsy that she is going to talk to her like she is right here – 'And you are going to show me where you are...' Kwannon begins, as she suddenly detects Betsy's psychic presence, as surge of psychic energy glows in the distance. Kwannon makes her way through a forest, 'A powerful presence like yours, untethered from a body, in place like this? Seems to me like that would be powerful enough to threaten a whole village...' Kwannon calls out telepathically.

Indeed, psychic energy rises from a well in the center of a village in Avalon, casting a pink glow across the village, as villagers gather around it and watch. 'Run, run! Leave your things behind and save yourselves, my dear citizens! A woman calls out as she rushes about the groing crowd. 'Our good village of Jackdaw's Nest can be rebuilt, but your lives are precious!' she exclaims. 'I believe I can be of assistance to you' Kwannon announces as she approaches the villagers. 'Run! The fire is getting bigger!' one woman calls out as she looks at the well. 'Who is she?' someone else asks as Kwannon moves closer. 'Faeries preserve us, we've been sent aid!' the woman urging everyone to flee utters, before introducing herself as Frogmouth. 'And you...you wear the mark of the heroes of Avalon! The X!' Frogmout motions to the well and tells Kwannon that she hasn't a clue why, but there was a terrible wall, and the fire came from the wall like nothing she had ever seen. 'I think there's a terrible banshee down below! Poisoning our water and burning our land!' Frogmouth exclaims. But Kwannon tells her that isn't a banshee, just a woman. 'Oh. Like you?' Frogmouth asks as she shuffles several bystanders away. 'Yes. And then again, no' Kwannon responds as she drops down into the well.

A moment later, Kwannon lands with a splash at the bottom of the well – where a corpse wearing the Captain Britain costume floats. 'You're not dead. And I'm not afraid' Kwannon declares as she picks the corpse up. 'This is all theatrics' Kwannon utters as she touches the sides of the well. 'You show everyone right where you are, and then when someone gets down here, it's nothing but walls. But you are like me. And I know some of those walls need a little push' Kwannon remarks as she pushes through one of the psychic walls, where she finds herself in a dungeon, and another corpse wearing the Captain Britain costume is slumped against a table. 'If you're going to bring me in your own mind, you should at least speak to me in here' Kwannon calls out. 'Before I have to start breaking things to get your attention!' she warns Betsy.

Suddenly, from the shadows behind several large chains which hang from the ceiling, 'I don't want to fight you' Betsy calls out wearing a long white gown. 'There you are. You say you don't want to fight, but you only show up for violence' Kwannon points out, to which Betsy asks her why she is here. 'Because I knew I'd find you when no one else could' Kwannon explains. 'You're the last person I want to come after me!' Betsy snaps, lunging at Kwannon, who dodges her. Betsy then apologizes and tells Kwannon that she has to leave her. 'This was never neat between us, Betsy Braddock. It isn't to be solved. It merely is. You have to come with me' Kwannon states. 'NO!' Betsy screams, as Kwannon grabs her from behind. 'The terrible things between us have been done to us. That is not who we are. Not who we could be' Kwannon utters, while remembering their brief, first encounter on Krakoa.

'I didn't ask you to come here! Leave me be!' Betsy shrieks, clutching her head. Psychic energy warps around them, as Betsy utters 'I am defeated! I failed! Again and again! I have had enough! Let me rest!' But Kwannon tells her that she won't be afraid of her, that she won't leave her alone – this won't work. 'You're just a woman. A proud, stubborn mutant woman, like me' Kwannon utters. 'Do I have to hurt you like I hurt myself!?' Betsy asks angrily. 'You come and try' Kwannon calls back.

Kwannon's physical body is still in the well, she sits down and telepathically tells Betsy that whatever it takes to get her in range. '...what?' Betsy asks, when suddenly, 'Got you' Kwannon declares. 'What?' Betsy asks. 'Come with me, Betsy' Kwannon tells her, before she leaps from the well, Betsy's psychic energy wrapped around her, 'Unbound from your body, your pain is destroying you – and others. See? You can't just hide out in Otherworld. Your pain, your power...you're like a wildfire' Kwannon informs Betsy, who asks her what she is doing and where she is taking her. 'Back to your home' Kwannon reports. 'Your spirit found a temporary comfortable host body – mine'.

Betsy asks Kwannon if this scares her – because of who they are. 'What if I take it over and stay?' she asks. Kwannon runs  from the village of Jackdaw's Nest with Betsy's psychic energy still wrapped around her, and she states 'I said to you: that is not who we are, and I meant it. Our minds are forever linked'. The villagers begin to cheer, as Kwannon rushes away. 'Thank you, violet stranger!' Frogmouth calls out. 'Aye...the mark of heroes, indeed!' she adds. 'If you need further convincing – if you don't come back, they're going to close the Otherworld gates. Apparently, we very much need a Captain Britain' Kwannon reports as she continues to run, engulfed by Betsy's psychic energy. 'I can't!' Betsy calls back.

Back inside Betsy's psyche: 'I'm not being coy... don't you understand? I literally cannot. I lost the duel. We don't have a Captain Britain' Betsy states. 'You lost, but...' Kwannon's voice trails off, as Betsy slumps to the ground and rests her head on her knees. 'Oh. Don't you know?' Kwannon asks. 'Don't come any closer!' Betsy screams as she suddenly looks up, and holds a psi-dagger to Kwannon's neck. 'Shh. Listen to me. You won' Kwannon tells Betsy. 'What?' Betsy asks, tears streaming down her face. Kwannon informs her that the Captain Britain Corps was reformed when Betsy took up the sword – and they're all her. 'I saw a vision, but I didn't know it was real...' Betsy utters as she slumps back to the ground. 'It is real. And you are needed' Kwannon assures her. Betsy stands up, and energy glows within her hands. 'The Starlight Sword! I can feel its presence, but I can't manifest it. I have no body' Betsy utters. Kwannon reports that her friends have one, and that she shouldn't worry, as it was made for her.

In the Starlight Citadel, Saturnyne and Ryl hear a strange noise, 'What...?' Saturnyne begins, before she looks down to the Captain Britain mosaic on the floor, which glows with pink energy. 'No!' she gasps.

Kwannon continues to run, and informs Betsy that she had to clear out an invader for her, if she can believe it. 'On our feet then' Kwannon adds. 'As you say' Betsy's psychic energy responds. 'Come now, while we can share a thought like this' Kwannon suggests, as the Starlight Sword begins to materialize in her hand. 'Let us try to understand the unspoken' Betsy suggests.

Back inside the lighthouse, Rictor stands in front of the gate to Avalon, while Gambit stands at the top of the stairs leading to the gate. Captain Avalon and Megan stand on the stairs, as Captain Avalon announces that he respects Kwannon a great deal, but that he is tired of waiting, so he is going in. 'Someone take me in' he asks. 'Mon ami! You can't -!' Gambit begins. 'Ask me again to stay away from my own home!' Captain Avalon snarls. Jubilee blows some bubble gum as she sits lower down the stairs, while Rogue stands at the bottom, arms folded, frowning. 'Ami, listen! This is about our home too -' Gambit tries to tell Captain Avalon, who points his finger at Gambit and reminds him that he and Betsy both fought for that home. Suddenly, 'Look!' Meggan exclaims, pointing to the gate, where Kwannon, holding the glowing pink Starlight Sword, has appeared. 'The Starlight Sword – where is she? Or are you...?' someone asks, and Kwannon explains that, temporarily, she is both.

'Can you understand me now?' Kwannon telepathically asks Betsy as she places the Starlight Sword in the hands of the new body that Betsy Braddock will inhabit. 'I can forever try' Betsy responds telepathically. Suddenly, 'She's awake!' Captain Avalon utters as Betsy wakes, and suddenly begins to choke. 'help her!' Meggan calls out when she sees her sister-in-law in strife. Betsy leans over and spits something out of her mouth. 'She's coughed it up' Kwannon remarks, as Betsy holds her hand open for everyone to see – 'Oh...oh my god' someone utters as they all look at the choker depicting a woman's face. 'There she is – aaaahhh!' someone calls out as Kwannon and Betsy both turn to Rogue, energy darting in and out of her. 'What's happening to her?' Gambit asks as he rushes over to his wife. Gambit grabs Rogue, as the energy darts through one of the gates. 'Dammit – she got through the gate to Krakoa!' Rogue reports.

'Who?' Gambit asks. 'She went right through me – but Ah fought her off. I knew her moves 'cause she's attacked me before. You might remember her too, Bets, now that Ah think of it. Her name's Malice. And her power is...well...she could be anyone on Krakoa!'

And at that moment, Malice appears on Krakoa, hovering over dozens of mutants near a gate....

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain II, Gambit, Jubilee, Rictor, Rogue (all Excalibur)
Captain Avalon



Elspeth Braddock, Britannica Rex, Queen Elizabeth III, Violet Swan and others (all Captain Britain Corps)
Nightcrawler (Earth-13059)

Citizens of Jackdaw's Nest

Story Notes: 

Earth 616 Betsy took over Queen Elizabeth III's body in Excalibur (4th series) #17.

This issue contains a spell from the Grimoire of Rictor, the ritual for the rejoining of body and soul, with a diagram of Rictor's workings, including how to place himself, Gambit, Meggan and either Rogue or Betsy in the spell.

Jamie Braddock had Sinister create a Betsy clone in Excalibur (4th series) #16.

The village of Jackdaw's Nest is probably named for Jackdaw, the Otherworldly one-time sidekick of the original Captain Britain, who was murdered by the Fury in Marvel Super-Heroes #387.

Betsy and Kwannon briefly looked at each other during the party that took place in Excalibur (4th series) #1, although neither spoke to the other.

This issue includes the poem “The Ballad of the Violet Stranger” presumably written by Frogmouth.

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