Excalibur (4th series) #20

Issue Date: 
June 2021
Story Title: 
No Pity from Your Friends

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), Nick Russell (production), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)


Brief Description: 

Years ago, a depressed young woman called Alice MacAllister argues with her mother about her life choices. Alice wants to die – and she does – only her mutant powers activate, and her soul remains alive, separated from her body, she then vanishes and later becomes the hateful Malice, who possesses the bodies of others. Today, the newly returned Betsy Braddock is back on Krakoa, and meets with the Quiet Council. They discuss the situation with England and Otherworld, and the use of the Krakoan gates to both. The Council adjourns, but Emma Frost remains behind to talk to Betsy – only Emma is possessed by Malice, and attacks Betsy – thankfully, Betsy expected this, and has Kwannon on her side. The two are able to then trap Malice within a psi-blade. Xavier and Magneto return to talk to Betsy about Malice. They think she is a security threat, but allow Betsy and Kwannon to try and reason with her. Later, at Braddock Lighthouse, Betsy is trying on some of her old dresses, trying to find something to wear to the upcoming Hellfire Gala – only none of the dresses fit – because they were made for Kwannon's body. At that moment, Kwannon arrives at the lighthouse, and when Betsy offers her the dresses, Kwannon declines them as they aren't her taste. With Jubilee and Rogue, they sit over a bonfire on the shore, burning the dresses. Betsy and Kwannon then devise a plan to help Malice, and transfer their psyches into the psi-blade while Rogue and Jubilee watch over them. Within the blade, they find themselves in Malice's memories – and old nightclub in England that she used to attend before she lost her body – Betsy used to go there, too. Malice is still full of hate and anger and lashes out at Betsy. They fight on the Astral Plane, before Malice's necklace appears on Kwannon's neck – and returned to her body, Betsy grabs the necklace and throws it into the bonfire. Later still, Malice is reborn on Krakoa – in her own physical body. She is confused, and still wants to die. Xavier isn't sympathetic towards Malice, but Betsy, Kwannon and even Emma Frost want to offer Malice a second chance. Malice can't understand why she is being forgiven, as Betsy takes her out of the Hatchery and tells her she now has a fresh start.

Full Summary: 

Way back when:

Doncaster, England, where inside the kitchen of a sparse, dreary flat, a woman sits at the kitchen table, clutching a cup  of coffee. She wears a hair net in her hair. The ticking of a clock breaks the silence in the room – then the door suddenly creaks open. The woman sitting at the table grits her teeth as she snarls 'It's nearly four in the morning, Alice'. The door then slams shut. 'Oh, stop it, Mum!' the teenage girl, Alice, who wears punk-like clothes and a choker around her neck, exclaims. '... where the hell have you been?' her mother asks, turning to look at her. 'Out' Alice tells her, before she opens the refrigerator and starts rummaging for something to eat. 'Out where?' Alice's mother queries. 'Does it matter?' Alice asks her. 'Yes, it matters. You're 16 – you can't just be out all hours of the night in the rain!' her mother declares. Alice closes the fridge and starts to walk up a flight of stairs. 'I tell you this because I love you. You're my heart. My only child. If anything happened to you, I couldn't bear it' Alice's mother explains. 'So dramatic. All those stupid stories you watch' Alice mutters.

Alice's mother stands at the bottom of the staircase and tells her daughter not to sulk and stomp around her house. 'I work to keep this roof over your head. You may go out all night, deprive yourself of a good sleep and a good meal... you may poke your precious body full of holes and ink...' she calls out. 'Stop!' Alice exclaims. '... but I care about your safety!' Alice's mother assures her. Alice hangs her head, then covers her ears as her mother continues: 'One of these days, you'll be old like me, Alice! You'll have a bad back because you didn't do your coursework and had to slave away at some factory, and you'll regret throwing away your youth like this!' Alice snaps back at her mother: 'I'm not a bloody workhorse, mum. I wish I was nothing at all. I WISH I WAS DEAD!' she screams, before slamming the door to her room. Then, there is a loud thumping noise. Alice's mother looks up the staircase, then covers her face, 'Oh, Alice. Oh, love. You don't mean it'.

'Darling? Alice, please let me in' Alice's mother calls out some time later as she makes her way up the stairs, carrying some toast and a cup of drink. 'I wish you wouldn't say those things. I'm just so... so very tired, and... Alice?' Alice's mother calls out as she gets no response from inside Alice's room. The tired woman opens the door to her daughter's room, and a look of horror falls across her face as she drops the toast and hot drink, 'God almighty, no... NO!' she screams as she rushes into the room, where Alice's unmoving body is lying slumped on the floor. 'Oh, Alice, you didn't mean it? My darling, what did you do?' she asks. 'Alice...my darling Alice...' the woman cries, tears streaming down her face, as suddenly, an astral form of Alice appears, hovering over her own body. 'Mum? I'm only right here. I don't know what happened – can't you hear me?' Alice asks. 'No, no, no' the woman utters over and over, clutching her daughter's body. 'Am I invisible?' Alice wonders. Alice realizes that if she is so much trouble, maybe if she is gone, it is for the best. 'Oh, my darling... ALICE!' the woman screams as Alice's astral form floats out a window into the rainy night.


'Welcome, Captain Britain' Charles Xavier calls out as Betsy Braddock stands in the center of the Quiet Council of Krakoa. Magneto sits next to Xavier, while opposite them sit Emma Frost, Kate Pryde and Sebastian Shaw. On one of the other sides sits Storm and Nightcrawler, while the final side of the Council consists of Mr Sinister, Exodus and Mystique. Xavier tells Captain Britain that although it is business that brings her here to the Council chambers today, he reports that they are personally glad to see she has safely returned from Otherworld. Betsy stands silently as Xavier tells her that she fought bravely against an impossible foe, and that Krakoa will not soon forget her service. 'Betsy Braddock has never been hesitant when decisive action was needed' Xavier adds. 'Hear! Hear!' Nightcrawler exclaims, standing up and smiling at his friend.

'Yeah, did you hear they invited Isca to stay? I can't wait till you two meet up at the tiki bar. How many girls hate you, Betsy Braddock?' Sinister smirks. 'Enough' Mystique snaps at him. Betsy tells Xavier that she appreciates the kind words, but that she hesitates to take up too much time. 'There's apparently a gala I've got to prepare for?' Betsy asks. Kate informs Betsy that Jumbo can sort her look. 'You get to cut the to the front of the line if you die – trust me' Kate adds. 'Miss Braddock didn't die. But she's right to want to look her best' Shaw points out, arms folded. Shaw then reports that rumblings from Britain seem to indicate seem to indicate extreme displeasure with their absent Captain. 'They think you're here quietly vacationing. You'll have to change their minds and lower the temperature before they do something rash'.

'Britain and the gala aside... the Majestrix also claims you are absent and she won't speak to us without Captain Britain as our representative' Storm explains. 'That's... absurd, but that's Saturnyne for you' Betsy tells the Council, adding that she has not met with Saturnyne since regaining her faculties, but she believes Saturnyne knows that she has returned. 'Had you died in Otherworld, your situation would be quite different. Both Rockslide and Gorgon are forever changed. We don't know how many more could follow' Magneto tells Betsy. Xavier instructs Captain Britain to entreat Saturnyne, and states that nothing is more dangerous to an individual mutant right now than death in Otherworld – so either the situation has to change, or the gate does. 'Children can go through the gate. It must be safe' Xavier declares. 'Some children live there, Charles. It isn't exactly untamed. The gate is in my home, after all' Betsy points out. Magneto encourages Captain Britain to mend fences with Saturnyne, adding that, in the meantime, Excalibur stands guard at the gate.

'Motion seconded. If Excalibur is willing to be shepherds of the Otherworld gate...' Emma Frost begins, while looking at her finger nails. 'We have no complaints. Rogue suggested the very same' Captain Britain reports to the Council. Xavier then tells the Council that if there is no other Council business, they can adjourn in good spirits. As everyone begins to leave the Council chambers, Emma Frost remains behind and, while continuing to look at her nails, tells Betsy 'You've got some very loud thoughts that you were very quiet about' and asks her if she wants to talk about the new citizen. 'Is that really Council business, Emma? People come to Krakoa every day' Betsy responds. 'It's a limited docket. I'm asking now' Emma remarks. 'Are you asking? You're reading my mind. Malice. You remember her' Betsy replies. 'I do indeed, Betsy. She's cunning. And dangerous' Emma adds.

Betsy turns away from Emma as she points out that Malice hasn't broken any laws, and that she is keeping this one personal. 'Trust that I have this handled, Emma...you'll be much happier when you give up a little control' Betsy suggests. At that moment, Emma spins around, revealing Malice's choker on her neck, holding a dagger, she lunges at Betsy – but before she can strike, a psi-blade is plunged into Emma's neck, courtesy of Kwannon. Betsy catches Emma when she falls towards her, Kwannon's psi-blade still lodged in Emma's neck. 'Brilliant throw' Betsy tells Kwannon as she steps out from behind a tree. 'Attacking Emma Frost in the Council chamber? That could have gone very poorly for Malice' Kwannon points out. 'She waited until everyone was gone. She knows what she's doing' Betsy remarks, before thanking Kwannon for coming along. 'My psychic knife seems to be stuck in her' Kwannon points out, before reaching down for it. 'Pull!' Betsy calls out – it works, and Kwannon realizes that Malice is stuck in the psi-blade. 'How strange' Kwannon adds.

Betsy picks up the psi-blade and Kwannon looks at her, 'Usually only I can pick those up' she remarks. 'Neat trick we've got there' Betsy replies, when suddenly, a psychic voice utters 'I do not require explanations in order to find out the truth... but I sometimes request them rather than using psychic force'. Betsy and Kwannon look over to see Charles Xavier standing nearby. Betsy telepathically asks Charles to let them explain and approach this like the higher-minded folk that they are. Kwannon telepathically informs Xavier that they suspected Malice might strike here, and explains that she set herself to monitor. Xavier assures the women that he trusts them and asks if Emma is well. Looking down at Emma's unmoving body, one of the women reports that Emma is fine, that she has simply retreated to a sort of mental safe room for just such an attack. Betsy supposes that Malice must have determined Emma would be a powerful enough psychic to throttle the whole room if needed. 'Lucky for us, she's like a teenager in a sports car – Malice only knew enough to crash it into the wall' Betsy adds, while Kwannon points out that Malice is like an angry teenager, too.

Xavier crouches next to Emma's unmoving body and tells Betsy and Kwannon that Malice's attack has transformed this from a personal matter into a security threat. 'all are forgiven and welcome here on Krakoa, but there are those who are cruel – or merely reckless – enough to endanger our nation itself, and that can't be permitted' Xavier adds. Betsy proposes that no one else needs to know what happened here, and explains that Malice isn't right, that she is like an angry ghost. She asks Xavier to please let them reason with her. Magneto arrives on scene and walks over and picks Emma's body up as Xavier informs Betsy and Kwannon that they have a place for their greatest threats. He explains that he abides prisons, and so the threats are kept there, awake and aware, but unmoving, without the joy of living. '...that sounds exactly like a prison' Kwannon remarks. Xavier assures her that it is something different, and that it is necessary, for now – for people like Malice.

Betsy tells Charles that they think Malice might be unwillingly separated from her body. Charles offers to have the Five make Malice a husk. 'She may have that – the same as any citizen. But even if she rejects it – she must answer for her attack here today' Charles announces. Magneto adds that they will not go easy on Malice because of her mutation. 'We will expect more from her because of it' he explains.

Later, at the Braddock Lighthouse, where Betsy is in her room, behind a modesty screen, clothes strewn about. Jubilee and her son, Shogo, sit on the bed amongst the clothes, while Betsy calls out 'Rogue, come in – don't mind the mess! I'm going through my closet for this Hellfire bash' she explains. 'Y'all should just got to Jumbo... then you don't gotta think about it' Rogue suggests. Betsy reveals that she just got all of these back from storage with Meggan, and that she thought they could go through them to see if there is anything anyone wanted to wear to this thing. '... and, is there?' Rogue asks. 'Doubtful. Who is tall and leggy enough for these?' Jubilee asks. 'I don't know. None of them fit me right, either' Betsy admits. 'You seem... good, Bets' Rogue smiles as Betsy steps out from behind the screen, wearing a large peach-colored gown. 'I wanna say like yerself again, but I ain't sure I ever seen ya like this' Rogue adds. 'We all have good days too, yeah?' Betsy smiles.

'Speaking of bad and good days, I've got a plan to give Malice another chance' Betsy explains, while looking at herself in a mirror. She tells Rogue that she is not going to do it alone, and that she wants her help. 'I'm shocked' Rogue replies. 'You don't think she deserves it?' Betsy asks. 'She does. I'm shocked you're asking for help' Rogue remarks. 'Very funny' Betsy smiles, before asking Rogue if she can interest her in some itchy couture. 'Ths is real gorgeous, but it wouldn't ever fit me right. I ain't got the legs' Rogue replies, looking at a red dress. 'Well, if it makes you feel any better, it wasn't made for my legs, either' Betsy smirks. As if on cue, Kwannon enters the room. 'I came to discuss... something' she announces, hanging her head, she offers to come back later. Betsy removes the peach dress and tells Kwannon to come in and excuse the mess. 'We were going through my old dresses to see if... ah. It occurs to me why none of these fit my body right' Betsy remarks. She tells Kwannon that she can have the dresses and do whatever she wants with them. 'They are my size?' Kwannon asks. 'Yes' Betsy tells her. 'But not my taste' Kwannon remarks, frowning as she looks at the dresses. 'Ah... no. They are not' Betsy agrees, deciding that they are a symbol of a time better left behind.

Soon, gathered around a bonfire on the beach at the shore of the lighthouse. 'This is killing me to watch. These dresses belong in a museum!' Jubilee exclaims as Betsy throws another one on the fire. 'So Psylocke and Bets are gonna go into that  there knife and get Malice thinking right enough to sit in a brand-new body and make nice for Chuck, or she ends up in the hole' Rogue explains. Betsy agrees that that seems to be where they stand at the moment, and knows that she is going to have to talk Malice into it for her own sake. 'I'll come along. There is a precedent to be set for those of us separated from our bodies' Kwannon states. She adds that they have to look out for Malice. 'I'll watch her back. And yours. But we should act now' Kwannon tells Betsy. 'Now? No time like the present, I suppose' Betsy replies as she looks at the psi-blade in her hand. 'Now is when I have time. I didn't come to the lighthouse to put my feet in the sand' Kwannon declares.

Rogue and Jubilee stand up and Rogue tells Betsy and Kwannon that they will be here watching their bodies while they do their psychic thing. 'Hopefully we won't be long' Betsy replies as she and Kwannon turn to face each other, the psi-blade on the sand between them. 'Let's begin' Kwannon suggests, noting that Malice has started to become uncomfortable in the psi-blade. 'But she won't be for long' Kwannon adds, while Betsy suggests they coax her to open up her consciousness and see where she takes them.

in Malice's mind:

'... what is this place?' Kwannon asks as she and Betsy find themselves in some sort of nightclub, where crowds of people are dancing under dark lights. Betsy tells Kwannon that she thinks it is the Violet Velveteen in Leeds, England. 'How strange. I used to come here to see bands. Terrible bands, I might add' Betsy informs Kwannon. As they make their way through the crowds, Kwannon asks Betsy how Malice knows this place from her past. 'I think she came here to dance too' Betsy explains, before leading the way, claiming she knows where Malice will be. A moment later, Betsy pulls a curtain back to a secluded area where there are some couches, and she and Kwannon find a young woman sitting alone. 'Sometimes people just come to listen to the music' Betsy points out. Kwannon suggests to Betsy that she goes in alone. 'I'll hang back in case she strikes again. And make it quick, I do not want to listen to this music' Kwannon snaps.

'Captain Britain here to save me now?' Malice asks, without looking up, as Betsy walks towards her, and sits down on a sofa opposite her. 'Absolutely not. Go away' Malice adds. 'Thought you might say that' Betsy replies, before asking Malice 'Did you know I knew this place too?' But Malice tells Betsy that she didn't, although she isn't surprised, as plenty of posh types like to play “common people” from time to time. 'I'm trying to help you. Charles Xavier -' Betsy begins. 'Charles Xavier seems to be threatening me with eternity in a black hole for disturbing his meeting' Malice points out. Malice tells Betsy that she liked her better when she wasn't bothering her. 'You're just some empty body that was useful to me. We're not connected' Malice snarls. 'I'm not like you and the other one and your decades of mess' Malice adds. Betsy informs Malice that they can make her a body on Krakoa, as someone made this one for her, it is fine. 'I never cared much for my original, if I'm being honest. So, it's all the same to me' Betsy adds, before calling Malice by her true name, Alice, and informing her that she could be happy on Krakoa.

'I've not been called that since I was a child. I'm not a child, and I haven't been for a long, long time!' Malice shrieks, her body suddenly switching to its astral form, she rises above Betsy in a furious display of anger and shouts 'Why should I go back there? Why should I play nice? You're going to punish me. Why don't I just take you with me?' Psychic energy swells around Betsy as she tells Malice not to threaten her, as it won't end well. 'We can settle this calmly now – I'm on your side!' Betsy assures her. Kwannon returns to the room, 'Betsy?' she asks, while Malice shrieks 'Oh? You promise you'll fight for me? I've heard that before' and adds that she has heard Betsy doesn't always win fights lately. 'That's enough. No need to get personal' Betsy replies.


On the beach, 'Bets? Psylocke? What's happening to 'em?' Rogue asks as Betsy and Kwannon begin to thrash about uncontrollably. 'Should we do something?' Jubilee asks. Suddenly, 'Not yet' Kwannon announces as she wakes up, revealing that Malice kicked her out. 'She's going after Betsy for blood this time. She wants a fight'.

In Malice's mind:

'Poor little rich girl – you're just a loser like me!' Malice exclaims while a memory of Betsy being shattered recently is projected. 'No, love. I'm a fighter. And I see a clumsy jab' Betsy frowns, as an arena materializes around her. 'I see a girl flipping the pages of a book for what looks like the nastiest parts. This dueling ring is where I lost a battle, yeah, but it's where we won a war' Betsy remarks, before suggesting to Malice that she draw her sword. Malice projects herself as an astral mirror of Betsy, and smirks. 'Oh please. That's your move?' Betsy asks. 'I'm the last woman to be scared of fighting my own shadow!' Betsy declares as her psi-sword bangs against Malice's astral sword.


'What are you doing?' Rogue asks as Kwannon grabs Betsy. 'She wants Malice to escalate' Kwannon explains. 'So?' Betsy asks. 'She is going to escalate'

In Malice's mind:

'Let me help you, Malice! You don't deserve exile. Krakoa can be your home!' Betsy exclaims as she knocks Malice backwards. Malice's form changes as she claims that she doesn't care if she is exiled, and that she doesn't care what Betsy wants. Malice's astral form then lunges at Betsy, 'I want all the pain to stop! I want to go into the nothing so it's all taken away!' she shouts. Betsy looks around, '... Malice?' she asks, but gets no response, the mindscape appears empty. 'Where did you go?'


'The necklace! Malice has Psylocke!' Rogue exclaims as the choker around Kwannon's neck glows. 'So we fight Psylocke. Not stoked' Jubilee utters. 'I said – wait!' Kwannon utters, when suddenly, 'Now!' she calls out and the psi-blade sitting on the sand is used to slice the choker – it's Betsy, she's awake, and she throws the choker into the fire which still blazes nearby. 'I didn't want to have to do that. There were other ways' Betsy utters. 'I know' Kwannon agrees. 'But we are stubborn mutant women' she points out, as Malice's choker begins to burn in the flames.

Later, 'Her mind is a tempest, Betsy. As angry and as lost as ever' Charles Xavier announces as he reaches out a hand to Alice McAlister, who emerges from a pod in the Hatchery. Xavier reports that he sees nothing in her mind that implies she is cured of any affliction, only her anger, which has threatened Krakoa itself. 'This must be left to my judgment' Charles decides, and announces that he is not convinced. '... where am I?' Alice asks, looking at her skin. Betsy approaches her and informs her that she is on Krakoa, that she has been resurrected from death. 'Whatever you remember of our disagreement... I consider it settled if you can. I didn't want you to wake alone' Betsy informs Alice. Alice hangs her head and tells Betsy that it is nice they could settle that personal issue right before she lets Xavier send her into exile. 'If I haven't made it clear. I wanted to die' Malice adds.

Charles informs Malice that she did die, and that she has been reborn. 'You lashed out against the very nation of Krakoa. You must reckon with what you've done, even if you were in pain' Charles points out. 'Pardon us. There are others in play here' Emma Frost remarks as she stands over Alice, holding a blanket. Kwannon is with her, and Emma declares that Kwannon is aware of the situation and feels a similar sense of mercy. 'And if the words of a council member are required, I am nothing if not sympathetic to those who had it hard when they were young' Emma reports. 'Stop!' Alice exclaims. Emma places the blanket over Alice's shoulders, but Alice just asks for her sentence. 'Stop with the speeches and just take me away to rot already!' she scowls. Emma asks Captain Britain and Psylocke if Malice has harmed them in any way. 'No' Betsy replies. 'I choose mercy' Kwannon announces.

Emma declares that she herself wishes Malice opportunity rather than punishment, and asks Charles for his thoughts. '... it would seem I am overruled' Charles concedes, before he welcomes Malice to Krakoa. Emma tells Alice that almost everything is plentiful, and that the gates can take them to anywhere in the world, or off it, in seconds. 'You have been forgiven. Enjoy' Emma tells Alice, who continues to frown, as Betsy leads her out of the Hatchery, while Xavier, Emma and Kwannon watch them leave. 'Don't blow it, love' Betsy tells Alice. 'Is this a joke?' Alice asks. 'Absolutely not' Betsy assures her. 'It's a fresh start. No one can promise it won't hurt like hell...but I've certainly had enough of my own. This one is yours' Betsy remarks, while Malice stands on the edge of a cliff and looks out over Krakoa, the sun glowing across the ocean.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain II, Jubilee, Rogue (all Excalibur)


Shogo Lee

Exodus, Emma Frost, Magneto, Mr Sinister, Nightcrawler, Sebastian Shaw, Storm, Kate Pryde, Professor X (all Quiet Council)




in flashback:

Malice / Alice McAllister

Mrs McAllister


Story Notes: 

Malice debuted in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #210, and this marks the first time her origin has ever been explored.

This issue includes some briefing notes on Malice. It notes her affiliations – the Marauders and a past version of Mr Sinister, and reports on her abilities, noting that she was until now observed as a sentient being of pure pyschic energy, only able to manifest corporeally via physical possession. The report assumes that if she had a body, she had been detached from it for a long time. The report notes how aggressive and violent Malice usually is, and states that she has always been resistant to psychic prying. The report lists Malice's previous targets – notably Polaris, but also Storm, Wolverine, Rogue and Dazzler. The briefing also includes an image of the necklace that Malice's targets wear once they are possessed by her.

Betsy was shattered in Excalibur (4th series) #14, and was restored in #19, after jumping through the bodies of various alternate Betsy's.

Rockslide and Gorgon were both killed on Otherworld during the “X of Swords” event, and were resurrected with a different pseronality.

This issue includes a text-only page of several text messages from Pete Wisdom to Betsy, warning her that the Coven Akkaba have been invited to the upcoming Hellfire Gala.


Written By: