Excalibur (4th series) #22

Issue Date: 
September 2021
Story Title: 
Treasures of Britain

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), Phil Noto (variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Nick Russell (production), Annalise Bissa (associate editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Captain Britain, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee and Meggan have accompanied the Beast to Blightspoke, on Otherworld, where he takes samples of the earth. They are confronted by Sheriff Whitechapel, who isn't impressed that they are stealing from this realm. The Beast explains the technology he has that enables him to take samples of the dirt without taking it back to Krakoa, so the Sheriff allows him to continue. She warns Excalibur to be careful, as there are people on Otherworld not happy with “witchbreed” running all over the place. Later, on Krakoa, Pete Wisdom is resurrected. Meggan is there to greet him, and informs him that Coven Akkaba killed him as a sacrifice to free Morgan Le Fay – and that the gates between Krakoa and the UK have all been torn down. At the Starlight Citadel on Otherworld, Saturnyne meets with representatives from the various realms within Otherworld. Merlyn seems particularly offended about the “witchbreed” visiting Otherworld. He reminds everyone that he used to be the Omniversal guardian. Jamie Braddock asks Merlyn how he lost that position, however Roma points out that her father won't speak about that – however, she would be happy to talk about it. Merlyn warns the representatives at the meeting that the “witchbreed” will only cause trouble for Otherworld, and that if Saturnyne cannot protect Otherworld, they will all suffer. After the meeting, Captain Britain and Saturnyne discuss Merlyn and agree that he probably schemed some diabolical plan. The two women nearly make peace, but can't quite get there. Captain Britain asks Saturnyne how she took the throne from Merlyn, to which Saturnyne tells Captain Britain that if she can find out what Merlyn has planned next, then she will tell her how she defeated him last time. Pete Wisdom is on Braddock Isle, reflecting on what has transpired. He spends some time drinking, before collecting the images of four dead mutants who have not yet been resurrected. Captain Britain, Rictor, Jubilee and Gambit invade Merlyn's tower on Otherworld, feeing fairies and other prisoners, they make their way to Merlyn's chamber, where they hear voices, like trapped prisoners, within a well. Merlyn confronts Excalibur and attacks them, forcing them to flee down the well. Rictor controls their descent by manipulating the earth around them, and the eventually come to a tunnel underneath the citadel, where they flee on a train. Back on Krakoa, Wisdom arrives at the Hatchery as four long-dead mutants are returned to life – the agents of STRIKE! Merlyn finds his dungeons now empty – save for one person who was hidden in plain sight from Excalibur – a bearded man who Merlyn asks if he remembers who he is – and the man announces that he is Arthur!

Full Summary: 

The realm of Otherworld known as Blightspoke, where several mutants have gathered on the barren land, under the star-filled sky. Among them are Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain, Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit, Julio Richter a.k.a. Rictor and Jubilation Lee a.k.a. Jubilee, all members of Excalibur. With them are their ally Meggan a.k.a. Gloriana, X-Force's Dr Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast and Jubilee's son, Shogo, in his dragon form. 'Fascinating!' the Beast exclaims as he scans the ground and tells the others that some of these samples behave like elemental analogues from their own Earth, but his scanner can't begin to decipher the data, so it will take weeks of research just to interpret it. Captain Britain asks the Beast if he has enough yet, as standing around this place is not very good for you.

Watching the mutants is a woman in a red costume who looks at them through binoculars as someone with her asks 'Sheriff? You gonna shoot them witchbreed?'

Captain Britain explains that she is able to psychically dull the discomfort, and that Rictor can staunch it slightly, but the ground here is leeching the life from them. 'You'll feel terrible tomorrow' she adds. Gambit shuffles a deck of playing cards as he tells Betsy that he has felt worse on a Sunday morning. 'Nothing you can't fix with coffee and a beignet' he adds. 'I won't take up too much of your time, Excalibur' the Beast states, remarking that Logan says this place can be unwelcoming in more ways than one.

The mysterious sheriff suddenly adjusts her gun, which makes a clicking sound.

Captain Britain looks over into the distance, and Gambit does, too, announcing that he heard it, but likes it just fine.

The Sheriff can be seen clearly, a large red hat on her head, several strange humanoid-animal creatures riding mechanical steeds behind her. 'Nah... just one of 'em' the sheriff declares as she pulls the trigger on her gun, which sends a bullet speeding towards the mutants.

'You hear something?' Gambit asks, going suddenly wide-eyed as the bullet nears his head – but before the bullet can strike him, Captain Britain slams her psi-sword into the bullet, destroying it and saving Gambit. There is an explosion, which is seen by mysterious sheriff. 'Well, I'll be damned. Let's ride out and meet 'em!' the sheriff exclaims. A moment later, 'Oh dear. Ought I pack up?' the Beast asks as everyone looks over to the sheriff, her posse and their mechanical steeds, who arrive on scene. 'Absolutely not. We've a right to be here' Captain Britain responds. 'Do ya?' the sheriff calls out. Captain Britain addresses her as Sheriff Whitechapel as she tells her it is a pleasure, before asking her to forgive them, as there isn't a place to check in. 'And as Captain Britain, I am Saturnyne's own knight and diplomatically permitted here as needed' Sheriff Whitechapel tips her hat as she quotes “diplomatically permitted” and tells Captain Britain that she talks funny, but that she can't let her boy steal.

Sheriff Whitechapel aims her gun at the Beast, who holds up his hands while the sheriff announces that everything here in Blightspoke is as “rare as rocking horse $#%&” as she puts it. 'Meaning it's valuable. Even yer little samples' she adds, before warning the Beast to drop the samples and get before she gets curious and finds out what happens when she shoots the rest of them. The Beast asks the sheriff to let him explain, and holds up his scanner as he tells her that with this device, he can actually create a three-dimensional scan of the object and all its relevant properties, meaning he can return home to decipher his data without ever actually extracting a molecule of the product. 'Isn't that fascinating?' he asks. 'Aright, he's just making a picture with that thing. I get it' the sheriff admits, before warning the mutants to keep their heads down, as there are others around here looking for the same stuff they are. 'And they're playing for keeps. And they don't give warnings' Sheriff Whitechapel exclaims.

Rictor asks if there is anyone they should be on the lookout for. Dragon-Shogo leans into Sheriff Whitechapel, who strokes his face, and the sheriff states that after the whole recent mess, there are plenty of folk not happy with the witchbreed running all over. 'But y'all seem fine to me, long as I'm being honest' she adds, before telling the mutants to take care and that she will see Captain Britain at the Citadel. 'People'll let you know how they feel about ya there. Angry fellas can't help themselves from saying it' Sheriff Whitechapel remarks as she and her posse turn and ride away.

Krakoa, where inside the Hatchery, there is darkness, before a flicker of light appears, courtesy of the “hot knives” a power belonging to Peter Wisdom, who opens his eyes and breaks through the pod where he has been reborn with the help of his fiery power. 'Pete?' Meggan asks as she helps him from the pod. 'How did – who did -?' the naked Wisdom asks as he looks up at Meggan. Meggan's kind face looks back at Wisdom as she informs him that it was Coven Akkaba, and that Reuben has been made ambassador. 'Come here, Pete, darling' Meggan utters as she holds Pete's hands. 'Bastard. Get me pants... and a gate...' Wisdom utters as he starts to move away from Meggan, who tells him to come back, as there is something he needs to know. Proteus and Egg are on hand as Wisdom collapses into Meggan. 'They sacrificed you, darling, to free Morgan Le Fay. They're tearing down all the UK gates...we cannot go there anymore' Meggan reveals. 'No... NOOOOOOO!' Peter screams so loudly that his cries can be heard by Angel and Pixie, who are flying above a Krakoan forest.

Back on Otherworld, at the Starlight Citadel, where Opal Luna Saturnyne sits on a red sofa, her attendant, Ryl, standing behind her, and Captain Britain standing nearby, while several representatives of the realms of Otherworld are gathered before her. 'You're weak, Saturnyne!' one of them calls out. 'Don't strike him down, Captain Britain. Let the foolish old man speak' Saturnyne declares, to which Captain Britain tells Saturnyne that she wouldn't lose her temper over such an empty insult. 'The first wise thing you've ever said. Now stay wise and go sit down' the ancient wizard Merlyn suggests. From the other gathered guests, Brian Braddock a.k.a. Captain Avalon asks Merlyn what the meaning of these hostilities are. 'Once, you and I were allies. Can you not stand behind my family once more?' Captain Avalon asks, his brother, King Jamie a.k.a. Monarch, at his side.

'Behind your family? My dear boy. I am Merlyn. I have stood beside the family Braddock – and better kings too – but I stand behind no on' Merlyn responds, explaining that what has happened to this parliament is why – mere moons ago, this whole citadel trembled – but for what? A race of Earthborn creatures – mutants – witchbreed! Merlyn declares that he knows the dangers of hosting these realities, and reminds everyone that there was a time he was the Omniversal guardian. 'I been meaning to ask about that. How did you lose that gig? Tell us real slow. I wanna listen to this' Monarch grins. Roma scowls as she stands with one hand on a hip and states that her father won't tell them how he lost – but she would love to. The Colony Queen called Vesperidae, a wasp-like creature, utters something in her native language, to which  Famine of the First Horsemen states that the realm of Hothive agrees with Merlyn, claiming the strongest should rule. The other First Horseman, Pestilence, announces that they say the strongest do rule – those who just pushed back Arakko's forces. 'The little faerie man just wants to make war' Pestilence adds.

Standing next to two of the Fury, the creatures known as Countex Oublia and Countex Oscura speak up, revealing that since the witchbreed took the throne of their wretched neighbor Avalon, they have not known peace. Merlyn takes center stage again and shouts 'Hear me, Otherworld! The Countexes of Sevalith speak the truth!' He declares that Saturnyne has permitted the witchbreed to test her limits and run roughshod in her court, and that the fair and foul courts turn on the axis of the Citadel – so if Saturnyne cannot defend it, they all will suffer. 'I have warned you! The wizard Merlyn speaks!' he shouts. 'Yes, well, when isn't Merlyn speaking' Saturnyne mutters before adjourning meeting by striking a crystal-like hammer against a cymball.

Captain Britain starts to walk away, but Saturnyne asks her where she is going. 'I'm leaving' Captain Britain responds, adding that she didn't epxect to be invited up for drinks. 'I'm not Brian' Captain Britain points out. 'You needn't remind me' Saturnyne mutters, before informing Betsy that she expects to hear her strategy. 'Merlyn just stood in my hall and practically declared war on me' Saturnyne reminds Captain Britain. 'He declared war on both of us and just about every mutant who walks here' Captain Britain replies, adding that Excalibur defends mutants who walk in Otherworld, and that unless Merlyn wants to start a fight with her, she thinks this is just a bluster. Saturnyne scowls as she tells Captain Britain that she doesn't think they should wait until Merlyn feels risky, and that she thinks they should go find out what he has got that makes him suddenly eager to take risks.

Saturnyne tells Captain Britain that if Merlyn is making these kind of threats, then he clearly has something up his sleeves. 'Either you go see what it is, or you and the other Captains can die en masse when they come here demanding my head' Saturnyne suggests to Captain Britain. Captain Britain removes her helmet and stares back at Saturnyne, frowning as she replies 'That was so close to being a proper request, you know that? You really almost got through it without being ugly'. Saturnyne turns away from Captain Britain and tells her to forget it, to suit herself. 'I tried to make peace with you' Saturnyne points out. But Captain Britain announces that she is going, and that she is taking Excalibur, as Merlyn is threatening mutants and the citadel. 'I don't need your approval or permission' she adds.

Saturnyne almost smiles as she thanks Captain Britain. 'Now, was that so hard?' Saturnyne asks. 'Hush' Captain Britain tells her, before adding that before asking how Saturnyne took the seat from Merlyn. 'Captain. Perhaps it is time -' Ryl begins, but Saturnyne hangs her head and states that she doesn't like giving gifts, but she is impressed when one is ambitious enough to ask for what she wants. 'Go tell me what Merlyn's got planned next, and I'll tell you how I brought him down last time. You ought to at least know the truth' Saturnyne smirks.

Braddock Isle, just off the coast of England, where Pete Wisdom sits on the shore beneath Excalibur's lighthouse, looking out over the ocean around him. He later drinks alone at the Green Lagoon, frowning as he looks into his drink. Finally, he visits a tree where plaques of images of dead mutants hang. He looks through the images and pulls several of the plaques from the tree.

Shortly, on Otherworld, in the Tower of Merlyn, where a pig-like creature is imprisoned in device restraining their head, ready for decapitation. Suddenly, Captain Britain's psi-sword strikes the shackles, freeing the pig. 'You're free! Go do fairy stuff!' Jubilee tells the creature. Captain Britain tells the pig to hurry, before the guards wake. 'Down the stairs and out. You can't come with us!' Captain Britain tells the creature. The pig turns and runs, joining several other fairies who have also been freed. Rictor and Gambit join Captain Britain while Jubilee asks 'I thought Merlyn was, like, a friendly wizard. Sugar bowls and owls and stuff. What the hell happened here?' Betsy tells her teammate that she doesn't know, and explains that when Brian was Captain Britain, Merlyn was his strongest ally, but that Merlyn has always been fickle and tricky. 'But something in him has changed from before... and I don't know that this wasn't the real Merlyn all along' she adds. Jubilee  suggests that they take Merlyn on, free all the prisoners and blow the tower. Captain Britain tells Jubilee to be patient, as they would have to wage a four-mutant war on all of the Holy Republic to do that. 'Besides, ami... I think maybe everyone here is a prisoner' Gambit points out.

The four members of Excalibur continue through Merlyn's Tower, and come to two large doors which lead to Merlyn's chambers. Captain Britain report that Merlyn is not in his chambers and that the door is locked, but she can hear something in there. Rictor touches the door and tells Captain Britain that he thinks it is a magic lock, meaning if she tries to bust it open, it is likely to seal off the door. Captain Britain tells Rictor that is no problem, as she can scan for which guard has the keys and “convince” them to help. 'No need, mon ami. I pocketed these from your boss-lady, Saturnyne – and I think I know how to use 'em' Gambit smiles as he holds up a deck of tarot cards. 'Of god, don't break it!' Betsy calls out, looking concerned as Gambit hurls a kinetically-charged cards towards the door, while Jubilee covers her ears. Gambit tells his teammates that he figured the tarot cards might do what they do, and that this one means luck. As the card strikes the lock mechanism, the door swings open. 'Lucky indeed' Betsy remarks

Inside Merlyn's chamber, loud thundering noises can be heard and lightning crackles in the air above them. A well sits in the middle of the chamber. 'Whatever I'm hearing – it's in that well' Betsy tells her teammates, adding that it is voices – and that it sounds like thousands of them. Rictor asks if they are trapped in there, but Betsy explains that they feel like echoes or whispers, that they aren't fully formed minds. 'Who are they? More prisoners?' Jubilee enquires, when suddenly, there is a loud creaking, and suddenly, a door opens and Merlyn appears. 'Witchbreed.  Stand back from the well or find yourselves obliterated. You threaten to pollute the Waters of All Reality with your carelessness!' Merlyn exclaims. Betsy has removed the lid to the well and looks into it as she asks Merlyn who the people in the well are. Merlyn goes over to Betsy and looks into the well, too, as he replies 'Any wizard in the Otherworld would know of the Waters of All Reality – has Saturnyne not advanced that far in her studies?'

Merlyn calls Saturnyne a “harridan” and remarks that he wouldn't expect her to educate Captain Britain properly on what she threatens to blunder into. 'Or perhaps she does not trust you enough. I wouldn't' Merlyn adds. Ric, Gambit and Jubilee gather around Captain Britain as Merlyn looks at them all and announces that as far as prisoners go, he has just come from his dungeon. 'You'll be relieved to know my days of taking prisoners are through'. 'Oh, really?' Betsy replies. Merlyn grins as he declares that those who are found breaking and entering will simply be executed. He releases some magical energies towards the heroes, which Betsy quickly blocks with her psi-shield. 'Bet us outta here!' Gambit exclaims. Betsy reminds him that they are atop a tower, and asks him if he proposes that she just flies them out one by one. Rictor notes that this place is wide open to the sky and asks if Shogo can't just come and scoop them up. 'Don't you dare! My baby boy is not allowed to come to this kingdom, ever!' Jubilee exclaims.

'Fine! I'll get us out of here!' Rictor calls out as he moves his teammates down the well, manipulating the earth around them to lower their descent. 'Going down!' he calls out, while Merlyn watches from the edge of the well. The heroes fall deeper and deeper through the tower, 'How much further?' one of them calls out. 'Uh? How do you want me to answer that?' Rictor asks, before the earth around them opens up and the heroes tumble out into an underground train tunnel. 'Good thinking!' Captain Britain tells Rictor, who reveals that he could sense them deep below the tower, and that he was desperate for an exit. 'But...this might have been a bad idea. I can feel these tunnels about to collapse, and holding them together would take time and concentration we don't have' Rictor announces, adding that he would say they run, but he is open to better ideas.

'All aboard the Gambit train!' Gambit exclaims as he climbs onto the train. Jubilee tells him to quit playing, as this thing is like a hundred years old and rusted. Gambit tells Jubilee that he isn't playing and to hurry up and get on while he charges the train. Betsy points out that it seems like they have no choice, and as Gambit touches the train, he boasts that it doesn't run on anything but him! A moment later, the train chugs off down thre track. 'Next stop, de Citadel!' Gambit calls out. 'You are a madman, Remy LeBeau' Betsy tells her friend as she clings to the side of the train.

Somewhere on Krakoa, Pete Wisdom sits at a desk, reading through a large book, he makes some notes as a candle burns on his table. Time passes, and the candle burns, as Wisdom falls asleep at his work, lollipop in his hand. When the sun rises, he sits on a platform connected to a tree, looking at the notes he has written.

Soon, Pete is in the Hatchery, where Egg approaches him and leads him to four pods. 'There they are. The four you asked for' Egg announces, motioning to the four pods. Egg adds  that he doesn't think anyone else knew they were mutants, but he looked through the Cerebro files, and Pete was right – they were. Egg reveals that they were backed up and all, and thanks Pete for his research. Pete thanks Egg, and suggests 'Let's get the Professor to wake 'em up, yeah?'

And shortly: 'Welcome, my friends' Pete Wisdom calls out to four naked and confused individuals who have emerged from their pods. Pete tells them that they may be shocked to be waking up here, and offers to catch them up. He looks at a balding man, while Egg offers a towel to a woman with red hair, and Professor Xavier stands behind a man with blond hair, while Tempus offers a towel to a woman with white hair. Wisdom informs the quartet that the psychic powers they have displayed since their days in the British Intelligence have been a result of their mutant X genes. 'Mutants like us can come back from the dead now. And mutants like us can never go home to the UK' Wisdom announces, revealing that the nation they served, some with their lives, has cast their own kind out. 'But let's make them regret it, shall we? Let's get to work, STRIKE!'

Back on Otherworld, Merlyn is in his dungeon and throws away some broken chains. 'This place is protected by more than just locked doors and guards, Excalibur. The clever mind of Merlyn is better than any lock. And you used fortune to open my locks!' Merlyn declares, before he pulls a sheet away from a small cage – where a prisoner still remains, a man with reddish hair and a beard, huddled naked in the cage. 'It is ill luck indeed to cross the fae. We are tricky. And we hide things in plain sight' Merlyn remarks. 'Who...?' the man in the cage asks, looking up at Merlyn, who touches the man's head and informs him that he is Merlyn, and asks him if he remembers now. 'Yes' the man utters. 'Then remember who you are' Merlyn instructs the mysterious man, who utters 'I... I am... Arthur'.

Characters Involved: 

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

Captain Avalon & Gloriana
Pete Wisdom
Shogo Lee

Egg, Proteus, Tempus (all the Five)
Angel, Anole, Pixie III

Albedo/Alison Double, Ghast/Tom Lennox, Rubedo/Vicki Reppion, Xanth/Kevin Mulhearn (all STRIKE)

Opal Luna Saturnyne

Roma Regina
King Arthur

Sheriff Gia Whitechapel
Sheriff Whitechapel's posse
Forgemaster Federal – Fury 005
Countex Oublia & Countex Oscura
Colony queen Vesperidae
Famine & Pestilence (both First Horsemen)
Numerous Fairies

Story Notes: 

Wisdom was murdered by Coven Akkaba in Excalibur (4th series) #22.

This issue includes a memo from Mirage and Karma to Excalibur, offering recent intel on their adventure in Merlyn's Tower, where they visited in New Mutants (4th series) #16-17.

Tom Lennox a.k.a. Ghast first appeared in Daredevils #3 and was killed by Jim Jaspers in Mighty World of Marvel (2nd series) #9.  He was briefly romantically involved with Betsy Braddock, and possesses telepathy and low-level telekinesis.

Alison Double a.k.a. Albedo, a close friend of Betsy, first appeared in Daredevils #3 and actually survived the horrors that befell the rest of her STRIKE teammates, but later died off-panel after Captain Britain (2nd series) #14 in a car accident. She possesses telepathy and clairvoyance. Albedo has albinism.

Kevin Mulhearn a.k.a. Xanth debuted and was murdered by Slaymaster in Daredevils #3. He possesses telepathy and was in a relationship with Albedo, the two psychically-linked at the time of his murder.

Vicki Reppion a.k.a. Rubedo also debuted and was murdered by the Slaymaster in Daredevils #3. She possesses low-level telepathy.

STRIKE stands for Special Tactical Reserves for International Key Emergencies and debuted in Captain Britain (1st series) #17. It's Psi-Division, of which Betsy Braddock and others were members of first appeared in Daredevils #3. STRIKE was eventually replaced by the RCX (Resources Control Executive).

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