Excalibur (4th series) #4

Issue Date: 
February 2020
Story Title: 
Verse IV: Fall Back and Think of England!

Tini Howard (writer), Marcus To (artist), Erick Arciniega (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Kael Ngu & David Curiel (variant cover artists), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

At Lighthouse, Gambit is worried about Rogue's situation. He vows that he will get her out of the coma she is in, before he steps through a portal to London to help Captain Britain. Upon arrival, he gets into a situation with anti-mutant protesters outside Buckingham Palace. Inside the Palace, Rictor and Jubilee are discussing the United Kingdom, and Rictor's powers, which Apocalypse has fixed. Rictor reminds Jubilee to address Apocalypse by his new name, before the scuffle outside gets their attention. They join Gambit outside, before Captain Britain appears with Pete Wisdom. Captain Britain informs Gambit, Jubilee and Rictor that they are accountable to the Queen now – they are Excalibur. At Krakoa, Excalibur, including Apocalypse, and Wisdom meet to discuss how Coven Akkaba have caused some trouble for Captain Britain, and now the Queen has concerns about her citizenship. Gambit reminds everyone about the issue with Rogue, and Apocalypse agrees that it is a priority. Apocalypse asks Wisdom to assist Captain Britain with her duties, and reveals he has a plan to help Rogue that he needs Gambit and Rictor for. Jubilee leaves with Shogo and comes across a panicked Meggan, who has fled to Krakoa with Maggie after protesters arrived at Braddock Academy. Meggan is worried about Brian, and needed to be somewhere safe – however she is shocked to discover that her brother-in-law, Jamie, has been resurrected. Jamie makes sleazy remarks about Meggan, before Jubilee knocks him out. Beneath the moorlands, Rictor and Gambit are beneath the ground to find more of the crystals that have been powering the Krakoan gates. There, they encounter several druids who feel a connection to Rictor. They locate the crystals and take some, before the druids try to convince Rictor that he, too, is a druid. The druids give Rictor a different crystal, a more powerful one, before they cause the ground beneath Gambit to break away. Rictor tries to help Gambit, but he only creates more trouble when his powers go out of control, and Gambit falls into a chasm. In the meetinghouse of Coven Akkaba, Captain Britain and Wisdom meet with Marianna Stern and a man named Reuben. They briefly discuss how Akkaba was a human name before Apocalypse came along, before Reuben tells Betsy that she is not the right person to hold the mantle of Captain Britain – which they are currently proving to the Queen. Captain Britain and Wisdom learn that their time in Otherworld, and the dragonfire that Shogo unleashed, created a tear in the realm, and several dangerous beasts are now plaguing this realm. Captain Britain and Wisdom storm off, while at the Lighthouse, the tear in the realm can be seen, large, and with dozens of creatures emerging from it. Inside the Lighthouse, Apocalypse speaks to Rogue – who opens her eyes!

Full Summary: 

The Lighthouse, where Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit stands watch over his wife, Rogue, who is in a coma, encased within Krakoan flowers. 'I'm tired of this' Remy tells Rogue. He admits that he would be lying to say he never thought about being Rogue's Prince Charming, saving her from this sort of thing – be he hasn't been able to save her yet. 'Not for lack 'a trying' Gambit adds. He pauses, before telling Rogue that even when she can't listen, she is the only one he wants to talk to. He descends a staircase and announces that he is going to London for Betsy, and then that's it – nothing is going to stop him from getting her out of there.

A moment later, Gambit strides towards the gates of Buckingham Palace, past anti-mutant protesters. 'I heard about y'all! Y'all don't like Betsy, huh?' Gambit asks them. 'Well, you really gon' hate me' he snarls as he spins around and catches a wine bottle that one of the protesters hurls at him. Gambit responds by kinetically charging the bottle. This causes some civilians to run, 'He's gone crazy!' a woman  shouts. 'Crazy? You ain't seen $#%&' Gambit replies.

Inside Buckingham Palace, where the mutants Rictor and Jubilee walk side by side down a corridor. 'So, English people are British, but not all British people are English' Rictor remarks. 'Yes' Jubilee tells him. 'And the UK includes Northern Ireland but not the Republic of Ireland. So only Northern Irish people are British' Rictor adds. 'Yep. That one's important' Jubilee declares. 'And despite being in Europe, not everyone thinks we're in Europe' Rictor adds. 'That's the continent' Jubilee explains, before Rictor asks 'So which one of their fearless leaders is she here to talk to?' Jubilee smiles as she tells Rictor that she is pretty sure it is the Queen Herself, before she asks Rictor if he is feeling any better. 'Yes, Jubilee. You can tell because there's no earthquake going on' Rictor smiles, to which Jubilee asks him if Apocalypse fixed his powers. Rictor utters Apocalypse's new given name, and tells Jubilee that that is the name he prefers. 'Rictor, what did he do to you?' Jubilee asks. 'He didn't do anything! He listened, that's all' Rictor replies.

Rictor continues, telling Jubilee that he knows it sounds crazy, and he isn't saying that he likes Apocalypse. 'But you don't get that old without learning a lot about how people work' he explains, adding that Apocalypse knows stuff, and he is feeling good. Suddenly, there is an explosion, and Rictor and Jubilee turn to a window, where Rictor suggests that Gambit should talk to Apocalypse, too. 'I don't think that's gonna happen!' Jubilee replies, before they make their way outside, to find  Gambit surrounded by protesters who have gathered outside Buckingham Palace, protesting against mutants. Gambit had taken an anti-mutant sign from one of them and holds it above his head, kinetically charging it, he tells Rictor and Jubilee that they have got hateful fools. 'A little taste 'a the old days!' Gambit exclaims. 'We were told to behave!' Jubilee reminds him, while some protesters run, and others film the goings-on with their mobile phones.

'They threw a bottle at me!' Gambit calls out as he breaks the sign with his kinetic energy. 'Fair enough' Jubilee remarks as she creates several plasma fireworks to keep some of the protesters at bay, while Rictor knocks some of them back with a seismic rumble. 'Happy to help' Rictor states. 'They're attacking us!' one of the civilians calls out as they begin to regroup and surround the mutants. 'Whoa, back off!' Jubilee warnns one of them, while another civilian declares that this is an attack of Krakoan terrorism. 'They're dangerous!' someone shouts. 'Hell yes, we are' Gambit snarls, before a voice calls out 'No, we are not!' Cameras flash and reporters try to get towards Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain as she strides towards the gathering, followed by Pete Wisdom and several police officers. One reporter announces that crowds have been waiting for hours outside Buckingham Palace to catch a glimpse of the new mutant Captain Britain.

'Not to the people of Britain!' Captain Britain continues her sentence, while Wisdom tells her to look alive, and adds that he will get these vultures to leave her alone. More cameras click and flash, while one reporter asks 'Betsy Braddock! Do you have any comment!' to which Wisdom declares 'Not for you she doesn't. Shoo!' Betsy joins her companions and asks what is going on, and whether Gambit is okay. Jubilee raises her shades and looks at Gambit, assuring Betsy that he is fine, just a little fragile, before asking how her meeting went, and whether they are in trouble. Gambit frowns while Betsy explains that they are accountable to the queen now – all of them. She adds that Her Majesty had a bit of paperwork for Captain Britain, and she needed to know the names of who would be working with her. 'I told her we're called Excalibur' Betsy announces.

Shortly, in Apocalypse's lab on Krakoa, Jubilee sits down and holds her infant son, Shogo, while Betsy, Rictor and Wisdom stand around a table in the center of the room. Gambit sits on some stairs nearby, and Apocalypse stands back from the others. Betsy reports that while they were off-realm, it seems Coven Akkaba pre-empted their meeting with the queen, and explains that the queen has concerns, namely regarding Betsy's citizenship. 'Her Majesty wants the matter settled – so I'll be visiting the Coven to settle it' Betsy reports. Everyone turns to Gambit when he announces that he has one concern – Rogue. Apocalypse states that, for once, he is inclined to agree with Gambit. 'You are?' Gambit replies, confused. 'Recall that I called you both here that night. I need her assistance. For that, she must be freed' Apocalypse states. Apocalypse points out that Captain Britain must see to her duties, and so they will do without her services. He looks at Wisdom and asks if he will escort Captain Britain. 'Planned to' Wisdom replies, while Betsy frowns and asks what Apocalypse is going to do with Rogue. 'Help her, Captain. To do so, I have need of some items secreted deep within the ground' Apocalypse explains, and reports that he will only need two – a master of earth and a master thief, which causes Rictor and Gambit to look at each other.

Jubilee and Shogo step out of another portal on Krakoa, with Jubilee telling her son that they have some time off, so they can explore the island. 'Let's find us a nacho cheese tree!' she suggests, while reminding her son that only they know his little secret – he isn't a human baby – he is a dragon. Suddenly, 'Jubilee! Thank goodness! Where's Betsy!?' Meggan Braddock gasps as she rushes over to Jubilee, carrying her daughter, Maggie, in her arms. Shogo reaches out for Maggie, who stares back at the baby, while Jubilee explains that Betsy had to do some Captain Britain stuff. 'You okay, Meggan?' Jubilee asks. Upset, Meggan reveals that they just arrived on Krakoa, and explains that people came to the academy with signs and said awful things about Betsy, and about mutants, and her. 'We just wanted to be somewhere safe until Brian comes home' Meggan adds. Jubilee puts an arm around Meggan and tells her that he will be home soon. 'It's cool that we have this place, yanno? Right now I imagine you want to be -' Jubilee starts to say, before a voice calls out 'With family?'

'...Jamie Braddock!' Meggan gasps as she turns to see her brother-in-law reclined on some Krakoan plants, arms behind his head, grinning. 'You look surprised' Jamie remarks, adding that he asked Betsy not to tell Brian, and he supposes that she didn't. 'Betsy knew he was here? Alive again!?' Meggan exclaims, while her daughter Maggie asks 'Mama? Who is that man?' Jubilee frowns and thrusts Shogo into Meggan's arms. 'Hold Shogo just one second, okay' she remarks, as she strides towards Jamie and introduces herself, before warning him that he can knock that off – as the last thing Meggan needs is him taunting her now. Some fireworks begin to manifest around Jubilee's hands, while Jamie suggests to Jubilee that she take the kiddies for a walk, and he stays and keeps his brother's pretty wife company. 'Watch it!' Jubilee snaps as she punches Jamie in the face, knocking him to the ground. 'Was that crude? I thought the new Krakoa was into that sort of thing' Jamie remarks. 'Yeah, well, we also settle $#%& with punching now' Jubilee replies, before walking back towards Meggan and taking Shogo from her, suggesting that they all go for a walk, while Jamie smiles.

Deep beneath the moorlands, 'Can you sense 'em?' Gambit asks as he follows Rictor through the ground, which Rictor clears a path through using his seismic powers. 'The crystals?' Rictor asks, adding that he kind of does, but doesn't think he is sensing the same thing as Apocalypse is. 'How you mean?' Gambit enquires. The rumbling comes to a stop as they land in a clear area, and Rictor explains that Apocalypse says these stones are made from the bones of long-dead mutants and contain their energy. 'He's sensing that, some woo-woo stuff. I'm sensing what these things are. How they vibrate like the other ones I held' Rictor adds. 'Uh-huh' Gambit replies, to which Rictor asks him to point gim in the right direction and he will put them in his pockets. Gambit admits that he is not sure why they need a thief to get a rock from the ground. 'It's only stealing if – somebody already owns it!' he calls out as some rocks begin to fall towards him and Rictor. 'Heads up!' Rictor exclaims as they move out of harm's way.

Rictor and Gambit find themselves surrounded by several people in dark cloaks, and Rictor points out that it looks like someone does own the rock. Gambit holds his bo-staff ready and decides that it is no wonder Apocalypse didn't fill them in – they are stealing from druids! Gambit kinetically-charges some rocks which Rictor hurls towards the druids – the rocks then explode, as Rictor asks Gambit if he should be worried. 'You tell me, mon ami!' Gambit replies. Gambit and Rictor begin to run through the caverns, and Gambit declares that they are deep in the caves of the Earth, and the druids are the masters of this place. 'Should you be?' he asks Rictor. 'Well, I didn't burn incense about it, but -' Rictor begins, before creating another seismic wave which knocks several druids back as they confront him. 'I know a thing or two about moving some earth' Rictor boasts, while one of the druids calls out 'Brother'.

'Truly. You are powerful!' one of the druids remarks, moving some rocks, to which Rictor replies 'Uh... yeah. Very.' before he calls out to Gambit, telling him that they need to find those things and go. 'Hanging on as  bet I can here!' Gambit responds as he climbs down an opening in the cave. Rictor begins to follow Gambit, who tells Rictor that he has to point him in the right direction. 'How about I just make you a path?' Rictor suggests as he opens up another crevice, and Gambit and Rictor both drop down into another large cave, where crystals can be seen jutting out of the cave – along with skeletal remains scattered throughout. 'Now I just wish I had bigger pockets' Gambit remarks as he and Rictor explore the cave. Rictor goes over to some crystals and admits that  he feels like stealing from witches is a bad idea as it stands. 'But if you feel comfortable with that on your soul, go nuts' he tells Gambit. 'Give 'em here' Gambit asks.

Gambit puts one of the crystals into his jacket pocket and announces that he wants to have both hands on them when Apocalypse asks. 'He wants 'em, he can take 'em from me when he gets Rogue outta that coffin. But not before' Gambit remarks, before Rictor asks him if he is ready to go. 'Yeah...you feeling watched?' Gambit asks. Several eyes appear in the shadows throughout the cave – and the eyes belong to druids, who step forward, one of them utters an incantation, and the cave begins to close in on Rictor and Gambit. 'We being crushed!' Gambit exclaims. 'I'm trying!' Rictor replies as the rocks prepare to squash them both – when suddenly, 'Was that so hard?' Gambit asks as the rocks move backwards, away from the two of them. 'I didn't...' Rictor begins, before druids wearing green cloaks appear. 'You, Earth-wielder. Child of the loam. Not human. Not fae. Your earthworking comes from your birth, yes? Comes to you naturally?' a man with a beard asks. 'More or less. When it behaves' Rictor responds.

'The earth can be fickle' the druid remarks. 'Couldn't agree more' Rictor replies, before asking the druids if they are going to let him leave. 'My friend here says we're cool with druids. We don't like Coven Akkaba either' Rictor tells the druids. The druid with the beard suggests that Rictor does not assume those who live in the earth trust those who live upon it, before stating that even less do they trust wizards and magi who wrest power from the gods and stories as though they are theirs to command. 'We serve the earth' he announces. 'As do you, brother. You are a druid' he adds, taking Rictor's hand. 'Oh man. I assure you I am not' Rictor replies as the druids place a cloak on him and one of them paints markings onto his face. A female druid explains to Rictor that his power over the earth is inborn, not learned – like their own, and that the Earth speaks of his coming. 'For her, the wait for you has been no time at all' the druid adds.

Another druid informs Rictor that his gifts are not strange or uncontrolled, that he is like them, and he must live alongside her – not atop her. 'Ric, this isn't what we came for' Gambit calls out, to which one of the druids agrees that Gambit is right. She holds up a glowing crystal, 'These are the things you seek. They are full of witchbreed energy, and they have called you here' she explains. Rictor and Gambit look at the glowing crystal, which Rictor holds in his hands. 'Oh man, I can't take these. We already took some' Rictor admits, wide-eyed. 'Rictor, shh -' Gambit begins, but energy glows around the druids, and one of them explains that the crystals they took are made of the same stuff as these, but their energy has been long depleted, so they keep them there as a decoy – for thieves. The druids then cause the ground around Gambit to break apart, and Gambit begins to fall.

Rictor turns in shock, 'No! That's – that's Gambit! He's with me – you can't hurt him!' Rictor pleads, before he runs after Gambit. 'Brother, no! Come back!' one of the druids exclaims. 'Maybe later!' Rictor replies as he reaches down to Gambit. 'Maybe later?' Gambit asks as he slips backwards. 'Oh, like you wouldn't' Rictor mutters. Gambit clings to the rockface and tells Rictor that he has been worshipped and that it isn't all it craccked up to be. 'You be careful' he warns him. 'Oh, you be careful -' Rictor begins, when suddenly, his powers slip out of control, '$%&#! My powers – Gambit!' Rictor exclaims as a small rumbling that Rictor released causes Gambit to fall backwards into the opening crevice below. 'I – I didn't – I didn't mean to!' the wide-eyed Rictor utters in horror.

Meanwhile, inside the Valiente Room, London, the meetinghouse of Coven Akkaba. Stuffed animals are on display around the room, as Betsy and Wisdom sit on a sofa opposite two chairs, where Marianna Stern sits with a man named Reuben. Marianna announces that they are both converts to the cause. Reuben thanks Marianna and explains that they are not born powerful like mutants, that they have a humility that makes them open to serving more powerful beings and wielding their gifts. 'Perfect gofers for the gods. What a gig' Wisdom mutters as he sips some alcohol. 'I'll speak for myself' Marianna states as she tells Betsy that humility is a gift that allows for one to surpass the ego, and they feel no shame in it. 'But you chose the name Akkaba. With all its ties' Betsy points out.

Reubenexplains that the name and place existed and belonged to humankind before mutants existed. He claims that he traced his lineage back to an Akkaba before Apocalypse – an Akkaba that belonged to humans. 'At least, before we knew you existed' Reuben adds. 'Who knows how many mutant children were dashed on the rocks before one of you came along who was powerful enough to do anything about it?' Reuben asks. 'Don't provoke me' Betsy snarls through gritted teeth. Betsy stands and declares that she was sent here by the queen to settle her fears – fears that Clak Akkaba put into the queen about her. 'Your goading won't work' she adds. 'We are hardly that kind of group' Reuben replies. 'No? Then are you the sort to lure me here as a trap?' Betsy asks. 'Your paranoia about mutants hasn't been serving you well if you think I can't sense your bloodlust'.

'Bets, I don't think -' Wisdom remarks as he stands up and puts a hand on Betsy's arm. 'You can call me Captain Britain' Betsy snaps, turning to Wisdom, she asks him if he forgets that he is a mutant, too. 'Understandably, these are just some of the concerns raised by a mutant Captain Britain' Reuben points out, adding that others are less about mutants' species, and more about their nature. Reuben strokes his beard and states that Captain Britain's brother has the humility of a knight, and that he chose between the sword and the amulet, while Betsy's choice was foisted upon her – by all reports, Brian gave her the amulet. 'You did not make the choice. You are a dangerous pretender' he tells her. 'Are you through?' Betsy asks, suggesting to Reuben that next time he is obsessing over her, he should save her a trip and just think his hateful thoughts – she can sense them from paradise, where she lives. 'I serve the queen. And in times of crisis in Otherworld, she trusts my judgment over her own' Betsy explains. Reuben narrows his eyes at this and remarks that is unwise – as they are proving to her now.

'What?' Wisdom asks. 'We aren't a trap. Just a distraction' Reuben reveals. Several robed Clan Akkaba members appear, one of them holding up a scroll, while Reuben informs Captain Britain that her inexperience is going to become an issue. 'We warne Her Majesty of such' he adds. The scroll is revealed to have a large dragon drawn on it, as Reuben remarks that there is a reason most of them don't resort to dragons at war in Otherworld. 'Such convenient war machines, you'd think they'd be all over' he points out. Betsy goes wide-eyed as Reuben states that the reality of Otherworld is so fragile now, that it is unmade by dragonfire – and that this fire seems to have caught, that it has melted a hole in the very fabric of Otherworld, the thin veil that protects their world from Otherworld.

Betsy readies her psi-sword, while Wisdom sparks up his hot-knives, and Reuben announces that beasts have been lured like captnip – the dragonfire does this, and when reality opens up like that, the beasts smell fresh prey – and as they speak, the unseelle beasts of Otherworld are tearing their way through that flaming hole that Captain Britain left in Morgan Le Fay's courtyard. Indeed, a griffin flies past a heavily populated area, while a hydra appears at Stonehenge, and a horrid beast breathes fire down from the Tower of London. 'If only the queen could have trusted Captain Britain to do her job. But how can she. What does Captain Britain care – she lives in paradise!' Reuben declares, while Marianna Stern smirks as Captain Britain and Wisdom storm out of their meeting room.

Atop the Lighthouse, Apocalypse looks down at Rogue, who continues to sleep in a bed of Krakoan flowers. Apocalypse tells Rogue that the war has reached their shores, as the huge tear in the fabric of reality hangs near the Lighthouse, and dozens of winged serpents fly into this realm. Apocalypse looks out at the portal and remarks 'But we know better. We have been working since the beginning. Haven't we?' he asks, and suddenly, Rogue opens her eyes! 


Characters Involved: 

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



Meggan Braddock

Pete Wisdom

Jamie Braddock

Maggie Braddock

Shogo Lee


Marianna Stern, Reuben and other members of Clan Akkaba



Police officers



Various creatures from Otherworld


Story Notes: 

This issue contains a copy of “The ACT” which defines Otherworld as an extraplanar realm,  separate from, but alongside the United Kingdom of Great Britain, noting Otherworld's separate laws and governance. The ACT also indicates that Captain Britain is the Crown's highest authority in all matters relating to Otherworld, and appoints Captain Britain as the honored servant to protect the Crown and Country against earthly threats.

Jamie Braddock died in Uncanny X-Force (1st series) #23, however Meggan was not aware he returned to life in Excalibur (1st series) #1.

This issue contains a diagram of the Braddock family tree.

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