Excalibur (4th series) #7

Issue Date: 
March 2020
Story Title: 
Verse VII: The Unspeakable and the Uneatable

Tini Howard (writer), Wilton Santos (penciler), Oren Junior (inker), Erick Arciniega (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Ben Oliver (variant cover artist), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

At the Lighthouse, Betsy, Rogue and Gambit watch as Rictor buries Brian Braddock's sword under a mound of rock, at Brian's request, although Gambit and Rogue seem concerned about this decision. Betsy then returns to Otherworld, where she finds her brother Jamie sitting on his throne in Avalon. Betsy and Jamie exchange words about Jamie's rise to the throne, before Betsy goes to speak with Apocalypse, who is in a library with Exodus, the two absorbing eons of history from scrolls and books in the library. Betsy is not particularly happy about Exodus being there, before she earns Apocalypse that if she determines that his goals are harmful, she will do her duty as Captain Britain and a member of the X-Men to stop him. Apocalypse reminds Betsy that they are all Krakoan now, but Betsy explains that this is about the protection of Otherworld. Apocalypse then suggests Betsy read his grimoire and hands her some papers which have been kept hidden for centuries – one of particular interest is on the Warwolves, and Apocalypse suggests to Betsy that she investigate them, as they are not native to this realm and nor are they good. Betsy finds Jubilee trying to encourage her son, Shogo, still in his dragon form, to eat. Jubilee laments that Shogo only wants to stay in Otherworld as a dragon, and that he screams every time she tries to take him back to Earth. Betsy suggests Jubilee leave Shogo with Meggan, and Jubilee joins Betsy as they meet up with Pete Wisdom at the London Zoo, where some Warwolves were once left many years ago, and are met by an unhelpful zoo employee who reveals that the Warwolves were not easy to care for, and were sold. The trio move on to a karaoke bar where Cullen Bloodstone is singing. Cullen tells Betsy that the people of London query whether she is the real deal as Captain Britain, and although she seems frustrated, Betsy gets on to the Warwolves, and asks Cullen what he wants for them, as their intelligence discovered his estate bought them from the zoo. Cullen admits he knows the Warwolves are a  dangerous species, and that he had planned to hunt them. Betsy, Jubilee, Rictor, Gambit and Rogue soon join Cullen at the Bloodstone Summer Lodge, where they agree to participate in a hunt across the grounds to kill the Warwolves. Gambit is somewhat suspicious about why Apocalypse wants the Warwolves killed, before he runs off, hearing someone in the woods, although Betsy asks him to wait, he ignores her. Gambit finds a woman sitting next to a river – but when she distracts him, she drops her disguise – it's actually a Warwolf who is wearing the woman's skin. The Warwolf attacks Gambit, before the others arrive, and Betsy cuts the Warwolf's head off. Rictor and Gambit discuss Apocalypse's possible motives, before Rictor creates a small siesmic wave, which flushes one of the Warwolves out of hiding. The heroes give chase, with Rogue eventually catching up to it, and she drains it of its lifeforce, although Cullen Bloodstone rides near Rogue on a horse and is not happy to see Rogue using her powers on the Warwolf. Rogue rejoins the others, wearing the Warwolf's skin as a cloak, and a moment later, Cullen appears, demonic tentacles rising from his back, he grabs Jubilee with one of them and tells the heroes that his inner monster wants to hunt mutants.

Full Summary: 

Cornwall, England, at the Lighthouse, where a very important sword is being buried in rock. 'This is what you want?' Julio Richter a.k.a. Rictor asks Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain as he uses his power to build more  rock up around the sword. 'Yes, please, Rictor' Betsy replies. 'It's what Brian asked' she adds as she looks down at the sword from where she and Rictor stand with Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit and Rogue, who tells Betsy that she isn't sure, that it seems to  her that if her brother says “Ah can't hold this magic sword cause ah'm a bad guy” the response oughta be “you ain't a bad guy,” not “good idea, I'll bury it”. But Betsy reminds Rogue that Morgan tortured Brian, made him do things against his will, so if he wants the sword kept away from him, she will do that. As Betsy approaches the Krakoan gateway nearby, Rogue asks her if she is going to Otherworld. Betsy confirms that she is, and remind her friends that she has another brother to look after.

A moment later, Betsy emerges on the other side of the portal, directly into the throne room of Jamie Braddock, who exclaims 'Oooh, lucky me! It's Captain Britain!' Betsy tells Jamie to knock it off and calls him an offensive name. 'Well, that's no way to talk to the King of Otherworld' Jamie replies, slumped against his throne. Betsy corrects Jamie as she reminds him that he is only the King of Avalon, and, calling Apocalypse by his Krakoan name, Betsy asks if he has not made Jamie abundantly clear of his limits. Jamie looks at Betsy through one eye as he reminds her that he doesn't answer to Apocalypse. 'I've got the crown on me head. See?' Jamie asks. Betsy frowns as she tells Jamie that he hasn't done a thing to earn it, before she asks where Apocalypse is. 'Why? Do you need your marching orders?' Jamie replies.

'Behave' Betsy snaps as she throws a psychic dagger that lands near Jamie's head. Jamie tells his sister not to let his sense of humor fool her, as begins to dematerialize before Betsy's very eyes, he then re-appears behind her, warning her that she has just attempted regicide. He promises to keep that in the family so that no one accuses her of anything dreadful. Jamie then announces that Apocalypse is down in the library and offers to take Betsy there, as he uses his power to cause the floor to give out underneath Betsy, who calls out to her brother as she falls into the library.

'Exodus?' Betsy asks as she sees the powerful mutant standing in the library, reading through various texts. Apocalypse is nearby, flicking through some loose pieces of paper, 'Ah, Captain, a pleasant surprise' he remarks, while Exodus tells Betsy that Apocalypse has told him true – it is a fine thing to see a mutant Captain Britain. 'Why is he here?' Betsy asks. 'Because he can be' Apocalypse responds, before explaining that their ritual did more than just remove Morgan from her ill-gotten throne – it was an act of expansion – and now, any mutant can step through the gate to Otherworld. Exodus tells Captain Britain that she should be very proud of what she and Apocalypse have accomplished. 'About that' Betsy frowns. 'I don't appreciate all the mystery' she declares, before warning Apocalypse that if she determines his goals  to be harmful, he should make no mistake – she has a duty to stop him – as Captain Britain and as a member of the X-Men. As some papers hover nearby a crystal, Apocalypse tells Captain Britain – with all due respect – that they are her countrymen, and leaders, at that. 'Are we not Krakoan? And is this place now, too, not Krakoa?'

Captain Britain looks up at Apocalypse as she tells him that this isn't about Krakoa. She states that she is protector of Otherworld and Britain, and he has just put a madman on the throne of Camelot. 'Jamie is your brother, Captain. Andv very powerful. Both Braddock and mutant' Apocalypse states. 'Much like yourself. Would you have preferred -' Apocalypse begins, to which Betsy interrupts him, declaring that she has a duty to protect this place. 'And I, a desire to. We share that' Apocalypse smiles. He moves over to some papers that hover around the room and tells Captain Britain that she is not without her wisdom in distrusting him, but that thankfully they need not be a people of secrets any longer. Some of the papers land in front of Betsy who asks what they are. Apocalypse informs her that they are his grimoire. 'Why?' Betsy asks. 'To read' Apocalypse replies.

Apocalypse tells Captain Britain that he does not want her to question and fear him, that he wants their coven to be empowered with knowledge. He reveals that some of these are notes he has kept hidden for centuries. He thanks Exodus for those, and Captain Britain remarks that that does put her mind at ease. Apocalypse suggests to Captain Britain that she note in the section regarding magical foci that they are in need of a multipart dimensional component that can act as a homing beacon between realms. 'Pardon?' Betsy asks. 'It's in the text' Apocalypse tells her, before pointing to a page and remarking 'Warwolves'. 'Those old terrors that used to pester Rachel and Kitty?' Psylocke asks, before telling Apocalypse that he is joking, that this must be a joke, and asks if the Warwolves came from Mojoverse and are a now in a zoo. Apocalypse confirms that they are in the London Zoo, and reminds Betsy that she is Captain Britain. 'I will need their heads' he announces as Betsy walks towards a Krakoan gateway.

'I don't know that I can slaughter zoo animals -' Betsy begins, as Apocalypse explains to her that the Warwolves are not native to their realm, nor are they good. Jubilee and her son Shogo, in his dragon form, can be seen on the other side of the portal, and he tells Captain Britain that he thought the boy might like to go along and see the zoo. 'Please eat your lunch!' Jubilee mutters, before turning as Captain Britain approaches her, she explains that she is trying to get Shogo to stop eating clods of dirt and eat some real food. 'What if we...' Captain Britain begins, picking up a leg of meat, and then hurling it away, 'Go get it!' she tells Shogo, who then flies off after the meat. Jubilee wipes her brow and tells Captain Britain that she is exhausted, explaining that Shogo only wants to stay here in Otherworld and be a dragon, that he cries and screams anytime she takes him back to the real world.

'Can you blame him?' Betsy asks. 'Uh, yeah. Have you been home lately? To the island? It might be the “real world” but it's pretty much paradise' Jubilee replies. 'I guess it's different if you're -' Jubilee begins. 'Human?' Betsy asks. '- a baby' Jubilee explains. Betsy tells Jubilee that she is sure Meggan would look after Shogo if she wanted a break. 'Meggan! Now that's an idea!' Jubilee exclaims, before she looks over to Shogo and calls out 'Time for the fairy tale babysitter, kiddo. She's more of an expert on this than I am!'

Later, at the London Zoo, Betsy and Jubilee stand with Pete Wisdom as they speak with a zoo employee outside the exhibit where the Warwolves are usually kept. Only at the moment, it is empty. 'What do you mean they were relocated?' Betsy asks. 'They're live animals – did they move out?' she jokes. The zoo worker explains that the Warwolves might be part of various programs, sometimes they are unwell, sometimes they get sold. 'Sold?' Betsy snaps. 'They weren't easy to care for' the zoo employee explains. 'Perhaps it's easy to take care of monsters where you mutants live, but -' the woman begins , to which Pete Wisdom interrupts her, introducing himself, he informs the woman that his business here is governmental, and asks if they can see any records she has on the transfer of the animals, and then they will be out of her hair. 'Well, what if I don't want to? What if I'm tired of mutants just telling everyone how it is -' the woman complains, folding her arms.

As Jubilee looks at something on her phone, she blows a bubble with her gum and Wisdom tells the zoo worker that he regrets to inform her that all of her fears that the government is secretly spying on her are true. He looks at Jubilee and tells the woman that his agent here went ahead and popped into her network while she was speaking with Captain Britain. 'Well, I -' the woman begins. 'Captain Britain thanks you, ma'am' Wisdom tells the zoo worker. 'Hmph!' she mumbles, while Jubilee's bubble pops. 'Pete!' Betsy calls out. Wisdom smiles at Betsy and asks if it would have made her feel better to poke around in her brains for the information. 'She was a harridan' he adds, before asking Betsy if she wants to go for a pint. 'Pint! Pint!' Jubilee grins.

Soon, Betsy, Jubilee and Wisdom stand on a busy street corner, and Betsy frowns: 'You're joking?  We're really stopping for drinks?' she asks. 'I'm not joking. Some of us have been with a toddler-dragon for days!' Jubilee replies. Wisdom tells Betsy and Jubilee to let him work, and informs them that they are off to see a man about wolves – a known asset. The trio head into a karaoke bar as Wisdom warns his companions that his associate can be a bit anachronistic, and that he only comes out for a few decidedly retro pursuits, like fox hunting and karaoke. Wisdom motions to a blond young man on the stage singing and adds 'Money can't buy that feeling of pleasing a crowd'. The blond man jumps off the stage as he approaches Wisdom and asks him if they kicked him off “Mutant Island” already. 'I haven't yet been, thank you' Wisdom replies. The man leads the trio to a booth nearby as Captain Britain asks 'Cullen Bloodstone?' and tells him that she remembers him from his time at the Braddock Academy. 'So it's true, you're Captain Britain' Cullen replies. As they sit down, Cullen remarks that there is a lot of talk about whether she is the real deal. 'I assure you I am' Betsy responds.

Cullen tells Betsy to come off it, and that she knows he doesn't hate mutants, as he went to school with dozens of them. 'It's just something to think about' he adds, before asking what would happen to Britain went to war with Krakoa – that would be a conflict of interest, right. 'Curious thought' he remarks, while Betsy frowns at him. Cullen tells the mutants that if they want to talk, then they should talk, as he has another song in ten minutes. Betsy tells Cullen that their intelligence says his estate is listed as the buyer for the Warwolves that were at the London Zoo. 'What do you want for them?' she asks. Cullen raises his glass of wine and points out that the Warwolves are a potentially invasive species, and like any good hunter, he is also a conservationist. 'in my own way, I too protect Britain, Captain' he claims, before announcing that he has to destroy the Warwolves, but he plans to have a bit of sport about it. Wisdom tells Cullen that they just need their heads, and asks if they can buy them from him. 'See, now you're offending me' Cullen replies. 'I would never allow you to claim quarry that you didn't hunt' he tells the mutants, before smiling as he suggests that there is no reason they can't share the fun.

Shortly, several hairless cats sit near a white horse with fire blazing from its nostrils at the Bloodstone Summer Lodge , in County Durham, England. Cullen sits on the horse, while several Summer Lodge staff wait nearby. Cullen looks over to Captain Britain, Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee and Rictor and bids them good morning, adding that he is pleased to see them and that it is a shame Mr Wisdom couldn't join them. He adds that he understands they have a practical need here, but that sportsmanship is key to the tradition. 'I cannot believe you people actually do this' Rictor scowls, hands on hips. Betsy tells him that Cullen is just being retro, as fox hunts aren't legal any more. Rogue stretches her arms and smiles as she tells her friends that she hasn't been hunting in a minute. She adds that she isn't much for killing, but that there is something to be said for a day outside – gets your blood pumping. 'Coulda done that at home' Gambit mutters, frowning. Betsy tells Gambit that she is glad to see Rogue's return has improved his mood.

'Attention! The Warwolves have been blessed! Let the hunt begin!' Cullen shouts as he fires a  gun, signalling the start of the hunt. Cullen rides off on his horse, the cats scurrying alongside him. 'Are those hunting cats? Is that a thing?' Jubilee asks. Betsy admits that she has no idea. The mutants walk into the woods, and Rogue tells the others that this is pretty, while Gambit asks when they  are going to get an explanation on why the Council asked for a bunch of monster heads. 'Well, part of the Council asked. One member specifically' Rictor replies. 'You told me it was for the Council...' Gambit remarks, turning to Rictor. 'He's on the Council, man. It's for Krakoa. You gonna say no just cause he's the one who asks?' Rictor responds. Gambit tells his friends that they all keep sending him on errands for Apocalypse without telling him – and he thinks he is going to make a real mess of it one of these days. 'Oh, c'mon, shug...' Rogue begins, while Betsy puts a hand on Gambit's shoulder and tells him that she wants this done as well.

'D'you already forget when you said you ain't gonna ask anything else of me?' Gambit asks. 'It wasn't that long ago' he reminds Betsy, who pulls away from him. 'I'm -' Betsy begins, but Gambit tells her 'Never mind' and claims that he hears someone, as he starts to rush off. Betsy tells him Gambit that they shouldn't split up. 'I understand the temptation, but -' Betsy begins, but Gambit declares that he sees someone. 'Ah, hell. She's all alone!' Gambit exclaims, while Rogue and Gambit take to their, flying above the woods, Betsy angrily tells Gambit to wait and listen to her. But Gambit doesn't, and he reaches a stream where a woman with blonde hair is sitting. 'Hi there' the woman calls out, looking up at Gambit, who asks her if the creep who runs this place put her here. The woman glances away from Gambit and tells him that she is here for her own reasons. 'Seems like a scary place just to have a think' Gambit points out, before asking the woman if she is a fellow hunter.

'You could say that' the woman smiles, glancing at Gambit. Suddenly, 'I see something!' the woman exclaims, and Gambit grabs some of his playing cards, 'Where?' he asks, looking around, when he looks back at the woman, she sees that she is pulling her own face off - '$%&!!' Gambit exclaims, as the Warwolf emerges, removing the woman's skin completely. 'Sneaky! I'mma pass a good time beating on you!' Gambit calls out as he kinetically charges the playing cards and hurls them at the creature.

Up above, 'Excalibur! We've got eyes on a Warwolf!' Captain Britain calls out from above, as she drops down from the air, landing between Gambit and the Warwolf – where she suddenly decapitates the Warwolf. Standing over the remains of the Warwolf which begin to melt, Captain Britain turns to Gambit and the others as Rogue, Jubilee and Rictor run towards her. 'They're skin stealers, is what I was going to say, Gambit' Captain Britain announces, before explaining that this Warwolf killed the poor girl, whoever she was. Betsy picks up the skeleton of the Warwolf and tells the others that these things are more than pests, and suggests to her teammates that they enjoy the sport, perhaps it will improve the mood.

Betsy, Jubilee, Gambit and Rictor continue on through the woods, with Rictor asking if anyone else read the grimoire yet. Betsy reports that she brought it along, in case they need to refer to it. Rictor suggests they can also use it to make sure Apocalypse isn't duping them all into doing his evil bidding. 'It isn't funny' Gambit mutters. Rictor narrows his eyes and tells Rictor that he thinks it is, and that Gambit is so suspicious, but, but here for the good of Krakoa – which Apocalypse is, too. 'He's helped us. Me. Rogue' Rictor reminds Gambit. 'He's a predator. You think predators get fat by telling the truth?' Gambit asks.

Rogue drops down amongst her teammates and informs them that she saw one of those slip wolves slip into a cave up thataway – a big one. Rictor's eyes glow as he looks towards the cave and informs the others that the Warwolf is still in there, that he can hear him trying to get comfortable and hide. Rictor drops to one knee and touches the ground, making it rumble, 'You can't hide in there...' he utters. Rogue takes flight and reports that she can see the Warwolf. 'Keep on rumbling him outta that cave!' she exclaims as she passes Cullen on his horse. Cullen looks up at Rogue and remarks that this is not very sportsmanlike. 'I didn't know you'd be flushing them out with your mutant powers!' Cullen calls out. He smirks as he declares that the way he sees it, the mutants are one ahead of him. 'In case you didn't know it was a contest – everything is' he adds.

Suddenly, 'Well, there you is' Rogue remarks as she comes across the Warwolf, who laughs, and calls out 'Muuuuutant?' The Warwolf leaps up into the air and grabs Rogue by her throat, announcing that they miss the taste of mutant. 'You about to regret touching me!' Rogue scowls. The Warwolf pushes Rogue to the ground as Cullen rides towards them on his horse. 'Oh, no, Rogue. Sportsmanship would dictate I help you' Cullen tells her, as Rogue grabs the Warwolf by its head and tries to push it back off her. 'When was the last time we wore mutant skins?' the Warwolf asks, its blue tongue flickering in Rogue's face, while Cullen states that  he thinks the mutants need a big loss to remind them of just how human gthey can be. 'Once I get these damn gloves off – I'll shut one of you up!' Rogue threatens as she forces the Warwolf backwards and shoves its face into the ground, the Warwolf eventually stops gasping for air.

'You melted him' Cullen remarks. 'Ah drained him' Rogue calls back, before asking him if he has anything else to say – or whether she has to give him the smack in the mouth his mama couldn't make time for. Cullen grunts, before wondering if he has lost his taste for hunting Warwolves. 'I'm feeling the need for a different quarry!' he exclaims as he rides off on his horse.

Rogue soon returns to the others, wearing the skin of the Warwolf as a cape. 'Watchu wearing there?' Gambit asks. 'A Warwolf pelt' Rogue replies, informing the others that she drained the Warwolf good, but he left the pelt and the skull, thankfully. Rogue reports that Cullen is made that they are using their powers. 'He's using devil cats -' Rictor begins. Rogue tells him that she knows. Gambit points out that there are five wolves, and five of them. He hates to say it, but he thinks they should split up, get the skulls and get outta here as soon as they can. 'Says the one who nearly got eaten' Betsy remarks as she raises a psychic shield. Suddenly, 'Hey!' Jubilee calls out as a large vine grabs her. 'I warned you' a voice calls out, as the other members of Excalibur turn to Jubilee. 'Put me down!' Jubilee cries out.

Cullen appears on his horse, part of Cullen's face appears in a demonic form. The horse raises itself up as the vines writhe around it, and Cullen tells Excalibur that there is a new rule – they hunt the warwolves, they are his guests and they can have the creatures – but his inner monster and he are here to hunt mutants!'

Characters Involved: 

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

Jamie Braddock
Pete Wisdom
Shogo Lee

Cullen Bloodstone


Zoo worker
Bloodstone Summer Lodge staff

Story Notes: 

The Warwolves were mostly foes of the original Excalibur team, and some were captured and put in London Zoo in Excalibur (1st series) #2, although other Warwolves have appeared occasionally since then, most recently in Nightcrawler (4th series) #11-12.

This issue contains a text-only page from Apocalypse's grimoire, detailing some information on the Warwolves.

Cullen Bloodstone is the son of Ulysses Bloodstone and brother of Elsa Bloodstone. He debuted in Avengers Arena #1, appearing throughout that series and the follow up series Avengers Undercover.

This issue contains a one page advert for “A Warwolf Hunt” hosted by the Bloodstone Summer Lodge and Preserve, and lists the rules of engagement on the advert.

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