Excalibur (4th series) #9

Issue Date: 
May 2020
Story Title: 
Verse IX: Schools of Magic

Tini Howard (writer), Marcus To (artist), Erick Arciniega (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Marcos Martin (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: 

Apocalypse gives the skulls of the dead Warwolves to Excalibur, who take them to the lighthouse, placing them outside, where they glow on a rainy night. Betsy notices someone outside the lighthouse, but when she goes to investigate and discovers that it is her brother, Brian, he runs away. On Otherworld, the White Priestesses discover an astral projection of Apocalypse looking down at them – and Saturnyne knows he is watching, too. In London, at a meeting of the Coven Akkaba, a young man offers himself as a sacrifice in the name of the imprisoned Morgan le Fay. As he is slaughtered, someone wearing a coven cloak rushes from the ritual – it's Meggan, who had been undercover, investigating the coven for Pete Wisdom, and she thinks the coven are going to target Jamie Braddock, the current ruler of Otherworld. Meggan confides in Pete how upset she is about Brian's current state of depression, before she heads through a portal to be with him, joking to Wisdom about his feelings for Betsy. Betsy, Rogue, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee and Shogo the dragon arrive on Otherworld, and after setting up camp, Betsy explains how the Captain Britain Corps was destroyed. Saturnyne meets with her White Priestesses and they begin a ritual of power to defend their realm. Betsy discusses with Rogue that she is unsure why she cannot reach the Starlight Citadel, before the priestesses begin to appear around the camp, and attack Shogo while he is mid-flight. Betsy helps telepathically guide him to the ground, while Jubilee lashes out at the priestesses. In her citadel, Saturnyne creates a new Captain Britain Corps – Rogue! Gambit! Rictor! Jubilee!


Full Summary: 

Apocalypse hands the other members of the “Excalibur” team the skulls of the slain Warwolves. He gives one to Gambit as he states that Morgan Le Fay is defeated, and that King Jamie Braddock sits on the throne of Avalon, adding that they are not at war with Opal Luna Saturnyne, and yet the Starlight Citadel remains hidden to them – and hidden to Captain Britain. Apocalypse hands another skull to Rogue, who wears the skin of a slain Warwolf as a cloak, while Apocalypse informs his allies that the forces of the White Witch refuse their messengers, so Captain Britain must seek the audience of the White Witch on their behalf. Jubilee is handed a skull next as Apocalypse explains that the skulls will light a beacon that will guide them to the citadel, but that they must be careful, as it is contested land. As he hands the fourth skull to Rictor, Apocalypse tells the others that they must not be scared, for wherever a seed can take root, they will not be defeated. Captain Britain sits in between her teammates, as Apocalypse tells the others that when he was young, distance meant something – that generations lived and died on the same acre, and when someone went away, they rarely returned.

While thinking about Morgan Le Fay, chained to a table in one of his labs, Apocalypse remarks that Krakoa makes it so mutants may never know distance again – nothing can keep them apart. He thinks about the joining of the islands of Krakoa and Arakko, boasting that he made it this way, that it was brutal and bloody, but he did it because he is the only one who could. And only he could have sent his four finest warriors into reddest hell – worse than asking them to die for him – he asked that they live, fighting eternally. 'You want me to thank you?' Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit snaps. 'No. I want you to do something for our people' Apocalypse replies, as somewhere demonic creatures rise from fire, and Apocalypse announces that to protect this era they have built for themselves he would stop at nothing – and neither should they.

Later, rain beats down outside Excalibur's lighthouse, while outside, the four Warwolf skulls are positioned on the coast, and glow through the darkness. Inside the lighthouse, Gambit brushes Rogue's hair, while Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain sits in a chair, reading a book, and Jubilee trirs to get her son Shogo to get to sleep. She tells him that if he goes to sleep now, she promises him he will get to be a dragon for a whole week starting from tomorrow. Shogo squirms in Jubilee's arms, and Rogue smiles: 'I'm with ya, li'l guy' she tells him, remarking that she can't sleep either. At that moment, a car arrives outside, and a man in a trenchcoat and hat steps out into the rain. Betsy looks up and tells her friends that she will be right back. Rogue remarks that this makes her sad, thinking about Krakoa being lonely, longing for your other half like that – as half of a thing, always feeling like some partr of you has just gone.

Outside, the rain drenches Betsy as she shouts 'Brian! I see you!' and moves down the slope from the lighthouse towards where Brian is standing in the rain. Her twin brother looks up at her, but says nothing. 'Brian...?' Betsy calls out, but Brian makes his way back into his car and drives off. Betsy returns to her friends in the lighthouse, 'You see something out there?' Gambit asks. Betsy frowns and doesn't answer him, instead she states that she can't sleep either, and that they should leave tonight.


Meanwhile, in the glistening Starlight Citadel, that floats above Avalon within Otherworld. 'Cristabel!' a voice calls out, as a woman with glasses wearing a long white robe runs down an elegant corridor, trying to catch up to a woman with short red hair, who also wears a long white robe. 'Finally. Her Royal Whyness has been waiting' the woman with the red hair mutters. Cristabel apologizes and explains that she had to find her way up here. Holding a small bag, Cristabel remarks 'In all my time working in the vault, she's never actually called down for anything before'. The other woman knocks on a large door, and a panel opens 'Give it here' a voice calls from the other side of the door, and Cristabel passes the bag through the panel, which then slams shut. 'Well...that's that, I suppose. Back to the -' Cristable begins, before her red-haired companion tells her to wait. 'Do you see that?' she asks. 'Better questeion – does he see us?' Cristabel asks as they look up at the sky, where Apocalypse's face cab be seen, peering down over Avalon.

The red-head tells Cristabel that they are completely cloaked during wartime, and that if they were in any danger, the lady would see it in her mirror, and the entire Citadel would hear the peal of the bells – as if on cue, the bells throughout the Citadel begin ringing, their sounds echoing across the Starlight Citadel, heard by other White Priestesses – and Opal Luna Saturnyne herself stands on a balcony and gazes out to the sky, her room behind her a mess, and her mirror cracked and broken.

In London, a meeting of Coven Akkaba is underway, with High Priestess Marianna Stern standing on an altar with Rueben Wilmott. 'Merry met, inheritors of Akkaba' Rueben remarks. 'Merry met!' the Coven Akkaba members respond in unison. Rueben states that after Marianna's efforts to empower their connection to Otherworld in Lady Morgana, they found theirb connection severed  recently, but intelligence suggests that she has been deposed, and is currently missing. 'So forgive me if I betray the greeting. I am not. Merry' Rueben declares. He uses magic to create illusions of Apocalypse, Captain Britain and Jamie Braddock, as Marianna informs the coven that there is a mutant on the throne – a reality-warping madman who is backed by one of their kind's most dangerous. Rueben states that, like most mutants, this one is quick to anger and violent in retaliation. Marianna tells the coven that they will prevail, as they always have. 'But I warned you. And you did not heed my warnings. Who will suffer here for Lady Morgana's fate in Avalon?' she asks.

Marianna continues, 'Who among you will serve both as an example and a  sacrifice?' she enquires. 'I shall' a man among the red-cloak wearing followers of Coven Akkaba announces. 'I would be honored to suffer in her name' he adds as he drops his cloak, and steps naked towards the altar. 'Then suffer you shall' Rueben tells him. The man lays down on the table on the altar, while Marianna holds a jagged dagger above him, 'With your death we will kill our failure! You will die with the shame of defeat!' 'Yes, High Priestess, yesssss -' the coven member repsonds, before screaming as Marianna plunges the dagger into his chest. Standing towards the back of the gathered coven members, a woman looks shocked, the turns and runs from the ritual, while Rueben announces that this is a mercy compared to what Morgan suffers at the hands of witchbreed. 'Turn away from the truth if you must!' he calls out, while the sacrifice continues to scream as the ritual continues.

The screams can be heard down the corridor, as the woman continues to run, before she bursts out a door that leads onto a street, where rain pours down onto her. 'Meggan!' a voice calls out, identifying her as Meggan Braddock. Meggan looks up and sees her former teammate Pete Wisdom, currently of MI:13 standing nearby. With tears in her eyes, Meggan informs Pete that they were hurting each other, and that she is sorry, but she got as much information as she could. Wisdom opens an umbrella, 'Your poor thing. C'mere – no more tears. What happened?' Wisdom remarks as he holds the umbrella over Meggan. They walk down the street as Meggan tells Pete that it was awful, but that they spoke freely – and they plan to provoke Jamie into doing something foolish. 'Well, that won't be hard' Wisdom mutters, before Meggan looks at him and tells him that she quite liked helping out, and that she likes spy work. 'You're damn good at it' Wisdom tells Meggan, who suggests that if the coven are targeting Jamie, that will get them off Betsy's back for a minute.

Wisdom thanks Meggan for the help and asks her if she isn't sore at that he snatched her up from paradise and took her into this weather. Meggan remarks that she can't be far from home for long. 'And now that Brian's back, I -' Meggan begins, before turning and wiping her eyes. 'Heyyyy, that's a goodd thing, though!' Wisdom exclaims, before asking how Brian is adjusting. Meggan informs Wisdom that Brian treats himself so poorly, and is so sad. Meggan turns back to Wisdom, revealing to him that she tells Brian that she is sure that he could come live on Krakoa, that if they spoke to the Council, they might make an exception – and maybe the sun will be good for him. Wisdom tells Meggan that he hates the sun, too, so he can't blame Brian, and sand is awful. 'But I hear there's a whole lot of nudity, so I keep meaning to make time to visit' Wisdom adds. A portal to Krakoa opens and Wisdom tells Meggan to buck up, that she and Brian are two of the finest, most stubborn fools he has ever met, before asking where Brian is now. Meggan reports that Brian is home with Maggie, that she always makes him smile, and he is such a good dad. 'And I'm heading right home to him' Meggan exclaims as she walks to the portal, before turning to Wisdom and telling him that the awful wizards didn't say anything about his girl. 'My girl?' Wisdom asks, confused. 'Betsy!' Meggan calls back, causing Wisdom to go wide-eyed.

Meantime, on Avalon, Captain Britain and Rogue fly alongside Shogo who is in his dragon form, carrying Jubilee, Gambit and Rictor. 'There it is' Rogue remarks as they see the Starlight Citadel up ahead. She points out that Apocalypse actually did it, although she refers to him by his Krakoan name. Captain Britain admits that she is surprised, too, before picking up a mental projection from Shogo and informing Jubilee that he is hungry. 'Hard same' Jubilee replies, before she tells Shogo that she doesn't know what he is craving, but they should think more apple orchard and less sheep farm. 'One seems less upsetting to have to replace' Jubilee explains as Shogo sets them down in a field. Rogue admires their new surroundings and remarks that it is beautiful out here. 'It's freezing out here!' Gambit replies, hugging himself, while Rictor crouches on the ground and reports that he has found some flint. 'Give it' Gambit tells him, using his power to kinetically charge the flint, and starting a fire.

Rogue wraps her arms around Gambit as they stand over the fire, although Gambit admits that he was not sure that would work. Rogue tells him that she thinks it is kinda romantic out here, but Gambit isn't sure he would agree, and that he is feeling a little on edge. 'So you don't want me to get the tent set up early?' Rogue asks. 'I didn't say that' Gambit smiles, before Jubilee tells them to knock it off, and Betay appears, holding up two rabbits, she asks if anyone is ready for dinner 'Now we're camping!' Rogue exclaims, while Jubilee covers her mouth and looks away, muttering that she doesn't want to eat a bunny. She pulls a protein bar from her satchel and remarks that she is just going to eat this. 'Gimme one' Rictor tells her, while Rogue asks Betsy if she has been to  the Citadel. Betsy confirms that she has, while Rictor looks at the bar Jubilee gave him and points out that they are candy bars. Rogue asks what is at the Citadel, and Betsy reveals that there was a time when there were lots of Captain Britains. 'Mosta them were Brian, right?' Rogue asks. As Betsy roasts the rabbit over the fire, she confirms that is correct, and explains that there were Captain Britains in many, many dimensions – but no longer, as they were destroyed. 'And now?' Rogue asks. Betsy closes her eyes and admits that she doesn't know – but she is certain she needs to find out.

Inside the Starlight Citadel, Opal Luna Saturnyne stands on an altar before the Priestesses of the Starlight Citadel. She tells the men and women before her that each of them serves her, that they are a hand of the  Omniversal Majestrix, an agent of balance and a protestor of the realm – but now, the balance of power in Otherworld has become upset. The Priestesses raise their hands, and energy darts around them, as Opal Luna Saturnyne tells them that from miles away, the one called Apocalypse peers into their sacred space. Headbands appear from the magic, and the Priestesses place the bands on their heads. Saturnyne declares that the corruption that began with Morgan Le Fay's foolishness has only expanded. 'Hunt them. Bring them to me' she instructs her followers, whose eyes roll back in their heads, and energy darts up from the headbands.

Back at the campsite, 'Dinner's ready!' someone calls out. Rogue takes some of the meat over to Betsy, who is sitting away from the fire. 'You know what it means when you're sitting alone among company, right?' Rogue remarks. 'Means you got another conversation on your mind' Rogue smiles. Betsy appears distracted as she takes the meat that Rogue gives her. 'I know a whole lotta pals who can read minds, but I ain't one of them' Rogue adds. 'Why would she hide from me, Rogue?' Betsy asks, adding that the Starlight Citadel was the hub of all realities – where every Captain Britain met. 'Why can't I got there?' she wonders. Rogue suddenly reports that she hears something, and Betsy hears it, too – singing.

In the surrounding forest, a beam of brilliant light accompanies the singing from the Priestesses, while several others shoot large energy arrows.

Jubilee rides on Shogo as they go to explore, with Jubilee asking Shogo what he sees. 'I bet if you did a sweep of that pond you'd get some fishies -' she tries to encourage her dragon-son to swoop down lower – but Shogo suddenly cries out in agony as an energy arrow strikes one of his wings. 'Shogo!' Jubilee utters, while down below, the rest of Excalibur see the trouble, and realize Shogo has been struck. 'He's going down!' Captain Britain exclaims. 'What shot him?' Rogue asks. Betsy tells her that she doesn't know, and as she uses her psionic powers to try and calm Shogo to help him land safely from a distance, she asks Jubilee if she is all right. 'No. I am not' Jubilee mutters as she clings to Shogo, while Betsy tells her that she is so sorry. 'I can help him land – but he's really hurt!' Betsy calls out as she and Rogue fly up towards Shogo. 'Down here! We got space for him!' Gambit calls out.

'Betsy, tell Shogo – tell him for me -' Jubilee begins. 'Anything, Jubilee. Anything! What?' Betsy calls back. 'Tell him not to look up at Mommy' Jubilee replies as she leaps up off Shogo, her plasma fireworks darting around her hands, while Betsy and Rogue reach Shogo and help direct him to the ground. 'Jubilee?' Betsy calls out, as Jubilee releases a furious display of plasma energy, directing it down at the forest from where the arrow was fired at Shogo – causing the surrounding area to explode in blinding light.

Opal Luna Saturnyne sees this display of power through a scrying mirror in her chamber. 'The Mutant Kingdom and their new Excalibur would escalate this to war' she frowns. Saturnyne vows that she will send as many priestesses as she has to, as it is the right of the Majestrix to make any sacrifices necessary to maintain balance. She holds up a small bag and declares that to put a stop to whatever madness threatens the balance of the Omniverse she will destroy whatever she sees fit. Four alternate reality versions of Rogue, Gambit, Rictor and Jubilee then appear before Saturnyne, the quartet wearing versions of the Captain Britain costume – the new Captain Britain Corps!

Characters Involved: 

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


Brian Braddock

Meggan Braddock

Pete Wisdom

Shogo Lee




Christabel and other White Priestesses


Gambit, Jubilee, Rictor, Rogue (all Captain Britain Corps)


Marianna Stern

Reuben Wilmott

Coven Akkaba members


in flashback images:


Morgan Le Fay


The First Horsemen

Story Notes: 

This issue contains a one page description of the Starlight Citadel, accompanied by a picture of the citadel.

The Captain Britain Corps were destroyed in New Avengers (3rd series) #30.

This issue also contains a one page text-only description on the Rite of Initiation of the White Priestesses called the Moonlit Diadem, including Saturnyne's script for the ritual.

Written By: