New Excalibur #17

Issue Date: 
April 2007
Story Title: 
Fallen Friend – part 2

Chris Claremont (writer), Scot Eaton (penciler), John Dell (inker), Sotocolor`s A. Crossley (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Sean Ryan (assistant editor), Nick Lowe & Mandy Schmidt (editors), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Talia has to deal with her new reality after her stroke. With her left side partially paralysed, she is on a long way to recovery, but she is helped by her friends. Sage observes her and finally suggests TJ try using her powers on her before she loses them. TJ finally gives in and possesses her, spending an evening in London. Luckily, when she loses control, Sage and Captain Britain save her. Cap reminds her that the team stands behind her and will help her all the way. Elsewhere in the meantime, Courtney Ross has to give up all claims to Fraser’s Bank.

Full Summary: 

London: the intensive care wing of the Royal Victoria Hospital. For Excalibur, the wait is over, for their teammate Nocturne has woken up from the stroke she suffered. While her friends are elated, Talia feels less so; she can only make out parts of what her excited friends are saying. And during the next day, she learns in frustration during physical therapy that she cannot move her right leg and arm.

While Sage sits in her hospital room and waits and watches, the hospital staff try to get TJ to squeeze her hand. More frustration for Talia.

The doctor asks her to say her name. While Nocturne remembers it, she can barely pronounce it and screams in frustration. The doctor comforts her that the damage seems to be minimal. Once her body recovers and finds its new equilibrium, they can re-establish the neural passageways. There has been neural damage, but their job is to find how bad it is and the best ways to cope.

Again, Talia only understands part of it, as she sinks back exhausted. Suddenly, she gasps. Before her, invisible to the others, she sees a healthy ghostly version of herself, which tells her she’s there to help her get better. Ghost Talia tries to encourage her to come play, as she dances around. She can’t, Talia thinks, but the other one tells her she just isn’t trying. T.J shouts out that she can’t. Sage takes all of this in and says nothing.

At Excalibur’s headquarters, Brian Braddock is phoning Courtney Ross, telling her that the doctors are still evaluating Talia’s condition. Courtney muses that it is strange to think of her like that. People are used to heroes being so much better than the rest. Being killed in battle with super-villains and the like that’s one thing. But something like a stroke is so… human? Brian asks. That’s the situation in a nutshell then.

He notices that she’s preoccupied. Just some business she has to complete, she replies evasively and promises to swing by the hospital when she’s done here.

Inside the bank, several men are expecting her. One of them announces that, with her signature, she will sever all connections with Fraser’s Bank. Signing, Courtney advises them to enjoy their victory.

A day later back at the hospital, there are more tests for Talia. The doctor announces that the swelling’s going down. Her body has taken a hard hit. It’s been working overtime to deal with it. She chides her for not eating decently and then asks her what her name is. Nocturne, TJ replies, while the therapist is urging her to lift her leg. Again, the doctor asks: Talia Josephine Wagner, what’ s your name? Impatiently, TJ repeats it’s Nocturne. The doctor repeats her question in German and TJ finally gives the expected reply. Is she satisfied?

The doctor asks her how her hand is to use. And Talia cries out that it’s awful. She can barely hold a pen and her writing… she couldn’t remember her own name!

Later in her bed, she sees her invisible other-self dancing again and angrily asks her to stop. Her other self asks her to join her. Suppressing a tear, TJ replies that this isn’t funny. She had a stroke! She can hardly move her right leg. Her right arm’s a joke! No matter how well she recovers, she’ll never be what she was. Sage interrupts her conversation with herself and tells her to go to sleep.

Yet another day and Pete Wisdom has taken over some physical therapy, asking her to squeeze his hand as hard as she can. Now the other. How does she feel? Angry, sick she admits. She wants to hit something. Well that’s a start, he tells her. He then gives her a steel rod to hold and she wonders if he has done this before. He didn’t always hang with skintights, Pete jokes. But he is one, TJ suggests, he has powers. So he should run around in a costume like them? he asks amused. No thanks. His mates would never speak to him again. The few mates that are left.

Has he done this before for one of his friends? she asks, still holding the rod with both hands. Wisdom reveals that his mate took a headshot. A miracle he made it to the hospital, much less out of surgery. He had to help him get back up and running. And after that? she asks.

Yet another night of TJ being bothered by both her other self and Sage’s presence. Rudely, she tells her to stop staring and finally to go away. Make me, the other woman surprisingly replies. What’s that supposed to mean? TJ asks surprised. Sage repeats her order. Furious, Talia snarls whether Sage doesn’t believe she’s crippled. Does she want proof?

Sage replies that she knows the girl is hurt. “Crippled,” though, that’s something else. Talia hides beneath her pillow and tells her to go to hell.

Unfazed, Sage asks why Talia hasn’t tried to use her powers. She can’t even walk, Talia spits. Sag replies Talia knows what she is talking about. TJ admits something might go wrong. Suppose she can’t go back…. In a small voice, she adds, suppose she doesn’t want to. She’s afraid, Sage states. Of hurting innocents? TJ asks. Wouldn’t Sage be? That’d mean she’d actually have to care about somebody she adds cruelly.

The following day, Alison gives TJ a sponge bath and tries to cheer her up. TJ grumpily observes that, two weeks ago, she could have done that herself. Ali suggests she wash her arms herself, while Ali does the legs. She recommends that she give herself time to heal. TJ admits that her whole life before she felt like her body had no limits. Now she’s broken.

Towelling her, Ali asks if she is giving up, then. TJ sighs that she and Sage should give her a break! But, she confides, she thinks she can’t be a superhero anymore. Poor baby, Ali replies in mock-pity. First thing, TJ doesn’t know that. And even if that’s true, so what? Find another path, learn something new adapt, evolve. But don’t ever give up. Yes, Ma’ am, TJ replies sarcastically.

Later, Cain visits TJ with some fast food. TJ thanks him, but claims she isn’t really hungry. Her problem is something else, though. While she recognizes him, she cannot recall his name. Cain chides her; she needs her strength. Putting up a cheerful façade, TJ jokes that it’s the near-dead diet. Satisfaction guaranteed or you can complain to God. Not buying it, Cain asks why she is making fun. He thought they were friends. Talia finally admits that she can’t remember his name. Breaking down, she adds that it isn’t just him. She can see memory pictures of her mom and dad inside her head. She knows it’s them, but she can’t remember their names.

The following night, she is having another discussion with Sage about the use of her power. Sage is trying to convince her to try her powers by possessing her, as she figures she is the only one who can handle it. Suppose something goes wrong, Tala frets. Sage seriously replies that they both must be prepared for those risks. Why now? Tj asks. Isn’t it too early? Sage explains that, if they wait too long, the window will close and then Talia will be crippled. TJ reminds Sage that she will be in complete physical control of Sage’s body. She’ll have complete access to her brain. Is she willing to trust her that much? She is willing to take the risk, Sage replies gravely. She takes her hand.

Moments later, Talia luxuriates in the sensations of having a healthy body again. Letting the other woman’s hair literally down, she marvels that Sage is actually beautiful and wonders why the other woman hides it. She admits, though, that she is whole lot tougher than anyone she’s possessed. She may run Sage’s body, but she can’t touch the other woman’s memories. Her life is still totally private. Which TJ is kinda glad about. She’s not sure she ever wants to lean her secrets. She owes Sage, so she prays the other woman won’t kill her for what comes next, namely a shopping trip to get some skimpy clothing plus a trip to the hair-dresser to get some dreadlocks.

Walking the streets of London, she enjoys the feeling of being attractive again, to be able to use the right side of her body without trouble. She jumps up a building and dances across rooftops.

However, suddenly her hand starts to shake and her right leg stops supporting her. She falls, the next moment she separates from Sage’s body and the other woman catches her, remarking whether Talia really thought she’d cede control over her body without the ability to take it back?

Suddenly, Captain Britain shows up, catching both of them, before they fall to the ground. As he brings them back to the hospital. Talia is somewhat miffed at her two teammates planning this behind her back. Cap reminds her that lately he lost both his wife and his twin sister and it’s probably only a matter of time before he loses somebody else. That, sadly, is the nature of the lives they are leading. But he won’t lose anyone without a fight. Sage could have been killed, TJ reminds him. It was a risk she was prepared to take, he replies. Why? Talia demands. She’s Excalibur; Talia’s Excalibur; we’re Excalibur, Brian simply states.

From outside the room, Sage listens in on their conversation via her cyber-shades. Wisdom notices her new look, remarking that he thinks he is in love. She was letting Talia indulge herself, Sage explains. Juggernaut and Dazzer also join them, noticing Sage’s hair. Local reggae band stopped by, Wisdom jokes. Turns out that steel drumming’s one of her powers. How’s Talia, Alison asks.

Inside the room, Brian continues to hold Talia’s hand and tells her that they stand together in common purpose to take care of those around them. And as they look after the world, best they can, so too they take care of their own. He knows it’s hard learning new limits, new ways to cope, not in terms of being Nocturne, but just to have a decent shot at being Talia Josephine Wagner. But she has to remember throughout his journey that she isn’t alone.

As he talks, Talia work her way to her wheelchair and wheels outside to her friends.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Dazzler, Juggernaut, Nocturne, Sage, Wisdom (all Excalibur)

Sat-yr-9 / Courtney Ross

Gentlemen dealing with Courtney

Hospital staff

Story Notes: 

There seems to be some artistic confusion about whether Nocturne’s left or right side is paralysed in some panels. While the story clearly states it’s the right side, Talia is seen using her right arm in her scene with Dazzler and practicing her left side in her scene with the therapist.

The German the doctor and Nocturne use is not quite correct idiomatically speaking, as the sentences are translated word for word, not idiomatically correctly. “Was ist Ihr Name” (what’s your name) should be “wie heißen Sie?” and “Sind Sie befriedigt” (Are you satisfied) should be “Sind Sie (jetzt) zufrieden?”

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