New Excalibur #19

Issue Date: 
June 2007
Story Title: 
The Game begins!

Chris Claremont (writer), Scot Eaton (penciler), John Dell with Dave Meikis (inkers), Laura Villari (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Sean Ryan & Will Panzo (assistant editors), Nick Lowe & Andy Schmidt (editors), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Nocturne is frustrated about her slow recovery, even with therapy. Juggernaut visits her, doing his best to cheer her up. Afterward, he obtains info about Albion from an old friend and learns that Albion is recruiting an army of former superbeings who lost their powers on M-Day. As a result of this information, Sage decides to join Albion undercover. Meanwhile, Albion and Lionheart hook up with Shadow X and Scicluna. Not all is well with the alliance, however, as Marvel Girl tries in vain to possess Lionheart. Later, Lionheart is to help Shadow X break out the Shadow King. Again they try to betray her, but she comes prepared and kills the Shadow King by sealing him in his host body. Before a battle between Shadow X and Lionheart can break out, they are joined by Excalibur.

Full Summary: 

London, the Royal Victoria Hospital, Thameside.

Department of neuro-physiological rehabilitation. A month after TJ Wagner’s stroke.

My name is Talia Josephene Wagner. And this is my firxt attemot at tuping since my sztropme.

Angrily, TJ stops typing at the computer and shouts that this isn’t fair! The words are clear inside her head. Why does she keep getting things wrong when she tries to put them on paper (or make that on-screen)? Her therapist assures her that this is frustrating, but she has to accept that progress is going to take time. TJ muses that the stupid stroke took seconds to do its damage. No fair it takes forever to get better.

Later, she tries lifting weights, painfully reminded of how long a way she still has to go and how hard it’s proving to get there. Comfort comes in the visiting Cain Marko, who tells her she’s still breathing. That’s a pretty fair place to start. And from what he sees, every day she is putting more pieces together. So, is she free for lunch?

A little later, he pushes her wheelchair out, admitting he’s glad they let her out. It’s rehab, not prison, she reminds him, and adds cynically that food’s better in prison. Why did the doc look so squirrelly when he asked to take her for lunch, Cain wonders. After all, she knows them as she is Ali’s friend. That’s the point, TJ explains. Bad enough Ali keeps getting herself killed and popping back to life again, now look at her. Doc’s scared he’ll hijack Talia for some mission that will set back her recovery. Is that why he is heret? she asks playfully. Shocked, he denies it. So, how is she doing? She admits that this is a lot harder than she thought.

Cain carries her to a shady spot as she muses that there are folks in worse shape than her. So why is he there? He tells her to get ready for this one… He’s been thinking about Albion. They got no records on the guy and Lionheart is a comparative rookie, so he figures they’ll need help to get any serious jobs done. Cain, he knows a lot of people on the wrong side of tracks. Just the kind they’ll wanna talk to. But will they talk to him? TJ wonders. She looks upward at the sky, focusing on a hawk. Suddenly, she sees Cain’s head on the hawk’s body and cannot understand him anymore.

Cain shakes her, asking if she is all right. She is confused and he brings her back inside, apologizing that he should have known better. TJ asks him not to do anything dumb. Yes, ma’am, he replies. She’s serious, TJ stresses. One gimp on the team is about all Excalibur can afford.

Elsewhere in Britain in a spacious ,manor Albion and Lionheart greet Agent Scicluna of Black Air and Shadow-X, the evil X-Men from another dimension. Albion remarks he is impressed that they found them. Scicluna stresses that Black Air is one of the world’s premier Intelligence networks. With their aid, the possibilities are infinite. For example, her colleagues desire the release of their imprisoned mentor. Albion helps them, they’ll help him. The possibilities of a merger are quite intriguing.

Not to mention profitable? Albion remarks, as he shakes Cyclops’ Hand. Marvel Girl, in the meantime, studies Lionheart.

Scicluna remarks that, where Excalibur is concerned, they are more interested in revenge against Captain Britain and Peter Wisdom.

Suddenly, Marvel Girl mentally attacks Lionheart, intending to make her her pet. However, her powers are reflected back on her, as Lionheart remarks that they don’t permit slavery in this country.

Still holding Cyclops’ hand, Albion stresses that first impressions often define relationships. One should always take care not to get off on the wrong foot. He’s glad they managed to avoid that tragic pitfall. And hopes this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful alliance.

With Shadow-X gone, Lionheart admits that she’d rather see them all dead, starting with that redhead witch. Taking off her mask, Albion retorts that the redhead probably feels the same way about Kelsey. She accuses him of laughing at her. Albion corrects her, he is applauding her.

Taking her face into his hands, he stresses that Marvel Girl is a supremely deadly adversary, yet the device he gave Kelsey slapped her down. She won’t soon forget that. For now, she’s to leave them alone. Those youngsters will prove useful. They’re a known adversary of Excalibur. Their mentor is responsible for the loss of Braddock’s sister. Advance them into the battlefield and Excalibur won’t spare Albion and Lionheart a thought. By the time they discover their mistake and their real plan, Excalibur will have lost and this nation, this world, will belong to them. They share a passionate kiss.

At the old Arsenal Stadium in North London, Cain meets Rollo, an old pal. Rollo instantly stresses that he isn’t doing this for Cain but for Black Tom Cassidy, who gave him a call.

Sharing the beer Cain brought, the men begin to talk. Rollo moans that he would get his head handed to him if his lads knew about this meeting. Old times’ sake don’t cover this. Not so much Cain’s going straight, but on the chance that he might come after them. The lads took that personal. It’s not what mates do. Cain asks if he can help him.

Rollo muses that this Albion looks good and talks well… but there’s something about him. A kind of rage, that’s almost hatred. Maybe for everything. When he hears him his first instinct is to look over his shoulder and cover his back. The second is to run. But this is his home. So he doesn’t run. He’s got the word out, very Q-T… looking for those who lost their powers on M-Day. He’s offering them a rebirth, a chance to set things right.

What’s that mean? Cain wonders. Rollo shrugs. He doesn’t know. He’s not a skintight, is he? But Albion is building himself a cadre of very angry folks. He gives Cain a sheet of paper which is supposed to get him in. Whatever happens next, Cain is on his own. Cain thanks him and remarks he owes him. He and Black Tom both, Rollo remarks. His lucky day.

A new morning. At their warehouse-home-headquarters, Juggernaut and Dazzler are having a sparring session, which Wisdom observes from above. Alison has created solid light batons to hit her foe with. She follows this up with a kick to the face, but eventually he has her, his hand around her throat. Nice try, but no cigar. She doesn’t smoke, she tells him afterwards. Don’t matter either way, since right now she’s dead, he points out, Blinding him was smart, but he could still hear. She’s getting better but she still has a way to go.

Pete joins Brian and an unknown blonde at the breakfast table. Pouring himself coffee, Wisdom reveals that they watched classic Bond movies at the ministry last night. Nothing like a dose of 007 to show you the proper tradecraft of espionage, he enthuses. His coffee is forgotten, he keeps on pouring as he takes in the stranger and a gun lying next to her on the table. Warning Brian, he manifests some hotknives. Before he can use them, the smirking blonde holds the gun to his head. Nice try she tells him and he recognizes the voice. Is that really Sage?

Brushing aside her bangs to reveal her trademark eye-tattoos, she teasingly asks if he doesn’t like her as a blonde. He picks up his mug and, with a sheepish smile, asks her if she is daft. He’s awestruck! He thinks he’s in love.

Much later, as the whole team has gathered around the table, Wisdom remarks that he still isn’t convinced this is the right approach. He stresses that Sage will be out on her own, out of contact. A road she has walked before, she assures him with self-confidence. There’s no one else who can do this. And if something goes wrong? He points out. Because as he recalls, isn’t that what happened when she was with the Hellfire Club?

Should they do nothing then? she shoots back. Let Albion take the initiative? Wait for his attack and pay the price?

Brian states that really they haven’t got much choice. The job needs doing and Sage, like it or not, is best suited for the assignment. They have to trust her judgment and hope for the best. Like that always paid off for James Bond, Wisdom grumbles. In point of fact it always did, Sage corrects him with a smile.

That night in Southeast London, Brian and Sage, again a blonde and all “tarted up” part ways. He wishes she’d take a communication device or bug. She considered it, but it’s too risky. Should he caution her to be careful? Blowing him a kiss, she tells him when she gets back, absolutely.

Her Britannic Majesty’s Prison, Crossmore. The Maximum Security guards and tech are taken out by Shadow-X, the evil X-Men and Lionheart. What’s the drill? Lionheart asks. They set their Master free, Cyclops explains. As Marvel Girl opens his cell, she adds that then they will take revenge on their enemies. Starting with Lionheart, Cyclops adds and suddenly they have her surrounded.

An optic beam blasts her from behind. While Lionheart is still groggy, Beast takes her in a chokehold and suggests she don’t struggle as she can’t escape. She will only hurt herself. Just stand still and relax. It will be over in barely a minute.

The Shadow King rises from the body of Xavier he was imprisoned in, telling Beast that he wants this delectable morsel to be terrified. Her stark terror will make the feast so much more appetizing. Xavier’s body has outlived its usefulness. The members of Shadow-X smile as their master means to take over Kelsey’s. But as he tries to enter her mind he finds he can’t. There’s a flash of light and Kelsey uses the confusion to get rid of Beast with a judo throw.

Putting aside a device she wore hidden, she explains that Albion knew the Shadow King was behind this. He is the king of legend and power and people remember and prepare. The collar device creates an energy field that seals him within Xavier’s body. When it dies, so will he. The Shadow King threatens her. Does she think she is the first to challenge him? As he crushed them, so shall he crush her. Those days are long gone, Lionheart retorts and stabs him. With a scream, he dies.

So, Kelsey announces and raises her weapon, who’s next? Suddenly, there is a crunching noise and Lionheart and Shadow X are joined by the members of Excalibur, who are out for blood.

Characters Involved: 

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

Rollo (former friend of Juggernaut)



Agent Scicluna (of Black Air)

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all Shadow X)

Shadow King

Story Notes: 

This is the first time the evil X-Men were referred to as Shadow X.

Issue Information: 
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