New Excalibur #23

Issue Date: 
November 2007
Story Title: 
Too Many Ways to Die!

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

Brief Description: 

Nocturne possesses one of Albion’s Shadow Captains and infiltrates his ranks. She intends to attack him but soon has other worries, as Iceman attacks London and the captains with an ice avalanche. While the Shadow Captains fight Excalibur, Nocturne tries to save as many people as possible. Excalibur is beginning to gain the edge but Angel is slain by a Captain who in turn is killed by a furious Marvel Girl. Albion intervenes, bringing Captain Britain into the game who tries to draws Sage back to their side by showing her his face. When he sees Albion’s face as well he is shocked to see a doppelganger.

Full Summary: 

One of Albion’s Captains flies up into an apartment building on a very private mission, namely to relieve himself. Strangely enough, he seems afraid of the dark in the men’s room, and in this case with good reason, as suddenly a woman emerges from the darkness and slugs him.

The next moment, Nocturne leaves the woman’s body and possesses the Captain. Inside the Captain’s psyche, he calls her a monster. That’s right, she threatens, and his only hope to survive is to yield. No! he cries as he slugs her. Someone took away his powers before and ruined his life. He won’t let it happen again! TJ doesn’t give up and returns the blow. She understands his terror and wishes there were another way for them both.

He falls to the ground. Nocturne has won. Taking control of the body and wondering if she will ever get used to this, she gently picks up the body of her doctor friend. Then she tests her new body’s assets, super-strength, flight and a sword. She orders herself to focus and carries the doc outside to safety. She wonders to herself if that word has any meaning in these times. When she was with the Exiles, they were never allowed to stick around long enough to see the real consequences of what they were dealing with.

Outside there’s a crowd that draws back in fear and she realizes that when you have powers it’s easy to forget what the world’s like for people who don’t. She asks the people for a hand. This lady is a doctor. She could use some help. Noting their scared looks, she flies away, deciding the first move has to be taking out Albion.

She spies him in the sky and wonders if she can get to him before he can react. She tries to find out but is stopped by Britannia who, calling her “Petrie,” impatiently asks where she’s been. Reminding herself not to call the other woman “Sage,” Nocturne replies that nature called. Britannia orders her to join the others. Looks like they won’t have to go look for the opposition. The poor fools are coming to them.

An icefront is moving toward London. One of the Captains nervously announces that his home’s out there. What’ll happen to the people? Calling him Derek, Britannia replies that if he wants to save them, he will have to fight to win!

Nocturne is awestruck by the raw power Iceman is displaying. She sure hopes he knows what he’s doing. All she can do is wait for an opening to make her move. And pray nobody slams her by mistake.

Helpless citizens watch as the icewave moves on, at the front standing Iceman, Pete Wisdom next to him.

Albion muses aloud that Captain Britain’s strategy is to be commended. It looks as creative as his own. Such a shame he will have to lose.

Marvel Girl orders Angel to let Iceman and the others take the lead. Their target is Albion. Angel points out that they are supposed to be allies; they gave their word. If they kill the leader of their enemies, the war is over, they win. That validates any sacrifice, Jean replies.

In the sewer, Dazzler and Juggernaut are making their way. Alison nervously asks if Cain knows the way. He explains that this is what makes London so great for the plan. The sewers go everywhere the streets do. And there’s no avalanche down there.

In the air are Captain Britain and their recent ally, Lionheart, who has defected from Albion’s cause. Kelsey admits she feels strange waiting. She’s still surprised that he trusts her. Pure instinct, he replies. The choice between sword and amulet isn’t between good and evil. It’s about means, not ends, and those ends are ultimately good. What about Albion? she asks. That he’s working on, he admits.

Albion orders Britannia to stay with him. Let this be the chance for the other Captains to prove their worth. Nocturne decides to stay back. She cannot just leave the people. The devil with her cover. Britannia asks what that Captain – referring to Nocturne – is doing. Playing the noble fool, comes Albion’s reply and the order to let him be. He’s chosen to face that avalanche. If he does some good, all the better for them.

No one watching can quite believe their eyes. It’s as if London has become a city in miniature, face-to-face with an ordinary avalanche. And it all happens so fast. Only a few relative minutes separate the first sight of this titanic wave, far out on the horizon, from its arrival. But then amidst the chaos and the horror, something miraculous happens. TJ fights with all her courage and strength to evacuate as many people as possible to the relative sanctuary of the parks. People who will never forget her courage.

In the air, Marvel Girl realizes that Albion’s Captains are shielded from telepathy, same as he. No matter. If she can’t fry their brains, she’ll simply telekinetically smash their bodies with rubble. She sees one Captain lose his protective shield and instantly goes for the kill.

She notices Angel moving away from her and mentally contacts him. She notes that he actually seems scared of her. He admits he’s never seen her like this before. It takes a little getting used to. He is scared of her. He has limits. There are things he won’t do. Then he is a fool, she decides. Limits are for losers and she has none. Warren argues when one Captain stabs him in the side with his blade.

While Nocturne keeps on trying to save people from the ice onslaught, Albion sees a flash of lights and gets Britannia to close her eyes moments before the other Captains are blinded, thanks to Dazzler who has come up from the sewers. She and Wisdom begin to pick off the dazed Captains with Juggernaut. Her job done, Dazzler sinks down exhausted. That’s it for her until she recharges. With the help of Iceman, Juggernaut takes out two captains. Pete thinks to himself that he ought to have his head examined. He’s not a costume, but the more he hangs with this crowd the more he follows their lead.

Marvel Girl attacks one Captain, considering him revenge for Cyclops. However, the Captain shakes off her attack and slices Wisdom, who sinks down at his feet. He gets ready for the killing stroke, but before that happens Angel kicks him square in the chest, intent on saving Wisdom’s life despite his own injuries. However, his wound makes him react too slowly, allowing the Captain to kill him.

Jean screams in disbelief and pain. Not him too! As she slays the Captain up and personal, Marvel Girl is attacked by Albion himself. He grabs her by the throat intent on finishing her off. That moment, Captain Britain slams into him, proceeding to hit him. His would-be-reign of conquest is over! he shouts. He in turn is attacked by Britannia, who assures him that this land is theirs.

Cap holds back her fist. Addressing her as Sage, he lets go and shows her his unmasked face. He begs her to listen. She isn’t who she thinks she is. Diana Fox is a lie. She is not Britannia. She is Sage. She hesitates but then Albion hits Cap from behind, telling him he should be paying attention to business.

That will be a pleasure, Cap snarls back. Oh my God, he mutters the next moment, as he sees Albion unmasked for the first time. Both men are taken aback because they are as alike as twins.

Characters Involved: 

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

Angel, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all Shadow-X)



Britannia / Sage

Derek, Petrie and others - Albion’s Shadow Captains

Citizens of London

Story Notes: 

It is unclear why Captain Britain seems shocked at the revelation that Albion is another doppelganger of his. He’s met several alternate versions of his (including evil ones, and usually almost always ended up fighting them). In addition, in issue #18, Sage already strongly suggested that Albion seemed to be identical to Brian.

Issue Information: 
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