New Excalibur #24

Issue Date: 
December 2007
Story Title: 
Two Captains, One Destiny…

Chris Claremont (writer), Jeremy Haun (penciler), Dave Meikis & Andrew Hennessy (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: 

As Albion and Captain Britain duke it out, suddenly one Shadow Captain turns against Albion, who quickly realizes that the man is possessed by Nocturne. He frees his Captain and orders him to finish her. Nocturne is saved by Marvel Girl, who is mortally wounded in the process. Still, despite her injuries, Jean and Nocturne find the source of the technology blackout. Meanwhile, Lionheart helps Iceman against the rest of the Shadow Captains, before he dies. Juggernaut, Dazzler and Wisdom help Sage to overpower her Britannia personality, while Sage then helps Cap against Albion. Together, they beat their foe and afterwards Marvel Girl then restores technology before she dies. Later, Wisdom and Captain Britain reunite Lionheart with her family and wonder what to do about Sage, whom nobody trusts anymore. As a victory celebration commences, Juggernaut packs to leave, having received a call elsewhere for his aid.

Full Summary: 

The members of Excalibur watch in surprise as they see the true face of Albion, a man who looks like Captain Britain’s twin. While Cap is equally surprised, Albion mockingly asks whether he never imagined that in all the infinite variations of crosstime he wouldn’t one day come across a better version of himself. With that, he slugs Cap, only to be attacked moments later by one of his own Shadow Captains (who is actually possessed by Nocturne).

Albion wonders if his man has lost his mind, before working out what’s wrong with Petrie. He grabs the man by the throat and smashes him to the ground. An exhausted Nocturne is forced to phase out. Albion recalls that the young woman suffered a stroke a month ago. Yet here she is fighting him. Think of it as a new kind of therapy, she replies defiantly. Albion commends her courage, wishing she were fighting for him. But one has to fight battles with the troops and weapons one possesses, not those one desires. Almost dismissively, he raises Petrie up and orders him to deal with Nocturne, before flying off.

Furious, Petrie demands to know what Nocturne did to him. Why can’t he remember? That’s the thing about possession, she quips. She checks in, he checks out. Not amused, he promises this won’t be so funny when he’s done with her.

He’ll do nothing except die! Shadow X’s Marvel Girl promises Petrie as she telepathically attacks him. However, Albion’s Captains have psi-shields, allowing Petrie to stab Jean into the chest with his sword. Despite her injury, Marvel Girl telekinetically slugs him. Physically spent, she sinks down and impatiently orders Nocturne to help her up. They’re not done yet!

Overhead, Britannia is shoved aside by Lionheart, who then rushes to try and help Iceman against the other Shadow Captains. What is she doing? Britannia demands. Has she switched sides? Is this the way she repays the faith of the man who loves her?

Not paying attention, Britannia is slammed again, this time by Juggernaut. He tosses aside her sword. If she wants to beat him, she’d better try it with the tools God gave her. Her pleasure, she replies and starts to hit him. Not to shabby, but she has to do better if she wants to walk away from this fight, Juggernaut announces.

Dazzler joins him, demanding he let the rest of them take a shot. Britannia is unimpressed, nevertheless Dazzler manages to first kick, then hit her, all the way taunting that maybe Britannia isn’t as good as she thinks.

Britannia is suddenly taken aback, for in her mind she sees two versions of herself as Sage. In the meantime, Wisdom attacks as well. While she is fighting Excalibur physically, her true Sage-self demands she get out of her body and her mind – she wants them back!

Wisdom has taken her in a deadly grip, threatening to kill her. That moment the exchange is complete. Turning all cool and reasonable, Sage explains that Diana Fox is gone and she is herself once more. Easy to say, petal, Wisdom replies challengingly. The logical move is to throw her in chains, she admits. But she thinks they’d do better letting her help them win the battle. And don’t call me petal.

Meanwhile elsewhere, the Shadow Captains’ number are starting to take their toll on the by now emaciated Iceman, but still he gives a tad better than he gets, freezing one Captain and shattering him to pieces. That moment, Lionheart joins them. The other Captains turn to her, demanding vengeance. She entreats them to let Ricky be the last death. This cause is wrong. She cares for Albion, but she can’t betray her people. She won’t betray her country. She won’t betray her children! She asks the two of them to lay down their weapons and choose a better way. Instead, they call her a traitor and attack her.

Meanwhile, the injured Marvel Girl with Nocturne riding shotgun has come to a certain location in the north of England Jean snagged from the Captain’s memories. This is the target they hit before attacking London.

Nocturne shudders as she leaves Jean. The woman’s memories are awful. How strange, she loves them, Jean replies, before ordering TJ to suck it up. They have this world to save.

They see two Captains guarding the crystal-like device responsible for the technology blackout. How can she make jokes, Nocturne wonders. It’s surprisingly easy when you’re dying, Jean replies. She assumes those two are the most formidable of Albion’s force. TJ remarks they probably don’t stand a change against those two. She thrives on such challenges, Jean replies. Doesn’t TJ? Besides, she truly enjoys the notion of this nation owing its freedom to her. With that, they attack.

Over central London, Captain Britain and Albion still do battle. Brian tries to reason with his foe, asking why they need to fight. Just because their path was laid by Merlyn and Roma doesn’t mean they are committed to it. They have minds and souls of their own. They can forge their own destiny. Why should they follow his lead, Albion spits back as he holds back Brian’s hand and takes him in a deathgrip. It’s a harsh omniverse. Could he follow Albion’s if it came to that? Perhaps the sword is needed more today than the amulet. Head-butting Albion, Cap replies that perhaps the essence of true leadership is to learn from what’s gone before in order to make a better future.

They see Sage with a sword, flying towards them. Still believing her to be his Britannia, Albion is now sure that victory is assured. Instead, Sage slugs him, telling him Britannia is no more. He hits her back and she falls towards Cap. Albion replies that whoever she is, Britannia was a warrior and Diana Fox a woman well worth knowing. The life she lived, the future she embraced far more appealing than she dare allow. Else she would not have embraced it so completely.

While Sage falls to the ground, Albion is suddenly blinded by intense light. Dazzler and Juggernaut have accompanied her. Sage strikes him again, followed by a blow of Juggernaut and finally he is finished off by Captain Britain.

On the ground, Cap orders him to yield. “Never,” comes Albion’s reply. Lionheart lands, carrying the body of Iceman. She tried to save him but it’s like he didn’t want to live without his friends. She turns to Albion telling him, this world isn’t his to win, especially not with a sword. The sword is what defines them, he snaps back.

Jean joins them. Jean’s wound now bleeds openly as she tells Albion that it’s not the only thing. Humanity has the potential, maybe even the responsibility to find a better way. Strange words from her. Not her words, she replies. She’d be happy just to see him dead. She shows the crystal device. Game over, he’s lost. She can accomplish nothing without the proper code, Albion says. She reminds him she’s a telepath. His helmet shielded his brain. Without it, staggered as he was from Braddock’s attack, she found what she needed.

Nocturne departs from her. She dies, Jean tells him, but he loses. She sinks into Nocturne’s arms as she activates the device. Over Albion’s scream of denial, the old order is restored.

Time passes, life goes on and things gradually turn normal. With his last breath, Bobby Drake had banished the vast majority of the snow he’d created. The amount that was left provided civic minded superheroes to do their share of cleaning up as well opportunity for the citizens of London to play. Memorials are held for the innocents who died as well as the heroes who gave their lives to set the island free.

Wisdom tells Lionheart that in acknowledgement of the help she gave Excalibur against Albion the government is giving her a second chance. Essentially, she is now working with them. Brian adds that she should consider setting things right with her family. Her kids should know their mother’s alive. “Question is how?” she asks. She could simply open that door, Brian tells her. But first she might take off the mask, Pete suggests.

Lionheart steps into the room where her mother and her two kids are waiting. The kids marvel at the sight of the heroine and slowly Kelsey takes off her mask as Wisdom explains to the kids that when their Mum died things weren’t as they seemed. She’d gotten caught up in a sticky situation that was no more fair to them than it was to her. But the Crown needed her. The past months, she’d been on a secret mission. They felt it was safer for her family to keep the truth hidden. But now the mission’s over. Kelsey is reunited with her family. The two men leave, satisfied at a happy ending.

If only they were as fortunate with Sage, Brian muses. Not bloody likely, Wisdom replies. Washington wants to throw the book at her. So do they. They’re trolling every connection from her past. Nobody even wants to trust her any longer. Hell, he’s still not convinced they can trust her.

They see Cain Marko all packed up. Where’s he going? Pete asks. Is he booting the big party? He just got a panicked call about an old debt, Cain replies. He gave his word. He’s gotta go. Brian offers their help, but Cain refuses gracefully. This he has to do solo. Does he want to walk then? Pete scoffs. He offers to arrange transport. Till it gets here, Cain should enjoy the party. He helped save the realm, so the least he can do is take a flipping bow.

They join the party that is already in full swing. What about the rest then? Pete wonders. The rest can wait until morning, Brian decides. They’ve done a good thing. They’ve saved the realm, so tonight they celebrate. And tomorrow they start making themselves better.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Dazzler, Juggernaut, Nocturne, Sage, Wisdom (all Excalibur)
Iceman, Marvel Girl (all Shadow-X)



Petrie and others of Albion’s Shadow Captains
Lionheart’s mother and children

Story Notes: 

This is the last issue of New Excalibur. The story is continued in X-Men: Die by the Sword.

Juggernaut is off into World War Hulk: X-Men.

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.

The background story of why Lionheart was separated from her family can be read in Avengers (3rd series) #77-81. However it is not clear why this curse that prevented Kelsey from seeing her kids should suddenly be lifted.

Wisdom addresses Lionheart’s kids as “lads.” Not quite correct, as one of them is a girl.

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