New Excalibur #8

Issue Date: 
August 2006
Story Title: 

Chris Claremont (Writer), Christopher Yost (dialogue and additional plotting), Michael Ryan (Penciler), Rick Ketcham (Inker), Pete Pantazis (Colorist), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer), Sean Ryan (Assistant Editor), Nick Lowe (Associate Editor), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Dazzler has a gig at a club and impresses an agent of a record company. However, she tells him she isn’t interested in fame anymore. While Nocturne is accosted by some guys and Juggernaut chases them off, Captain Britain is meeting his sister, Psylocke, who is discussing her recent adventures with their mad brother, Jamie. They get interrupted by Pete Wisdom, who informs them that Shadow Xavier isn’t quite as brain-dead as he is supposed to be and that he wants to see Psylocke. Excalibur and Psylocke leave for Crossmore Prison, which has been evacuated as Shadow Xavier was playing with people’s minds. When Betsy confronts him, he reveals himself to be the Shadow King. He keeps Excalibur busy, by possessing Nocturne, Juggernaut, Dazzler and Wisdom and having hem fight Captain Britain and Sage. The Shadow King informs Psylocke that her death freed him and, due to some cosmic whim, he found himself in another reality, where he possessed Xavier and corrupted his students. Due to another cosmic occurrence – he hints at the House of M – he and his pets returned to this world. He makes it clear that he wants revenge on her, starting with the death of her brother. When he goads her with her helplessness, Betsy uses her telekinesis to badly damage the brain of the King’s host body. When she tries to finish him off for good, she disappears in a flash of light. Xavier flatlines and cap shouts out his sister’s name.

Full Summary: 

Nocturne is going on a shopping spree-cum-sightseeing tour of London, ignoring the curious stares people give her.

Elsewhere in a club, Dazzler, wearing a longhaired wig (reminiscent of her original hairstyle) and a slinky gown, is having a gig. For the first time in a long time, the venue doesn’t reek of smoke and cheap beer and the crowd has fallen in love with her. She is watched and admired by her teammate Cain Marko, who is carrying a torch for her, as well as the doctor she befriended in the hospital. TJ joins them. As she passes a few men, they grow interested in her, until one of them notices that her blue skin isn’t due to make-up but that she must be a mutant.

Elsewhere in the club sits Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain with his twin sister Betsy aka Psylocke, who is telling him about her recent adventure with the X-Men and their crazy elder brother, Jamie. She has learned that it was Jamie who brought her back from the dead and altered her, leaving her to wonder if she is a monster like he was. Grasping her hands, Brian points out that she shares the trait of liking to win with Jamie, but that’s it. She has lost sight of what is good and true in her and the world. Of course she is not insane. She is still unsure and Brian points out that as her twin he just knows, like when she is in trouble.

Is he in trouble, Betsy suddenly asks, referring to Lionheart and her mystery partner, Albion. Brian explains that he has given this a lot of thinking. All deemed worthy of becoming Captain Britain face the challenge of the sword and the amulet, he explains – might or reason. All the Captains he knows of, those sworn to Roma, chose the amulet. Kelsey Leigh, however, chose the sword and became Lionheart. Perhaps there are more, another corps of Captains who chose might over reason.

From the way Albion presented himself, he seemed a natural leader and he seemed to consider Captain Britain his personal rival. Perhaps he is stuck there on Earth, same as Cap. Brian smiles bitterly as he adds that he is monarch of Otherworld. The fact that he can’t return home tells him something is royally mucked up in crosstime. Serve them right if there was some kind of war being waged across dimension and both leaders were trapped on the sidelines.

What does he plan to do, Betsy inquires. Pointing out that he is the champion of the forces of reasons, Brian concludes that he’ll just have to thump Albion’s head until he wins.

Nearby, Dazzler has finished and bows to a enthusiastic audience. A handsome young man asks her what she is doing there. She should be selling out major venues and be at the top of the charts. Belatedly, he introduces himself as Gareth Edwards, an A&R for Vestal Music. He offers her to make a demo with him. TJ enthusiastically shouts ‘yes.’ Alison on the other hand inquires if Gareth is aware of her being a mutant. With the way she looks and sings, nobody will care, he assures her. Ali is flattered but tells him that she doesn’t do albums and auditoriums anymore. What she has right now is more than good enough for her.

Gareth shows himself to be amazingly perceptive when he asks whether she has been hurt that badly. She simply replies that he has heard her sing. Does he really have to ask? She had the fame, the money, even the movie. All that matters now is the music. He hands her his card, asking her to call him should she change her mind. And he also asks her to let him know whenever she has a gig. That’s not business. He likes her voice and would like to hear more.

In the meantime, TJ is accosted by the guys from before, who want to know if her skin color is natural. She politely blows them off. One guy announces that she is a mutant after seeing her fingers. Calling him Albert, his buddy agrees. TJ caustically observes that Albert’s last name probably isn’t Einstein. Undeterred, one of the guys announces that he heard the mutants went extinct recently. They should do something about that. He has some very specific ideas. Juggernaut suggests they move on. At first they jeer at him, until he actually stands up, causing the guys to run and TJ and Ali to call Cain their hero.

In the corner, Betsy announces that there is trouble. Believing she refers to the previous shuffle, Brian tries to calm her, but she explains that she is talking about him – meaning the tiny hologram of Pete Wisdom that appears at their table. Happily, he announces that he is “Nick sodding Fury.” Nothing but the best toys at MI-13. He makes some cracks about Betsy not being real, before moving to the proper topic, namely “evil Charley.” He’s braindead, of course, but why should that stop him from being a bother? Apparently, he is asking for Betsy.

A little later, Excalibur’s jet arrives at Crossmore Prison, where Sage is already expecting them. She informs them that they have drugged evil Xavier as much as possible. TJ points out how creepy it is here as they are the only people in the prison. Sage explains that the facility was evacuated when the incident occurred. Every single mind within a two-mile radius is at risk. So, of course, they are going in, Juggernaut sighs.

As they walk further into the complex, Sage elaborates on Shadow Xavier’s state - there is no brain activity within his body. He is being kept alive by machines. But seven hours earlier, a guard killed the medical team overseeing him. Afterwards, the guard said one word: “Psylocke”. And then he shot himself in the head.

Unnoticed by the others, Dazzler’s eyes glow briefly before returning to normal again .

Sage leads them to an observation chamber overseeing a special cell, which was specifically built to hold high-level telepaths. Xavier was constantly bombarded with ELF sonics, as an irritant, surrounded by PSI-dampeners and drugged. And yet there they are, Betsy states as she looks at the shackled slumbering form. Cain muses that Xavier survived getting his brain fired by Wisdom and then getting astrally shot in his astral head by Sage. Why don’t they just nuke the place with him?

Sage addresses all of them, stating that in his head she sensed something larger than what they perceive. Xavier is there for a reason and has an agenda even she doesn’t understand yet. They have to find out and with her newfound immunity to telepathy Betsy would be in a perfect position to confront him. But he’s a vegetable Juggernaut points out. Is he going to confront her with drool? Sage suggests that she monitor Psylocke and Xavier from the observation room and, if things go wrong, they send in Juggernaut. Captain Britain despises using his sister as bait but Betsy is willing.

In the meantime, Dazzler asks Cain to step outside with her, as she must tell him something.

Betsy steps into the chamber.

Outside, Dazzler thanks Juggernaut for watching out for her those past few weeks and for saving her life. Embarrassed he assures her it’s no problem.

Inside, Betsy goads Xavier to come out.

Dazzler steps closer to Cain, revealing how lonely she has felt and that Cain makes her feel safe.

Xavier begins to smile.

Alison touches Juggernaut’s faceplate as if to kiss him and Cain begins to take off his helmet.

A monstrous shadow form begins to surround Xavier, identifying itself as the Shadow King. Mockingly, he reminds Psylocke of the long time he was trapped inside her mind, kept from his realm, the astral plane.

Inside the observation room, Sage sees charts going off the scale and shouts at Betsy to get out. Before she can finish her sentence Nocturne and Wisdom, already possessed, attack her. Sage evades TJ’s attack and aims her gun at Wisdom. Before she can shoot, Captain Britain steps between the two of them, keeping Wisdom from hitting Sage with his hot knives as well. He doesn’t understand what has gotten into them.

Sage announces that they have been possessed and tells him to handle Wisdom, while she takes on Nocturne. Wisdom screams that it is actually Sage who is under control and sent his sister to die.

Cap hesitates. That moment, a possessed Juggernaut breaks thought the wall, followed by Dazzler who takes out Sage. The possessed members of Excalibur surround Cap and Nocturne gloats that he really should have listened to Sage…

Within the cell, Psylocke announces that the Shadow King can’t enter her mind. He replies that, while her mind is closed to him, he knows her too well. He was part of her. And of course he was with her when she died. Psylocke protests: this Xavier is from an alternate reality. How could the Shadow King be…?

He begins to explain that when Vargas’s sword slid trough her it was ecstasy. It was freedom. But surprisingly Betsy’s consciousness did not disperse… it was pulled by the strings of reality itself. And while the Shadow King escaped, he found himself in another universe. There he found another Charles Xavier and shattered his mind. Then he made Xavier’s children his Hounds. Because, in all the realities, there is only one Shadow King.

But he never forgot her who imprisoned him. And by a cosmic whim – namely the Scarlet Witch creating and destroying the “House of M” reality – he was shown the way back to her. Reality shifted and cracks formed across all the realities. He and his pets were able to slip back into this reality. This reality, he prattles on, that has caused him so much trouble. She has no idea what waits… what pawns are in motion… But, no, he never forgot about her.

What shall they do first, he wonders. Ah, yes, he returns his attention to Captain Britain, who is being badly beaten by his teammates, watch her brother die!

Juggernaut hits Cap through the wall of the observation chamber into the room where the Shadow King and Betsy are. Sadistically, the creature informs Betsy that they will find everyone she ever loved and then she’ll watch as they are torn apart before her eyes. On his knees, Cap asks Betsy to get out while the King gloats that mindblind – as she is she can do nothing about it.

Is that right? she asks with a frown. If he could really hurt her and take over her mind, he would have done so. Xavier begins to look in pain and the Shadow King moans as Betsy forms a telekinetic bubble in the center of Xavier’s brain. Next she causes a stroke in his host body. As a result Excalibur stop fighting Brian, regaining their senses. Does he feel sections of his brain being crushed, Psylocke asks as she manifests her PSI-sword and then urges him to repeat how helpless she is.

She jumps through the Shadow King form, intent on stabbing Xavier`s body, but before she can do it, she disappears in a flash of light. Brian Braddock cries out her name helplessly and Xavier flatlines.

Characters Involved: 

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


Gareth Edwards

Dazzler’s doctor friend

Shadow Xavier / the Shadow King

Guys accosting Nocturne

in flashback

Scarlet Witch

Story Notes: 

Psylocke originally died at the hands of Vargas in X-Treme X-Men #2, only to find herself mysteriously resurrected at the hands of Jamie in Uncanny X-Men #455. She found some answers to her question in an adventure the X-Men and Jamie shared in Uncanny X-Men #471-474.

Captain Britain faced the challenge of the sword and the amulet way back in Captain Britain (1st series) #2. Kelsey Leigh faced the same challenge in Avengers (3rd series) #80, but unlike Brian she chose the sword.

Dazzler’s career took a nosedive when while trying to get publicity for her movie she was outed as a mutant in Marvel Graphic Novel #12: Dazzler – the Movie.

Juggernaut’s helmet grants him a measure of immunity from telepathic attacks.

When Jamie brought Betsy back from the dead, he granted her immunity towards any kind of telepathy or mind-control.

Psylocke trapped the Shadow King in her mind during the PSI-War in X-Men (2nd series) #78. The Shadow King claims that he got free the moment Betsy died. However, that isn’t quite correct, as X-Treme X-Men Annual #1 reveled the Shadow King to still be imprisoned – this time by Rogue – due to Rogue having possessed Psylocke’s power in the past.

Psylocke’s sudden disappearance is the prologue to her joining the cast of Exiles. Due to new writer Chris Claremont’s current health problems, the beginning of his stint on Exiles has yet to occur.

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