Pryde and Wisdom #1

Issue Date: 
September 1996
Story Title: 
Mystery School

Warren Ellis (writer), Terry Dodson & Karl Story (artists), Lopresti, Martin, Pinnco & Simmons (ink assists), Ariane Lenshoek (colorist), Malibu (enhancement), RS & Comicraft (letterers), Matt Idelson (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Specialt hanks to Suzanne Gaffney

Brief Description: 

Kitty Pryde and Pete Wisdom are called to London by Wisdom’s friend from the intelligence community, Jardine. On their way to his office, their car is attacked. Jardine asks them to help find his daughter Amada, an investigative journalist who is looking for a odd mutant killer who fossilizes people , usually connected with religion. Kitty and Pete learn a little from the members of the Mystery School , a small police department made up of eccentrics who are looking at more occult cases. Examining a fossilized skeleton found in the Thames they find strange symbols on it as there were on the corpses. In the car Pete tells Kitty he can think of people who decrypt the symbols – unfortunately they are his crazy family. That moment another murder attempt is made on them, this time by the killer himself. Again they escape and an odd woman who has observed the events, decides Kitty and Pete must die.

Full Summary: 

At dawn, on the bank of the River Thames at ebb tide, something hisses to itself. A skeleton lies there.

Morning in London, cracked open by the Midnight Runner, the hypersonic transport owned by the European mutant group Excalibur. As it reaches a patch of wasteground on the Southbank, two people fall out of it. The woman takes hold of the man’s hand, and floats them both to the shore, where the first thing Pete Wisdom does is light a cigarette and tell Kitty Pryde to quit her moaning. Undeterred, Kitty points to the car waiting for them, telling her lover he can put another nail in his coffin and rest his horrible old bones.

The driver tells them he works for Mr. Jardine and was sent to bring them to his office. Can they stop at a pub? Pete asks hopefully. No, Kitty decides. But he’s thirsty Pete complains while they drive off. Turning to the driver, Kitty asks him not to mind Pete. When you get to his age, things get difficult. She’s his nurse.

Getting more serious, Kitty asks Pete how he thinks Mr. Jardine is holding up. Sending a car from criminal intelligence is a bit much… Pete explains that Jardine’s daughter has gone missing again. He’ll be a basketcase by know. She’s the only family he’s got, and she’s nothing but trouble.

Suddenly, the driver turns hard and Pete complains. Is Jardine hiring bleeding rally drivers now? Kitty points at the reason for that behind them. They are being shot at from another car. “No, really?” Pete deadpans as the back window breaks apart from the fire. The driver jumps out, shouting he ain’t paid for this. He works for criminal intelligence, Pete shouts after him. What else does he think he’s paid for?

He tells Kitty to get to the front of the car with him; he’s driving. His plan is to pick up speed and get noticed by the police. Looking behind them, Kitty wonders aloud who they are and who Pete managed to annoy this time. Why does it always have to be his fault? he retorts. Kitty points out that this car has one foot in the grave. She could outrun it if she were outside and hopping. Pete decides to even things out by tossing his hot knives at their pursuers.

That moment, the car phone rings. Kitty gets it and is informed that there is a bomb in the car. The timer started when the engine was started to take them to London. It could go off any second now. The voice apologizes.

Pete decides to risk a minute more, so he can find an open space to dump the car, then they’ll take their chances on foot. The next moment he swears. They are on their way to Tower Bridge. Kitty doesn’t see the problem. Pete explains that their luck couldn’t be much worse. In front of them, the bridge is rising to let high-mast river traffic through. Kitty shouts at him to accelerate, go straight ahead as fast as they can.

The car breaks through. As it flies into the air above the river, Pete inquires whether her plan had a second part or should he just give her a kiss now? Kitty tells him to shut up, take her hand and jump. As she makes herself and a complaining Pete intangible and lighter than air, they walk away on air, as the car falls into the Thames and explodes.

Having reached the other side of the raised bridge, Kitty makes them solid again and they slide down. He gets the feeling they are no longer popular, Pete complains. For all she knows, it was a present from another of his weird friends, Kitty retorts. His weird friends? asks Pete. Look who’s talking. Besides, most of his friends are dead. She can see why, Kitty remarks once they’ve arrived. What have they wandered into this time? Pete calls out for a taxi. “C’mon… don’t be afraid… we’re with the Dangerous Sports Club…”

A little later, the two have indeed made it to Jardine’s office. Jardine seems very grateful and promises to look into the bomb thing. Then he announces to Pete that Amanda has done it again, like China. What’s she up to this time? Pete asks. Jardine explains that there is a serial slayer operating in London. They’ve tried to keep it out of the papers but Pete knows Amanda.

Jardine explains to Kitty that Amanda is a photojournalist, a very good one. She’s gone undercover to try and root the killer out before they or the rival papers get anything. He doesn’t want to imagine what will happen if she finds him. He figured if anyone could turn her up it would be them. He knows Pete and Kitty is so intelligent. The two promise to help and Jardine tells them to turn to his secretary for the paperwork they have.

A little later at the hotel suite Jardine got them, Kitty admires the view and suggests they go down to that park later. Pete doesn’t like fresh air. Calling him a creep, she looks at his cigarettes and bottle of alcohol and asks if room service brought him enough forms of poisons, then. He told her, cigarettes and scotch are his food. Sometimes she wonders what she saw in him, he sighs. Simple, his feet are warm in bed, hers are plates of ice, he retorts.

Getting back to business, he remarks he can see why Jardine wanted this quiet. His killer is fossilizing people. Six times, Kitty adds. Apparently, he has a mutant serial killer on his hands. No way of telling, Pete muses. Britain never had a Charles Xavier who wanted to locate and log mutants nor a government competent enough to hunt them down. Over here, mutants have always lived in the dark… Which means it could be a mutant nobody ever met, Kitty finishes his line of thought. Both of them are caught in the moment, almost admitting their love for each other. The mood is spoiled when Pete sees that the Metropolitan police had no idea so they handed the case to some minor department. From Jardine, he learns what Department F.66 is.

Jardine gives them directions and, a little later, a car takes them to a rundown building, the Mystery School. There, they are expected by a friendly blond young man who introduces himself as John Gideon. He wishes he could chat but excuses himself by remarking he is on medical leave, but they are shorthanded. He had to deliver something for the River Police. He tells them goodbye. Pete remarks that the bloke seemed pretty nice as they enter. Jardine had told him those people are weird. Kitty remarks that weird is relative. He is talking to someone who’s been regarded as dinner by space aliens more often than Pete had fresh air in his lungs.

A moustached elderly gentleman, Chief Inspector Eccles, cheerfully waves at them and greets them. They get so few visitors at the Mystery School. Last one got eaten by invisible stoats. Dreadful business. Mr. Jardine requested they be given full access to their investigation. They are glad to be of help. He explains that F.66 is the department of unusual death and introduces the team: A chain-smoking blonde is introduced as Constance Johanssen. Excellent occult detective. Has a habit of getting her friends killed. Two hundred at last count. Terrible shame; can’t stand the woman himself, Eccles adds.

A haughty-looking middle-aged man is introduced as Inspector Strangefoot. Taught everything he knows by a Tibetan ancient one who lived in a YMCA shelter in Clapham. Prefers to be called Doctor Strangefoot.

Finally, a bespectacled slightly overweight man with long hair is Bob, accredited exorcist, forensic scientist and self-proclaimed greatest power in the universe. Lovely chap, quite mad, Eccles adds. “Space monsters cringe at my thread,” Bob provides helpfully.

“Eyes off the chain-smoking blonde” Kitty hisses at her boyfriend before asking how Eccles’ department got the case. Eccles explains that F-66 was formed early in the century after one police commissioner who was a bobby during the Jack the Ripper murders saw occult connections in it that weren’t acted upon. For instance, the initials of the murdered women spell Manac es cem Jk. What is that telling us? “Mania is come. Jack.” Coincidence? Look at the Moore murders, eighty years later; the victims’ initials spell JK Ladee. “Jack, Laddie?” Or “Jack, Lady” as the killers were a couple? They’re here to make sure those things don’t get missed again.

And there’s plenty not to miss on this case. What do they know so far? Kitty announces that the killer is doing something to the bodies. Like fossilization…

Bob chimes in, agreeing. They discounted spontaneous decrepitude and demonic possession early on. Best bet is that their man is a … whatchamacallit… American thing… mutant. Constance adds that he’s hitting priests theologicans, anyone with a religions background. So far, all of the unlucky are men and all her friends are dead and they bloody haunt her! Eccles interrupts her rant and Constance continues that their man is cutting symbols into the torsos of the corpses. No set of symbols are alike. It’s a game.

Bob shows them a fossilized skeleton Gideon brought in. The river police found it this morning. He may be omnipotent and everything, but it’s still got him mildly confused. This definitely means something. Kitty and Pete stare at the symbols carved into the very bones and Kitty asks if Pete brought her notepad. She wanted to get sketches of the markings. He is her dutiful packhorse, Pete replies. Any idea what it is? It’s a dead guy. The symbols a re different that the others. Not as raw…

A little later, driving away in the car Eccles loaned them, Pete seems upset. Does Kitty know what those symbols are? Does she know anyone who does? No, Kitty admits. Well, he does, but he tries to avoid them. They’re trouble. They’re a bit eccentric. Well… they’re crazier than F.66. Is she ready to meet his family? Kitty is at a loss for words.

She notices a car on the opposite road speeding up. A hand from the car reaches for them, just missing Wisdom’s face. As the hand touches their car’s side, it turns to stone. It’s their killer, they realize. Pete kicks out the fossilized door and throws hotknives at the other man’s car. It collides with a lamppost. However, when they reach it, there’s no sign of the mystery killer. Kitty decides that from now one they’ll walk everywhere. Two murder attempts before lunch…

Can they get a taxi? Pete suggests hopefully. They walk, Kitty replies sternly. Can he get a taxi? he changes his tack. Only if she can go shopping, Kitty decides. They walk, he concedes.

Secretly watching them is a woman with black-hair, through which a single red streak runs. She comments on Kitty being American and decides she is going to have to kill them both. She is not happy at the prospect.

In a dark corner, the killer sits amongst his fetishes and souvenirs. He can’t believe he tried to kill the mutant specialists from Excalibur. It was someone else who reached out for Wisdom’s head. Not his thing at all. His thing is writing letters.

And in Kitty and Pete’s hotel room, men in black are leaving their own kind of message.

Characters Involved: 

Shadowcat, Pete Wisdom (both members of Excalibur)


Inspector Eccles, Bob, Johanne Constanssen, Gideon, Dr. Strangefoot (members of the Mystery School)

Mystery woman

Mystery killer

Story Notes: 

This miniseries takes place during the later part of the Warren Ellis run of Excalibur or shortly after it, at a time when Kitty and Pete were still a happy couple.

Johanne is a parody on DC/ Vertigo’s character John Constantine.

Dr Strangefoot is a parody of Dr. Strange.

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