Wisdom #1

Issue Date: 
January 2007
Story Title: 
The Rudiments of Wisdom – Part one: The Day the Fairies came out

Paul Cornell (writer), Trevor Hairsine (penciler), Paul Neary with Trevor Hairsine (inker), Guru EFX (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor (cover), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Fairies from Otherworld have attacked humans and kidnapped a minister’s child, reason enough for MI-13 to send Pete Wisdom and his strikeforce to Otherworld to raise havoc and return the child. Along with new arrival, clairsentient, Wisdom, John the Skrull, Captain Midlands and Tink (a fairy dissident) arrive in Otherworld and attack the fairy fort, looking for King Oberon. Maureen inadvertently contacts him and Oberon teleports them into battle. After Tink reveals that she is his estranged daughter and begs him to stop, Oberon reveals that he intended for the child to be raised as an ambassador to Earth as their culture was beginning to influence the fairy. However, he offers a compromise… which apparently includes Wisdom sleeping with his daughter. A little later, back on Earth, Pete visits Maureen in her flat. She admits that she felt in Oberon’s mind that something terrible was coming and it included her. Pete meets Mo’s son or brother, Jonathan, who has fantasies of Pete being killed off horribly. In a pub, MI-6 employees discuss their unhappiness with weird happenings now being Wisdom’s job, when MI-5 has the much more reliable Stuart. Grimsdale effectively tells them to sod off.

Full Summary: 

(Grimsdale’s narration:)

The first casualty was in Brighton. A young woman has been horribly slain: the assailants – tiny winged fairies. She’d seen them as a child. Left them wine in acorn cups. The boyfriend who ran says she screamed when she saw them on a rosebush. The assault lasted five hours. She died from loss of blood.

A painter on the South Downs was torn apart by a fairy swarm. As were archaeologists at a Long Barrow. These are unprovoked assaults by foreign nationals on British soil. They are in effect at war. “In effect” because very few people know about it. And that’s rarely true of wars. Lat night, some sort of huge monster took a baby from a nursery in front of his mother. The child of a cabinet minister.

(The present)

The Joint Intelligence Committee in Portwell House, Whitehall:

Bloody fairies, Sir Mortimer Grimsdale, J.I.C. chair finishes his narration. He continues that Otherworld has never taken responsibility for its nationals. It’s ruled by some bloody pantheon. Braddock used to be involved. Establishing diplomatic relations has always been seen as an ecumenical matter. This enchanted land of Avalon would be regarded as a valuable national treasure. If it were any sodding use.

He turns to Pete Wisdom, intelligence officer of MI-13, telling him that his team will be entering what some allege is the British collective unconscious. England’s dreaming. Get the child, make them hurt. Force them to the table. This moment is what justifies an entire division of military intelligence with one senior officer. This is why Wisdom reports only to him now.

He continues that they like it that MI-5 and 6 take an interest in “weird happenings.” They like it that the pages of the red books are sometimes stained with aliens, fairies and if Wisdom will excuse his French, mutants. But they like it even more that 5 or 6 do not fight their wars with those things. For that they have 13.

Pete Wisdpom speaks for the first time. Bloody fairies, he remarks mildly.

Waiting in the MI-13 ops room is Wisdom’s team, a motley crew. Tink, a punkish young woman with a Mohawk, remarks this is going to be awkward for her. She’s not supposed to go home. It’s gonna be awkward when she slaughters a few of the sluagh fey. They’re gonna pay for pissing on her new life.

The Skrull calling himself John looks surprisingly like his namesake, John Lennon. As he sips from a Beatles cup, he remarks that they have a collective unconscious where he comes from. He means the Skrull homeworld? asks Tink. He means Liverpool on a Friday night. Thank yer very much, ladies and gentlemen. He’ll be back after the stripper.

They are joined by a bitter looking elderly man, “rambling” Sid Ridley aka Captain Midlands. He informs them that his bus was delayed and so he had to walk from Clapham. But Mr. “high and mightie mutie” hasn’t shown up yet. Typical.

Elsewhere, said mutie is on the phone talking to Emma Frost (who is clearly not the person he wants to talk to). Emma knows about the answer phone messages, he realizes belatedly. She said that? Well, yeah, he was. A bit. Could Emma tell her… Oh, she has.

Bloody telepaths, he mutters as he finishes his conversation.

I beg your pardon, comes the angry question, mouthed by an attractive but currently aggressive looking woman with auburn hair, dressed in a conservative business suit. Bloody what was it now? she demands.

Wisdom recognizes her as the newest addition to their motley crew, Maureen Raven. She’s a clairsentient, not a telepath, he points out. Doesn’t help, he realizes. He suggests she read his thoughts to see. Whether it’s helpful or not, Wisdom thinks she’s a bit of all right. Changing the subject, he remarks that the others are waiting for them.

Wisdom explains to the team that they are going to have to attack Otherworld. It’s going to be tough for Maureen’s first mission, so sorry. They will show the little gossamer bastards how they respond to aggression, no offence, Tink, he adds belatedly. Good-natured, the elfin woman suggests he just buy her a vodka and Red Bull.

Pointing to a screen, Wisdom explains that there are several different races with territories in Otherworld. The fairies are only one of them. The screen shows several objects with prohibition signs. Wisdom lays down the rules. If they run into King Arthur: Do not hurt him. Do not tell him they could do with him. Do not join the Round Table. Don’t eat anything. Don’t pull anything (particularly swords) from anything (particularly stones). Don’t marry anything.

Wisdom stresses that he doesn’t want to hear about “zapping” or “tagging.” They are special forces. When they kill, they say kill, but they kill arms-bearers. If they lay hands on a civilian they are staying there. Questions?

Later, a smiling MI-13 scientist equips a gruff Captain Midlands with a special anti-magic gloss on his shield.

John the Skrull is given a plasma holoprojector for pretend magic powers. He’ll pretend it suits him, John replies. A doubtful Maureen receives a crystal to focus on other minds in a magical atmosphere, while Tink is equipped with a flechette cannon. Not waiting for the explanation to go with it, she shouts to go kick some reactionary fairy arse.

A little later, a helicopter carrying the heroes is lowered over a pentagram on the ground. Inside, John the Skrull wistfully remarks he’d like to be back for the alien duplicates get-together at the Bull and Whistle. Everybody who’s anybody will be there.

Captain Midlands tells him he met the real him once. He is meeting the real him now, John points out. He told him to get his bleeding haircut, the Captain continues, walking down memory lane. Thank God nobody cares about the length of hair nowadays Wisdom interjects. It weren’t long ago, the Captian points out defensively. Only 1969. That’s how you know you’re getting old, John replies. Nowadays starts to be a long time ago.

Operation Summerblues is a go, comes a voice, as the next moment the helicopter rematerializes in a medieval-style world. Home, sweet home, smirks Tink. She had no idea, Maureen marvels. She is only a civil servant.

Castle… fort… peasant village, where an orphan boy doesn’t know he’s a prince, observes Wisdom. It’s like they invaded Riverdance. Is he saying something about Ireland? Maureen inquires. He’s saying their bloody “collective unconscious” is medieval, he retorts. It’s this weight that stops Britain from getting on with the future. He is saying something about Ireland, Mo concludes with a smile. Nah, he is saying something about himself, Wisdom corrects her.

Why is she with them? Before they found her, she thought she was going mad. So she’s grateful and… okay… she’s from Ulster. She believes in Great Britain. She believes in duty. Apologetically, she adds that she is not raving. With a soft smile, Wisdom assures her that sentiment is wonderful. Smiling back, Mo thanks him.

Back in real life at the Crown Pub in Soho, London, Sir Clive Reston, MI-6 officer, is discussing matters regarding weird happenings with fellow MI-6 employee Jack Tarr. Sir Clive observes that all weird happenings organizations from STRIKE to the RCX to Black Air failed because of a lack of conceptual depth, a lack of history. Tarr grimly adds that ragtag gangs of mutants and freaks have no discipline. The stuff they look into ends up eating them always. Sir Clive mentions Maureen Raven as an example. She’d get much more support folded into Stuart’s intelligence team within 6. And as for putting Wisdom in charge after MI6 got Stuart… Wisdom’s got history, all right, but the wrong kind.

Grimsdale overheard the last part and tells Sir Clive to sod off. Wisdom has something better than history; he has loyalty. Loyalty to MI-13 or to his own code of honour, asks Sir Clive.

Fairy Hillfort. The castle wall explodes courtesy of Tink’s very big gun. Morning. We’re MI-13 and we haven’t had our breakfast, Wisdom informs the fairies. Wisdom charges ahead, bellowing orders. A moment later, he stops, beginning to cough while the others effortlessly pass him. Should’ve given them up years ago, he mutters darkly, referring to his former nicotine habit.

While the others are battling, John – appearing as Merlyn (complete with his own brand of hippy shades) – announces that he is Merlyn the magic man. There’s no need for all this conflict, like. He commands them to… Tink finishes his order, shouting an obscenity as she shoots fairies. He was going to say “Give peace a chance” John remarks.

Grabbing a tiny fairy by the wings, Wisdom orders her to shows them the map room and nobody else dies. Comprendez? Why is he speaking Spanish? comes the dumbfounded answer.

A little later, the team finds itself in the strategy room of the fairy hillfort and the tiny fairy informs them that the child they seek is with Oberon, king of the fairies. A while ago, he locked Queen Titania inside a mountain. He has been a lot wilder without her.

Great, so all this is down to a lack of fairy nookie, Pete mutters, before asking Mo if she can get into Oberon’s head. He tells her to compose herself and breathe. She gets ready to lash out at him, before she realizes he really knows how she feels. Mollified, she raises her crystal pendant and tries to establish contact.

She sees a giant being, wearing a helmet and cradling an infant. She can feel his mind. He’s not what they’d call a King. He’s like the bear in the cave: the monster. But, as she is his mind, he perceives her as well. Mo breaks contact too late. The next moment, they are teleported into a forest, where Oberon wants them to be.

I think our past just caught up with us, observes Captain Midlands as they find themselves surrounded by dozens of fairies.

While the battle rages on, Mo kneels, staring at her crystal. She is in Oberon’s thoughts and cannot believe it. What is so important about her?

Firing hotknives, Wisdom asks if anyone has a plan. Using an invective, Tink calls out to Oberon, calling him “father,” to stop this!

And he does, explaining that he took the baby to be raised as an ambassador to Earth. A covenant between worlds. Fairies have become tainted. Changed by humans’ fear and rage, They brought this wrath on themselves. “Brought it on ourselves, my arse!” Wisdom shouts back. Oberon could have called them back. Now he’s going to. Or Wisdom will show him rage and fear. And he adds a message from her majesty’s government: “This is a young country.”

Oberon considers his words and suggests a different kind of covenant, if his daughter is willing.

Some time later Wisdom and Tink are lying together after a hot round of sex. The things he does for England, Pete sighs.

One week later, Pete visits Maureen at her flat in Kew and reveals that Grimsdale considers their operation a huge success. The fairy attacks have stopped. But Tink keeps smiling at him. If he chucks her, they are at war with fairy land, so “no pressure.” But hey, it can’t be binding in law.

Noticing her evasive look, he asks Mo what she saw in Oberon’s mind. It’s complicated, she sighs. Something terrible is coming. And she’s in it. She’s important to it. Course she is, he tells her cheerfully. She’s probably going to save the world. She’s with his firm now. They’re all heading for the future together.

A young boy suddenly stands in the kitchen doorway. Calling him “Jonathan,” Mo asks him to say “hello” to Pete. The boy stares at Pete, an unreadable expression on his face, while Pete tries his best to be kiddie-friendly, asking him what he likes. He bets Jonathan likes Captain Scarlet. Before Jonathan’s inner eye, he sees Pete killed horribly by tentacles. He says nothing.

The strong silent type, eh? Pete inquires. That’s what the ladies like. Give it a few years, he’ll find out.

Jonathan still stares coldly.

Characters Involved: 

Pete Wisdom

Captain Midlands, John the Skrull, Maureen Raven, Tink (Wisdom’s MI-13 striketeam)

Sir Mortimer Grimsdale (Joint Intelligence Committee chair)

Sir Clive Reston, Jack Tarr (MI-6 employees)

MI-13 scientists


Other fairies

Jonathan Raven

on the phone:

Emma Frost

in Grimsdale’s narration

fairie victims

mother of the kidnapped baby

Story Notes: 

The Wisdom series appears under the Max label. Hence there is a fair amount of swearing, violence and partial nudity.

With Braddock, Grimsdale refers to Captain Britain, who once had the throne of Otherworld.

The “she” Pete and Emma are talking about is no doubt Pete’s former flame, Kitty Pryde.

It is unclear how MI-13 seems to be able to get to Otherworld easily, when Captain Britain is apparently stuck on Earth. However, one can assume that, since Wisdom is interested in Braddock staying in Britain and with Excalibur, he is not likely to inform Cap about that option.

MI-5 stands for “Military Intelligence, Section Five,” the British Security Service meant to protect the UK against threats to national security.

MI-6 is the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), the United Kingdom's external intelligence agency. Under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), it works alongside the Security Service (MI5)

MI-13 is (probably) fictional.

In Irish and Scottish folklore, the Sluagh were the spirits of the restless dead. They are almost always depicted as troublesome and destructive. They were seen to fly in groups like flocks of birds, coming from the west, and were known to try to enter the house of a dying person in an effort to carry the soul away with them. West-facing windows were sometimes kept closed to keep them out. Some consider the Sluagh to also carry with them the souls of innocent people who were kidnapped by these destructive spirits.

“Stuart” is referring to Professor Alistair Stuart, late of the Weird Happenings Association and a close friend to the previous incarnation of Excalibur.

STRIKE was a British organization similar to SHIELD that played a role in the first Captain Britain series. It was eventually infiltrated (and presumably eventually dismantled) by the crimelord, Vixen.

The R.C.X. was a kind of follow-up organization dealing with weird happenings in the second Captain Britain series. Somewhat more sinister the organization was replaced by W.H.O, but secretly lived on under the leadership of Orpington-Smythe and Excalibur shut them down (Excalibur (1st series) #66-67)

The Weird Happenings Organization led by Stuart’s twin sister, Alysande, was another military organization dealing with off-beat events.

Black Air which Wisdom originally belonged to was meant to replace it, but quickly went bad. Officially Black Air was decommissioned, but an underground version still exists (as evidenced in recent issues of New Excalibur).

Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish step dancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary.

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