Captain Britain and MI13 #1

Issue Date: 
July 2008
Story Title: 
The Guns of Avalon – part 1

Paul Cornell (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jesse Delperdang (inker, Brian Reber (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramacna (letterer), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Wisdom and John the Skrull find out that the joint intelligence committee chair Grimsdale is a Skrull traitor and dispatch of him. In the meantime, Captain Britain, as well as the armed forces, are fighting Skrulls in London as Britain is being hit unusually hard by the Skrull invasion. Cap, John and Wisdom are called to the Prime Minister’s office where, together with Alistaire Stuart, they work out that the Skrulls are interested in the Siege Perilous, doorway to Otherworld, source of British magic. They go there, joined by another heroine, Spitfire, who has taken a definite vampiric turn. The Siege Perilous is curiously attacked only by few Skrulls, easily dispatched of. The reason becomes clear immediately: the Skrull spaceship sends a missile at the Siege Perilous, meant to destroy it. Captain Britain tries to stop it and is caught in the explosion. In the meantime in London, the Black Knight meets and works alongside a brave young doctor, Faiza Hussain. Unfortunately, Faiza is hit by a Skrull weapon.

Full Summary: 

The hero will return.

The Sword will be drawn again.

The land will be healed

MI13 holding cell, Shoreditch, London Docklands.

Held by special chains, a bruised and beaten prisoner sits in the cell, an unassuming man with an uncanny resemblance to late Beatle John Lennon. He is flanked by two guards.

An elderly man in a trenchcoat with a portfolio enters the cell and remarks there John is. Addressing the guards, he states that he thought his orders were clear. He has urgent business elsewhere. This Skrull has been tortured enough. Please kill it for him now.

John the Skrull angrily jumps up, getting as close to the man as possible. He shouts at him that he’s looked like this since 1963. He always said he was a Skrull. They were a bit of fun, the four of them. “Skrull Beatles.” They were silly and great. He worked for him, he reminds the other man and calls him a tosser. In Pete Wisdom’s unit, not that he ever visited. And now he’s killed the other three and John doesn’t know why.

The guards are a bit perplexed about the killing order. They’ve received conflicting orders. Conflicting? Grimsdale asks with a raised eyebrow. He is the joint intelligence committee chair. He rules “five,” “six” and “thirteen.” Has the Prime Minister’s office got involved? No, he tells himself. How could he? Never mind. Grimsdale informs John that he disgusts him, looking like that. How ridiculous. If they don’t feel able to… he addresses the guards and one of them hands him a gun. Grimsdale steps close to John and tries to shoot him in the head. Surprised, he finds the weapon is empty.

John begins to grin. He’s close enough, Pete, he suddenly says. It’s true. Helterskelter.

The Hero will return.

Pete Wisdom appears behind Grimsdale and literally tears him apart with hotknives springing from his fingertips. As the light leaves Grimsdale’s eyes, to nobody’s surprise, he is revealed to be a Skrull.

The Sword will be drawn.

Pete touches his forehead in irritation, as he alone hears the odd voice. He thanks John for the help. The other Skrulls all came out of hiding… but Grimsdale hung on to kill the traitor, John continues. Has the war started, like? Mate, Pete sighs, it’s on and they are not doing so well.

Over the roofs of London, an air battle takes place with fighter jets and the nation’s foremost hero, Captain Britain, battling Superskrulls displaying the powers of diverse heroes. Cap is slugging a Skrull who has the powers of several former Champions (Angel’s wings, iceman’s icepowers and Ghost Rider’s blazing skull) while a Baron Blood vampire- like Skrull is getting ready to join the fray.

Cap forces the iced up arm upwards, causing the Skrull to dampen his blazing skull, then he smashes the alien’s face. During that battle, he is contacted via commlink by Alistaire Stuart in the PM’s office, asking for a sitrep.

Cap explains that the Skrulls are targeting transport links. Roads and airports. And causing chaos in the centre. For everyone he puts down, there are two more. Why are they hitting Britain so hard? Unknown, comes the reply, followed by an update that a Skrull force is turning north. The vampire Skrull decides to follow, as do most of the ground forces.

Should he pursue? Captain Britain asks. Alistaire orders him not to and to come in instead. They are putting an op together. They have to get on the front foot and see what they can to save the nation. Captain Britain flies towards the PM’s office.

Down in the streets amidst the chaos, a young Muslim woman, wearing a headscarf and a doctor’s coat, watches him in admiration before she chides herself to come on. She addresses a group of paramedics carrying wounded and asks if they can get the injured out of the city. St. Thomas is being evacuated. The access roads are blocked, she is told. Then they’ll do battle triage there, she decides and gets down to examine the first patient.

The two men are clearly shaken wondering why this is happening here. He’d thought they’d go after the States. They’ve got all the bloody superheroes. The doctor replies that she saw Captain Britain just now. Easily one of his top ten battles – it was awesome!

Top ten… one of the men repeats incredulously. It was up there with the Lord Hawk one, she raves. She so loves British heroes! Cap, the Knights of Pendragon, Dikitek…

She is unaware of an armed Skrull vehicle coming in behind them. Tch, he bets he’s not even in the top five, comes the insulted voice of the Black Knight (now combining his traditional helmet with a leather jacket and street wear), as he skewers the would-be-attacker with his Ebony Blade.

It’s because he only lives here, right? he goes on. And please don’t yell “The Avengers are here. We’re saved!” He takes off his helmet. Don’t get him started on that. What can he do?

He can… the doctor starts before realizing the situation. He’s the Black Knight and he wants her to give him orders! Right. Okay. She needs everyone in this area to either be a patient, be helping or … go away. Only… if the Ebony Blade starts telling him to do evil stuff… he’ just gotta…

It does all the time, Dane Whitman replies with a smile, but he just keeps asking himself: What would a superhero do? Then he rolls his eyes and does the right thing anyway. He suggests she not believe everything she reads in Super Magazine. He has a strategy now: stay flippant and it can’t get him.

The doctor shakes his hand and introduces herself as Doctor Faiza Hussain. Okay Faiza, the Knight replies, she does the hard work and he’ll steal the glory. Yeah okay, Faiza replies starstruck.

Wisdom, Captain Britain, John the Skrull, and Alistaire Stuart have gathered in the Prime Minister’s office. Prime Minister Gordon Brown thanks them and reveals that the home secretary was a Skrull. His cabinet is now… there’s three of them. As they speak, Captain Midlands (another member of MI 13) and Union Jack are with ground forces mustering to secure crucial targets in London. All British superheroes now work for MI 13, like it or not. He decides that Peter is now in charge of thirteen with Grimsdale gone. He directly answer to the PM. Wisdom acknowledges this with a curt “Sir.”

The PM asks Stuart to explain the situation. Hovering over an electronic map, Alistaire explains that the bulk of the Skrull British op is assembling in the Cheviot Hills. Odd choice. Nothing of strategic value nearby. They’ve notified the Scottish First Minister. Oh my, God, Captain Britain mutters. The Siege Perilous! He points to the map. It’s where he got his powers. It’s a gateway to Otherworld, to Avalon!

Your new model extremist Skrull, John scoffs. They’re polite with it, but they’re all about the wanting. They want summat we’ve got. What Britain has more of than anyone else, Pete realizes. Magic! They invade Avalon, they take the magic!

The PM realizes that it’s not just about them then. They have a responsibility to the world. He informs the three heroes that they will be joined by one other in transit. Wisdom acknowledges this while touching his forehead. He hears the voice again.

The sword will be drawn again.

The PM continues that they will secure Avalon against invasion. Muster its inhabitants against the Skrulls. They will use every resource before the Skrulls can. John remarks he likes the PM’s trust. Hasn’t got the words. Not without breaking character.

Cap more practically asks who the other hero to join them is. It turns out it’s the superspeedster Spitfire who’s just being informed about her new mission while being chased by a Defenders-based and an original Avengers-based Superskrull each. In order to get rid of them, she’s going to have to do something she doesn’t want to. She jumps up to the Defenders Skrull, telling him this is their fault. Surprisingly, she bites him in the throat and then tears it out. Wiping his green blood from her mouth, she continues this isn’t who she is. It’s just who she has to be sometimes! She attacks the second Superskrull.

In the meantime, a helicopter transports the other three heroes to the Cheviot Hills. So, chain of command, Brian remarks about Wisdom’s promotion. Yeah, he’s in charge, Wisdom replies absent-mindedly, diverted by the voice only he hears. The land will be healed..

He apologizes. He knows he and Brian had their differences. Brian is in an amenable mood. He is not a soldier, he explains. Killing Skrulls… it has to be done, but he loathes it. It’s not what he’s for. He used to have insight into the future… but the future has changed. He leans back. So he has to make his own way. He no longer belongs to any corps. He wants to be the British hero again. He wants to represent like Steve Rogers did. When they’ve won that’s what he’ll be doing.

Mate, Wisdom replies, you never stopped. But funny he should say that, Pete confides. He’s getting… words in his head. About bringing “hero” back. He wouldn’t tell anyone else, but, odd as it sounds, he’s pretty sure it’s about Brian. Cap becomes excited. It’s been a long time since any of their lot had a vision. Pete follows that, he says as he shakes Pete’s hand, and he will follow Pete.

Back in the ruins of London, the Black Knight leads Faiza to some citizens he has helping in the search for survivors. So if she’s not completely bored with blood and gore… Right, Faiza gets to work examining the wounded. Does he really hold off the Ebony Blade evilfying him by being all flippant? She asks. It’s… a character he plays now, Dane replies. It seems to help. It doesn’t give the sword anything to latch on to. Either that, or it’s a mid-life crisis.

Unnoticed by them, a Skrull Weapon takes aim and fires at Faiza. She screams and falls. Dane quickly destroys the weapon, but too late.

Near the Cheviot Hills the chopper is attacked and torn in two. Cap grabs Pete and John sprouts wings. Brian looks at the burning husk of the chopper. The pilots… he ventures. No! They’re dead, Pete shouts. And they’ve got contact. A Squadron Supreme and a monster Skrull. He loves you, the latter spouts the mysterious gospel of the fanatic Skrulls.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, John replies sarcastically. Look at you, the fundamentalists. Who do you lot have the powers of then? Anyone I could take on? Abba? Frankie goes to Hollywood? No? Well that makes him laugh. Everything about them Skrulls says they are meant to fit in. They attack.

That moment, the heroes are joined by Spitfire. Why just two Skrulls here, she wonders. They are surrounding this place. Hundreds. Maybe a code of honour thing? Cap suggests. Fabulous, Jaqueline replies, then they can have an honourable death.

The heroes split up with Pete and Spitfire taking care of the monster Skrull and John and Cap finishing off the Squadron Skrull.

A Skrull Assault ship nearby in low orbit launches a missile. John begins to swear a moment later, as he sees a signal device in the belt of one of the dead Skrulls going off. They were just trying to keep them there. Incoming!

They’re not invading the Siege Perilous, Cap realizes, they want to destroy it. Wisdom orders Cap and Spitfire as the fastest members to get them all away.

Some distance away Cap puts down Wisdom and decides they will be safe here. What does he mean “you?” Pete asks. He was once king of Otherworld, Brian replies. But that apart, only he stands a chance of carrying out their orders. If he can divert that missile, he saves magic, maybe the world. That’s what Captain Britain’s for. Pete is silent for a moment. Go, he orders him curtly and Captain Britain flies off. I s’pose I just about told him… I love what he’s for, Pete muses.

My champion. My Captain.

The missile has almost reached its destination, the Siege Perilous. Cap flies in from the other side at top speed.

The young lion of London.

You were always full of doubt.

The doubt appropriate to a hero of many worlds.

Captain Britain is too late and the missile explodes.

But the time for doubt is done…

And Brian is caught in the detonation.

And now is the time of sacrifice

Characters Involved: 

Brian Braddock/Captain Britain

John the Skrull, Jaqueline Falsworth-Crichton / Spitfire, Pete Wisdom (all members of MI 13)

Dane Whitman / Black Knight

Dr. Faisa Hussain

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Alistaire Stuart




Diverse Super Skrulls

Skrull pretending to be Grimsdale

Story Notes: 

The title is taken from one of the novels of Roger Zelazny’s Amber fantasy series.

This is part of the Secret Invasion crossover.

MI13 as the section of the British secret service dealing with superbeings and plain weird things was first introduced in New Excalibur #1. We learn more about Wisdom’s team in the Wisdom Limited Series.
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).
John the Skrull and the Skrull Beatles were first introduced in the Wisdom LS.

“Helterskelter” is a song title by the Beatles.

Wisdom and Captain Britain worked alongside two incarnations of the team Excalibur. In the New Excalibur title, they had some issues with each other, regarding leadership.

Lord Hawk was an early Captain Britain villain whom he fought in Captain Britain (1st series) #28-32. While in hindsight he was probably only a minor villain to the Captain, Lord Hawk’s and Cap’s battles in London were very public and therefore probably quite impressive to the public.

The Ebony Blade is the cursed sword, ruling the Black Knight’s life. When last seen in New Excalibur, Dane realized his sword wasn’t the real Ebon Blade (while somewhat earlier in his own title apparently the Black Panther got his hands on it.) How Dane got the real sword back (provided his sword was indeed a wrong one), hasn’t been told so far.

Alistaire Stuart is still inexplicably depicted as an elderly man (just as in the Wisdom LS) instead of the contemporary of Pete and Brian he should be.

The Siege Perilous, a name from Arthurian myth, has been used for two objects in the Marvel universe (strangely both connected with the Captain Britain mythos). For more read the article (link)

Spitfire: Jaqueline Falsworth-Crichton is a veteran superheroine who gained superpowers during WW II when she was first bitten by her vampire uncle Baron Blood and the received a blood transfusion by the android Human Torch. As an elderly lady in the present, she was given a second blood transfusion by the Torch, which unpredictably rejuvenated her. This is the first time it’s hinted at that the bite by Baron Blood may have left her with vampiric qualities.

Captain Britain briefly had insights into the future after being lost in the timestream. [Excalibur (1st series) #75]

The remnants of the Captain Britain Corps were slaughtered in the X-Men: Die by the Sword LS and are now being rebuilt without Cap’s help by Saturnyne and his alternate version Albion.

Cap became King of Otherworld in Excalibur (2nd series) #4. For more about his tumultuous life, see the Captain Britain spotlight.

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