X-Men: Die by the Sword #1

Issue Date: 
December 2007
Story Title: 
The Sword is Drawn

Chris Claremont (writer), Juan Santacruz (penciler), Raul Fernandez (inkers), Simon Bowland (letterer), Rob Ro (colorist), Nathan Cosby & Jordan D. White (assistant editors), Nick Lowe (consulting editor), Mark Paniccia (senior editor) Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Excalibur is holding a party after their victory over Albion. The only sour note is the fact that nobody really trusts their teammate Sage anymore. However, they are in for a pleasant surprise when party guests include Brian’s missing twin Psylocke and Nocturne’s lover, Thunderbird, both of them Exiles. While they catch up, Alison receives a gift from Wisdom and ends up kissing him. A little later, again answering the door, Brian is attacked and injured by a strange woman calling herself Rouge-Mort, who promises to put all of the assembled guests into their graves. Meanwhile in Otherworld, Roma senses something amiss. Not too far away, the resurrected Jaspers strikes a deal with Merlyn and transforms two members of the Captain Britain Corps into Furies.

Full Summary: 

After their spectacular victory over Albion and his Shadow Captains, the superhero team Excalibur is throwing a party at their headquarters at the Empress Mathilda Docks.

Brian Braddock, known by many as Captain Britain, asks his teammate Dazzler if she is enjoying herself, to which she admits that he throws a pretty good party. Brian walks over to his youngest teammate, Nocturne, who is still recovering from her recent stroke. He praises her loveliness and she jokes that she’s working on it.

However, someone who’s not enjoying himself is Brian’s teammate Pete Wisdom, who’s also their MI-13 liaison. Brian tells him he’s actually allowed to relax. Downing a glass of champagne, Pete asks him what makes him think he isn’t.

Nearby, their estranged teammate, Sage, notes that Wisdom isn’t taking his eyes off her. No surprise. The authorities want her handed over for interrogation. Brian tries to remind that this night is for enjoying themselves. If she were them, Sage replies with a humorless smile she’d lock her up and throw away the key or simply put a bullet through her head. That’s not funny, he chides. No, but it makes sense, she retorts and asks him to stop staring. Someone’s knocking at the door…

Brian suggests they talk about it tomorrow. She doubts that will make much difference.

As he walks to the door he admits to himself that she’s right. They’ve seen how dangerous she is. What they don’t know is whether they can still trust her. He opens the door and exclaims what!

The surprise is a pleasant one for a change. Before him stands his lost twin sister, Betsy. Dressed in an elegant gown, she smiles and asks how her little brother is. Brian envelopes her in a bear hug, shouting she is alive. Teasing, she reminds him that resurrection is what the Braddocks do best. What happened to her is a long story.

Brian notices the gigantic stranger behind her and she introduces him as one of the players in her story. His name is John Proudstar, also known as Thunderbird. When Brian recalls that he is supposed to be dead, Betsy quickly explains that he isn’t from their dimension. She’s been drafted by the Exiles. Brian takes the two of them inside.

In another corner of the room, Nocturne is tired from the evening and ready to retire. She notices that everyone’s attention is riveted on the newcomers and finally sees who it is that has arrived. She jumps at her former lover, Thunderbird, and kisses him, barely able to believe that he is alive.

Another time, another place, somewhere outside Roma’s crystal palace. To help bring about a measure of order to the ongoing chaos of the ever changing omniverse, the Captain Britain Corps was established, initially under the aegis of Merlyn and later of his daughter, Roma. Not so long ago the Omniverse was swept by a temporal reality wave of unimaginable power that literally tore the continuum to bits and rearranged it. Then, after a time, it apparently reversed itself and put everything back the way it was.

Well, almost everything.

James Jaspers, a somewhat deranged looking British gentleman ( whose outfit keeps on changing from moment to moment) sits amidst nothingness and tries to remember.


The first things he recalls from back then is standing over the figure of Roma. They’d never met but instinct told him she had to die. Calmly, she recognized him as Jaspers. James Jaspers. Prime minister of England and overlord of the Omniverse, he corrected her. Not while he lives, came the voice of Captain Britain as he hit Jaspers as hard as he could, slamming him out of the citadel.


He spent the time since his rebirth trying to figure out what to do next. She defied him, he hit him, Jaspers recalls childishly. That was not fun. Right on top of his agenda those two have to die. But after that, what comes next?

Within him, his fractured mind where everything reflects him, there’s a part of him now that reflects the creature that killed him. It was called the Fury – the most efficient killing machine ever created.

Jaspers’ musings are interrupted by a tall thin white-haired man who asks if he can have a moment or two of Jaspers time. “No,” comes the reply and Jaspers blasts him apart by transforming his arm into an energy cannon reminiscent of the Fury’s. That wasn’t very nice, the man, standing behind him now and quite unharmed, remarks. Killing him isn’t that easy. Of course they can fight, but he’d rather be friends. Why? comes Jaspers’ intrigued question. Mutual benefit, the white-haired man hints. Helping him provides Jaspers with the opportunity over both Roma and Brian Braddock. Isn’t he tempted?

Before Jaspers can reply, with a booming noise three members of the Captain Britain corps appear. One of them, Striker Llewellyn, immediately recognizes the stranger as the apostate – Lady Roma’s father Merlyn.

Annoyed, Jaspers asks if they have any manners whatsoever. This is a private conversation- Exceedingly bad form to interrupt. Does he think they care? Striker shouts as he hits Jaspers with his mace, causing his head to hang at an unnatural angle, clearly due to a broken neck. Undeterred. Jaspers grabs the Captain by his fist, holding him in stasis. While the other two Captains do their best to attack Jaspers he is completely entranced in what to do with their friend.

He swallows his life energy, grows another face on the back of his head and tells them he’s trying to work here. Not quite the response he was going for, he observes as both of them hit him with their star sceptres. He kicks them away with an impossible move, then returns to his first victim, changing his genetic foundation.

As he does so, he recalls that he didn’t used to think like this. He has sharper perceptions and a stronger use of the words themselves. He wonders if this resurrection business is good for the brain.

The Captain, kneeling before him, has been turned into the Fury. Jaspers marvels that this is the spitting image of the creature that killed him last time. Now why would he want to bring him back? The new Fury blasts the second Captain who is trying to attack again. Jaspers admits to being impressed. As the last Captain is trying to flee, Jaspers touches her as well and turns her into a second Fury.

Merlyn shows up again to admit he’s impressed. Where has he been? Jaspers asks sharply. It’s not as if he needed any help, Merlyn points out. Thought counts, y’know, Jaspers replies. Merlyn offers his hand in friendship, for he believes this marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial alliance.

The Starlight Citadel, home to Roma who serves as protector of the omniverse. It also functions as defacto headquarters of the Captain Britain Corps. In the absence of Brian Braddock, operational command of the corps has been the responsibility of Opal Luna Saturnyne.

Saturnyne looks up astonished to see her superior shed a silent tear. She can’t remember the last time she cried, Roma observes calmly as she wipes it away. The heavens were less crowded then. She orders Saturnyne to summon the corps and prepare them for battle. She steps onto the balcony. The time has come to face the reality that all things – perhaps even all people – are ultimately finite and must someday come to their end. Mirrored in the smooth surface Merlyn smirks back at her.

Back in London at the party, Alison hesitates to walk up to Wisdom, wondering if he will laugh at her. She finally decides to do it and drags him away from her doctor friend Marissa. She tells him she has a favor to ask. She means this? he asks and points at a motor bike. How could he have known? she marvels. It wasn’t that difficult, he replies. Gift of her Majesty’s government, for service et cetera et cetera. If she wants an objective pair of eyes to help her choose the proper set of travel leathers… Overwhelmed she kisses him. Can he take that as a “yes?”

Walking a bit away from the others are TJ and John. She confides that a while back she had a stroke. It could have been worse. She has some holes in her memory. Can’t read as easily as she used to. Right arm’s a bit weak. Right leg’s worse. She has a full course of… She can’t think of the word, before she finally cries out therapy.

John tells her to take it easy. Easy for him to say. All he was was functionally dead. Good one, he laughs as he hugs her. TJ confides she’s scared. Suppose this is as good as it gets? Welcome to the club, he tells her. As Exiles, they have access to the whole width of creation. Who knows what’s out there? What they might find to set things right? But in the end, what really matter is that they are alive. They are together and have a future.

Those two look very good together Betsy observes to her brother. Does she mean TJ and her beau or Alison and Wisdom? Brian asks. Where did they go? she asks agitated and he wonders what’s wrong. Does he know about her and Longshot? Betsy asks. Of course, Brian admits, but he hasn’t pried. After losing Meggan, he knows how Ali must feel.

But Longshot is alive and part of the Exiles, Betsy explains. “Bloody hell,” Brian exclaims. Why didn’t she bring him? He’s lost his memory, Betsy cuts him off. He remembers nothing of his past. Not Betsy, not his time with the X-Men. Not Alison. They have to tell her, Brian insists.

Betsy muses that Mojo’s a prisoner of the United States and he’s responsible for Longshot’s condition. Perhaps they can prevail upon him to set things right. Brian smiles. When she gets that look, it actually makes his blood turn a little cold. Of course that impulse won’t work if she isn’t here, he hints. She asks him not to start. She made a commitment. To protect crosstime? Brian asks sourly. She and the Exiles – all six of them.

More than that, thank you, she retorts tartly. He’s serious. Brian replies. He thought protecting the omniverse was his role with Roma and the Captain Corps. Doesn’t she trust them? She hesitates before telling him she trusts him with her life, with her soul. But not Roma? he ventures. No, she replies. She never has. Not the way he does.

Again, the doorbell rings and Brian heads to open the door, wondering who it could be this time. The prime minister has gone home, so with their luck it’ll probably be the Queen. Oh, he exclaims as he opens the door.

Suddenly at the party, Betsy turns pale, getting the queasy feeling he does when something is wrong with Brian. As if on cue, Brian stumbles inside, blood oozing from his chest. He falls, his body held by a masked woman (in fetish gear) surrounded by armed masked men. Captain Britain has fallen, she announces. Following his precious corps and the creature who brought them together into oblivion. She is Rouge-Mort. She is there to put them all into their graves.

Characters Involved: 

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

Psylocke, Thunderbird (both Exiles)

Opal Luna Saturnyne

Striker Llewellyn and two other members of the Captain Britain Corps (later turned into Jaspers’ Furies)

James “Mad Jim” Jaspers


Rouge Mort

Roug Mort’s men

Marissa (ally of Excalibur)

Other party guests

Story Notes: 

This story takes place after New Excalibur #24 and between Exiles #99 and 100.

Excalibur fought Albion and his Captains in New Excalibur #18-24.

Sage infiltrated Albion’s group, but got lost in her cover identity, actually turning into one of the team’s greatest foes.

Betsy disappeared in New Excalibur #8 and reappeared in Exiles #90.

Thunderbird “became comatose” in Exiles #10 and was returned in #97.

The temporal wave refers to the House of M storyline. Due to those events, Mad Jim Jaspers found himself resurrected. [Uncanny X-Men #462]

More about Jaspers, his original relationship to the Fury and his role in the Captain Britain cosmos can be found in the Captain Britain spotlight and the article: Through the Looking Glass – James Jaspers and the Fury.

Meggan sacrificed herself to save Earth in Uncanny X-Men #465.

Even before she actually developed her psychic powers, Betsy often had a feeling when something bad happened to her twin.

The twins’ sibling rivalry regarding the protection of the omniverse seems somewhat silly, considering that Brian seems exiled on Earth without any means to return to Otherworld for some reason. [New Excalibur #4]

Mojo was captured by the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #461.

After Roma and the original Excalibur foiled Merlyn’s plan to gain control of the energy matrix, he vowed revenge on them. [Excalibur (1st series) #50]

Rouge Mort is French for “Red Death,” possibly alluding to the classic story by Edgar Allen Poe “The Mask of the Red Death.”

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