Excalibur (4th series) #6

Issue Date: 
March 2020
Story Title: 
Verse VI: Watch the Throne

Tini Howard (writer), Marcus To (artist), Erick Arciniega (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Tom Coker & Michael Garland; Mike McKone & Morry Hollowell (variant cover artists), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Apocalypse is resurrected on Krakoa, and forms an allegiance with Jamie Braddock. On Otherworld, Morgan Le Fay continues to quest for dominance over the realm, when she is confronted by Captain Britain, Rogue, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee and her son Shogo, who is still a dragon. The heroes engage Morgan's forces in battle, putting up a good fight, but they are not able to gain the upper hand. Apocalypse returns to Otherworld, where he proposes to Morgan that their champions battle to the death. His champion, Captain Britain, against Morgan's champion, Brian Braddock. Morgan delights in agreeing to the battle. Before the fight, Captain Britain and Rogue discuss Apocalypse and whether Betsy can kill her brother. Shortly, everyone gathers for the fight, as Betsy and Brian duel with their swords. As the fight goes on, Apocalypse contacts Jubilee and assures her that Captain Britain will  triumph, and that when she does, he will need Shogo's flame. The battle continues, until Betsy takes Brian's sword from him, and he falls on it. Jamie Braddock watches his younger siblings battle, and Apocalypse instructs Jubilee to let Shogo release his flame, which he does, against Morgan's horde. Betsy struggles with having killed Brian, while Apocalypse announces that his champion is now ruler of Avalon – and crowns Jamie Braddock King of Avalon. Morgan is furious at being tricked, but isn't able to escape as Jamie places her in a cage. Betsy demands that Jamie revive Brian, which he does. Brian, restored to life, is not happy that Jamie is alive, let alone ruling Avalon, and when Betsy queries Apocalypse as to his decision to make Jamie king, Apocalypse declares that he was very serious. On Krakoa, Gambit and Rogue spend time in a hot tub together, discussing recent events, and Rogue confides that she isn't sure she wants to have children. At Braddock Manor, Betsy finds Brian upset about failing the test to be Captain Britain, reminding her how he chose the sword over the amulet. Betsy consoles her brother, who dons a new costume. Brian then gives Betsy his sword, telling her that he needs her to lock it away. In Avalon, Jamie searches for Apocalypse and discovers him experimenting on the captive Morgan Le Fay!

Full Summary: 

'I admit to being disappointed in your using our mastery over death for your own ends. I don't know what I expected. But I am hoping that you are still with us. I am trusting you' Charles Xavier remarks as he extends his hand to a newly resurrected mutant. Xavier puts his hand on the mutant's head, 'You are part of this. You are my brother' he tells Apocalypse, referring to him by his Krakoan name. 'And you are mutant' Xavier adds. Apocalypse reaches out for Xavier, before Jamie Braddock steps in front of him, and helps Apocalypse out of the resurrection pod. 'Sorry I'm late, mate' Jamie, wearing a toga, exclaims. Apocalypse thanks Jamie Braddock, while Jamie remarks 'They don't like letting me in here on account of how I act'. Xavier watches in silence as Apocalypse and Jamie walk past him, Apocalypse putting some clothes on, he suggests they not linger, and states that there is much to be done.

Otherworld, where a battle rages. 'For the White Witch!' a soldier exclaims. 'Damn your witch' Queen Morgan Le Fay retorts as she rides a dark steed, along with her army following her. Morgan casts a spell of green energy about and strikes down one of the enemy soldiers. 'She is but a woman hidden in a tower – I am a witch!' Morgan declares. One of Morgan's soldiers rides up alongside her and reports that there is word from the castle, that they must fall back. Morgan turns back to the castle, which is surrounded by energy, and a massive, thundering sound. The soldier informs Morgan that the blast came from outside this realm and shattered the stones like they were nothing. He adds that the flowers have begun to knit the castle back together. 'It's him. Apocalypse and his witchbreed forces!' Morgan scowls.

At the castle, Shogo the Dragon has carried Jubilee, Rogue, Gambit, Rictor and Betsy Braddock the new Captain Britain, delivering them to the war zone. 'We are not his. We are our own, and I am Otherworld's true defender' Captain Britain announces. 'Surrender, Morgan Le Fay' she adds. 'Tell, 'em, Bets!' Rogue, whose skin resembles that of Apocalypse's, calls out as she hovers over her teammates and adds that she is full of Apocalypse's bad attitude, and looking to let it loose. Jubilee remains sitting on Shogo as she fires some of her plasma “fireworks” at the approaching soldiers. She reports that she and Shogo will stay high, no dragonfire, but they will try to be distracting. Rogue flies over to some soldiers on horseback and yanks them off the horses, 'Horses didn't do nothing to deserve getting a beatdown!' Rogue exclaims. Gambit looks up at his wife and asks her to stay with him, and as Rogue tosses the soldiers away, she tells Gambit that she feels great. Rogue grins as she fires energy blasts and tells Gambit that she has never needed him to worry about her less.

Nearby, 'Run!' one of Morgan's soldiers calls out several of them turn and race away on their horses. The ground around them begins to crack open as Rictor, wearing a long green hooded cloak, shouts 'There's nowhere to run! What do you run on? Where to you run to?' he asks the soldiers, and as three of them fall into a massive crevasse that has opened beneath them, Rictor declares 'I am the road beneath you. I am the earth beneath the road. I am everywhere you have ever stood'. Rictor slams his hands against the ground, and more of it breaks apart. Betsy appears near him and raises a psi-shield to block some arrows that Morgan's soldiers fire at her. She tells Rictor to be careful and asks him if he is all right. 'Never better. This place is wild' Rictor replies, before asking Betsy if she has got Brian yet. 'He's within the tower -' Betsy starts to reply, before Rictor interrupts her, 'Lemme help' he offers, as he releases his power against the ground, creating a rumbling which then topples the tower to the ground.

'Destroy them!' Morgan shouts atop her steed. 'Soak the soil in witchbreed blood! Push them back to their pathetic island. Do not let them encroach onto the kingdom of Avalon!' Morgan instructs her soldiers. Several archers fire arrows in the direction of the mutants, as Captain Britain raises her sword and shouts 'To me, Excalibur!' Rogue, Gambit, Rictor and Jubilee with Shogo gather around Betsy, and Jubilee offers Rictor a ride on Shogo and to be set down behind the army. 'If they can't stand, they can't march' she points out. 'They're coming fast' Rogue remarks, offering to stay here with Betsy and Gambit. 'He'll stay low, I'll go high and you take point and go between?' Rogue suggests, before asking Betsy if  she is ready. 'Indeed. Shields up!' Betsy replies, raising her psi-shield as arrows rain down on her and her teammates. 'After the first volley, we move forward while the front line reloads!' Betsy tells the others.

Suddenly, 'Symphonic strategy, my Captain!' a voice calls out. It's Apocalypse, who kneels before Betsy and announces that his position on the Quiet Council grants him certain rights – among them, an advance position in Krakoa's resurrection queue. He adds that he is grateful, as it allows him to be here for Captain Britain's conquest. 'We don't need you here! We are just here to save Brian and leave this place' Betsy explains, but Apocalypse reminds Captain Britain that this is her kingdom to save. Betsy points out that Morgan's forces outnumber theirs, vastly, to which Apocalypse tells her that Rogue is handling it. 'And with the siege weapons gone, Shogo and Jubilee will rout them -' Apocalypse begins, but Betsy tells him that they will return in force. 'Which is why I am going to speak to Morgan' Apocalypse announces. 'You?' Betsy asks, shocked. She points out that Apocalypse is barely standing, so if anyone is going to parley with Morgan, it should be her. But Apocalypse strides towards Morgan and her army, 'Please, Captain. Now is the time for words. Just one moment of your patience' he calls back to Betsy.

Apocalypse stands several feet from Morgan who is at the front of her army, she holds a chain that connects to a large shackle around Brian Braddock's neck, a metal mask is over Brian's face. 'Hail, Queen Regent, Morgan Le Fay, ruler of Avalon!' Apocalypse declares, before announcing that he comes to discuss terms to end this carnage. He suggests to Morgan that she let her men go home, lay down their swords and die in their beds as all mortals will. He adds that the mutant kingdom will show them mercy. Apocalypse informs Morgan that she has caught him at the dawn of a new era, so he is in a good mood. 'I will die first' Morgan responds. Betsy stands next to Apocalypse as the ancient mutant tells Morgan that he does not want that. 'And neither do your men' Apocalypse adds, before proposing an alternate arrangement – a duel of champions, to the death. 'Mine...' Apocalypse suggests, referring to Betsy, '... against yours' he tells Morgan, motioning to Brian. 'He will kill her' Morgan grins wickedly. 'And she will return, as I have, for she is mutant' Apocalypse states. Morgan looks over at Brian and announces that he will fight like one whose life is precious to him. 'And she will fight like one whose life is cheap' Morgan adds.

A short time later, Rogue and Betsy sit at some ruins, and Betsy tells her friend that they could just end Apocalypse right now – put him deep in the earth somewhere and leave him while he's weak. 'Don't you want to? He put you in a box?' Betsy reminds Rogue. '... I dunno what woulda happened to all that energy from Krakoa if he hadn't' Rogue replies. 'I take. Ii was taking from Krakoa. I got a hold of it now, but it was a lot to handle' Rogue adds. Resting her head against one of her hands, Betsy asks Rogue if she can't just let Brian kill her – who would care? She would come back. 'But he'd be stuck like that' Rogue tells Betsy, suggesting she trust that there is a way out, and adding that she doesn't think Apocalypse would have her just kill her brother. Betsy turns and looks at Rogue, who exclaims 'Don't look at me like that'. She proposes that Apocalypse might really be helping them. She points out that she woke up in control, just fine, and Rictor was in a real depressed funk, and now he is feeling great.

Betsy asks Rogue if she thinks Apocalypse has a plan. Rogue puts an arm around Rogue and remarks 'Who cares if he is the villain, Captain Britain. I think you're the hero'. Suddenly, 'I assure you, I'm no threat to you' Apocalypse announces as he and Rictor walk towards Betsy and Rogue. 'Lies are beneath me. And it is time for the duel to begin' Apocalypse declares.

A short time later, Morgan, Brian and several other soldiers have arrived at the ruins, and stand near Betsy, Rictor and Apocalypse, while Rogue and Gambit stand to the side. Apocalypse announces that the terms are as such – to the death, and there will be no yielding. Morgan tells Apocalypse that it is curious he thinks that his champion has the same mighty bloodlust as hers. 'To the death, then. For the kingdom of Avalon' Morgan calls out. 'Pretender!' Brian Braddock shouts through the metal mask across his mouth as his large sword clangs against Betsy's psi-blade. 'Brian – Britain may be your home, and Krakoa mine – but as Braddocks – Otherworld is the domain of us both!' Betsy calls back as she dodges an attack, before slamming her psi-blade against Brian's sword again.

At that moment, Jubilee sets her dragon-baby, Shogo, down nearby. 'In case Betsy needs us -' Jubilee begins, before Apocalypse projects himself to Jubilee and informs her that she must not interfere with the duel, but to stay close, as he will have need of Shogo's flames. Jubilee tells Apocalypse that she thought they were keeping a lid on those because they melted reality. Apocalypse claims that he has found a remedy for that and tells Jubilee not to worry. Apocalypse announces that their Captain Britain will triumph – and when she does, he will require Shogo's flame.

'Pretender!' Brian declares again as he grabs Betsy by her hair and causes her helmet to fall off. 'Slay -' Brian begins, while Betsy slices her psi-blade against Brian's armor and tells him that she won't kill him – she refuses. Brian turns away from Betsy and touches his metal mask, while Betsy tells him that he is just a servant of Morgan's. 'You know you can't win. Please' Betsy calls out. Brian turns around to face Betsy, who raises a psi-shield and tells Brian not to let himself die like this. 'I've laid down my sword – you lay down yours!' Betsy exclaims as she grabs Brian's sword and pulls it away from him. 'Die?' Brian asks, before he reaches back for his stolen sword. The twins struggle to take the sword from each other, as a voice calls out 'Oh, do be careful, Betsy. Wrestling over a sword like that...' the new arrival remarks. 'No, wait!' Betsy declares, as their fumbling suddenly causes the sword to plunge through Brian's chest. 'Someone could get hurt' the mysterious voice calls out.

Brian looks over to the nearby throne amongst the ruins, where he can see a figure sitting atop the throne. '... Jamie?' Brian utters. Betsy looks at Brian and tells him that she is sorry. 'I didn't mean to... I just needed to stop you -' Betsy explains, while Jamie looks at his siblings and tells them that watching them tussle like this makes him feel like a kid again. 'Now, Jubilee' Apocalypse calls out, and as she sits on top of the dragon, Jubilee utters 'Light it up, baby!' Shogo breathes dragonfire towards Morgan's army, the flames engulfing many of the soldiers. Jubilee mutters that she is really hoping Apocalypse was right about having a remedy for that reality-melting thing. 'Retreat!' a soldier calls out. 'Fall back!' another exclaims.

Betsy pulls Brian's mask off and tells him to stay awake. 'He's dying! I killed him!' Betsy exclaims. 'Indeed you did' Jamie tells his sister. Betsy looks over to Apocalypse and calls him a monster, telling him that she never should have trusted him. Apocalypse tells Betsy to wait, and turns to Morgan, stating that her champion has been defeated and her realm burns. 'Bend the knee to my king and you will be shown mercy and permitted to live your days in exile' Apocalypse offers her. 'Who is this jester you claim as king?' Morgan snaps. Gambit, Rogue and Rictor gather near Betsy and Brian, while Jamie stands up, and Apocalypse kneels before him. 'He is your king now, by right of the duel. Hail, mutant and Monarch. King Jamie Braddock of Avalon' Apocalypse announces. 'Have we met, madam?' Jamie asks, turning to Morgan. 'I can't recall, but... I'll just keep you there until we figure out where to drop you off' Jamie suggests as he creates a cage which drops down around Morgan, trapping her.

'Liar! You promised exile!' Morgan declares. 'Yes, but you don't get to pick where -' Jamie remarks, before a surge of psychic energy slams into the back of his head, courtesy of Betsy. 'Ah! No hitting the king, Bets!' Jamie calls back as he sits down on the stairs leading up to the throne. 'Revive him!' Betsy snaps. 'Which one? There are a lot of dead fellows around here -' Jamie begins, before he looks pained as Betsy places her foot on his groin. 'Brian. Our brother. Burn every thread of reality on your loom if you must, but bring him back to life' Betsy demands. 'Be careful, I'm going to want heirs!' Jamie utters. 'Bring. Brian. Back' Betsy replies, unimpressed and not releasing her foot. 'All right, all right' Jamie tells Betsy, as he goes over to Brian and lies down beside his lifeless brother, putting a finger on Brian's forehead, 'All right, bright eyes. Time to wake up. Boop!' Jamie jokes.

'Ah!' Brian calls out as he opens his eyes. 'So what does one call a king's brother – that's a prince, right?' Jamie asks. 'Hello, Prince Brian' Jamie smiles, leaning into his brother. 'You... Krakoa brought you back, too?' Brian asks, before remarking that he had hoped mutants wouldn't bring back their worst. 'Aww, Bets, you did keep my secret!' Jamie grins. '... his secret?' Brian asks, turning to his sister. Betsy tells Brian that she tried to tell him, but he was under Morgan's control. 'Oh, you could have told him before' Jamie points out. 'But you didn't. Beautiful fools!' Jamie exclaims as he creates jester hats atop his siblings. Betsy turns to Apocalypse and tells him that he can't be serious – making Jamie king. Apocalypse informs Betsy that he is quite serious, and folds his arms as he states that one of their most powerful mutants, with a gift for the unbinding and mending of reality and a Braddock, Otherworld's most powerful family – even the dragonfire s no threat with Jamie on the throne. 'There is no one more fit to rule. All hail King Jamie the First!' Apocalypse declares.

Later, on Krakoa, Rogue leans against the edge of a hot tub overlooking the island, as the night sky rests above her. 'You know, when I was trapped in there, I kept thinking of back when we were young and feisty, and you wouldn't talk to me for days on end' a voice calls out. 'Yeah?' Rogue responds, without turning around. 'Mmhmm' a naked Gambit tells Rogue as he steps into the hot tub, holding two glasses  of wine. 'I'm sure glad we grew outta that' Remy smiles. 'Me too, sugar' Rogue agrees, before telling Remy that she heard he had nightmares in that lighthouse. 'Not me. I didn't sleep while you was in there' Remy replies. Rogue tells him that she had one, that in hers, she was strapped to a table, the Professor was there, and Forge, and the Five, and they were all poking at her, experimenting on her to see if she could have a baby.

'Talking about how we all had to have babies now, but if I did it, it'd kill me or the baby or both' Rogue continues, closing her eyes. Gambit slides up next to Rogue, 'If you wanna do that -' he begins, but Rogue tells him that she doesn't. 'That's the point, Remy. That was my biggest fear about coming to the island. That because we're married now, everyone would want us to have a baby' Rogue explains. Rogue moves away from Gambit and looks out across to the star-filled sky. She tells Gambit that she started thinking about how she is sure this wonderful island would make a way for someone like her to have a baby, if she wanted – which made her realize she didn't want to. 'Seemed like a lot  of trouble... for something I didn't even want' Rogue points out. Rogue turns back to Gambit and informs him that she doesn't want a baby – not now and maybe not ever. 'It was hard enough for me to let one person in, and that was you' Rogue adds, admitting that she isn't sure if she is ready for that to change.

'I signed up to live this life with you' Rogue tells Gambit. '...and the cats' Gambit reminds her. 'And the cats' Rogue smiles as Gambit wraps his arms around Rogue. Gambit asks Rogue if she is in good control now – no gloves, no bracelet, no problem. Rogue assures Gambit that there is nothing to worry about but enjoying the night together. 'This body here's all yours' Gambit tells Rogue as they kiss. 'And whatever you want to do with it... well. I'm just happy to be included, ma'am' Gambit remarks, telling Rogue that if she did want a kid, it would be a good excuse to spend all of their time fooling around. 'Who needs an excuse?' Rogue asks.

Meanwhile, in Braddock Manor, Betsy walks down a corridor where she calls out to Brian, informing him that Meggan and Maggie are on the island finishing dinner. She offers to take him through the gate if he is ready. 'I can't do it' Brian calls back from one of the rooms. Betsy steps into the dark room and replies 'Dinner? Brian...don't be silly, no one expects a speech. Just come be with your family. We...ah...' Betsy's voice trails off, before she smiles and goes over to where Brian is sitting on the edge of his bed, and tells him that they didn't invite Jamie to dinner. 'You look like you need sleep' Betsy points out. Brian informs Betsy that he can't sleep – that he dreamed and he failed the test. Betsy sees that Brian is holding his sword, and Brian looks up at Betsy, tears streaming down his face. 'The Sword of Might? How and where did you get that?' Betsy asks.

Brian tells Betsy that they came to him in his dream – Merlyn and Roma. 'The ones who test us, find us' he adds. “Us?” Betsy asks. 'The Captain Britains' Brian tells her. Brian explains that the give the Captain Britains the choice – the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might, with the knowledge that the truly virtuous among them are not violent – the true Captain Britain will always take the amulet. Brian remembers being faced with such decision, and covers his face with his hands as he tells Betsy that the pary of him that recoiled from violence, that didn't want the sword, that part of him was dead – the witch Morgan Le Fay murdered it when she imprisoned him, kept from his family, he nearly left his wife a wife a widow and his daughter fatherless. He explains that all he felt was anger. 'Who was this innocent Brian Braddock who had once spurned the blade?' Brian asks, claiming that he no longer knows him.

Brian drops onto the floor, the sword laying alongside him as he reveals to Betsy that he took the blade, that he is no longer fit to be Captain Britain. 'That witch ruined my life!' he exclaims. Betsy puts a hand on her brother's back and tells him that no one could blame him. She picks up the sword and gives it to Brian, telling him to take it, that it is not punishment and that he could do good by it. 'You are a righteous and virtuous man, a knight of the realm!' Betsy declares, hugging Brian as he continues to cry. Brian then takes the sword and declares that it is so much more than that. 'The sword responds to me, gives me its gifts' Brian explains as energy swirls around him, and a new costume consisting of a red armored tunic with a yellow lion on it appears. Brian remarks that there is enough terrible controversy about Betsy's ascension without him trying to be a hero, too. He adds that they won't accept Betsy if they find out about him, and they will want him to wield the sword against her. 'It makes me sick' he adds.

Brian and Betsy hug, 'They can't!' Betsy exclaims. 'How many have tried to turn us against each other for the fate of Otherworld, and here we are' Betsy declares, adding that they are together again because Jamie brought Brian back, and they can be here for each other – they can try. Betsy removes the amulet from around her neck and reminds Brian that he gave it to her, that she didn't have to pass the test – and doesn't think that she could. 'You've always fancied swords' Brian reminds his sister, who agrees. Brian tells Betsy that he needs her to lock this one away, as it came to him in a moment of shame, and he can't wield it with pride. 'For your safety and my own' he adds.

Back on Otherworld: 'Apocalypse?' Jamie Braddock calls out, before excusing himself and addressing Apocalypse by his Krakoan name. 'I think I'm seeing more of those forces. Sent by that White Witch?' Jamie exclaims. He strides down some stairs and remarks that there are a whole lot of witches around here, and that he likes witches. 'Hello? King Jamie speaking?' Jamie exclaims when he gets no response.

Suddenly, a voice from a secret laboratory responds 'Your Majesty, I respect your authority while we are in your realm... but never interrupt me when I am working!' Jamie enters the laboratory, where he finds Apocalypse holding a scalpel over Morgan Le Fay, who is strapped to a table, tubes connected  to her that are linked to an assortment of strange equipment and some Krakoan crystals....

Characters Involved: 

Apocalypse, Captain Britain II, Gambit, Jubilee, Rictor, Rogue (all Excalibur)
Brian Braddock
Jamie Braddock
Shogo Lee
Charles Xavier

Morgan Le Fay

Morgan's army
White Witch's army

in Brian's dream:
Brian Braddock

Story Notes: 

This issue contains a map of part of Otherworld, including Conquered Avalon, a contested territory and land controlled by the White Witch's forces.

Jamie Braddock was returned to life by Krakoa in Excalibur (4th series) #1.

This issue contains a text-only page with some notes from Apocalypse on his dissection of Morgan Le Fay.

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