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Mar 20

Excalibur #9 annotations

Posted on Friday, March 20, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Excalibur on one side, the Starlight Citadel in the middle, and Saturnyne on the right. Captain Britain has her Concerned Face on.

PAGES 2-3. Apocalypse tells Gambit about his plans.

Basically, Apocalypse is going to use the Warwolf skulls from the previous issue to cast a spell that will let Excalibur reach the Starlight Citadel.

“Morgan Le Fay is defeated. King Jamie Braddock sits on the throne of Avalon.” In issues #1-6.

“We have no war with Opal Luna Saturnyne, and yet the Starlight Citadel remains hidden to us…” Opal Luna Saturnyne is a Captain Britain character dating back to the Dave Thorpe/Alan Davis run in the early 80s Marvel UK weekly Marvel Super-Heroes. She was introduced as the Omniversal Majestrix, a resident of Otherworld who was answerable only to Merlyn, and oversaw the Captain Britain Corps. Broadly, she’s a “guardian of the multiverse” kind of character. The original Excalibur run establishes that she’s a counterpart of Courtney Ross, Brian Braddock’s girlfriend from early Captain Britain stories. The Starlight Citadel, Saturnyne’s floating castle, was added in Alan Moore’s Captain Britain run (in the Marvel UK weekly The Daredevils).

“The forces of the White Witch refuse our messengers.” Earlier issues have shown us that the kingdom of Avalon (within Otherworld) is under attack from the forces of the “White Witch”, who hasn’t previously been identified. Apocalypse seems to imply that the White Witch is Saturnyne herself, or someone connected with her.

“Wherever a seed can take root, we will not be defeated.” Apparently referring to the Krakoan gates (though we’ve seen in X-Force that they can be destroyed by fairly conventional means).

“When I was young… generations lived and died on the same acre.” Apocalypse’s youth was a long, long, long time ago – ancient Egypt or possibly earlier – but this is still a ludicrous exaggeration. An acre is a little over half a soccer pitch.

“Krakoa is only half of a whole…” You know, for a speech intended to recap the plot, this really is only intelligible if you already know the plot. But anyway, other Hickman-era X-books have established that there was once a place called Okkara, and in defending it against demon invasion, Apocalypse wound up dividing it into Krakoa (the utopian island) and Arakko (an island of monsters and eternal war, hidden away somewhere). Apocalypse is trying to make contact with Arakko, and we’ve been told that it has a border with Otherworld. That’s his interest in this whole thing.

“My four finest warriors…” The original Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

PAGE 4. Data page on the Starlight Citadel.

“The now destroyed Captain Britain Corps.” The Captain Britain Corps was a legion of Captain Britains from every reality, most (but not all) of whom were direct counterparts of Brian Braddock. Each of them represented whatever their world’s version of Britain was like, ranging from the wacky to the relatively sensible. It’s a weird concept, since the upshot is that Britishness is presented as a constant across all universes, but one with no fixed content. There are Scottish-themed Captain Britains, but no world where Britain simply isn’t the relevant unit.

The Corps was annihilated in Hickman’s New Avengers vol 3 #30 in 2015, though some individual members may still be around.

“Lady Saturnynewas not born to her position…” She’s meant to be a regular human from Earth-9 who somehow ascended to this role; the details have never been revealed.

PAGES 5-6. Credits and recap. I think this is the first time we get Reuben Wilmott’s surname. The story is “Verse IX: Schools of Magic” by Tini Howard and Marcus To.

PAGES 7-8. Brian drops by to pine for his sword.

After issue #6, Brian lost his connection to the Amulet of Right (which normally empowers Captain Britains) and wound up connected to the cursed Sword of Might instead. At his request, Betsy buried it near the lighthouse. That’s what he’s come to pine for.

PAGES 9-10. The alarms go off in the Starlight Citadel.

The “Royal Whyness” tag has been around since Saturnyne’s early days. It’s a throwback to a more whimsical take.

PAGES 11-14. Meggan uses her shapechanging to sneak into a Coven Akkaba briefing.

The briefing is a broadly accurate recap of the plot, except for the claim that “like most mutants”, Jamie “is quick to anger and violent in retaliation.” We haven’t really seen much sign of this so far – his behaviour as puppet monarch has been erratic, but not especially vindictive.

“They were hurting each other.” The dialogue surely suggests that they were killing one of the Coven members (who was a willing human sacrifice). Meggan either doesn’t pass that on or she’s in denial about what she just saw. I’m not entirely clear where she draws the conclusion that “They plan to provoke Jamie into doing something foolish”, either – they might well be, but they don’t say so in terms. (Maybe it was part of an earlier conversation, but then why is Reuben explaining it to everyone again…?)

Pete Wisdom makes sure to throw in the fact that he still hasn’t been to Krakoa proper (and as we’ve seen, he doesn’t live in the lighthouse either).

PAGES 15-17. Excalibur follow the magic beacon to the Starlight Citadel.


PAGE 18. Saturnyne addresses her followers.

The followers are mostly women, but the art does include some men (who wear different versions of the robes, and some of whom have beards). Nonetheless, they’re apparently all called “Priestesses”. It might simply be that the women are the majority. It’s not clear who these people are or where they came from – a couple of them are wearing ordinary glasses, which suggests they’re regular humans rather than Otherworld natives.

At any rate, Saturnyne regards Morgan Le Fay’s reign in Avalon as “corruption” and sees Jamie’s ascension to the throne as an extension of that. It tends to suggest that Saturnyne was indeed the “White Witch”, trying to dislodge Morgan from the throne of Avalon and reinstate the rightful king (if only because it’s how things are meant to be).

PAGE 19. Data page, with the remainder of the service that Saturnyne goes on to perform with her Priestesses. It’s basically a church pastiche, with a lot of moon imagery.

PAGES 20-25. Saturnyne opens fire on Excalibur.

I have … no real idea what’s meant to be happening in the final panel. Clearly Saturnyne thinks Jamie’s reign in Avalon is destabilising Otherworld and that Excalibur are raising the stakes. And for some vague reason she seems to be planning to turn four of the team into Captain Britains. But quite why, or why that would be a problem, is less than clear. It’s not a very effective cliffhanger.

PAGES 26-27. Credits and trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: THEY’RE NOT EVEN BRITISH.

Bring on the comments

  1. Leirus says:

    Oh, I understood from the end that she was bringing over an alternate reality team, like that alternate nazi Excalibur from waaay back the first issues of original Excalibur.

    Excelent as always!

  2. Robert says:

    Thanks for doing these recaps. This issue was pretty incomprehensible to me, and I’m very quickly losing patience with it. I’m only reading it because it’s Rogue’s main book, so I wish that they’d get her out of the fringes into something that’s at least mildly coherent.

    Hopefully Swords of X will see a reshuffling of books and lineups. After being super interested in House of X/Powers of X, the rest of Dawn of X has been a huge disappoint to me.

  3. Joseph S. says:

    This was an improvement over the previous two issues. It feels more like the book knows where it’s going, and Saturnyne as the White Witch makes perfect sense. And Howard has been seeding these B plots, maybe post-Otherworld they can tell a good story with Betsy’s showdown over dual loyalties.

  4. Col_Fury says:

    Super jazzed to see Saturnyne! 🙂

    I agree with Leirus. Could this be the start of re-establishing the Captain Britain Corps?

    I also agree with Joseph S. in that this is an improvement over the last two issues. Hunting/murdering sentient, speaking creatures? Gross.

  5. Adrian Brown says:

    X of Swords? Really? So this new crossover in summer is going to be shaped by the writer on this mediocre Excalibur book. Marvel really are trying their best to cast the X-Men off to the fringes. Going all in on a generic, dull, niche magical mythology and tying it in with the X-Men. Yikes. Who is this targeting besides the hard core fans of 45K a month who buy all the titles?

  6. Joseph S. says:

    Is Howard driving the X of Swords event? (By the way, I really hope it’s pronounced Ten of Swords…) Cable just got a sword in his solo book so it seems like a line-wide thing.

  7. CJ says:

    I liked this issue more than the previous two. I liked that there seemed to be some continuity with the actions in the first arcs leading to this one.

    There are a lot of nice team moments in this one. Gambit brushing Rogue’s hair makes me think I should read Mr and Mrs X. Although I keep on thinking Jubilee and Shogo don’t need to be here. But I’ve never been sure what to do with Jubilee.

    I too took the last panel to be alternate members of Excalibur.

  8. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Joseph S
    It is Ten of Swords.

    Mr and Mrs X was very decent fun. For me it’s easily the best depiction of Gambit and Rogue as a couple.

  9. Ben says:

    Speaking of Mr and Mrs X, it really sucks Kelly Thompson isn’t writing an X-book now.

    She did great stuff with Gambit and Rogue.

    She actually understands the characters, does the research, and writes stuff that both honors the past and moves the characters forward.

    Shit, I wish she was in the Hickman position.

  10. Chris V says:

    I think X of Swords is going to be co-written by Hickman and Howard.
    I agree that it makes no sense for Hickman to pick Howard, since she really is pretty terrible.

    I also think it’s going to go beyond just the literal…ten swords…and that it plays off of the Tarot card too.
    Hickman featured a lot of Tarot symbolism in House/Powers.

  11. Taibak says:

    Is it just me, or is Marcus To really trying to follow Alan Davis’s style?

  12. “Going all in on a generic, dull, niche magical mythology and tying it in with the X-Men.”

    Eh, which is what Excalibur has always been about, if you want to blame anyone, blame Claremont for creating the team back in 1987.

    I like this issue, far less confusing (art-wise) than the last two and a nice throwback to the solo Captain Britain stories by Moore and Davis that I recently reread.

    Of course, you fail to mention that Saturnyne apparently killed Courtney Ross way back in Excalibur (vol 1) #5.

  13. That last line is directed at Paul, btw.

  14. Paul says:

    That wasn’t Saturnyne. She’s wearing the homemade gear that she stole from the guy in Excalibur #3. She’s identified in that issue as Opal Lun Sat-Yr 9, who’s a counterpart of Saturnyne from another dimension (previously seen in Captain Britain vol 2 #2).

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