In recent issues of Excalibur, it was revealed that Betsy Braddock’s spirit has been “ping-ponging” about the Multiverse since her body and the Starlight Sword were literally shattered in X of Swords. But now her elusive psyche has been caught in a glass lantern by one of Betsy’s alternate Captain Britain selves–to be brought back home to her rightful place and body. But that earthly vessel hatched in Mr. Sinister’s labs is not as empty as King Jamie Braddock was led to believe.
Note: The following contains spoilers for Excalibur #19 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega & VC’s Ariana Maher, on sale now
At the start, the Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne experiences her own unpleasant realization: The Multiverse’s defenders are sworn to her, but they’re not hers to control. Her self-isolation and passive-aggressive stance–both borne of her refusal to take ownership of the “love spell” by which she summoned the new Betsy-inspired Corps–finally backfires, as the Captains Britain defy her in seeking to restore the warrior they revere as “the first of us to wield the Starlight Sword.”
But once they covertly deliver Betsy’s spirit to Earth-616, Rictor’s recent progress with “mutant magic” strikes an impasse. However, Psylocke–a delight to see again in Excalibur–assures him it’s not his fault; then, shocking everyone, Kwannon shatters the lantern, allowing Betsy to escape back to Avalon. Just as the taciturn ninja planned, this proves the necessary prelude to what longtime fans have been waiting for.
Only Kwannon, whose body Betsy inhabited for so long, can bring Betsy back to herself. And Psylocke is done with everyone’s assumptions about her and Betsy. She knows the primary reason body and spirit aren’t fitting back together–”because pain shapes us. It changes us so we don’t fit where we once did.” Knowing how intimately their lives are interwoven, she quickly tracks down Betsy’s spirit-body, by way of an Otherworld village whose name is a sweet homage to an early Brian Braddock sidekick.
Longtime readers will be immensely satisfied that this also the heart of the larger story of Kwannon and Betsy. Since regaining her body, Kwannon’s star as a steely but heroic warrior has been ascendant, while Betsy’s path has been fraught with doubt, from herself, from her brother, and worst of all, from Saturnyne. So Kwannon finds herself on an intensely personal mission to share her hard-won wisdom with Betsy’s fugitive spirit: Their fraught entanglement with each other is not Betsy’s fault; she’s absolved of unnecessary guilt.
But Betsy, already full of self-doubt and diffidence toward the woman whose body she once occupied, refuses to listen–until Kwannon convinces her that while she lost her duel against Isca, she was in fact victorious because her wielding of the Starlight Sword brought back the Corps in its new form. Masterfully, writer Tini Howard doesn’t need to spell it out, but the fact is that this is a revelation to readers as well. It means Saturnyne did not reform them herself, as it seemed when she pieced together Betsy and Starlight’s shattered remains; instead, that mosaic simply called them to her, with the drawing of the X of Swords card subsequently allowing them to enter Otherworld in the final X of Swords battle.
With the revelation that she is indeed needed by her people on Krakoa and across the Multiverse, Betsy fully settles into Kwannon’s body for the first time since their sundering in 2018. But unlike before, both their spirits are at home there–at least until Psylocke, now wielding the physical manifestation of Starlight, can get back to Betsy’s new body at the lighthouse and restore her spirit-sister’s soul and sword.
Shockingly, however, the happy resolution is cut short when Betsy hacks up a sinister-looking choker–and violent energy suddenly surges from Rogue’s body: Malice, who once occupied Rogue years ago, escaping through the gate to Krakoa. What frightful havoc will Mr. Sinister’s longtime Marauder wreak in mutant paradise? Events are already moving unpredictably fast in these early days of the Reign of X.