Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Ariane Lenshoek & Malibu (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Summary: Excalibur watches footage of Douglock’s abduction and plots their attack against Black Air. Peter Wisdom speculates that Douglock has been taken to their acquisition station in North Yorkshire. Soon, Meggan uses her elemental powers to disrupt the forcefield covering Black Air’s base and the team infiltrates. After easily taking over the base and causing massive property damage, Shadowcat hacks into their computer system and learns that Douglock isn’t there; he’s been assigned as agent Scratch’s responsibility. Nightcrawler gives the Black Air personnel five minutes to evacuate before Meggan forces the earth to swallow their base whole. Meanwhile, Brian Braddock receives word from the Hellfire Club’s Scribe that the Red King has led the club in a new direction. Their plans now revolve around the new Red Queen, who is a magician. Suddenly, sections of London explode. Elsewhere, scientists dismantling Douglock learn that he has information on the Legacy Virus.
Continuity Notes: The Black Queen identifies herself as “Ms. Steed” (a reference to the old Avengers TV show, I guess), making her the first member of the London branch to have more than a code name.
Review: This is an action-heavy issue that mainly serves as a showcase for Pacheco’s art. The action scenes are a little odd, as Black Air offers literally no opposition to Excalibur. There are a lot of explosions and bodies flying, but no real fighting. The story tries to justify this by saying that the Black Air agents are so powerful, they’ve just become used to getting away with whatever they want to do. You’d think that Ellis would’ve had the villains offer at least some resistance, though, rather than using the scene just to have Excalibur show off their powers. At the very least, Pacheco does an impressive job conveying the action. The end of the issue has some brief scenes touching base on the other plotlines. The Hellfire Club storyline advances slowly, as some hint of their plan is given (and a subplot about Brian possibly giving into his darker urges is introduced). The “Douglock has the key to the Legacy Virus” subplot, which was dropped as soon as it began, makes a surprising comeback on the final page. I don’t recall it going anywhere, but at least there was some effort to keep the idea from falling into total obscurity. Overall, it’s another issue that’s mainly setup, but some of the action is fun and the art isn’t bad at all.