Avengers (3rd series) #80

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
Lionheart of Avalon - part 4

Chuck Austen (writer), Olivier Coipel (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), RS and Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letters), Chris Sotomayor (colors), Sumerak, Schmidt & Wiley (asst. editors), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher).

Brief Description: 

Captain Britain and Meggan appear to the lethally injured Kelsey Leigh offering her to become a champion: she has to choose between an amulet and a sword, but the wrong choice, they warn her, will mean she never sees her children again. Kelsey chooses the sword and transforms to the latest Captain Britain, only to learn that for her at least the choice was fatal, for revealing herself to her children now will mean their certain death. In Tony Stark’s London Mansion the Scarlet Witch and the Wasp face the Wrecking Crew who have taken Hawkeye hostage. The new Captain Britain joins them. Intent on revenge on the man who ruined her life she runs Thunderball through with her sword. Revealed to be the villainous Black Knight he calls for his mistress – Morgan LeFey – who appears. The Wrecking Crew disappears through her portal, Kelsey gives chase and the Scarlet Witch follows as well.

Full Summary: 

Kelsey Leigh is lying in a field near what appears to be Stonehenge, dimly aware of her recent ordeal at the hands of Thunderball. She hears a voice call out to her. She rolls herself awake, and asks who’s there. Two massive, almost ethereal, figures in medieval clothing stand present, offering greetings. Kelsey is confused and frightened, and asks what this place is. The man answers that it is a shard of existence between this world and the next – life and death. The man continues that he didn’t know that when he was first brought there, and it really doesn’t matter now either. He says that Kelsey was chosen, because of her courage and determination, for a mission that could mean life or death for the entire realm. He asks her to choose between the two items placed on stones before her – the sword, or the pendant.
Kelsey seems in shock, as she asks the man if she really was just beaten to death by a man with a ball and chain. The man replies that she is really dead. Kelsey begins to cry as she thinks of her children. The man introduces himself as Brian Braddock, formerly known as Captain Britain. He also introduces his wife, Meggan. Brian offers Kelsey the opportunity to return to the world she just left – if she chooses between the sword and the amulet.
Kelsey says that of course she will choose, anything it takes to get back to her children. She asks what the difference is in the choice. Meggan replies that it is not for them to say what the difference is, it is in the choosing that she will set her own destiny. Brian tells her that before she decides, she must know that the choice may mean returning to her life as it was, with the power to protect the realm. It may also mean never seeing her family again. Kelsey stares on, thinking that 50-50 odds are better than definitely not seeing them again. Kelsey looks at both object, and wonders which object is more important to protect the realm. After a moment’s hesitation, she decides that a necklace would be useless, and grasps the hilt of the sword. She cries out “come along, Excalibur…” and as she pulls the sword, a flash of light hits, and suddenly Kelsey finds herself garbed in the clothing of Captain Britain, an uniform identical to the one that Brian Braddock first wore. Kelsey looks for assurance from the couple, asking if she chose correctly. Brian replies that there are no right or wrong choices, only different paths to choose. She has chosen correctly to defend Avalon. Kelsey cries out that she wants to see her children. Meggan says that she knows what Kelsey meant, and is deeply sorry. However, Kelsey chose the Sword of Might over the Amulet of Right, choosing the path of violence. Brian continues that the choice has altered the lives of her children as well as her own. He says that if ever she reveals herself to her children, their lives will end horribly. Brian says that the fate of Avalon and the entire world now lies in her hands, as even now, Britain is invaded. Brian and Meggan vanish, and he leaves her with the final words:

“Fight well and fight hard, my champion. Be one with your brothers of the table round, Captain Britain.”

Kelsey cries out that it isn’t fair, she misunderstood. If she had known that this would happen, she would have chosen correctly. She falls to her knees, begging for them to fix it, and crying.

Tony Stark’s London mansion, front lawn:
The Wrecking Crew talks amongst themselves, leaving Thunderball to walk ahead wihle dragging the body of Hawkeye behind him. They are terrified of what Thunderball has become, and don’t understand his new streak of extreme brutality. Wrecker, who recently had his nose broken by Thunderball, wonders if it is really even him. Wrecker says that they need to get out of the Avengers’ way, and then gut Thunderball like a fish.

Inside, Tony Stark asks Wasp if she is needs to talk about her recent conversation with Hank. Jan says that she’s fine, but Wanda asks why she still won’t look at them. Janet says that he didn’t hit her or anything, if that’s what they are wondering. She says that her and Hank never dealt with the abuse properly, and Hawkeye just brought it all to the surface again. She freezes and stares out the window, and sees Clint being loaded into the quinjet by the Wrecking Crew. Quickly, she grows to large proportions, and chases after them. Scarlet Witch nearly falls out of the window before Tony catches her, and says that Jan has got to practice the size-changing thing. Tony grabs one of his Iron Man boots quickly, and uses the rocket to propel himself and Wanda toward the plane.

On board the plane, Thunderball demands that the rest of the Crew bring Hawkeye to the cockpit. Wrecker says that he is unconscious. Thunderball shouts at Wrecker to just bring Hawkeye there, and Wrecker tosses Clint’s body at Thunderball. Wrecker asks if he is going to kiss him, and Thunderball says that in a sense, yes. Wrecker stares into the eyes of Hawkeye, and asks his “master” for assistance. Wrecker absorbs Hawkeye’s knowledge. Piledriver asks who Wrecker really is, and Wrecker responds by saying that he is now someone who can fly a quinjet, and no longer needs them. He tells them all to leave him in silence.

Wasp begins tearing the jet’s fuselage open, demanding to know what happened to Clint. Wrecker cries out for help from his “master” again, and immediately the jet takes off with Jan clinging to it. Jan forces the jet to crash into the trees. The Wrecking Crew climbs out of the jet, and Tony asks Wands if she can handle them. Wanda says no, but she can probably slow them down until help arrives. The villains stare at Wands, wondering if she’s kidding – the last time they met all she did was make them nauseous. Wanda says she might as well go with what works, and forms a hex bolt. Suddenly, the villains stagger over and begin to vomit furiously. Wanda says that maybe she can deal with the Wrecking Crew after all. Tony chases after Jan and the bouncing quinjet, asking if she can get control of it, as they are about to enter the town. Jan says that she’s trying. Tony uses his boot to maneuver him toward the cockpit, and tries to shut it down, but Jan tells him to just grab Clint and jump. Suddenly, the jet goes straight up, and Iron Man says he cannot get control. The jet hurtles into the town, and crash-lands.

Wrecker staggers from the wreck. He sees an apparition of flame in front of him, and he tells it that he brought the arrows for his master. However, it is not his “master” that appears, but the newly crowned Captain Britain. Kelsey is furious that Thunderball stole her life, and she immediately runs her sword through Thunderball’s chest. Thunderball whimpers for his master, and she appears – it is Morgan Le Fey, the evil sorceress. Thunderball vanishes, revealing himself to be the Black Knight. Kelsey stares in awe, and Morgan tells the Knight to bring his prozes to her, and all will be well again. As they begin to vanish through a portal, Kelsey chases them, and Wanda follows closely, where they disappear as the portal vanishes.

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Wasp (Avengers)

Captain Britain / Brian Braddock

Captain Britain III / Kelsey Leigh
Wrecker, Thunderball, Bulldozer, Piledriver (Wrecking Crew)

Morgan Le Fey
Black Knight

Story Notes: 

Kelsey's choice at the beginning of the story is a parallel to the same situation Brian Braddock went through in Captain Britain (1st series) #1-2. He chose the Amulet of Right, though...
Brian Braddock relinquished his title as Captain Britain 616 in Excalibur (2nd series#1-4. Roma offered him the title of guardian of the Otherworld, and he accepted.
Previously, in Avengers #77-79:
Searching for the Wrecking Crew in London, the Avengers found themselves in a situation that got out of control as the battle raged into the streets, and soon single mother Kelsey Leigh and her two young children were caught in the line of fire. Captain America tried to protect them, but was injured badly by Thunderball. Kelsey refused to let Thunderball kill Captain America, and picked up the mighty shield to defend him. Thunderball continued to lay into Kelsey until She-Hulk could arrive to dispatch Thunderball, but by then it was too late – Kelsey was dead. The Avengers struggled to explain to the children that their mother was heroic, but Captain America was unable to provide consolation. They took the family to Tony Stark’s London mansion to care for them. However, as Kelsey lay dead in the mansion infirmary, a mysterious figure approached, and told her that her time has not yet come…

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