Captain Britain’s new round table go in search for what Marvel is billing as the “Holy Grail of Mutantkind.”
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Excalibur #26, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
With Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock) stuck in Otherworld in Knights of X (by Tini Howard and Bob Quinn), the sequel to Excalibur, her new round table goes in search of what Marvel is billing as the “Holy Grail of Mutantkind.” While Marvel is being secretive as to what the Holy Grail is, clues were laid in Excalibur #26 (by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Erick Arcinega, and VCs Ariana Maher). Hidden deep in Otherworld is not just the mutant Holy Grail but an item of multiverse-destroying power.
The end of Excalibur saw Merlyn conquer Otherworld and transform the Starlight Citadel into the Lunatic Citadel, waging war on all mutants. The gates between Otherworld and Earth have collapsed with Betsy Braddock on the other side. In pursuit of Braddock and her Knights is King Arthur and his newly assembled Furies. Both sides searching for what Marvel is calling the Holy Grail of mutantkind. Alluding to the Grail of King Arthur lore, the Grail here in Otherworld could be several things—however, one item, in particular, is high on the list: the last vessel of power of the one remaining Mapmaker in existence.
The former Omniversal Matrix, Opal Luna Saturnyne revealed she had fled Otherworld during the Age of Incursions that rebooted the Marvel Universe. As she fled, she took the one item of great power in her Citadel—the last Mapmaker known to exist. The Mapmakers were critical to the incursions that brought about the rebirth of the Marvel Universe. The Mapmakers have been described as the Cartographers of the Apocalypse and were designed to systematically chart the multiverse for earths still to destroy by their makers, the Beyonders.
The Mapmaker had come apart in her hands, his sense of self dissolving between realities. The last remaining part of the Mapmaker—in Saturnyne’s words, “a fragment of the most inherently destructive force in all of the Multiverse,” was used to kill her rivals Merlyn and Roma (until they were inevitably rebown). She hid the remaining part in Blightspoke.
Blightspoke is the trash dump of the Multiverse—every dangerous piece of reality was deposited here from irradiated worlds, infectious diseases, and more. Those remaining bits of collapsed realities are deposited in Blightspoke. Described as “a celestial graveyard of failed realities,” Blightspoke is one of the Foul Courts of Otherworld, along with Merlyn’s Holy Republic of Fae, Hothive, Dryador, and the Crooked Market. Mining machines ravage the landscape and there are riches untold there—however, it is warned that very few survive the trek across its land. Yet, the Knights could find allies there—Gia Whitechapel serves as the Sheriff of Blightspoke.
The last piece of the Mapmaker could reveal worlds that possibly escaped the Incursions—worlds that hold remnants of the multiverse before. As well, if the Beyonders still exist, then the Mapmaker may know of their whereabouts. The Beyonders, the makers of the Mapmakers, were powerful enough to kill such ultimate abstract cosmic entities as Infinity and Eternity. Also known as the Ivory Kings, they are a race outside of the Marvel Omniverse—they are simply beyond. The Beyonders’ purpose was wrapping up an experiment they deemed to have failed—they sought the simultaneous death of everything in the multiverse. The Mapmaker could serve as a beacon to these omnipotent beings.
As well, the Mapmakers’ own nature could be a danger to mutantkind itself. The Beyonders purposely placed a virus within the inter-universe White Space forcing any emergent artificial intelligence to serve them, leading to the creation of the Mapmakers. Moira MacTaggert’s future lives revealed that always two things emerged at odds with each other: AI and mutants. Always those two and always in conflict—the victory of one meant the defeat of the other. The arrival of a Mapmaker, an AI adaptoid, at the center of the multiverse (the Citadel) was no accident. The Mapmakers mapped the various worlds that had escaped the Beyonders’ destructive plans and were still there to harvest. Its power could also be used by the AIs seeking to wipe out all mutants from history to preserve themselves.
The Holy Grail of mutankind is surely the remaining piece of the last Mapmaker—an item of multiverse-destroying power. The Knights of X are in a race against King Arthur and his Furies. If Arthur were to find the Mapmaker artifact, then it would land in Merlyn’s hands. If the AI-led Orchis were to find it, that power could be used to rewrite history for the AIs. If anyone besides Captain Britain and her Knights finds it, mutantkind could be in jeopardy.
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