Writer Scott Lobdell
Penciler Dave Ross
Inker Al Milgrom
Colors Glynis Oliver, post divorce 😦
Letterer Ken Lopez
Cover Dated March 1991
Title – Heartbreaker
Issue opens with a kidnapped six year old girl, Amy Keats, who is now in a well. She has been in the well for three days. It is now raining, so her time is limited. It is an amazing splash page that really lets you feel the terror. Her expression, the coloring, the hopeless atmosphere, it is all there.
All over London, people are looking for Amy, even the members of Excalibur.
Kurt and Kitty are searching a building. The search has interrupted the party the team was going to throw has they have been reunited with Kitty after the rest of Excalibur has made it back from the Cross Time Caper and she has survived her time at the boarding school. Kitty doesn’t care about the postponed party, she only wants to invite Amy to the party once the find her.
Meggan and Captain Britain are flying over the city. Brian isn’t speaking with her, she finally gets him to talk. He’s been silent as he has been praying that they find Amy and that she is okay.
Dai Thomas, the head of police, and regular supporting character in Excalibur, is having to deal with reporters. The kidnapper, Gunther Gyles, has no memory of where he left Amy, he seems like he is coming down from a high, or bad withdrawals.
Rachel is in the precinct, waiting for her chance to interview Gyles. Now that I have typed that name twice, I wonder if Glynis Oliver wished they chose a different name, as the guy’s name reminds me of her name.
A young officer with a psych major, starts to flirt with Rachel, he knows she has a way with connecting with people. She states it is a hereditary trait, a nice and simple reference to her mother, Jean Grey. The officer asks her out to discuss their practices, she doesn’t date cops he tells her, and he offers to quit the force. I never found why men find Rachel this attractive, even when she is wearing the skin tight red outfit with horns – maybe I’m just not that type of guy. Also, does she really not date cops? As far as I know, men are attracted to her but we have only seen her in two relationships now. With Franklin Richards in her future, who is was married too and now John Sublime in the current X-MEN comic. She was married, so maybe that’s why she doesn’t pursue men, she never talks about it really and the interactions with Franklin have been limited to the Days of Future Present four issue crossover.
Dai walks in, makes fun of the situation, which annoys Rachel. Dai has a tough outer layer, and doesn’t really care for superheroes with how much destruction they leave in their wake.
Dai wants Rachel to go through Gyles’ mind and forcibly get Amy’s whereabouts. She doesn’t want to do that due to his civil rights – which I find ridiculous (a word I can never spell the first time, correctly) as does Dai. This leads to a heated discussion between the two of them. Dai has a point though, if super villains are involved then heroes are all for stepping in but can’t be bothered with lost girls.
Rachel walks into Gyles’ interrogation. He keeps stating he can’t remember and he looks horrible. He wishes he could remember but this isn’t good enough. She tries to read his mind but it feels like there is a giant black fist blocking his memories. Gyles confesses that he would never hurt Amy, he loves her, which makes Rachel and myself sick. She touches his face and begins to run through his memory, after making a Star Trek reference.
Inside of his memories, the world is all topsy turvy. We get the impression that Amy is trapped and something other-worldly wants Amy to stay missing. Rachel digs deeper and can hear a little girl’s plead for help. Rachel finds her but once the girl turns, it is a demon version of Amy. Which is unsettling, as a reader, I don’t want any more delays, I want Excalibur to be able to find Amy immediately, as the rain is getting worst and it is bad enough that Gyles is in custody and can’t help the police. The mind scape explodes, sending Rachel back in RL and the Phoenix effect blows windows for blocks.
Gyles is left even more insane than before and Rachel is pretty shaken, as is Dai from seeing all of that destruction. Rachel tells him that all she saw was an abandon along the moors. Dai states that that at least narrows it down to six locations. Rachel informs Excalibur, telepathically, of the locations and the search is renewed. Rachel states Gyles should be okay in a week or two – like I care.
We see Amy as the well is being filled with the rain coming down even harder. We see a spirit like creature taunting her.
There are two ads for the NES Silver Surfer game, a game I only heard of and that it wasn’t very good. It is the right page ad and then there is another ad promoting a contest for the highest score on the following page on the right side. All you had to do was take a picture of your high score, something that wouldn’t fly nowadays. The early 90s were such a simpler time. I wonder who won the contest, a shame as I was always curious about that as a child when you see television commercials for contests. No one ever states who the winner is.
Dai and Rachel show up at the right property. Rachel tagged along in his car, I wonder why she didn’t fly there. Dai is looking for a man and she is looking for a bogeyman – but not the one from Ghostbusters, that I recall was pretty frightening at the time.
The rest of Excalibur are a half hour away. Which is the story reason for why this is practically a solo Rachel story.
Dai is in riot gear, armed with a gun and knife. She comments on his outfit and he scoffs at her outfit as she is now wearing her classic Phoenix attire – which like I stated above, I’m not a fan. From the cover, it was the uniform of Ahab, the master of the Hounds from her future and what she was the best of the best of.
Which transitions us into the next sequence. Rachel heads to a silo, due to a strange light. She gets closer to it and starts a flashback sequence to her prime days as a Hound. She was Ahab’s favorite. I really like the develop of Ahab in Excalibur, we get plenty of how horrible of a person he is (both mentally and physically) and once Rory Campbell shows up much later in the series, and his fall from grace, is some amazing character development.
We see Rachel’s facial scars show up, we are reminded that they are permanent, which I do forget that she has those scars and that she uses her telepathic powers to hide them from everyone.
Rachel is reliving her time in United Germany, when she target was Nightcrawler. Which is cool to see what happen to him during the lead up to Days of Future Past. What isn’t cool is that Rachel is the one to kill him. Which must be painful each and every day to work and live right next to him and know that his future ends at her hands. Well, she holds him while Ahab actually kills him but that’s just something to help her sleep at night. He had retired and became a priest. Germany, in the future, will be a safe haven for mutants, which is pretty nice of them.
Which doesn’t make sense as there is an issue of Uncanny X-Men, where we see that Kurt dies in the assault on the mansion that leads to Days of Future Past but with each day Rachel is in our present, she is changing history so this must be the way it is. Plus, it is Days of Future Past, creative teams are always trying to add to it. We have to accept the latest story as canon and since it is a story of the future, that the present is always changing details of the future. We now have alternate takes on Days of Future Past, which I guess makes sense as with What If? we have alternate takes on the present.
We see what is really happening, as Dai is witnessing Rachel on the ground, holding her head – clearly experiencing something. She comes out of the flashback, crying and apologizing. He asks her why she looks so defeated.
That prompts the villain of the issue to finally how himself, D’Spayre, pronounced Despair, get it? Very clever these writers. He is mostly a Dr. Strange villain from what I remember.
Dai tries to question him, D’Spayre reveals his plan. He lives off of people’s woes (or despairs, get it?) so having a city’s worth of people dreading and worried about a missing child, is the perfect fuel for him. One imagines, when he isn’t being stopped by superheroes, this is his go to recharge option – as why would he not retry this scheme every time.
Having Phoenix come to him, was a bonus. He triggered these painful memories of hers and now is gaining even more power.
Dai starts shooting at him. D’Spayre laughts as in the past, that would have worked. Which from comicbookdb, his appearance right before this was against Cloak and Dagger. They probably hint that his dimension shares the same space as where Cloak gets his powers. I know they have established the villain Nightmare’s dimension is an off shoot as well. It is all connected. Actually, this was published in the middle of an entire arc of Cloak and Dagger – so his fans must have been happy about that. So really, he must be referencing his last story from Incredible Hulk that took place two years ago.
He goes from this adventure, to Cloak and Dagger, and right into a storyline against Dr. Strange, 1991 was a pretty good year for him. Not many villains get to show up in three titles, especially a villain of his calibur, maybe not quite C list but I wouldn’t say D or B list. So I guess C list, it is.
Rachel is tired of being used by these villains, referencing both Galactus and Nightmare, and this anger gives her the upper hand.
Dai is not surprised, you get two people, both in costume and they will eventually start destroying property. If it was up to him, he would wrap them in wire and throw them down a well. Luckily, he acts this out as he sees Amy is down that very same well. He only has one way to get to her, and jumps down the well.
Rachel isn’t winning her fight against D’spayre as he is still maintaining his power source. He explains his powers to her, which is very convenient, how the more depressed she feels, the stronger he gets. She shouts at him that she gets it. He wants Amy to die so that London is washed in despair. Which really, the city would be sad, but in reality, it would only last a week, maybe two, before the next news cycle occurs. That is the sad reality of these things. Just like how they are on the verge of saving Amy, the city will be relieved and happy but that will also only last a week or two before the next story.
Rachel is being drowned by D’Spayre and unleashes a last ditch effort, blasting him away. The blast also destroys the well, freeing both Dai and Amy.
Dai hits his head and it is now up to Amy to save him. She is an incredibly brave young lady. As she tries to comfort Dai, D’Spayre is hurt, like a knife in his side. It makes sense, that Amy’s own worries were fueling him, and now that she is technically saved and is now trying to reassure Dai, she is not thinking about her own problems. Amy’s spirit is back, which fuels Rachel’s and the hero starts her bounce back.
D’Spayre starts to shrink and Rachel stomps on him. Rachel telekinetically lifts both Dai and Amy. Amy asks Rachel to help Dai, and Rachel is highly impressed with how Amy is able to turn her attention to someone else after what she has experienced.
Dai states “Fine, thanks and you?” which is something Rachel has twice said earlier in the issue. Rachel and him have a nice moment She claims if she was twenty years older, and he is quick to add that if she was, she wouldn’t be wearing that outfit.
A nice way to end a very dark issue.
. . .
So here is my goal as we take a break from Lockheed month. There were no Valentine’s Day issues, so I checked my collection for stories with the word “Heart” in them and this was the first one I came across. Not the most ideal story, but that’s my goal here and now that we have this one done, we don’t have to experience it again.
So I would like to wish my wife a nice Valetnine’s Day, we have three day weekend ahead of us so that’s nice. So from me and my family to you, if you are so inclined, have a nice, safe and happy Valentine’s Day! I always feel extra pressure when it lands on a Friday to make a whole weekend of it and then with the extra day added to it, there’s even more pressure!