Monday, December 19, 2016

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST #43: (Psylocke...How It All Began)

Hey there, my fellow comic book fans!

    I wish the happiest of Happy Holidays to you and your families - whatever Holidays you may be celebrating. After seeing a few posts by my buddy on G+, Nick Edwards, I decided to dig into my comic book files and do a write-up on a mutant who has conquered the imaginations (and libidos) of comic book fans for several years: The one, the only...

PSYLOCKE!!! That's right, the purple-clad, psionic-powered, psychic superhero whose looks are as lethal as her skillset, entered the comics scene with barely anyone noticing way back in 1976. And she didn't even first appear in American comics, but in a book published by the then burgeoning Marvel UK:

Here are my three, that's right, THREE copies of "Captain Britain" #8, featuring the first appearance of Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock, twin sister of Brian Braddock, AKA, Captain Britain! I started hunting these down years ago when no one was looking for them, and every time I came across a nice copy, I bought it outright. I think the most that I ever paid for any of these was somewhere around $25. Yup.

   When Betsy Braddock first appeared, she was a blonde caucasian woman with absolutely no apparent powers. A post-grad Physics student at the fictional Thames University, she worked as a charter pilot. She was created by veteran American artist, Herb Trimpe (R.I.P.), and breakout British writer, Chris Claremont, who along with his contemporary, Alan Moore, would become legendary in the comics industry, elevating comics writing to literary levels previously unseen. Claremont would also become the architect of the X-Men for years to come. Betsy had several adventures as a supporting character to Captain Britain, including being made to attack her own brother under the mind-control of the malignant Dr. Synne, but she didn't have her first psychic incident until issue #34, published in 1977. It was in this issue that her powers begin to manifest, as she had a horrifying vision of the danger Captain Britain faced against the insane professor, Lord Hawk. She eventually got into the modeling business, her powers continued to grow, and in Daredevils #3, published in 1983, she is shown to be working with S.T.R.I.K.E., the UK's answer to S.H.I.E.L.D., honing her psychic abilities. 

   Betsy continues her adventures, but as things will, soon it all goes bad. She lost contact with her brother, Captain Britain, for several years, and S.T.R.I.K.E. was secretly taken over by a powerful crime-lord, Vixen, who then proceeded to hire the super-assassin, Slaymaster, to take her and the other psychic agents out. Captain Britain saved her, but then Betsy became embroiled in his battle against the near-omnipotent superhero killing machine, the Fury, and the battle against its totally omnipotent, totally insane, reality-warping creator, Mad Jim Jaspers. It was also during this time that the love of Betsy's life was murdered. 

   Betsy recovered and returned to Braddock Manor, but things would still be bumpy, as Captain Britain was tricked into leaving the UK. And then this happened:

Above, you see a few pieces of my collection of "Captain Britain" vol 2. In the center, are issues #12 and #13. Why are they important? Glad you asked. In issue #12, Betsy actually takes over as Captain Britain! She wears the suit she is sporting there on the cover of issue #13, right beside it. That suit augmented her strength to superhuman levels and gave her the power of flight. Sadly, this wasn't enough to save her from Vixen and Slaymaster who lured her into an ambush and blinded her. Although Captain Britain arrived in time to save her due to their strong psychic link, he was not able to save her eyes. Betsy relied on her psychic abilities to give her a semblance of sight...But soon she would fall into the power of someone who would restore hey eyes, someone sinister - the otherworldly horror named Mojo - emerging as the powerful mutant known as Psylocke! But that is another story. ON TO THE FUN FACTS!

FUN FACT 1 - "Captain Britain" #8 is not only the most valuable of the Psylocke's key issues (1st app), it is also the hardest to find. Marvel UK comics, in fact, UK comics, period, had print runs considerably smaller than those of American comics, which makes them scarcer, especially the key issues. 

FUN FACT 2 - Betsy Braddock's hair was shown as purple for the first time in "Daredevils" #3, in 1983, another series published solely in the UK. 

FUN FACT 3 - Betsy suffered attempted rape at the hands of her brother. Well. Not really. It was Kaptain Briton, a sadistic version of Captain Britain from another universe. Betsy mind-blasted him and killed that dude dead as disco. She later uses his suit to become the new Captain Britain.

FUN FACT 4 - At the hands of her powerful, reality-warping brother, Jamie, and a version of Jean Grey from another universe, Betsy is now an Omega-Level Mutant, on par with Jean Grey and Charles Xavier. 

FUN FACT 5 - Psylocke was portrayed by Mei Melançon in "X-Men: The Last Stand:"

FUN FACT 6 - More famously, Psylocke was played by girl-gamer gone TV/movie star, Olivia Munn, in "X-Men: Apocalypse:"

FUN FACT 7 - Psylocke's outfit has been the center of controversy for some time. Some say her outfit plays to men's fantasies and is an insult to the powerful, competent character that Psylocke is. Some love the outfit. Others attack the suit's feasibility for battle as it offers little protection...Some just wonder how she'd fight in high heels with that leotard riding up where the sun don't shine. 

FUN FACT 8 - Psylocke's racial appearance has generated a bit of controversy as well (usually with people who don't read comics), as she goes from being a blonde caucasian to a purple-haired Asian by the 1980s. You can read all about it here: Comic Book Legends Revealed. What I have noticed is that fans are not necessarily bothered by female race switches as long as the character remains sexy, or becomes even more so. The blowback with race changes of female comics characters is usually considerably smaller than that of when it happens to their male counterparts. Others say this doesn't count as a race switch because it was originally part of an X-Men storyline in the comics (Uncanny X-Men #256) - I would agree. You decide. Me? As long as the comics and shows are good, I really couldn't care less. 

That's all for today folks! Thanks for reading! Happy Holidays and Happy Trails!

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