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"I knew it would be you, Elisabeth... British people are so very dependable."
on September 14, 2010
Genteel Englishwoman - and twin sister to Captain Britain - Betsy Braddock has had a time of it, yeah, starting out all innocent and tea and crumpety and pinkie up. Then she learns she's a mutant psychic, gets her eyes gouged out by a super-villain, is abducted to the Mojoverse, and later gets her consciousness transferred to the body of an Asian assassin and so, dark times, dark times (and, okay, it's all a bit absurd). She was gone for a bit, but she's back to being an X-Man again. This just means the fit has truly hit the shan.
Some plot SPOILERS now:
To encapsulate this and that, Psylocke flies out to Japan to re-inter her deceased original British body, except that the Hand interrupts her journey. These supernatural ninjas commit a heinous act which severs Betsy's last connection to her old life (okay, they set her first body on fire). This puts Psylocke on a revenge-driven collision course with her old tormentor Matsu'o Tsurayaba, the same asshat responsible for her body swap years ago.
And because there's a sinister conspiracy that calls for Wolverine to be in every issue of every comic book around, the plot manages to fit him in. He scampers to Japan with Betsy Braddock, but then they part ways in midflight. But Logan has his own dark agenda in Japan, and it has to do with a truly terrible annual tradition that requires him to get really hammered and get into bar brawls before he gets down to business.
This mini-series finds Wolverine at his most vengeful and reminds us once again that this is a bad, bad man. Wolverine and Psylocke end up on opposing sides, and since Psylocke has got her mean on and her ninja on, it's actually close to a fair fight between them. However, Wolverine's having on his X-Force uniform promises much bloodletting. Somewhere also in this mix lurk the thrill-seeking Yukio and an incendiary being named Jinn who holds his own grudge against Matsu'o Tsurayaba.
Back in the day I used to like Betsy Braddock a lot when she was featured in those CAPTAIN BRITAIN comics and then in X-MEN, but then I dropped the X-MEN stuff somewhen in the '90s. I didn't even know that she'd died or had a fling with Angel or were close buds with Dazzler. Recently I picked up the SWORD OF THE BRADDOCKS one-off and liked it. In this X-MEN: PSYLOCKE mini-series Chris Yost attempts to reconcile the old sweet Betsy Braddock with the darker, edgier, more homicidal Psylocke. But Betsy's solo adventure is so relentlessly action-oriented - it's very KILL BILL - that in-depth characterization is hard to come by, unless brooding and seething count. The peeks we get of Betsy's inner turmoil all have to do with her wanting to kill Matsu'o and not wanting anyone else to kill him but her and, later on, wanting to kill him because it's the merciful thing to do. She does seem to have accepted who she now is, at last. For those new to Psylocke, Yost does a good job of dropping in bits and pieces of her past history.
So, yeah, this trade collects issues #1-4 of the X-MEN: PSYLOCKE limited series. And, before I forget, the art rocks. Harvey Tolibao knows how to bring this telepathic martial artist Englishwoman to sexy, curvy life, and his handling of the action scenes is dynamic. But the trade also offers bonus material in the form of three reprinted back issues: #256-258 of UNCANNY X-MEN. This old dusty run takes us back to when Chris Claremont and Jim Lee were holding it down in the X-MEN book. This story arc goes back into those days when Betsy Braddock's mind had just been transplanted into a Japanese ninja assassin named Kwannon. Storm was still in her incarnation of a young girl. A weakened Wolverine - his healing factor at its most depleted - was wandering the East with newcomer Jubilee, and then they ran into the lethal Lady Mandarin, a master assassin deployed to consolidate the Mandarin's power base. Good times.
Looking to the future, I'm pretty psyched that Betsy Braddock is now a member of the X-Men's covert kill crew, X-FORCE. I see more good times ahead.