Thursday, December 14, 2017

Betsy Braddock, Chapter V – Captain Britain

Before the X: The fifth and final chapter covering Betsy Braddock's early life will address the events from Captain Britain vol. 2 #1-14 (1985-1986). Jamie Delano took over writing duties with the first issue on the recommendation of Alan Moore and with the agreement of Alan Davis. Davis gave plot ideas to Delano, but wasn't happy with the direction taken, so he eventually took over as the writer in issues #13 and #14. During this run, Betsy finally stepped up as an equal to her brother. She stood for herself and often argued with Brian as it was clear both wanted different things and viewed the world in a opposite manner. Her ties with the magical realm of Otherworld were established by retconning her father as being from Otherworld. She also came on her own as Captain Britain in the absence of her brother. Betsy also suffered a rape attempt by a Captain Britain doppelganger and was blinded by the villain Slaymaster, truly horrific events. The flashback depicted in Uncanny X-Force #17 (2011), in which Betsy meets Warren for the first time could only have happened during this run because 1) After Betsy and Brian reunited in Daredevils #3, they were soon caught up in James Jaspers' Warp; 2) Betsy was dating Tom Lennox before, the flirtation probably only happened after his death; 3) Things were calm enough during the first issues of this run so that Brian and Betsy could have attended parties. And so, this is how Betsy Braddock's story ends, that is, until a certain Mojo and Spiral came along and Psylocke was born in the pages of New Mutants Annual #2 later that same year. Thank you for following this project, we hope you enjoyed!

CHAPTER V - Captain Britain

Betsy and Brian lived a happy, mostly peaceful life at Braddock Manor with their guests Alison Double and Meggan. She spent her time teasing Brian, but reminded him it was very lonely for her when he disappeared from her life. Meggan described Betsy as kind and gentle and thought of her as a friend. When the twins reminisced about Brian’s career as Captain Britain, Betsy wondered how he could like fighting. Betsy still mourned the death of Tom Lennox. One morning, she read the personal ads in the newspaper. One specific ad called her attention for its absurdity, about a certain Crazy Gang hiring a clever leader. The address from the ad turned out to be Brian’s only lead concerning the Crazy Gang’s hideout. [Captain Britain v2 #1, #2 / Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn #1]

During this period, Betsy and Brian kept ties with the Hellfire Club. The twins both held claim to their father’s seat as Black Bishop upon the London Chapter’s Inner Circle, but neither seemed interested in the position. In a trip to America, the twins attended a party held by the Hellfire Club branch in New York. When the White Bishop, Donald Pierce, bored the Braddocks with monotonous conversation, Betsy called the attention of the handsome Warren Worthing III and asked him to save her from Pierce’s dull talk. There was no need to introduction. Betsy already knew Warren was an X-Man, an aristocrat and a playboy, just as Warren knew she was the daughter of Sir James Braddock and twin sister to Captain Britain. The duo got along quickly and toasted to their hereditary obligations. It was a night to remember for both of them. [Uncanny X-Force v1 #17 / Excalibur v1 #96]

Days later, back in England, the mercenaries known as the Technet were hired to bring in Kaptain Briton, a vicious and ruthless doppelganger of Brian Braddock from an alternate universe. The Technet mistakenly captured Brian instead, which prompted Kaptain Briton to pretend he was the real Brian. Betsy noticed he looked strange. When the Technet realized their mistake, Brian was freed and rushed to Braddock Manor to fight his evil version. Betsy was startled to see two Brians and gathered with Emma, Alison and Meggan to watch the fierce battle. When Briton knocked Brian unconscious, the Technet captured the wrong Captain Britain again as Betsy couldn’t tell who was the real Brian. Later, Briton took Betsy to her bedroom and she asked him to stay until she felt asleep, but instead the abusive Briton took advantage of her ignorance and forcibly kissed her. Betsy was shocked as Briton tried to rape her and learned he wasn’t her brother after all. Desperate and enraged, Betsy reached out to her attacker with her telepathic power. She cried as she plunged into the sadistic memories and fantasies displayed in Kaptain Briton’s mind. Disgusted, Betsy attacked her would-be rapist with a fierce psychic blast, which fried his mind and devastated her room. Briton was the first person Betsy had killed. She was left traumatized and in shock. When the real Brian returned, Betsy experienced a natural aversion of him due to the traumatic circumstances of the assault upon her. [Captain Britain v2 #4, #5, #6, #7]

That same night, the computer Mastermind informed the twins of their Otherworld origins and the role their father, Sir James, played for Merlyn. Later in her life, Betsy would come to think of Otherworld as her home too and read about its domains, such as the Forest of a Thousand Sorrows. When Mastermind suggested he would take a more active role of guidance, Betsy was willing to accept, but Brian was more than suspicious. She argued that their father had built the computer for that purpose and thought Brian was short-sighted. [Captain Britain v2 #7 / Excalibur v2 #1 / Uncanny X-Force v1 # 21]

Braddock Manor was visited by Captain UK and Agents Michael and Gabriel with the R.C.X., the agency that replaced S.T.R.I.K.E. Betsy happily recognized “Gabriel” as Matthew, with whom she worked once at S.T.R.I.K.E. When Brian refused their request for his help and facilities to prevent a coming coup d’état, Betsy again found Brian to be short-sighted and argued with him. At that same moment, when the Warpies – children mutated by the Jaspers Warp – were accidentally set loose, Betsy, Brian, Linda and Meggan joined forces to defeat them. Later, Betsy dismissed Gabriel’s invitation to join the R.C.X., but couldn’t refuse giving sanctuary to the small Warpies. Brian wanted them gone, but Betsy put her foot down on the matter as the house was hers as well and the Warpies needed protection, education and love. The Warpies seemed especially fond of her. Once Betsy sided with the R.C.X., Brian decided to leave Braddock Manor with Meggan. [Captain Britain v2 #8, #9]

With Brian gone and Braddock Manor taken over by the R.C.X. and the Warpies, Betsy pled to be alone and rebuild her life as a fashion model, but Gabriel wanted her to become Captain Britain. At first, Betsy was reluctant, but with the safety of the Warpies in jeopardy and Linda offering to be her partner for a few months, she was convinced. Mastermind modified the uniform of Kaptain Briton and adapted it to Betsy’s sense of style. The uniform made Betsy feel powerful and she loved the idea of flying. Soon, the new Captain Britain and her partner, Captain UK, became a public sensation and they worked brilliantly together for a few months. Betsy even started a relationship with Agent Gabriel during this time. One day, Linda decided to leave. That same day, crime lord Vixen challenged Betsy to a duel at the South Bank building site on the Thames. Betsy knew it was a trap and Agent Gabriel tried to talk her out of it, but Agent Michael urged her to go. At the site, Vixen lured Betsy into a showdown with Slaymaster, who brutally beat her, then gouged her eyes. Brian experienced a psychic flash of Betsy’s pain and flew to her rescue. In a berserker rage, Brian smashed Slaymaster’s head with a rock, killing him. Brian returned Betsy to Braddock Manor and asked Mastermind to look after her. He blamed the R.C.X. for Betsy’s blinding, but she assured him she did it on her own free will. The traumatic events led Brian to become Captain Britain again. [Captain Britain v2 #12, #13]

In the next few days, Betsy made a remarkable recovery and spent most of her time playing with the Warpies. The one called Beetroot thought of Betsy as a loving mother. During Christmas, she opened the presents with the children. When Betsy and Gabriel went for skiing outside Braddock Manor, she refused his offer to implant cybernetic eyes. Betsy explained her psychic powers more than compensated her lack of sight, using them to “see” the world through the minds of others. Feeling that the Manor didn’t feel like home anymore, Betsy invited Gabriel to travel to Switzerland in Alison’s château. The ideal place for a holiday or a honeymoon. Days later, Betsy and Gabriel vacationed along with Alison in Switzerland. She was finally happy. [Captain Britain v2 #14 / Excalibur v1 #62]

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Artist Phil Noto introduces a new take on Charles Xavier!

Marvel.comSeries writer Charles Soule keeps throwing curveballs at his Astonishing X-Men team. And they might not be ready for the latest twist heading their way.

When Part One of the new storyline “A Man Called X” begins with Astonishing X-Men #7, the merry mutants must reckon with a resurgent—and slightly unfamiliar—Charles Xavier. Written by Soule with art by Phil Noto, this epic tale starts with a bang.

We caught up with Noto to discuss teaming up with his Poe Dameron partner on a different series, getting to know a few mutants better, and developing a new look for Professor X.


Marvel.com: There has been an all-star lineup of artists contributing to this run of Astonishing X-Men so far. What most appealed to you about joining in on the fun?

Phil Noto: I was flattered to be included with those artists in the lineup. It’s also been awhile since I’ve worked on an X-book, so that appealed to me.

Marvel.com: This book contains a pretty eclectic group of X-Men. Did any of them offer a surprising challenge when you started digging into the issue?

Phil Noto: Well, I’ve drawn most of them in one form or another—except for Bishop. I think this might be my first official Bishop work, which has been fun because I’ve been a fan of the character since the old X-Men cartoon. Other than a few costume changes with Gambit and Rogue, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on them.

Now, creating a young Xavier definitely felt like a bit of a challenge. He’s more cocky and laid back than his future self. He’s also walking around. I just tried to make him read as X as much as I could, and I think it worked.

Marvel.com: What’s it like shining the spotlight on Professor X this way?

Phil Noto: It was fun to do a Professor-centric issue. I’ve never really spent much time drawing him. And the way Charles has written this new incarnation of Xavier is very cool!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the threat Professor X and his team find themselves up against as “A Man Called X” begins?

Phil Noto: After the defeat of the Shadow King, London remains swarming with psychic zombies, with Bishop being one of them. Suddenly, a young Xavier appears—dressed as Fantomex—and tells the team that it’s cool, that he’s got it under control. Next thing you know, there’s a crazy green sun, which can’t be good. Don’t want to spoil more than that!

Marvel.com: You’ve worked with Charles Soule before—how has your collaborative relationship evolved over time?

Phil Noto: Charles and I go way back. We did a Thunderbolts issue together years ago. Working on Poe Dameron with him has been a delight. From planning out the initial story and characters to doing the book together, we definitely have a good rapport. It’s nice to have that kind of relationship with a writer. I usually instinctively know what he’s going for on the page. If I have any questions about something, I can just text him. I think we make a pretty good team!

Writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #7 drops on January 3!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Betsy Braddock, Chapter IV – Jaspers Warp

Before the X: The fourth chapter covers the event known as the "Jaspers' Warp", a Marvel UK storyline starring Captain Britain. The adventures addressed here ran from Daredevils #8-#11 (1983) to The Mighty World of Marvel #7-13 (1983-1984). The story features the only mainstream Marvel Universe work by Alan Moore, that is, Captain Britain and Betsy Braddock are the only major Marvel characters Moore has ever written in a regular basis (A year later, he wrote Magneto for three pages in Heroes for Hope). As for Betsy, she experienced life-changing traumas. First, she felt her lover Tom Lennox's death on her mind as both shared a psychic rapport and second, she was imprisoned in a concentration camp for a long time. In the camps, Betsy befriended Victoria Bentley, a supporting character for Dr. Strange, an unusual pairing that didn't receive any further development. The artist Alan Davis, who penciled Moore's entire run, took over writing duties and brought Betsy back with even stronger powers in The Mighty World of Marvel #16. Betsy was now able to generate psi-bolts that could stun others, becoming a more active hero.
CHAPTER IV - Jaspers Warp

On a January night at Braddock Manor, Betsy, Brian and their guests – Tom Lennox, Saturnyne and the aliens of the Special Executive – watched a televised speech about the danger of superheroes by Sir James Jaspers, M.P. Betsy didn’t seem to like the way the alien Fascination looked at her lover, Lennox. Tom begged Betsy to leave the house while they still could, but she paid him no attention. At that moment, Betsy received a precognitive vision of the future. She saw a concentration camp, a sky turned dark by all the smoke, heads on pikes, captured superheroes, screaming people and one of them was her. Captain Britain, Captain America, Spider-Man and Betsy herself all dead. Little did the Braddocks know they were all pieces of a master game played by Merlyn. [Daredevils v1 #9]

Later that night, Captain UK was attacked by the Fury – a deadly cybiote built to destroy all superhumans – in the bushes of Braddock Manor. Betsy picked up Brian’s fear with her mental powers. The cybiote’s arrival was an unforeseen factor that toppled all of Merlyn’s carefully laid plans and left Betsy and the alien Cobweb in a catatonic state. The heroes united to bury the Fury in the caves of Braddock Manor, and Brian held a startled Betsy in his arms. The Special Executive members decided not to get involved with Captain Britain’s mission any longer, and left Betsy, Brian, Lennox and Saturnyne by themselves at Braddock Manor. [Daredevils v1 #10, #11]

Sir James Jaspers later won a landslide general election victory on his anti-superhero platform and became Prime Minister. With the Jaspers Warp fully underway, superbeings in Britain were rounded up in concentration camps. Betsy and Brian kept a low profile during these trying times and pretended to be mere humans. However, as the twins waited in a food line, Brian was outed as a superhero and was forced to fight the Beetles – Jaspers’ law enforcers. Betsy and Brian managed to flee and word of their escape soon reached the concentration camps, giving hope to the prisoners. [Mighty World of Marvel v2 #7]

After that incident, Betsy, Brian, Linda, Lennox, Saturnyne and Alison Double left the Manor and went into hiding in a London cellar. Betsy often used her precognitive powers to tell the others when it would be safe to leave their hideout. As Alison's health deteriorated, Betsy relied on her psychic powers to raid a drugstore with Saturnyne and retrieve the medicine needed. Betsy was furious about what England had become. There were concentration camps, storm troopers and curfews. She didn’t even remember how long they had been living like that and completely lost all sense of time. [Mighty World of Marvel v2 #8]

The next day, Betsy sensed the Beetles closing in on their hideout. Lennox told Betsy to leave with the others while he would buy them some time to escape. Coming through the other exit at the top of the cellar stairs, Betsy and Alison Double were both captured by the Beetles, while Saturnyne and Linda managed to flee. Lennox was shot by a Beetle several times, and Betsy experienced his death through their psychic rapport, feeling every bullet on her mind. The shock left her crying and helpless, lying on the floor. In Otherworld, Merlyn took the pieces of Betsy, Lennox and Double off his chess game. [Mighty World of Marvel v2 #9]

Betsy and Alison were taken to a concentration camp, where they were kept imprisoned until Jaspers was killed. In the camps, Betsy met and befriended Victoria Bentley, a young woman with great mystic power and ally of Dr. Strange. When the prisoners of the concentration camps were freed, Victoria decided to care for Betsy as the trauma of losing Tom and her mental scars weren’t light. Betsy and Alison moved to Victoria Bentley’s castle. Six months later, reality repaired himself and only few people remembered Jaspers’ Warp, Betsy included. She still hadn’t fully recovered from the psychic shock she felt with Tom’s death. Victoria taught Betsy to channel Lennox’ death and use her powers in a more aggressive manner. [Mighty World of Marvel v2 #13, #14, #16]

Three months later, Betsy and Alison returned to Braddock Manor and were welcomed with open arms by Brian and Emma Collins, their nanny. Emma noticed Betsy was a little peeky and offered to bake her favorite cake, walnut cream. Brian then introduced his sister to Meggan, a mutant who was staying at Braddock Manor with him. Brian informed them he intended to reopen the Braddocks’ farms. Betsy said she still couldn’t forget the madness of the concentration camps and Lennox’ death. When the twins were ambushed by mystery bounty hunters, Betsy unleashed a psychic blast to help Brian. The attackers were gone, but they had a feeling that things were about to go wrong again. [Mighty World of Marvel v2 #16]