Lady Jacqueline Falsworth-Crichton is part of one of the oldest heroic legacies in the Marvel Universe. Her father, James Montgomery Falsworth, became one of England’s premier costumed champions when he donned the costume of Union Jack during World War I. During World War II, her brother got into the hero business when he took up the mantle of Union Jack as well. Jacqueline joined the family business later in the same war when a blood transfusion from the original android Human Torch endowed her with superhuman speed. Donning a mask and costume, she became the hero known as Spitfire. Decades later, her super speed had faded and she retired from crime fighting, but a serious injury led to her receiving a second transfusion from the original Human Torch, a transfusion that not only gave her back her powers but restored her youth. She returned to crime fighting and recently became a member of England’s elite government team of super heroes, MI-13.
Unfortunately for her, Lady Jac also has a connection to a legacy of evil. Her uncle, John Falsworth, was the first vampire to assume the identity of the villainous Baron Blood, and his bite was the reason Spitfire needed the initial transfusion from the Human Torch. For decades, it seemed that the Torch’s blood had kept the effects of her uncle’s bite at bay, but in her initial outing with MI-13, Spitfire’s vampiric nature reasserted itself. It proved both to be both a disadvantage and an asset in the final “Vampire State” arc of “Captain Britain and MI:13,” when Spitfire and her teammates had to prevent Dracula, the lord of Vampires, from invading England. It has also strengthened the romantic relationship between her and her other vampiric team mate Blade AKA Eric Brooks.
This August, “Captain Britain and MI:13” writer Paul Cornell and artist Elena Casagrande show us the current status of that relationship in the “Spitfire” one-shot. CBR News spoke with Cornell about the project, which has the vampire power couple coming to New York for a secret bit of business.
CBR News: Paul, anyone who’s read your work on “MI:13” knows that you have a fondness for Spitfire. So how did it feel to get a chance to revisit the character in her own one-shot? What is it about Lady Jacqueline that makes her so compelling for you?
Paul Cornell: I love the fact that she’s a modern, young person who also was an old person from a previous generation. I love her incredibly brave and hard tone of voice, that voice from the war years in Britain. And I also love the sense of humor she has about herself. It’s great to be able to visit her again.
“Vampire State,” your final “MI:13” arc, was a big story for the entire cast, but given her vampiric nature, Spitfire was especially affected by it on a personal level. Has she changed at all when readers first catch up with her in this one-shot?
She’s still getting used to her vampiric condition, with Blade’s help. She’s worried about where it might take her, long term.
In “Age of Heroes” #1, on sale now, you had a short story that brings the cast of “MI:13” to New York City. Is the “Spitfire” one-shot a sequel or follow up to that tale?
It’s a follow up, in that this is what Spitfire and Blade are doing at around the same time as the rest of MI-13 are in that story.
Speaking of New York City, how important is that setting in this tale? How does Spitfire feel about being in sort of the central hub of the Marvel Universe?
She loves the city of old. But to our British heroes, the hub of the Marvel Universe is, I don’t know, probably somewhere in Kent.
In terms of plot and themes what is the “Spitfire” one-shot about?
Jac and Eric are in New York hunting someone on MI-13 orders, with Steve Rogers’ reception being used as a distraction from them covertly working on foreign soil.
How would you describe the dynamic between Blade and Spitfire in this story? Are they still dating each other, or has something happened to change their relationship?
They’re still very much together, and getting closer all the time. She stops him being serious all the time, he has a lot to offer her practically as well as romantically. I think they work together really well.
What can you tell us about the adversaries you’re pitting your protagonist against?
There’s a female vampire, a member of the British aristocracy, who didn’t take Dracula’s side in the events of “Vampire State,” and so was given the benefit of the doubt. But now she’s crossed the line, and MI-13 want to make sure she pays for it.
How would you describe the tone of this story?
I think what we’re aiming for is kind of wistful, romantic and action packed. [Artist Elena Casagrande] has a way with expressions, acting and character as well as with frantic action. It was a joy to work with her.
It seems like Marvel is looking to shake up the world of vampires with upcoming releases like the “Death of Dracula” and Victor Gischler’s opening “X-Men” arc. With both Spitfire and Blade as prominent Marvel vampires, how big of a story is the “Spitfire” one-shot?
It’s an insight into the Marvel Universe’s leading vampire/hunter couple on the eve of big things for them.