You can’t keep a good British, psychic, mutant ninja down for long.
After a wild resurrection and sudden body transfer in the pages of Matt Fraction and Greg Land’s “Uncanny X-Men” #511, the once and future X-Woman Psylocke bounces back towards her ’90s ninja roots in “X-Men: Psylocke,” a four-issue Marvel miniseries announced today at Charlotte, North Carolina’s Heroes Con. Written by Christopher Yost with art by a creative team yet to be revealed, the series takes the newly reconstituted sister of Captain Britain on a different kind of revenge mission meant to remind fans why the katana-wielding warrior was one of the more popular X-Men characters during the property’s heyday.
“The mandate on this series was ‘Tell us a story that reminds everyone of why she’s so kick ass,'” laughed Yost in an exclusive first interview with CBR. The writer said Psylocke’s general appeal is almost too easy, while digging into Psylocke’s history gets infinitely harder. “The bottom line is that the great things about her is that she kicks ass and she’s sexy. Those are two things that are not going to be hard to incorporate into any story. But when you look at the history of Psylocke, it’s just batshit insane -Â all of the stuff she had to deal with: the Mojo stuff and the crazy, other-dimensional Captain Britain stuff. Having bionic eyes and getting switched into an Asian body. Getting the Crimson Dawn, which I’m not even clear on what that is. It’s like…where do you start?”
However, despite regaining her senses and her ninja warrior body at the end of the “Sisterhood” arc in “Uncanny,” Betsy Braddock still has a mess of a life (or lives) to clean up before she can move forward with her team -Â starting with what to do with her own corpse. “It was tricky to decide what aspect of the character to take on,” explained Yost. “We figured coming out of ‘Sisterhood,’ the matter at hand was that there are two Psylockes sitting there. At the end of it, one will be alive and one won’t. So out of respect, Psylocke is returning her other body to its grave. That’s a pretty straightforward place to start…and then things get a little complicated.”
While drafting the first script, Yost found one element of the story surprisingly uncomplicated: how to portray the long-lost character’s personality. “Psylocke doesn’t take any shit from anybody. But it’s tricky because in opposition to Emma Frost who’s very snooty and sarcastic, Psylocke’s very no-nonsense and tough,” he explained, noting that one of the series villains will be the ninja master who removed Betsy from her original body to begin with.
“Matsu’o Tsurayaba is involved,” Yost confirmed, adding the obvious fact that Psylocke aims to kill her former abuser, though twists abound. “There’s a very specific reason that she wants him dead, and there’s a very exciting villain that she has to overcome to make this happen. In this story, it became Psylocke fighting ninjas in Japan and that stuff, but there’s a very personal story to it. It’s deadly personal to Psylocke. It’s her body.”
And while some fans may hold allegiance to the character’s original form, Yost and editor Daniel Ketchum agreed that Fraction and Land’s use of the Asian version made the most sense. “She definitely is going back to her ninja assassin look,” he said, citing J. Scott Campbell’s variant for “Uncanny #510” as a prime example of Psylocke. “We tend to think of that as what people identify as the definitive Psylocke. I still kind of like the light pink butterfly Psylocke here and there, but I think for most modern readers Psylocke is that person.
“But that’s part of the story. Who is Psylocke? She has to think to herself, waking up in the morning, ‘What shell am I in today?’ She’s been jerked around the multiverse for a while now. So a lot of the story is setting her up and reestablishing her in the ‘mainstream’ Marvel Universe. This is who she is, where she is and what her worldview and attitude on things is. This is how she functions in the X-Universe.
“And there’s fighting!”