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"Uncanny X-Men's" Bunn Addresses Psylocke's Racial Identity

For the past 25 years, Psylocke has been one of the most prominent members of the X-Men -- and she's also been one of the most heavily discussed. In 1989's "Uncanny X-Men" #256, a new version of Psylocke was introduced when the white, British-born Betsy Braddock underwent a body swap with the Japanese assassin Kwannon. This iteration of the character, characterized as a psychic-knife wielding ninja, proved to be popular enough to become the default version of the character.

This hasn't set well with some fans who view the body swap, which switched the bodies of a white woman and Japanese woman, as plot device born of unintended ignorance at best or outright appropriate at worst. With Psylocke a mainstay in the X-Men, many readers wonder why the issue of Betsy's racial identity -- specifically the character's immediate appropriation of Asian culture following her body swap -- has never been thoroughly explored by an X-writer. Tumblr user tazirai posed this very question to Cullen Bunn, the writer responsible for writing Psylocke in this fall's new "Uncanny X-Men" series.

"I was wondering do you plan to ever address her 'problematics' with racial identity or lack thereof, or put her back in her original body, like some writers at Marvel have said they wanted to like GWW?" asked tazirai, referencing Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson. "Even if you don't I know she'll at least be written beyond the ninja trope, hopefully."

Bunn responded on his personal Tumblr:

I'll definitely do my best to write Psylocke as more than "just a ninja". As to the "problematics" you mention, I'm torn. I would definitely like to address some of those notes. My X-Men notebook has pages dedicated to that idea. However, I also want the book to be accessible to new readers, so I don't think it's a good idea to hit that too heavily in early issues, you know? When it is the right time, I'll tackle it.

Since it's been subjected to numerous retcons -- as well as one failed attempt by Psylocke co-creator Chris Claremont in 2001 to put her back in her original body -- Betsy Braddock's backstory has become one of the more convoluted in the X-canon. The new "Uncanny X-Men" series, written by Bunn with art by Greg Land, arrives this fall.

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