The character of Psylocke may have one of the most confusing origins in comics, followed by an equally confusing career as a superhero, followed by an even more confusing death and rebirth to start the cycle of madness all over again. Following the events of Jonathan Hickman's House of X and Powers of X, six new series will be released to launch the new era of the X-Men.
Betsy Braddock was revealed to be leading her own team of Excalibur as the new Captain Britain, while Kwannon would be following her own path as Psylocke in Fallen Angels. But didn't they used to be the same person? We'll explore the confusing history of Psylocke today to get ready for their new roles in Hickman's X-world.
MARVEL UK ORIGINS
Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock first arrived in the pages of 1976's Captain Britain #8 as the twin sister of Brian Braddock, who served as the titular hero. In her earliest appearances, she was blonde and had psychic abilities, though the origin of her powers remained undefined.
While some of the Marvel UK line of comics that she first appeared in is considered canon to the mainstream Marvel publications, some of it is not, specifically a few unofficial crossovers with the Doctor Who characters at the time. So while these earlier appearances of Betsy are in-continuity, they also aren't, in some cases, sometimes.
Betsy may be most famous for her role as a member of the X-Men and X-Force, but she was actually a spy, following her original careers as a charter pilot and then model. She worked as an agent in the Psi-Division of S.T.R.I.K.E., which stood for Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies.
Betsy's debut with the organization also forever altered her appearance by giving her purple hair, which became a well-known trait of the character for the next few years. Betsy's time with S.T.R.I.K.E. was brief, though she did gain training and experience using her psychic abilities with the UK's S.H.I.E.L.D. counterpart organization.
8 SHE WAS CAPTAIN BRITAIN
Shortly after Betsy was revamped into an Agent of S.T.R.I.K.E., she underwent another change as she took over for her brother Brian as Captain Britain. Betsy wore a suit that amplified her strength and gave her the power to fly, which she used alongside her psychic abilities as the defender of the Omniverse alongside Captain UK.
Unfortunately, her time as Captain Britain was also short-lived, as she had her eyes gouged out by the Slaymaster. She was then kidnapped by X-Men villain Mojo, who replaced her damaged eyes with cybernetic recorders and brainwashed her before naming her Psylocke, the star of his latest entertainment series.
7 BODY SWAPPING
Things seemed pretty rough for the newly-christened Psylocke, though she was thankfully rescued by the New Mutants and her brother, which allowed her to then join the X-Men after she recuperated. Betsy would at this point make the move completely from the Marvel UK stories and enter the world of the X-Men, though she would soon not be familiar to her Captain Britain fans.
Psylocke transformed by the Hand and frequent Mojo ally Spiral, who swapped the body of a dying woman named Kwannon with Betsy. This meant the formerly British model was now an amnesiac in the body of a Japanese assassin, who was further trained by the Hand to later take the name of Lady Mandarin.
But wait, there's more. The transfer of minds actually genetically mixed the bodies, which meant that Betsy/Psylocke in her new body had traits of Kwannon, such as her martial arts prowess. However, the process also ended up restoring Kwannon as well, who was now in control of Betsy's former body, with both of them in control of a portion of Betsy's abilities.
Kwannon took on the name of Revanche and confronted Psylocke, who had rejoined the X-Men after her memory was restored. Revanche later died after she was infected with the Legacy Virus. However, no one stays dead in comics, so Kwannon/Revanche was returned to life under mysterious circumstances, which we will get to shortly.
5 CRIMSON DAWN
Betsy would undergo yet another change following an encounter with Sabretooth, who gutted Psylocke after Xavier and the X-Men attempted to rehabilitate the vicious villain. Warren Worthington/Archangel and Wolverine sought help from Doctor Strange and Gomurr the Ancient, who used the mystical Ebony Vain of the Crimson Dawn to save Psylocke's life.
While the process saved Psylocke's life, it changed her personality due to the exposure to the dark dimension of the Crimson Dawn. The Ebony Vain also gave her new powers, such as the ability to teleport through shadows and a new astral shadow form that increased her psychic abilities.
4 FRREQUENTLY CHANGING POWERS
Betsy's powers always seem to be in a state of flux since her earliest days before she was classified as a mutant. While she was originally telepathic, she also occasionally had precognitive flashes that warned her of events from the future, though that ability is rarely touched on these days. Her power levels were altered a few times over the years, but she also gained and lost abilities.
Psylocke once lost her telepathy but gained telekinesis through a mysterious power swap with Jean Grey. She would eventually gain her telepathy back, though her power levels would again be halved as it was split between telepathy and telekinesis. She was even elevated to Omega-level status, though it's likely her powers have again split with the return of Kwannon.
3 MULTIPLE PSYCHIC WEAPONS
Betsy was the first mutant to begin focusing her psychic energies into her psychic blade, which was first done after she was split with Revanche. Psylocke's psychic knife was a defining characteristic of the character and proved to be popular enough that other psychic characters like Quentin Quire would adopt the same technique.
So when Psylocke began manifesting different kinds of psychic weapons it may have been a little confusing for fans who were used to her psychic knife. She has previously manifested psychic katanas, bow, and was most recently shown wielding a telekinetic sword and shield after returning to her original body. Wait, what?
2 SHE'S DIED... TWICE
The X-Men are no strangers to death and rebirth, considering they have a number of characters with connections to the Phoenix Force on the team. Betsy has actually died a few times over the years, which have left the character completely changed again if it wasn't already confusing enough.
Her first death was at the hands of an evolved human named Vargas, though she was resurrected by her reality-altering older brother Jamie Braddock, for fun. She was later consumed by the psychic vampire Sapphire Styx, though Betsy survived and used her abilities to reform her original body. This also brought Kwannon back to life in her original body, though she has retained some of Betsy's powers.
1 DIMENSION-HOPPING EXILE
Now, if Betsy's own personal history of transformation and body-swapping and new powers and death and rebirth wasn't already confusing enough, you can also add dimension-hopping to her resume. The Exiles were a team of alternate reality X-characters who were brought together to fix broken timelines. It was rare for a mainstream 616 X-member to join the team, but Psylocke joined up during the New Exiles series.
Psylocke was no stranger to alternate realities, given her time as Captain Britain, her reality-altering brother Jamie, and the constantly altered realities the X-Men deal with in their day-to-day adventures, so it was a good fit for her character. Don't expect things to get any less confusing as Betsy will be stepping back into the role of Omniversal protector as Captain Britain in the pages of the new Excalibur while Kwannon explores her new life as Psylocke in Fallen Angels.