Psylocke

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Psylocke
The before (right) and after (left) body swap versions of Psylocke and their respective expressions of her telepathic abilities, as seen in Uncanny X-Men #509: "Sisterhood Part 2" (art by Greg Land)
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics/Marvel UK
First appearance (UK) Captain Britain, vol. 1 #8 (Dec. 1976)
(U.S.) New Mutants Annual #2 (Oct. 1986)
Created by Chris Claremont
Herb Trimpe
In-story information
Alter ego Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock[1]
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Captain Britain Corps
Crimson Dawn
The Hand
Hellfire Club
Horsemen of Apocalypse[2]
Excalibur
Exiles
R.C.X.
S.T.R.I.K.E.
Sisterhood of Mutants
X-Club
X-Force
X-Men
Notable aliases Captain Britain
Lady Briton
Lady Mandarin
Abilities Precognition
Empathy
Telepathy
Telekinesis
Psychic katana
Psychic knife
Highly skilled martial artist

Psylocke (also known as Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock) is a fictional character depicted in comic books published by Marvel Comics, most notably those featuring the superhero team X-Men. Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Herb Trimpe in 1976, she first appeared in the Marvel UK series Captain Britain. Betsy was initially a supporting character in the adventures of her twin brother, Captain Britain, even briefly substituting for him in the role, before becoming the mutant superheroine and X-Men member Psylocke in 1986.

Originally presented as a precognitive in the pages of Captain Britain and then as a telepath, the character was eventually written as unexplainedly acquiring the telekinesis of Jean Grey, and possessing both telepathy and telekinesis. Later, Psylocke acquired the body, skills and elements of personality of a Japanese female ninja mutant known as Kwannon. Many alternative versions of Psylocke have also appeared in several comics series of Marvel Multiverse, as well as in various other media and merchandise, notably in numerous video games.

Publication history[edit]

Origins[edit]

Betsy Braddock becomes the new Captain Britain in Captain Britain, vol. 2 #13. Art by Alan Davis

Created by writer Chris Claremont, Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock first appeared in Captain Britain #8 (Dec. 1976), published by the Marvel Comics' British imprint Marvel UK. The original spelling of the character's name was "Elizabeth," though relettering of the UK versions for American reprints would occasionally misspell it as "Elisabeth."[1] This led to spelling inconsistencies throughout future publications. The inconsistency was resolved by Claremont 32 years later in 2008 in the series New Exiles, which reasserted the particular spelling of her name as "Elizabeth."[1] In the Captain Britain series, Claremont introduced her as a supporting character, the sister of Brian Braddock, the eponymous Captain Britain, and established her career as a charter pilot. He also established that she had psychic abilities, the full extent of which were unknown, though no explanation is given for these powers. In Marvel UK's Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #243 (Oct. 1977), Betsy Braddock is presented as a professional model.

In Marvel UK's Daredevils #3 (March 1983), Alan Moore established that the character has begun to work for the fictional governmental organization S.T.R.I.K.E., who are making use of her psychic abilities. Her lover Tom Lennox is also a S.T.R.I.K.E operative and is later murdered. The story also presents the character as having dyed her hair purple (originally blonde); this hair color has subsequently become the dominant presentation of the character.[3] The next major change for the character came in the 1986 relaunched Captain Britain series, where Betsy Braddock stood in for her brother as Captain Britain, and was rendered blind by the supervillain Slaymaster.[4]

X-Men[edit]

Cover of the 2010 comic book Psylocke #1: "Kill Matsu'o, Part 1 / A Girl Called Hope" (cover art by David Finch.)

In New Mutants Annual #2 (1986), Claremont integrated Braddock into the X-Men franchise. The story sees her abducted to the Mojoverse, where she is subjected to brainwashing, fitted with bionic eyes, and referred to as "the Psylocke" for the first time.[5] After being rescued by the New Mutants, she takes up residence at their mutant-training academy, run by Magneto at the time in absence of Professor Charles Xavier. After aiding the team unofficially, Braddock proved herself by single-handedly facing the murderous supervillain Sabretooth, and also by using her telepathy to glean vital information from his mind during the events of the "Mutant Massacre." Afterward, Braddock is formally invited to join the X-Men and officially adopts the codename "Psylocke."[3]

Initially written as a pure telepath with few fighting skills,[3] Psylocke later adopts body armor.[6] This changes in Uncanny X-Men #250–251 (1989), where the X-Men flee from the cybernetic terrorists, the Reavers, through the Siege Perilous, an extradimensional teleportation device. In the next story arc, Braddock has fallen prey to the Hand, who brainwash and physically alter her. Braddock now believes herself to be "Lady Mandarin", the Hand's supreme assassin. This physical manipulation involves the modification of Braddock's physical features, modifying them from the previously established depiction of British to Japanese. After she is rescued by the X-Men's Wolverine and overcomes her brainwashing, the character retains the combat skills granted through the Hand's modification techniques[7] as well as the ability to manifest her total focused telepathy in the form of a "psychic knife."

With the launch of X-Men: Legacy in 1991, the team splits, with Psylocke joining the team led by Cyclops. In Jim Lee-written issues, the character becomes flirtatious with Cyclops, eventually attempting to seduce him.[8] At this point, Kwannon, a new character with the physical appearance of Braddock prior to the Hand's manipulation, claims to be the original Psylocke, accusing the Japanese-featured Braddock of being an impostor. After Jim Lee and six other creators left Marvel Comics to found Image Comics, new scriptwriter Fabian Nicieza established that Kwannon is the impostor and that Braddock's flirtations with Cyclops were part of a genetic and mental splicing in which the Kwannon impostor was first created.[9]

In 1994, writer Scott Lobdell set up a relationship between Braddock and her teammate Archangel.[10] The character is severely injured by a crazed Sabretooth in the Lobdell-written Uncanny X-Men #328. Her life is saved by the use of a mystic artifact known as the Crimson Dawn, the aftereffects of which granted Psylocke the ability to teleport in and out of shadows. Lobdell also temporarily took her out of the X-Men roster this issue.[11] Braddock returns to the team in X-Men, vol. 2 #77–78, where she uses her Crimson Dawn-enhanced telepathy to trap the Shadow King in the astral plane. Any use of her telepathy would result in his release, so she forgoes the use of her telepathic ability.[12] Some time later she would develop telekinesis for the first time instead.[13] Psylocke's relationship with Archangel ends in the Claremont written X-Men, vol. 2 #109, where the character embarks upon a relationship with new Indian X-Men recruit Neal Shaara.

In the Claremont-written X-Treme X-Men #2 (2001), the character dies, her comic book death lasting until 2005's Uncanny X-Men #455; Claremont also wrote this issue, later stating he had always intended to revive her.[14][15] Briefly, the character was depicted in Exiles, a spin-off comic-book series in the X-Men franchise, set in an alternate universe. With the cancellation of New Exiles, Psylocke starred in her first solo book, the X-Men: Sword of The Braddocks one-shot.[16][17][18] Afterwards, the character was brought back to the main Marvel universe in early 2009 within the pages of Uncanny X-Men.[19] Beginning in November 2009, Psylocke was featured in a self-titled four issue miniseries, written by Christopher Yost and drawn by Harvey Tolibao; Matsu'o Tsurayaba and Wolverine are central characters in the story.[20]

Fictional character biography[edit]

See also: Revanche

Background[edit]

Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock was born in England and was raised in the small town of Maldon, Essex. Betsy was Sir James Braddock's second child and she, her twin brother Brian, and elder brother Jamie had a very privileged life. By the time their parents died, Betsy had become a charter pilot.[21] After she and Jamie were taken hostage by the Red Skull's agents and freed by Captain America and Captain Britain, Betsy learned the latter was her brother Brian.[22] At this time Betsy began to develop precognitive powers. She dyed her hair purple and took up modeling. At the age of sixteen, her psychic powers fully manifested, which grew to include telepathy.[23] Agent Matthew recruited Betsy into S.T.R.I.K.E.'s Psi Division, and she became fellow psi Tom Lennox's lover.[24] As she had inherited membership to the Hellfire Club from her father, Betsy was sent to infiltrate it, but was warned off by Tessa for her own protection.[25] She also met future boyfriend Warren Worthington for the first time during one of the Hellfire Club parties.[26]

When the crime lord Vixen hired Slaymaster to eliminate the Psi-Division, only Betsy, Tom Lennox, and their friend Alison Double were left when Brian defeated him.[27] When reality warped due to James Jaspers' powers, Tom sacrificed himself to give the Braddocks time to escape from a group of superhero hunters. Betsy was in Tom's mind when he died; feeling his death, she was left traumatized.[28] Following the repair of the reality warp, an evil version of Captain Britain from another universe named Kaptain Briton switched places with Brian. The double tried to rape Betsy. In self-defense, she telepathically killed him.[29] The same night, the twins were informed of their father's Otherworld origins, and a new intelligence agency called R.C.X. asked them to billet Warpies, children transformed by Jasper's warp, at the Manor, which led to an argument between Betsy and Brian.[30]

When Brian went overseas, Matthew (now codenamed Gabriel) convinced Betsy to become the new Captain Britain, wearing Kaptain Briton's modified costume. Working with Captain UK, the duo became public sensations. After several months, crime boss Vixen lured Betsy into a showdown with Slaymaster, who brutally beat her, then gouged her eyes out. Brian flew to her rescue and killed Slaymaster.[31] Betsy refused R.C.X.'s offer of cybernetic eyes, preferring to rely on her psychic abilities; she and Gabriel went to Switzerland for Betsy to recuperate.[32]

X-Men[edit]

Betsy was kidnapped from the Alps by Mojo, brainwashed, given cybernetic eyes, and, as "Psylocke," became the star of his new show "Wildways." Brian and the New Mutants rescued her, after which Betsy moved to the X-Men's mansion to recover, exactly where Roma, Guardian of the Omniverse, needed her to be.[33] When the Marauders attacked the Morlocks, the X-Mansion was used as a temporary infirmary for injured survivors of the massacre. Knowing that the X-Men were away in New York, the Marauder Sabretooth invaded the mansion. Psylocke used herself as a bait to lead him away from the injured until the X-Men arrived to help her. While Sabretooth and Wolverine fought, Psylocke used her telepathy to gather information about the Marauders and their leader, Mr. Sinister, from Sabretooth's mind.[34] Wolverine, though initially reluctant to involve outsiders in the X-Men's affairs, was impressed by her bravery and nominated her to join the team.

As an X-Man she met Mephisto,[35] Dr. Doom and the Fantastic Four,[36] and the Horde.[37] The X-Men later battled Freedom Force and the Adversary in Dallas, and, in a televised battle, sacrificed themselves to allow Forge to bind the Adversary; Roma secretly restored them to life, and gave Betsy the Siege Perilous, which they could use if they ever wanted to start new lives.[38] The X-Men moved to the Reavers' Australian Outback base, from where they took on the Brood,[39] Genoshan Magistrates,[40] Mister Sinister and the Goblin Queen,[41][42] M Squad,[43] Mr. Jip and the Serpent Society,[44] Master Mold and Nimrod,[45] Nanny and the Orphan-Maker,[45] and Zaladane and the Savage Land Mutates.[46] As they were about to depart the Savage Land, Betsy had a precognitive flash of the Reavers killing the team. To prevent this, she sent them through the Siege Perilous.[47]

Transformed[edit]

Psylocke in her "Lady Mandarin" armor and with the Crimson Dawn tattoo, on the cover of New Exiles #9: "Soul Awakening" (art by Alex Garner)

Betsy reappeared amnesiac on an island near China, where the Hand, a ninja clan, found her.[48] Matsu'o Tsurayaba, their leader, saw a chance to save his brain-dead lover, Kwannon. Spiral informed Matsu'o that Psylocke's telepathy could restore Kwannon, and Matsu'o accepted. Unknown to Matsu'o, however, Spiral actually placed the two women's minds into each other's bodies. She also merged their genetic structures, leaving both women with physical and mental traits of the other, and with each possessing half of Psylocke's telepathic power.[49][50] With some physical and mental conditioning, Psylocke—inhabiting Kwannon's body—became the Hand's prime assassin, taking the name Lady Mandarin. She gained highly remarkable fighting skills and learned to focus her telepathic power into a "psychic knife." Lady Mandarin's first mission pitted her against Wolverine. Betsy's psychic knife attack revealed Wolverine's memories of who she used to be and allowed her to break free from the Hand's conditioning.[51]

Psylocke rejected her role as Lady Mandarin and escaped with Wolverine and Jubilee, eventually going with them to the island nation of Genosha, where the New Mutants had been kidnapped along with the X-Men's leader, Storm, by Cameron Hodge. Following Hodge's defeat, the X-Men reunited and returned to New York.[52][53] Psylocke then joined the Blue Team led by Cyclops, for whom she displayed an obvious attraction.[54] When Phoenix found out, the two women fought, but were interrupted by the arrival of Kwannon, now calling herself Revanche, in Betsy's former body, claiming to be the real Psylocke.[55] Unable to discern which was truly Betsy, both stayed with the X-Men, maintaining an uneasy coexistence.[56] Learning she had the Legacy Virus, Revanche had Matsu'o kill her, restoring Psylocke's full personality and telepathic potential.[50] Having become involved with her teammate Angel,[57][58] the following months saw her fight the Phalanx,[59][60][61] try to reach Jamie's comatose mind, battle Legion in Israel,[62][63] and combat Gene Nation.[64]

Crimson Dawn[edit]

When Sabretooth gutted Psylocke, Angel, Wolverine, Doctor Strange, and Gomurr the Ancient retrieved a magical liquid from the Crimson Dawn dimension that healed her and gave her the new ability to teleport through shadows, but also marked her with a red tattoo over her left eye.[65] Her personality took on a cold edge, which created distance between her and Warren.[66] Kuragari, Proctor of the Crimson Dawn, tried to claim Betsy as his bride, but was thwarted with Gomurr and Angel's aid, freeing Betsy of the Dawn's influence. However, Psylocke still retained the abilities associated with it. Soon after these events, the couple retired from active duty with the X-Men.[67]

Subsequently she aided Storm against the Shadow King, who tricked Psylocke into initiating a psychic shockwave that disabled all other telepaths, leaving him unchallenged on the astral plane.[68] Her own astral form was destroyed, but her exposure to the Crimson Dawn gave her a new shadow form with temporarily enhanced powers, which she used to trap the Shadow King's core. To keep him trapped she was forced to constantly focus her telepathy on him, effectively rendering herself powerless.[69]

Revolution and X-Treme[edit]

Jean Grey's attempt to help Betsy deal with the Shadow King somehow swapped their powers, leaving Betsy telekinetic.[70][71] With her new abilities Betsy fought Belasco,[72] the Neo,[73] the Goth,[74] the Crimson Pirates,[75] the Twisted Sisters,[76] and the Prime Sentinels,[77] then aided her brother freeing Otherworld from Mastermind's Warpie army.[78] After ending her relationship with Archangel, Betsy joined Storm's X-Treme X-Men team in the search for Destiny's diaries.[79]

In Valencia, Psylocke died in combat with the man known as Vargas while protecting Rogue and Beast, who were badly beaten by the villain.[80] Brian Braddock and Meggan collected Psylocke's body from Spain. She was buried at the Braddock family estate and a memorial to her was erected at the X-Mansion by Beast.[81]

Resurrection[edit]

One year after her death, Betsy awoke where she had died, unaware of how she had survived, and was soon reunited with the X-Men, helping them against the Saurian Hauk'ka,[82] and Mojo and Spiral.[83] Jamie started to covertly observe his resurrected sister, allowing her to catch occasional glimpses of him. Betsy was reunited with Brian during the Scarlet Witch's "House of M" reality storm;[84] when the timeline was set right, the memories of their encounter took on a dreamlike state, prompting Betsy and several of the X-Men to visit London to check on Brian's status.[85]

Back in the USA, Betsy and the X-Men failed to stop Shi'ar Death Commandos from slaughtering the Grey family, targeted for death because of their relationship to Phoenix, but helped defeat them before they could kill Rachel Grey.[86] With the First Fallen's servants, the Foursaken, about to make their move, Jamie revealed his part in Betsy's resurrection to the X-Men: sensing the approaching threat of the cosmically powerful First Fallen (a harbringer of frozen, eternal "perfection") and learning of Betsy's demise, an annoyed Jamie resurrected her, reaching back through time to stop her spirit passing into the afterlife. Intending her to be a weapon to use against the First Fallen, Jamie tightened up the "quantum strings" of Betsy's body, rendering her mostly immune to external manipulation, enhancing her telekinetic powers, and leaving her invisible to the First Fallen's senses.[87] Jamie was abducted by the Foursaken before he could fully inform them of the imminent threat; trying to rescue him, the X-Men were easily captured, except Betsy, who found herself invisible to the Foursaken's senses.[88] Disrupting their attempt to give the First Fallen full access to Earth, Betsy and the X-Men were pulled into his realm, the Singing City, where Betsy's immunity to his mental control allowed her to free the City's residents, including the Foursaken, from his dominance. As a wrathful First Fallen turned on them, Jamie sent the X-Men home while he held the entity back, apparently sacrificing himself.[89]

Returning to the UK to tell Brian of Jamie's fate, Betsy learned that Shadow Xavier, leader of the Shadow X-Men, had taken over the minds of his jailors in Crossmore Prison, and was demanding to see her. Accompanied by Excalibur, Betsy visited the prison, where Xavier revealed his true identity as the Shadow King, and tried to take revenge, having Excalibur attack Brian so that Betsy could witness his death; however, immune to his control, Betsy telekinetically induced a stroke in Xavier's body, freeing Excalibur. Before she could finish him off, Psylocke was interdimensionally teleported to the Crystal Palace at the Nexus of All Realities.[90]

Exiles[edit]

Appearing at the headquarters of the Exiles, heroes gathered from several realities to protect the Omniverse; both the Exiles' choice of Psylocke as latest recruit, and the timing of same, were apparently the result of Roma's manipulations, again moving one of her pawns to where it would soon be needed as part of a greater plan.[91] Her first mission with the Exiles brought Betsy face to face with Earth-1720's Slaymaster, brutally reminding her of her reality's Slaymaster blinding her. After escaping, Slaymaster-1720 began murdering Betsy Braddock in each reality he visited.[92]

Meanwhile, determined to confront her fear, Psylocke began rigorous training to prepare herself for their next encounter.[93] She returned to Earth-616 to let Brian know she was alive. Almost immediately both the Exiles and Excalibur were called to the defense of Otherworld, under attack by an army of Furies created by a resurrected Mad Jim Jaspers; though the heroes prevailed, the Exiles were left as the Omniverse's primary defenders until the devastated Captain Britain Corps could be rebuilt.[94] Choosing to remain with the Exiles, Betsy traveled to several realities.[95] Upon arriving on a certain Earth, Psylocke had a mental breakdown due to this world's Psylocke counterpart's psyche being at war with Betsy's own psyche in order to control her body. This reality's Ogun approached Psylocke and offered to train her so she could avenge the death of his apprentice, who was killed by Slaymaster.[96] Psylocke eventually tracked him to Earth-616 and killed him. Betsy returned to the Crystal Palace, became involved with teammate Sabretooth, and promised to honor her mission as an Exile.[97]

Return[edit]

Somehow, Psylocke was kidnapped by Madelyne Pryor's Sisterhood while traveling between parallel worlds. They also stole Betsy's original body, in which Kwannon had died, at a graveyard. A ritual of sorts with both bodies was performed, resulting in Betsy's original body being brought back to life.[98] The Sisterhood, now including a brainwashed Psylocke, attacked the X-Men.[99] Dazzler was forced to use her powers on Psylocke, blowing half of Betsy's face off. Dazzler's attack shocked Betsy back to consciousness, enabling her to overcome the Red Queen's control and return to her Japanese body.[100]

After these events Psylocke's powers changed once again; she now possesses both telepathic and telekinetic abilities, but with her psionic potential divided between them neither ability is as strong as it once was.[101] The following days saw Betsy travel back in time alongside Beast's X-Club.[102] Psylocke also led the X-Club in a mission to raise Asteroid M, which was at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, in order for it to serve as the X-Men's new base of operations and a haven for mutantkind, called Utopia.[103][104] Soon after, Psylocke goes to Japan with Wolverine to re-inter her former body. Arriving in Japan, she is ambushed by the Hand, who destroy her original body at the behest of Matsu'o Tsurayaba. Enraged, Psylocke tracks Matsu'o down, finding him terribly disfigured as the result of Wolverine's yearly revenge on Matsu'o for his role in the murder of Mariko Yashida. Matsu'o, now missing both hands and other body parts, desires an honorable death and wants Psylocke to grant him that honor since he cannot himself hold a blade to perform seppuku. Before Psylocke can oblige, Wolverine emerges from the shadows and says that Matsu'o's punishment is not over yet. Unwilling to walk away, Psylocke engages Wolverine in a brutal fight which ends in a truce. Wolverine then permits her to finish Matsu'o off. She does so, mercifully, using her telepathy to project illusions into Matsu'o's mind of his body restored and of Kwannon embracing him, then quickly kills him with her psi-blade.[101]

During the Nation X storyline, Psylocke, Wolverine, and Colossus were sent down into the sewers under San Francisco to investigate the case of a missing Predator X. They encounter Fantomex, who has slain the beast. Psylocke battles Sublime's associates with the help of Fantomex and her teammates.[105] During the Necrosha storyline, Psylocke is part of Rogue's team sent to Muir Island to battle the resurrected Proteus. Psylocke seems to have lost her immunity to telepathic attacks and reality alterations, as Proteus easily possesses her. However, her psi-blade is able to break his hold on his hosts.[106] Following the return of Cable and Hope Summers, Psylocke is selected as part of Cyclops' "Alpha roster" of X-Men sent to locate and protect the two from the forces of Bastion.[107]

Uncanny X-Force[edit]

In the aftermath of "X-Men: Second Coming", Psylocke (along with Deadpool, Fantomex, and Archangel) is selected by Wolverine to be a member of the new X-Force, the sole condition being that no one must learn of the team's existence.[108] Psylocke has been seen using her telepathy to help Warren control the "Archangel" persona in his mind, which has led to the two rekindling their previous relationship. The team's first mission is to locate and kill Apocalypse, who has been reborn.[109][110] With X-Force, Psylocke also faces long time rivals such as the Reavers[111] and the Shadow King. The latter succeeds in freeing the Archangel persona in Warren.[112] In order to prevent Archangel's ascension into Apocalypse, X-Force travels to the Age of Apocalypse to seek a Life Seed, which could cleanse Warren. Psylocke's hesitation to kill Archangel leads to her transformation into the Horseman of Death at his hands. Jean Grey of the Age of Apocalypse manages to revert this process, unlocking a previously untapped power in Betsy's mind, who becomes a full fledged Omega level telepath after these events. Psylocke then stabs Archangel with the Life Seed, which kills Warren and creates a new being in his likeness.[113]

After the Schism between the X-Men, while Psylocke has decided to stay on Utopia with Cyclops' team, she also secretly stays on X-Force to help whenever Wolverine requests. Cyclops also places her in charge of a new X-Men Security team, asking her to be his spy and spy-hunter.[114] Captain Britain learns of Betsy's activities with X-Force through their bond and decides to retrieve her to Otherworld, where Jamie Braddock is revealed to be alive, and punish Fantomex for his crimes. Betsy takes up the Lady Briton mantle to rescue Fantomex and is ultimately forced to kill Jamie in order to prevent his future self from destroying the multiverse.[115] Soon after X-Force faces a new Brotherhood of Mutants, of which the Shadow King is a member. Psylocke imprisons his psyche for good into Omega White, whose ability is to eat psychic energy.

After this last mission, X-Force disbands and Fantomex, who had been keeping a relationship with Betsy, but died at the hands of the Brotherhood, is resurrected in three different bodies for each of his brains.[116] As a member of Cyclops' Extinction Team, Psylocke deals with the fallout from Archangel's machinations in Tabula Rasa[117] and sides with the X-Men against the Avengers once the Phoenix Force returns to Earth to reclaim a host.[118]

Characterization[edit]

The Exiles version of Psylocke manifesting her "psychic katana," on the cover of X-Men: Sword of the Braddocks #1: "The Face Of Fear" (art by Alex Garner)

Early powers[edit]

In her earliest appearances in Uncanny X-Men, Psylocke possessed the power of telepathy. She could read and project thoughts over long distances;[119] control minds; subdue and tap into other's powers; affect people's memories;[120] project mental illusions;[121] and generate psi-bolts that could stun,[122] injure,[123] or kill others.[124] She could also project her astral self, and the astral bodies of other people, into the astral plane.[125] She could scan entire towns with her mind,[126] and leaf through the psyches of the inhabitants of a city to learn of their condition[127] or intentions.[128] She was powerful enough to telepathically "shout" to her teammates in Australia while she was in Washington D.C. without the aid of any type of power-enhancing apparati such as Cerebro.[129] She could also probe individuals to check up on their status.[130]

When using her telepathic powers, a butterfly-shaped energy aura would appear around her face. It was never truly made clear in the comic books by the writers whether this was something that could be perceived by others or if this was simply an 'effect' to show when Psylocke was using her powers to the reading audience (although it was implied that it could be).[34] This 'butterfly' (sometimes depicted as having eyes in its wings) was also the form Psylocke usually took when manifesting her astral form, both on the astral plane,[123] and in the physical world;[122] although she occasionally used an illusory image of her physical body.[125] After her transformation, Psylocke's psi-form changed accordingly.[131][132]

In addition, Psylocke could also use her telepathy to project a focused beam of directed psionic energy called a "psycho-blast" that could incapacitate or kill a living being instantly. This attack was powerful enough to pierce the Juggernaut's psi-proof helmet. The psycho-blast was able to affect inorganic material as well as living targets (when directing a psycho-blast at Sabretooth the energy destroyed the metal Cerebro helmet she was wearing).[34] Psylocke also possessed limited precognitive powers that occasionally allowed her to envision probable future events,[133] or to see quick flashes of the immediate future.[134] These visions were random and infrequent, however, and she had no control over them.

While in her original body, Psylocke was given bionic eyes by Mojo and Spiral which instantly adjusted to any intensity of light, preventing her from being blinded by brightness.[121] The bionic eyes were also cameras, transmitting to Mojo everything that Psylocke saw.[135] For a time, Betsy took the role of Captain Britain from her brother, using the deceased Kaptain Briton's costume which had been modified by the Mastermind computer. This costume gave her superhuman strength and the ability to fly.[136]

New powers[edit]

After her physical transformation into a Japanese, ninja assassin she gained highly developed fighting skills in addition to her telepathy, which at this stage was not as powerful as it had originally been before her transformation, as half of her psionic potential still resided with Revanche in her original body.[9][137] After Revanche's death, Psylocke's telepathy was restored to its previous strength. The most common usage of her powers was the manifestation of a "psychic knife," which operated in the same manner as her "psycho-blast" ability, but at close range. Described as the focused totality of her psychic powers, she often used it to disrupt the minds and nervous systems of her foes by driving the glowing "blade" of psionic energy into their heads.[138] At least once, she utilized two psychic knives simultaneously.[139] During this time she chose to fight up-close most of the time, using her new martial arts skills, although she could still utilize distanced telepathic assaults.[140] At least once, she experienced a precognitive flash while in her new body.[134]

After her exposure to the Crimson Dawn, she also gained the ability to teleport herself and others using areas of shadow as gateways.[66] The teleportation could cover huge distances; on one occasion she transported the X-Men from America to Africa in a few seconds.[12] She could also teleport through the shadows of other dimensions.[141] Psylocke has not been seen using this ability since her imprisonment of the Shadow King in the astral plane;[12] during a mission against Stryfe, she mentioned to Nightcrawler that she no longer possessed this ability.[77]

Telekinetic powers[edit]

To keep the Shadow King imprisoned in the Astral Plane, Psylocke sacrificed the use of her telepathy, but at some point gained Phoenix's telekinesis instead.[142] At first, due to the relative newness of her telekinesis, she could not exercise fine control over her powers, e.g. she could blast an enemy through a brick wall, but could not levitate small objects, like a dime, from the floor.[74] As time progressed, Psylocke grew more proficient at using her powers, e.g. she could use her telekinesis to reshape a pistol into smaller metal projectiles.[88]

Instead of her psychic knife, Psylocke began to manifest a telekinetic katana composed of raw psionic energy.[143] At its lowest intensity her katana functions much like her psychic knife once did, short-circuiting the victim's nervous system on impact.[88] At its highest level, the katana can slice through almost any physical matter.[14] Psylocke's control over the katana is such that she can slice an armored opponent and cut through the armor, but only leave her opponent stunned or unconscious.[144] Psylocke's telekinetic manifestations produce visible radiance in the physical world,[14] and so she can use her psychic katana as a makeshift light source in areas of darkness. The katana can also affect beings that are more powerful than Psylocke herself.[87][89][145] She can also use her sword to shatter telepathic power-inhibitors imposed on others, despite her own lack of telepathy.[146] With no telepathy to guide her when performing this task, she must rely on her instincts to give the blade the sufficient strength necessary to break the inhibitors, without doing permanent damage to the subject in question. During the timeline shift known as House of M, Psylocke showed the ability to summon two telekinetic katanas at the same time.[147] It is unknown if she is capable of this under normal circumstances.

Aside from the blade, Psylocke can use her telekinesis to enhance her speed, strength, and fighting skills to superhuman levels.[148] She can also levitate herself and others,[14] or manipulate matter in standard telekinetic fashion.[76] She can also create telekinetic shields of various sizes and strength,[149] and her telekinesis has been said to be strong enough to shatter mountains.[150] After her resurrection, Psylocke's telekinetic powers have been greatly enhanced.[151] At the time of Betsy's resurrection, Marvel Girl claimed that Psylocke's telekinesis was on a level even she could not match.[15]

After her resurrection, Psylocke was shown to be immune to all forms of psionic manipulations such as mind-reading,[15] mind-control or mental attacks,[152] and attempts of telepathic communication.[153] This is a result of her brother Jamie's manipulation of the quantum strings that comprise her body.[87] She is also immune or at least highly resistant to other psionic-based powers like the Savage Land Mutate Vertigo's disorientation power,[146] or Nocturne's mind possessing abilities.[150] Due to Jamie's alterations, Psylocke is also immune to any physical and mental alteration by beings who can radically restructure reality, such as Proteus. She can, however, still be killed in more traditional manners, such as being stabbed or shot. She is also at least partially resistant to magical manipulation.[154] Somehow these various immunities also affect her detectability from higher order technological equipment. For example all sensor-arrays of the Exiles Crystal Palace are not able to detect her—as if she does not even exist.[155] Beside this immunity, she is able to use her telekinesis to modify her own molecular structure to render herself invisible to at least the naked eye.[156]

However, Psylocke's telekinetic powers seems to evolve with the return of her telepathy since her encounter with the Sisterhood as, at first, she has rarely been seen using her telekinesis to levitate objects or create her trademark telekinetic katana. It appears also, that she is focusing more on developing her returned telepathic powers and that the various immunities that were granted to her by her resurrection at the hands of her brother seem to have vanished or at least greatly diminished, as during the Necrosha event Proteus was not only able to possess Psylocke but also was able to alter her body structure.[157] During the "Second Coming" storyline, Betsy has once more been depicted using her telekinesis for considerable feats: such as making a shield to protect herself and X-23 from bullets, ripping a Nimrod robot in two and even achieving what appears to be a form of flight or levitation.[158]

Returned powers and abilities[edit]

The events involving the Sisterhood of Mutants triggered a return of her original telepathic abilities. Upon rejoining the X-Men, Psylocke states that while she is still primarily a telekinetic, she has gained the mental ability to telepathically "suggest what people see" (i.e. cast telepathic illusions).[102] In an interview, writer Christopher Yost and editor Daniel Ketchum confirmed that Psylocke now possesses both telekinesis, telepathy, and empathy. Additionally, she is once again able to focus her telepathic energies into a solid psychic knife and can still manifest her telekinetic katana.[159][160]

As shown in the events of the Psylocke miniseries, she still appears to be an unusually strong and powerful telepath; with a range of abilities similar to what she possessed at her introduction, as well as manifesting her trademark psychic knife. Psylocke is also shown to have levels of telekinesis sufficient to increase the strength and power of her physical blows as well as ward off attacks via force fields and telekinetic "pushes and pulls." During the Utopia storyline, she was seen manifesting her telekinetic katana, but of late she has been seen using a pair of traditional katanas as well.[161][162] After the events of "Second Coming", Psylocke establishes that her psychic abilities fluctuate in strength; if her concentration is divided as a result of a telepathic response to her environment, it has an adverse effect on her telekinesis.[163]

During the "Dark Angel Saga", Psylocke's full psionic potential was unlocked by the Jean Grey from the Age of Apocalypse timeline. She was able to overcome Archangel with her newly strengthened and increased telepathy - a feat that had previously been beyond her power.[164] Writer Rick Remender has stated that she is now an Omega-class/level telepath on par with Jean Grey and Professor Xavier.[165]

Fighting skills[edit]

Psylocke has been classified as a master martial artist, though the specific fighting arts she has mastered have never been revealed. Psylocke's fighting skills and techniques have been shown to surpass those of the average Hand ninja,[138] or Crimson Dawn Undercloak,[166] and have been said to rival those of a ninja master.[167] In addition to the fighting skills she learned from The Hand, Psylocke has recently received training from fellow Exiles teammate Sabretooth[168] and from an alternate reality's Ogun, who used science and magic combined to alter the passage of time itself, allowing them to accomplish a lifetime's work in a few short hours, thus improving Psylocke's skills once more.[169]

As a telepath, Psylocke could take advantage of her powers in a fight by reading her opponents' movements seconds before they made them, giving her the opportunity to counter-attack faster.[138] She could also use her telepathy to mask her presence from other people, humans and superhumans alike, e.g. from Wolverine's super-enhanced senses[170] or from Jean Grey's telepathy.[140] She could also create telepathic illusions to distract her enemies while fighting them,[171] and as a ninja, she can use her psychic knife to incapacitate her opponents instead of killing them;[138] although she will kill her opponents if she finds it to be necessary.[77]

As a telekinetic, she often uses her powers to augment her strength and speed,[76] making her fighting skills strong enough to match, and even outmatch other superhumanly strong opponents, like a holographic version of Sabretooth in the Danger Room.[74][172] During a training session with Rogue and Thunderbird, Psylocke was able to match Rogue’s attacks despite the fact that Rogue had greatly enhanced speed and strength at the time.[25]

Armor[edit]

During the time when the X-Men were based in the Australian outback, Psylocke gained possession of a unique suit of armor. Made of an unknown metal, it was lightweight and form-fitting, yet extremely resistant to physical damage, giving Psylocke an added protection to her physical body.[6] The armor was also resistant to projectiles and energy weapons.[173] Wolverine had the armor custom-ordered through a weapons and technology firm named Landau, Luckman, and Lake for "a colleague." Mr. Chang, an agent of Landau, Luckman, and Lake, loaned the armor to Lindsay McCabe since Wolverine had sent her to him. Tyger Tiger also wore the body armor for a short time,[174] and she was briefly trapped in the armor due to a built-in security mechanism, which Wolverine managed to free her from. After traveling through the Siege Perilous and trading bodies with Kwannon, Psylocke no longer used the body armor. When Kwannon, in Betsy's original body, returned to Xavier's mansion, she was wearing an armor that was similar to the one Betsy used to wear, but it has never been officially stated whether or not this armor had the same capabilities as Psylocke’s original one.[55] The same can be said for the armor worn by Psylocke's resurrected original body, after it was brought back during by Madelyne's sisterhood, wearing armor of the same coloring.

Relationships[edit]

Elizabeth Braddock has been involved in a series of romantic relationships during the years. As a member of S.T.R.I.K.E.'s Psi Division, she was involved with fellow agent Tom Lennox. He was murdered while trying to defend her, during which time she was telepathically linked to him. Telepathically experiencing Lennox's death left Betsy traumatized for a time.[28]

After returning to the X-Men in Kwannon's body, Psylocke psionically and telepathically manipulated Cyclops, her team leader, into being romantically attracted to her.[55] After regaining her full personality from Kwannon, Psylocke offered a belated apology to Jean Grey, admitting that the flirtation was due to the presence of Kwannon's lingering personality traits in her mind, but that she did in fact find Cyclops attractive.[175] Later, Elizabeth and Archangel had a romantic relationship, but chose to end it after realizing that the differences between them were too great.[10][79] After Betsy's death, Archangel suffered anguish from being unable to save her, but eventually made peace with it and moved on to a relationship with Paige Guthrie.[176]

Psylocke and the X-Man, Neal Shaara were romantically involved until her death.[25] After joining the Exiles, Psylocke has been flirting with teammate Sabretooth. They passionately kissed each other,[177] eventually leading to both acting on their romantic feelings more intimately.[178] Some time later, Psylocke and Archangel have been seen to be in the process of rebuilding their romantic relationship.[110] Psylocke later had a brief romantic and sexual relationship with both Fantomex and his female counterpart Cluster, after Fantomex was separated into three people.[179]

Other versions[edit]

In addition to her mainstream incarnation (known as the Earth-616 Psylocke), the character has had been depicted in the comics set in many other fictional universes and timelines of Mavel Multiverse, including Age of Apocalypse, Days of Future Past, Earth X, House of M, Marvel Comics 2, Ultimate X-Men, and Age of X. These alternative representations usually differ considerably from the details and events of the main story, without affecting that story's narrative continuity.

In other media and merchandise[edit]

Reception[edit]

The character has achieved a significant critical praise and popularity following the 1989 redesign. According to UGO, "Basically, Marvel gave a third-rate character a makeover, hence, creating one of the most popular female mutants in X-Men history."[180] In 2006, IGN rated Psylocke as the 22nd top X-Men character, comparing her to Rogue" and calling her "a born leader" whose "abilities make her one of the most potent fighters to ever wear the X,"[181] and also placed her third on their list of top 'X-Babes' for her being an "Asian gal with incredible body and a British accent."[182] Marvel themselves declared her their own second most favorite hero of 2011, citing her "tremendous and thankless heroism."[183]

Psylocke was included in IGN's "Battle of the Comic-Book Babes" contest in 2005,[184] winning the first two rounds against Aspen Matthews and then Natsumi and Miyuki, before losing to Emma Frost (the eventual champion of this edition). Psylocke, however, emerged victorious from the following year's "Battle of the Comic-Book Babes" in 2006, winning the consecutive rounds against Deena Pilgrim, Rachel Summers and Black Cat.[185] In the final round, she managed to get almost two-thirds of the votes (64%) when pitted against the video gaming's female icon Lara Croft.[186]

In 2011, IGN included Psylocke among the eight mutants IGN wished to see in the sequel to X-Men: First Class, stating that "mentally, she can go toe-to-toe with fellow telepaths like Emma Frost, and physically, she can kick as much ass as Wolverine when the situation calls for it," and adding that they would prefer to see her appearing as an Asian and a ninja, while disregarding her prior appearances in X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand.[187] That same year, UGO ranked her ninth of their list of "superhero power upgrades that kicked complete ass"[188] and also featured her among 25 "hot ninja girls" and called her an "eye candy that's less lollipop and more atomic warhead."[189] In 2013, WhatCulture ranked Psylocke as the sixth most underrated X-Men character,[190] and included her on the lists of ten mutants they would like to see in the film X-Men: Days of Future Past[191] and in the future sequels.[192] In 2014, WhatCulture also included her among the ten female superheroes who deserve their own film spin-off, opining she should be played by Zhang Ziyi.[193]

Some of the praise was directed especially for her many[194] video game roles. In the 2009 Marvel poll asking who is the better fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Psylocke got over two-thirds of the votes (68%) against the Street Fighter series icon and the fighting game genre female symbol Chun-Li.[195] In 2011, UGO ranked her as fifth on their list of fighting games' finest female fighters for her appearances in Capcom titles, stating that "the only thing more confusing than Psylocke's backstory is what exactly her powers are [but] all you really need to know is this: Psylocke is a sexy Asian lady ninja sporting the most obscene butt-floss this side of Linda Kozlowski in Crocodile Dundee."[196] In 2012, Complex included her on the list of the most humiliating victory quotes in fighting games.[197]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]