Union Jack (comics)

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Union Jack

The third Union Jack (Joey Chapman) appears on the cover of Union Jack #1 (Nov. 2006).
Art by Mike Perkins.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance (James)
The Invaders #7 (July 1976)
(Brian)
(as Destroyer)
The Invaders #18 (July 1977)
(as Union Jack)
The Invaders #21
Created by (James and Brian)
Roy Thomas
Frank Robbins
In-story information
Alter ego -Lord James Montgomery Falsworth
-Brian Falsworth
-Joseph Chapman
Team affiliations (All)
Invaders
(James)
British army
Freedom's Five
(Brian)
V-Battalion
Notable aliases (Brian)
The Mighty Destroyer
Abilities (James)
Superb athlete, expert hand-to-hand combatant, espionage training, skilled in the use of a dagger and a handgun
(Brian)
Enhanced peak human condition, superb athlete, expert hand-to-hand combatant, ability to project bolts of magical lightning

Union Jack is the name of three fictional characters that appear in comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Publication history[edit]

The original Union Jack, James Montgomery Falsworth, first appears in comics in The Invaders #7. He was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Frank Robbins. He fights both alone and as a member of the team Freedom's Five.

The second Union Jack first appears as the Destroyer in Invaders #18, and becomes Union Jack in Invaders #21. He was also created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins. His sister, Jacqueline Falsworth, is the British superheroine known as Spitfire. Unlike Union Jack, who is a character retconned into the World War II time line, the Destroyer actually is an original Golden Age character. The Destroyer first appeared in Mystic Comics #6 (October 1941), published by Marvel Comics' predecessor, Timely Comics. In Roy Thomas' 1970s series The Invaders, the Destroyer's Golden Age identity of Kevin "Keen" Marlow is explained away as an alias, although this was later retconned by editors at Marvel, who reestablished Marlow as a separate individual who allowed Falsworth and Roger Aubrey to also fight as the Destroyer.[1] The Destroyer is notable for being one of the first creations of industry legend Stan Lee.

The third person to take on the role of Union Jack is Joseph "Joey" Chapman. He first appears in Captain America #253. He was created by writer Roger Stern and artist John Byrne.

Fictional character biography[edit]

James Montgomery Falsworth[edit]

A peer of the realm as Lord Falsworth, James Montgomery Falsworth is first active as the adventurer and British government operative Union Jack during World War I. During his adventures as a member of Freedom's Five, he encounters the mysterious Baron Blood, a vampire saboteur for the Germans. After the war, Lord Falsworth retires to his ancestral home in England to raise a family.[2]

He is active again as Union Jack during World War II. He becomes a member of the Invaders after the original Human Torch saves his daughter — Jacqueline Falsworth — from Baron Blood. Jacqueline is revived by a blood transfusion from the Human Torch which grants her the power of super-speed. As a result, she becomes the costumed hero Spitfire (a title she still holds in the 21st Century). After the attack, Lord Falsworth offers up his mansion as the Invaders' base of operations. After Baron Blood's attack on Jacqueline, James discovers the vampire is actually his brother, John. During a battle, Blood crushes Union Jack's legs under a boulder, effectively ending his career as a hero. Before the battle ends, James is able to impale Blood on a silver-veined stalagmite.[3] Soon after, he quits the Invaders.[4]

Although unable to use his legs, James later travels with Spitfire and Dyna-Mite, parachuting into Nazi Germany. There they meet up with James' son, Brian, whom they were searching for. Falsworth and Dyna-Mite were captured by the Nazis, but are then rescued by Brian. Originally thinking his son a traitor, James learns that Brian fights against the Nazis as the costumed hero, the Destroyer. As a result, the two reconcile their differences and James passes the mantle of Union Jack on to Brian, at which point Brian abandons his Destroyer identity.[5]

However, the father outlives the son when Brian is killed[6] in an automobile accident in 1953. He lives out his days as a country squire, and eventually retired.[volume & issue needed]

Years later, James Montgomery Falsworth contacts Captain America to combat Baron Blood. Falsworth finally sees the end of Baron Blood with the help of Captain America and the third incarnation of Union Jack (Joey Chapman). After this episode, James Montgomery Falsworth passes away from heart failure due to old age.[7]

He is seen again when Baron Zemo travels back in time, in Baron Zemo: Born Better #3.[8]

Brian Falsworth[edit]

Brian Falsworth is the son of James Montgomery Falsworth, born like his father in Falsworth Manor in a village north of London. Brian and his friend and lover Roger, are both initially sympathetic toward Germany and supportive of peace between it and the United Kingdom. Toward the end of the 1930s, the pair go into Germany, but quickly discover the evil nature of the Nazi regime. Brian is thrown in prison, and Roger is given to German scientists.

Brian gains superpowers through the help of a German scientist who tries to recreate the Super Soldier Formula that resulted in Captain America. Brian escapes prison and becomes a costumed Nazi-fighter within Germany, calling himself the Destroyer.

Meanwhile, Roger is used for experiments. He is brainwashed and his body is reduced in size. Standing one foot tall but with the strength of a full-sized man, he is given the name Dyna-Mite. With his memory gone, the Nazis unleash Dyna-Mite against the Allies, in a plot which involves the Crusaders.

Meanwhile, Brian, reunited with his family and reconciling with his father, investigates the past of Dyna-Mite. Brian ultimately finds out the truth behind Dyna-Mite, and Roger's size and memory are restored. After his father's legs are crushed by Baron Blood, Brian learns of his father's costumed identity as Union Jack. Alongside Captain America, Brian battled Nazi soldiers, and rescued Lord Falsworth and Dyna-Mite when they sought him out in Germany and were captured by the Nazis. Brian adopted the Union Jack identity as an adventurer and British government operative in place of his father, joining the Invaders and battling Master Man.[9] Roger, in turn, takes on the mantle of the Destroyer.[10]

Later, Brian is charged by magical lightning when fighting Thor. He gains the ability to shoot electricity from his fingertips.[volume & issue needed] Following the war, Brian remains active as Union Jack, and is instrumental in founding the V-Battalion alongside Roger Aubrey and other heroes of the era.[volume & issue needed]

Brian Falsworth is interesting as being, possibly, the first (chronologically speaking) homosexual Marvel Comics superhero.[11]

A car crash[11] on a British road in 1953[6] abruptly ended Brian Falsworth's career and his life.

In the 2008 limited series Avengers/Invaders he is part of the WWII-era Invaders. His teammates are lost in time and battle the Avengers.[volume & issue needed] In varying timestreams, Union Jack perishes again and again.[12]

Joseph Chapman[edit]

Joseph Chapman's incarnation as the current Union Jack is unique in that he is not a member of the Falsworth line or part of any British aristocratic family. Rather, Joey Chapman, born in Manchester, England, is the working class son of a shipbuilder.

Chapman becomes Union Jack when, while visiting Falsworth Manor with his friend, Kenneth Crichton (nephew of Brian Falsworth and later Baron Blood III), he dons the costume to stand in for Kenneth and save the life of James Montgomery Falsworth, Lord Falsworth, who has been targeted by Baron Blood.

For a time he fought crime on his own, serving as a hero for the common man as opposed to the aristocratic Captain Britain. Their rivalry was most apparent when they both were chosen as Knights of Pendragon by the Green Knight of Avalon. Captain Britain did not remain a Pendragon for long, but Union Jack stuck with the new team until it broke up when half the team traveled to a parallel world to offer humanitarian aid. During his time with the KoP Union Jack's physique increased to near Hulk like proportions and he went through a series of alternate costumes. After the Knights of Pendragon break up and his enhanced musculature returns to normal he reverts to the classic uniform and returns to fighting crime solo. He also faces a vampire cult led by a vampire who had been created by the original Baron Blood.

Chapman later wears an updated, militaristic costume, and joins the modern incarnation of the Invaders, led by Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch. For a time, Chapman became romantically involved with his New Invaders team mate, Spitfire (Kenneth's mother). They have since resolved to be friends and he remains active in the UK's espionage community.

Powers and abilities[edit]

James Montgomery Falsworth was an athletic man who possessed no superhuman powers. However, he was trained in the field of espionage, a veteran of two world wars, and highly trained in armed and unarmed combat. He wore a bullet-proof costume and carried a 6" dagger and a .455 caliber Webley revolver, both of which he used with great skill. Falsworth began using a wheelchair in 1942 and was debilitated by extreme old age at the time of his death.

During his initial career as the second Union Jack, Brian Falsworth possessed no superhuman powers. He was a superbly athletic man, but, having been exposed to a variant of the Super Soldier Formula, was enhanced to the peak of human potential, and was highly trained in armed and unarmed combat. Like his father, he wore bulletproof fabric and primarily used a Webley .455 revolver and a 6" dagger. After an encounter with Thor later in his career, he gained the ability to discharge bolts of mystic lightning from his fingertips after his body was energized by a lightning strike.[13]

Like those who held the title of Union Jack before him, Joey Chapman is an athlete in peak physical condition. In addition, his strength, speed, and stamina are enhanced by the Power of the Pendragon. Chapman usually carries a handgun of some variety (changing it as appropriate to the mission) and a silver-edged dagger used for supernatural foes.

Other versions[edit]

Earth-4904[edit]

Named Byron Falsworth, the Brian Falsworth version of Union Jack that appeared on Earth-4904 is called Major Commonwealth,[14] a Captain Britain Corps member who featured in Mighty World Of Marvel vol. 2, #13.

In other media[edit]

Film[edit]

  • James Montgomery Falsworth appears in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), played by J. J. Feild. He is one of several POW's been held at a HYDRA factory who are liberated by Captain America, and subsequently joins his unit. This incarnation does not utilize the Union Jack identity.
  • In a deleted scene filmed for The Avengers, Falsworth's file is one of several that Captain America looks through after being revived in the present day, and he is listed as being deceased.

Video games[edit]

Collected editions[edit]

Union Jack's major appearances have been collected in a number of trade paperbacks:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Golden Age Marvel, 2004
  2. ^ Invaders vol. 1 #7
  3. ^ Invaders vol. 1 #7-9
  4. ^ Invaders vol. 1 #11
  5. ^ Invaders vol. 1 #18-21
  6. ^ a b Captain America vol. 1 #254, February 1981
  7. ^ Captain America vol. 1 #253-254 (January–February, 1980)
  8. ^ Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better at the Comic Book DB
  9. ^ Invaders #18-21
  10. ^ Invaders vol. 1 #26
  11. ^ a b Citizen V and the V Battalion vol. 2 #1 (March 2002)
  12. ^ Avengers/Invaders at the Comic Book DB
  13. ^ Invaders vol. 1 #32-33
  14. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z vol. #2 (May 2008)
  15. ^ "LEGO Marvel Super Heroes - #EGX 2013". Retrieved 28 September 2013. 

External links[edit]