Union Jack (comics)

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Union Jack
UNION JACK 1.jpg
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 (Jul. 1976)
(Brian)
(as Destroyer)
The Invaders #18 (Jul. 1977)
(as Union Jack)
The Invaders #21 (Oct. 1977)
Created by (James and Brian)
Roy Thomas
Frank Robbins
In-story information
Alter ego -Lord James 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 a fictional superhero appearing in the Marvel Universe comic books published by Marvel Comics and Marvel UK. Created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins, he first appeared in The Invaders #7 (July 1976), a second incarnation from the same creators appeared in The Invaders #21, and a third incarnation was created by Roger Stern and John Byrne for Captain America Vol. 1 #254 (February 1981).

Following The Invaders, Union Jack has been featured as a regular character in ongoing series Knights of Pendragon, New Invaders and Invaders Now, as well two self-titled mini-series.

Publication history[edit]

1970s publications[edit]

Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins featured the original Union Jack, James Montgomery Falsworth, as a retired country squire in The Invaders #7-9 (July-October 1976); in the story flashbacks show him in action in WWI as part of Freedom's Five and battling the original Baron Blood, later revealed to be his own brother, while in the present day his brief membership of the Invaders ends when he is invalided saving his daughter, Jacqueline Falsworth, from his vampiric brother. Thomas and Robbins concluded the plot-line in The Invaders #11 (December 1976); in the story his newly empowered daughter takes his place on the team.

Thomas and Robbins continued to feature Lord Falsworth in a number of volumes, including; #12 (January 1977), which sees him watching his daughter head off on her first mission with the team; #14-15 (March-April 1977), which sees him absconding with her and new hero Dyna-Mite and #18-19 (July-August 1977), which sees the three parachuting into Nazi Germany on a mission to restore the latter's memory; flashback reveals that Dyna-Mite is Roger Aubrey, the best friend of Lord Falsworth's son, and that the two had been imprisoned by the Nazis while on a peace mission to Berlin.

Thomas and Robbins also first featured Lord Falsworth's son and successor Brian in his previous guise as the Destroyer in Invaders #18-19 (July-August 1977); in the story he explains how he received a variation of the super-soldier formula from a fellow inmate while in a Nazi prison. Thomas and Robbins concluded the plot-line in The Invaders #20-21 (September-October 1977); in the story Brian takes over his father's role of Union Jack to rescue his sister and the rest of the team while Lord Falsworth helps to steal a plane to get them home, and in Invaders #22 (November 1977); in which they are both safely returned to England. Thomas and Robbins also featured Brian in What If? #4 (August 1977); in the story he and Spitfire save Winston Churchill from a Nazi assassination attempt.

Thomas and Robbins continued to feature both Falsworths in the series, with the younger becoming a semi-permanent member of the team with issues #23 (December 1977) & #25 (February 1978); in which he joins them on his first mission, while the older appeared in a supporting role in issue #23 (December 1977), in which he helps Dyna-Mite's search for a cure to his size reduction, and #26 (March 1978); in which he introduces Brian to the restored Aubrey in his role as the new Destroyer.

1980s publications[edit]

Roger Stern and John Byrne gave Lord Falsworth a contemporary appearance as an elderly wheelchair-bound country gentleman for Captain America Vol. 1 #253-254 (January-February 1981); in the story, which features the first appearances of his second successor Joey Chapman, he tries to put on his old costume to join Captain America's final battle against his vampiric brother, Baron Blood, and dies of natural causes in the epilogue; the story also reveals that Brian Falsworth had died in a car crash in 1953.

1990s publications[edit]

Dan Slott and James W. Fry III featured Brian Falsworth in a WWII-era story for Midnight Sons Unlimited #9 (May 1995); in the story he teams up with the Blazing Skull to defend a fundraiser he is hosting from a Nazi attack.

2000s publications[edit]

Lord Falsworth appears as a supporting character in Fabian Nicieza and Lewis LaRosa's Citizen V and the V-Battalion: The Everlasting #1 (March 2002); the story begins with a flashback showing him at Brian Falsworth's funeral in 1953 and reveals he assisted the titular fictional secret organization run by his son's lover, Roger Aubrey.

2010s publications[edit]

Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel and Pepe Larraz featured the Brian Falsworth incarnation in the WWII flashback story Crossfire for the 70th Anniversary Issue Captain America #616 (May 2011); in the story Captain America and Union Jack defend a French town under Nazi siege.

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.[1]

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.[2] Soon after, he quits the Invaders.[3]

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.[4]

However, the father outlives the son when Brian is killed[5] 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.[6]

He is seen again when Baron Zemo travels back in time, in Baron Zemo: Born Better #3.[7]

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.[8] Roger, in turn, takes on the mantle of the Destroyer.[9]

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.[10]

A car crash[10] on a British road in 1953[5] 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.[11]

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-inch 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.[12]

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,[13] 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 JJ 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.[citation needed]

Video games[edit]

Collected editions[edit]

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

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]