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Nov 13

Fallen Angels #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are for the digital edition.

FALLEN ANGELS. The original Fallen Angels was a much-liked eight-issue miniseries from 1987-88, in which Sunspot and Warlock run away from the New Mutants and wind up on a team of misfits under the charge of the Vanisher, including Siryn, Madrox, and a bunch of characters rarely seen since. This was back in the days when X-minis were still uncommon enough to be a big deal. This series has no obvious connection with the original, beyond reusing a nice name.

COVER / PAGE 1. The cast in Tokyo.

PAGES 2-5. A young Apoth user seizes control of a Tokyo underground train and crashes it.

We’ll learn more about Apoth later in the issue – including its name – but it’s pretty clear that it’s the device which the girl places on her head, and which apparently gives her powers. We’ll also find out at the end of the issue that the girl seen here is Kwannon’s long-lost daughter. Again, more of that later.

Accompanying all this is an internal monologue by Kwannon thinking about her missing daughter and hoping that she is leading a better life. Kwannon has never mentioned the girl before in order to keep her safe (she says), but now she wants to bring her to Krakoa. All of this makes much more sense on a second reading.

Kwannon. I covered most of this in the Excalibur #1 annotations, but it’s essential to this book too, so we’d better run through it quickly again. In Uncanny X-Men #256 (1989), the original Psylocke was transformed into a ninja by members of the Hand, though means that were left vague and surreal. A few years later, a woman claiming to be the original Psylocke showed up, alleging that the ninja was in fact an impostor.

Eventually, it was established that Psylocke had actually had her mind swapped with an assassin called Kwannon, though they had also had their minds mixed up a bit too (which explained Psylocke’s personality change). Kwannon (in Betsy’s original body) then hung around for a while as “Revanche”, before dying from the Legacy Virus in X-Men vol 2 #32 (1994). There matters rested until Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor, where Psylocke’s body was destroyed, and she re-created herself in her original body. A resurrected Kwannon – also in her original body – appeared at the same time, apparently as a side effect, though it wasn’t very clearly explained. Kwannon showed up during Matthew Rosenberg’s run on Uncanny X-Men, and Excalibur already established that she had moved to Krakoa.

“Kwannon was the Goddess of Mercy.” Not really my area, but “Kwannon” is a Japanese name for the goddess Guanyin (though the more common Japanese name is Kannon). Guanyin is a boddhisatva associated with compassion and mercy; the name literally means “perceives the sounds of the world”.

“In that time of darkness, when I was no one…” Here and elsewhere in the issue, Kwannon seems to be saying that she was locked inside while Psylocke stole her body. That’s not what was shown at the time (see above), so there are several possibilities here, leaving aside continuity errors. Maybe Kwannon’s mind returned to her body, locked in, after her Revanche body died. Or maybe this is the part of Kwannon that was left behind in her original body all along.

“If they marked you, be more than that.” As we’ll see later, the people who took Kwannon’s daughter said they would mark her with a butterfly. That butterfly is a major repeating motif through the story. But the purple butterfly was associated with Betsy Braddock long before she had anything to do with Kwannon, so that’s curious. Since Kwannon’s mentor talked about making her a butterfly, so perhaps marking the girl as a butterfly implies bringing her up in the same way.

PAGES 6-7. Recap and credits. Note that the original Psylocke is listed here as “Captain Britain”, following Excalibur #1 – thus freeing up the name. (We see her briefly in the issue, but Kwannon just refuses to talk to her.) The title is “Bushido” (the warrior code of honour, broadly analogous to chivalry). The small print reads “Warrior X limited sword”, which seems like gibberish.

PAGES 8-10. On Krakoa, a mystery voice warns Kwannon/Psylocke about Apoth.

“Psylocke.” Despite her monologue about having her identity stolen, Kwannon has taken on Betsy’s established codename and costume. In the flashbacks which show her prior to the bodyswap – in X-Men vol 2 #31-32 (1994) – Kwannon wore a black ninja outfit.

Krakoa as paradise. It’s a little odd for Kwannon/Psylocke to be giving us this speech in a story set after the assassination of Professor X in X-Force #1, but that’s the publication sequence for you. The themes of the series are based around not fitting in on paradise, so there we are.

The mystery voice. No idea. We only see him in blurry form, aside from what looks like a male hand. He also claims that Apoth has “already taken something precious from you”, so he knows both what Apoth is up to, and that the girl is Psylocke’s daughter. He’s also weirdly determined to be treated as the voice of God – literally – despite the art clearly showing us that it’s a human. Basic story logic would say it’s going to be either the supposedly-dead father, or somebody associated with the people who raised Kwannon.

Apoth. Seems to be new. It’s presumably short for apotheosis (becoming a god).

“Mankind is evolving itself.” As described later, Apoth seems to be another example of post-human technology, something that Powers of X told us to be very worried about.

“Apoth is the tetragrammaton.” The tetragrammaton is the word Yahweh (as written in Hebrew, when it has four letters). The mystery voice is not underselling Apoth.

PAGES 11-13. Psylocke asks Magneto if she can investigate her dream; officially he says no, but he points her to Mr Sinister.

Since Professor X is inconveniently dead right now, Psylocke approaches the next best thing, Magneto. The island is understandably on lockdown after the attack in X-Force #1, but for whatever reason Magneto sends her to Mr Sinister, apparently hoping that she’ll get out in some untraceable way. Maybe he sees the connection with Powers of X.

PAGES 14-16. Mr Sinister agrees to help Psylocke off the island, but tells her to get help.

Mr Sinister. This depiction of him seems much more rational than the version seen in Hickman’s stories – though no less sadistic, since he asks Psylocke a string of questions about the impact of her body swap that seem to serve no purpose beyond trying to upset her. At any rate, Sinister is able to grant passage, as Magneto apparently anticipated. Quite how Sinister gets her off the island, we don’t see – but remember that we saw Sinister supposedly arrive with all the other villains even though he had clearly been involved with the cloning operation from a much earlier stage. It seems he has his own route on and off the island.

PAGE 17. Flashback to young Kwannon and her hooded mentor.

The mentor is new – what little we’ve seen of Kwannon’s pre-X-Men life was after she had become a full-fledged assassin. Mainly, we establish that Kwannon’s mentor appears to have raised her to see civilisation as a shared fiction, and violence as a part of the balance of things. The name “Kwannon” is given to her on the dubious philosophical view that this necessary violence is mercy. Young Kwannon seems devoted to this guy, who is raising her with some very odd ideas. There’s also more butterfly imagery here, despite the butterfly being associated with Betsy Braddock long before the body swap.

PAGES 18-22. Psylocke recruits X-23 and Cable to join her. X-23 agrees, but insists Cable stay behind.

As recommended by Sinister, Psylocke picks “someone else here [who] needs something to destroy”. X-23 and Cable like fighting and are bored on the island; that’s pretty much the entire reason for picking them. The loose theme is that none of them really belong in paradise. (The dialogue seems to describe X-23 as a soldier and Nate as a predator, which is surely the wrong way round.) X-23 signs up but argues that Cable does indeed deserve Krakoa and should be left there.

“Your name is Kwannon”. Psylocke is having flashbacks every time she disavows the Kwannon name, though she doesn’t seem to be letting on.

“A life without Logan’s shadow.” X-23 was cloned from the DNA of Wolverine and her creator/mother Sarah Kinney. The parallel here is that both X-23 and Psylocke are overshadowed by more famous iterations of the same character (or at least are liable to be seen as such). Psylocke, of course, is leaning into that. X-23 isn’t.

PAGES 23-27. In Tokyo, Psylocke and X-23 investigate Apoth, learn about Overclock, and find out that Psylocke’s missing daughter was involved in the train crash.

Motoko. New character – she’s a black market tech dealer. Unusually, she instantly recognises and accepts Psylocke as Kwannon.

“Call it respect for Matsu’o.” Matsu’o Tsurayaba, Kwannon’s lover before the body swap. He was high up in the Hand, and a regular Wolverine villain for some years. Psylocke (the original) killed him in the 2010 Psylocke miniseries.

Overclock. We learn more about this in the next data pages, but basically it’s a black market technological high, which Apoth is rumoured to be behind. Motoko says here that it can kill you and make you decide to take everyone else with you – which is presumably what was meant to be happening in the opening scene. Overclocking, of course, refers to speeding up a computer’s clock so that it runs faster than intended; given what we’re told later about the time dilation effect of using Overclock, it seems to do something comparable.

The flashback. Kwannon’s unseen mentor takes her daughter away from her because “love is weakness.” He wants her to remember this so that she’ll know in future what she can endure. Lovely. He refers to a “we” who killed the child’s father for similar anti-love reasons.

PAGES 28-29. Data pages on Overclock, the black market technology that you can build from legal parts and behaves like a designer drug. Overclock, of course, is new.

“To date, no deaths have been reported from Overclock usage.” This contradicts what Motoko said in the previous scene, but perhaps she can connect the deaths to Overclock in a way that the authorities – being quoted in these pages – cannot.

Hikikomori. Broadly, a term used in Japan for modern-day recluses who rarely venture out of the home and withdraw from society. Despite what it says on the data page, it doesn’t refer specifically to young men, though it used to be seen as principally a psychological issue affecting the young.

Senator Kenneth Wind. Probably just an easter egg, but Ken Wind was the presidential candidate who was possessed by the Beast (the demon worshipped by the Hand) in the 1986 miniseries Elektra Assassin. He was a Democrat in that series, not a Republican as stated here.

PAGES 30-32. Psylocke and X-23 trace Apoth to a barn which turns out just to contain some Overclocked children that taunt them before dropping dead.

Apoth repeats the idea that the mutants are an irrelevance on their island exile, while he’s helping humanity to evolve. He sure seems like his worldview is in line with Kwannon’s trainers.

PAGE 33. Another flashback of Kwannon and her hooded mentor.

She kills a butterfly with a sword, for metaphorical reasons. The other point here is that they trained her to look for someone worth killing, and that’s effectively what she’s still doing now.

PAGES 34-35. Psylocke, X-23 and Cable make a deal with Sinister to work with him as long as she gets to kill the bad guy.

Straightforward enough: Psylocke is explicitly repeating the dialogue of her mentor as she promises to mould X-23 and Cable. This is clearly Very Bad. It’s also a downright arrogant way for her to talk to X-23 and Nate, given their respective histories. On top of that, it’s flagrantly against the kill-no-man laws of Krakoa. Relying on Sinister to keep things hidden seems… risky.

PAGES 36-38. Trailers and Stan Lee. The next issue trail reads NEXT: CHRYSALIS.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    I was pretty sure that Apoth might end up being revealed as the Beast.
    I thought the Kenneth Wind mention was oddly out of place, and a hint to Apoth’s true identity.

  2. Evilgus says:

    Hmm. I had hoped this would be better. But it just feels sloppy.

    The art is very dark – no action, extreme close ups of eyes every second panel, hardly any emoting. The characters need to explain what’s happening.

    The plot feels very unattached to the main Krakoa story. I’m realising this is true of most the main line, but still, it’s disappointing.

    I particularly dislike the muddling of Psylocke/Betsy/Kwannon. It was bad enough in the 90s – why pick this up again at this point, when new readers are likely be plentiful? This story could (and should) have been told years ago. And when we finally get the chance at a conversation between Betsy and Kwannon – it’s passed over. I also don’t think the muddling of the butterfly iconography helps either.

    Ultimately, in a story that is set to reclaim misappropriation, it’s very weird for it to happen in reverse; deny previous versions of events and ‘pin blame’ when both characters were victims; and take a cipher (Kwannon) and really double down on the stereotype. Why not hire a female, Asian writer? As it stands we’re back to tired old Western tropes about honour bound assassins again.

    Add to this the fact the X-editors explicitly said the Asian Psylocke body is still around for commercial purposes.. well, I suspected as much, but let’s try and be less brazen. For your exciting new x-lineup, it’s a curiously retrograde move to focus on sexy female ninja.

    Finally: X-23 was close to “Betsy” Psylocke since Laura’s first appearance. Worthy of some reference, surely?

  3. SanityOrMadness says:

    Hill has “mea culpa”‘d the ‘Logan’s shadow” line, said it’s not meant to be a theme & he’ll change it in trade, FTR.

    From a production standpoint, I’d like to know how both the colourist and whoever put the cast page together thought that wàs Betsy/Captain Britain on the first page of the floating Kwannon sequence, when context, facial features and the costumed wrist all show it’s Kwannon.

    Paul> Krakoa as paradise. It’s a little odd for Kwannon/Psylocke to be giving us this speech in a story set after the assassination of Professor X in X-Force #1, but that’s the publication sequence for you.

    *Is* that scene set after it? The following scene with Magneto is, but XF #1 could happen between them, no?

    Paul> “In that time of darkness, when I was no one…” Here and elsewhere in the issue, Kwannon seems to be saying that she was locked inside while Psylocke stole her body. That’s not what was shown at the time (see above), so there are several possibilities here, leaving aside continuity errors. Maybe Kwannon’s mind returned to her body, locked in, after her Revanche body died. Or maybe this is the part of Kwannon that was left behind in her original body all along.

    I’m definitely reading it as the last one – this Kwannon was never Revanche, just as the Carol Danvers in Rogue’s head was never Binary.

    > We see [Betsy] briefly in the issue, but Kwannon just refuses to talk to her.

    Where are they going with this? Betsy avoiding Kwannon (Exc) and Kwannon snubbing Betsy (FA) make some sense, but it being a showy point like this – twice! – suggests there’s going to be some resolution come a crossover. But what satisfying resolution could there be, given that neither wanted it? They team up to beat up Mojo?

  4. Evilgus says:

    >Sanity: “I’m definitely reading it as the last one – this Kwannon was never Revanche, just as the Carol Danvers in Rogue’s head was never Binary.”

    I hope that’s the case too, but it’s too confusing for a casual reader. Marketing wise, they are presenting Kwannon as Real Deal Psylocke. Witness the “X-Men Presents” issues on the comic stands for Omega Sentinel and Kwannon, among others… The Kwannon issue they highlight is the Soul Skinner from X-Men. It’s not clear if they mean Kwannon was always Psylocke, or was Revanche, or…

    My personal get out of jail head canon is this new FA Psylocke is still a bit of both women – hence the reference to tea, being in the body all along, etc. So they can do an inevitable soft reset down the line.

  5. Col_Fury says:

    “Not wind the watch…wind–like the air.” 🙂
    I’m assuming this Ken Wind is that Ken Wind’s son.

  6. Mikey says:

    What are the odds of any current X-writer bringing back Ariel, a former Fallen Angel?

    She was one of the more amusing characters from Mike Carey’s run.

  7. SanityOrMadness says:


    I wouldn’t read the X-Men #17 reprint as evidence of very much at all. I doubt the team who put that together had much knowledge of anything except someone telling them to “do a Kwannon reprint” and them just grabbing her first appearance (where she isn’t even named!. I would definitely have taken her death issue, #31)

    Evilgus> I particularly dislike the muddling of Psylocke/Betsy/Kwannon. It was bad enough in the 90s – why pick this up again at this point, when new readers are likely be plentiful? This story could (and should) have been told years ago. And when we finally get the chance at a conversation between Betsy and Kwannon – it’s passed over. I also don’t think the muddling of the butterfly iconography helps either.

    Well, in the flashbacks in X-Men #31, Matsuo does repeatedly call Kwannon “little Butterfly”.

    I would think that Kwannon exists now as much as anything else to avoid the whole “yellowface Caucasian” thing by reverting Betsy to her original version, without getting rid of an Asian female X-Man. The costume (and name)… well, that’s commercial. But that’s come and gone to varying degrees over the last twenty years already.

    Evilgus> Ultimately, in a story that is set to reclaim misappropriation, it’s very weird for it to happen in reverse; deny previous versions of events and ‘pin blame’ when both characters were victims;…

    Well, they were… but of the two, Kwannon definitely got the shorter end of the stick, especially if this Kwannon has been semi-aware, trapped inside Psylocke the whole time Asian Betsy was a thing. It’s understandable for Betsy to feel guilty, and Kwannon not to like her very much, even if it’s not *fair* in either case.

  8. K says:

    The panel border design in this book is really understated but appealing. I always appreciate these flourishes of visual design that no one forced the artist to do.

  9. Mark Coale says:

    I guess reviving/rebooting Charles was not as simple as we thought it might have been.

    I liked Taylor’s run on X-23, but I’m disappointed to see her in a book I probably not keep reading the day it comes out.

  10. Dazzler says:

    This series was a head-scratcher from the start. I think why it exists has gotten clearer, since it’s basically the poster child for the “every series avoids the main narrative because Hickman will be slowly, probably boringly getting to that stuff eventually.” I don’t expect this to end up selling better than an X-23 solo would.

    I don’t understand what people see in any of these books or this direction. I don’t think any of this is more appealing or encouraging than the “lost decade.”

    Not that I’ve bought much X-Men lately, but there’s almost always been at least one book that appeals to me on some level. For instance, I bought the latest X-Force run in TPB. Before that I was almost tempted to check out X-Men Blue just because I’m a fan of Cullen Bunn (his Magneto in particular) and Jorge Molina and I thought there was at least some story potential in the O5 going under Magneto’s wing, etc. There’s nothing here to even tempt me. I’m pretty bewildered that any of this appeals to anyone.

  11. SanityOrMadness says:

    @Mark Coale

    It was in the Hoxpox data pages that, while other telepaths could concievably use Cerebro for restoring backups, only Xavier was actually *trained* to do so. (They intended to get to the training later, since X wasn’t going to be able to do the sheer number of resurrections they planned. You’d think with all the Krakoan data downloads, he could have done it like that.).

    Ergo, losing an Xavier clone is not a fatal roadblock, but it does mean waiting until someone like Jean can figure it out from scratch before they can make a new Xavier.

  12. ANDREW says:

    I’m really curious to see where they’re going with this Xavier “death” storyline – Given what a central character he’s been with Hickman so far, I would find it strange that his death would occur in a spin-off not written by Hickman.

    But hey, you never know I guess.

  13. Chris V says:

    That seems like such an odd direction to go so early in the “Dawn of X” relaunch.
    Well, Professor X already got killed. We’re screwed again.
    What was that about Moira not wanting any precogs on Krakoa? You mean, because they might have foreseen this happening and said that maybe Professor X shouldn’t be wandering around aimlessly while the Reavers were invading in a few weeks….

    I guess this is as good a way to kill a few months while waiting for the year to pass and Hickman to continue telling the actual story.
    This will be the “lost year”.

    Also, I would like to see a review of X-Men #2. I doubt one is going to happen.
    Is anyone actually living on Krakoa?
    Based on X-Men #2, it seems like no one is actually living on Krakoa. Maybe Apocalypse.
    You know, who is not a sorcerer.

  14. wwk5d says:

    Just so we’re clear…Psylocke is now back in her original Caucasian body (or a new one, or a cloned one, or whatever, she’s White again) and using the name Captain Britain. Kwannon is now back in her original Asian body (or a new one, or a cloned one, or whatever, she’s Asian again) and is using the name Psylocke now. Ok then…

    It does seem like Marvel wants to appease the people who are uncomfortable with having Betsy with an Asian body (“She doesn’t count as Asian diversity!”), but they still want to keep a purple-haired telepathic Asian ninja.

    With regards to continuity…at this point it’s just easier to accept that the writers, from Hickman on down, will use continuity only when they feel like it, or when it won’t constrain their story.

  15. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    It’s weird, this book goes in a similar grimdark direction as X-Force, but while I think the general concept for X-Force is stronger, the first issue of Fallen Angels was better than the first issue of X-Force. Not by much – I’d say both of those titles are the weakest in the current line-up.

    Well. I’d say that, but X-Men #2 was painful to read.

    So, judging by first issues (and second of X-Men), I’m mostly positive about half the line – Excalibur, Marauders and New Mutants. Is that a good result? I think there were worse line-ups, but that is not really an endorsement, is it?

    I am positively suprised that we’re seeing a coherence between the various titles – Xavier remains dead this week, Doug is off-planet. And the mention of Otherworld in the X-Men #2 infographics suggest that Excalibur might be more integral to the overall plot than it seemed.

    But… so far I don’t love any of these books. I’m used to the main x-title / x-titles being mediocre, but there usually was a spin-off or a solo title that I loved published alongside those. Maybe one of those three I mentioned turns into that, maybe there will be something in the next wave of books. Right now I’m… I don’t know, politely interested but not really engaged?

  16. CJ says:

    I was least interested in this one, and that’s too bad since the idea of a bunch of mutants being unhappy or restless in this paradise could be appealing.

    There is a lot of potential to explore mutants who may not prefer to live on Krakoa despite how perfect it seems to be.

    This series seems to me to be closer in spirit to previous iterations of X-Force (grim violent black ops) whereas what is being called X-Force reminds me of X-Factor (government-sanctioned counterintelligence team made up of mutants).

  17. YLu says:

    This was the weakest of the first issues, I thought. Some of the back-and-forth between Psylocke and Magneto/Sinister was suitably tense and characterful, but other than that nothing here felt fresh.

    Paul, at the risk of sounding nitpicky, you use Apoth to refer to the devices and the individual behind them interchangeably, but I think it’s only supposed to refer to the latter. The former is always Overclock.

  18. Taibak says:

    CJ: Along those lines, there might be potential to have a Justice miniseries come out of this. He’s perfectly happy with the Avengers and I can’t imagine he’d be even remotely interested in moving to Krakoa.

  19. Luis Dantas says:

    Hmm, isn’t Proteus relying on Xavier clone bodies to keep honest these days?

    _And_ isn’t he crucial in the process?

    I would not want to be around Proteus in the next few hours. Or at any later time, unless somehow Xavier can be ressurrected pretty soon.

  20. Loz says:

    A Fallen Angels comic that doesn’t feature Bill and Don the lobsters isn’t worth the e-paper it’s e-printed on. I damn well hope that Xavier brought them back before he ‘died’.

    And so this comic is going to be about some bored X-Men going after Cake, which as we know is a made up drug that affects the area of the brain called Shatner’s Bassoon, so that reading an issue of Fallen Angels seems to take longer than it actually does.

    However, both X-Force and Fallen Angels, with their high levels of ‘mutants who don’t like staying on the island because they think they’ll loose their edge’ would seem to puncture the idea so many had that the off-characterisation of HoXPoX was due to all the characters being brainwashed.

  21. Adrian says:

    @Loz Yes. There is no brainwashing. Just bad character writing (mostly from Hickman). FF parody #2, I mean X-Men #2, is the hot mess that proves it.

    Fallen Angels has got some amateur hour scripting as well. Some odd moments where the characters give pointed expressions to let you know that you need to pay attention. The art is not very good either.

    The one good part was the Sinister interaction. Sinister is handled better here than in Hox/Pox where he read like a cringeworthy Mojo Drag Queen mash up. Yet another character written very differently across the line (Apocalypse and Young Cable also).

  22. Dazzler says:

    Isn’t it objectively rather damning that even after every book has launched we’re still having to clarify that all of the main characters haven’t been brainwashed?

    Personally I figured it out most of the way through HOXPOX, based on Hickman’s track record. I felt it was absolutely cemented that it’s just a case of bad, tone deaf writing by the end of that series, and I thought it was hammered home by the fact that it wasn’t a plot point by X-Men #1. Obviously something went very wrong somewhere between the keyboard and the audience.

  23. SanityOrMadness says:


    Proteus just possesses Xavier clone bodies (“husks”). They don’t need him for that, he’s only required to download the backup copy of a mind.

  24. Col_Fury says:

    I wasn’t thrilled with this one. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why…

    I think it’s just the GrimDark atmosphere of the book. Also, the “let’s go murder someone” plot (yeah, it’s a Bad Guy they’re going after, but still). And the Psylocke/Kwannon confusion. And X-23 has apparently forgotten all of her Tom Taylor character development. And I don’t care for Kid Cable.

    Apparently, a bunch of stuff that doesn’t interest me has been lumped together in one book. If the only thing that caught my interest was an off-hand mention of a villain from Elektra: Assassin, then something isn’t clicking.

    PS: I learned recently that the photo pasted over Ken Wind’s face through Elektra: Assassin was Bill Sienkiewicz. I had no idea! 🙂

  25. Allan says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by this one. In a weird way, it reminded me of Kurt Busiek’s Avengers, where he took a semi-iconic but deeply damaged character (Carol Danvers), made them a focal player again. And, most importantly, rather than ignoring or handwaving their problematic backstory, he took it on at face value and made it the focus of the character arc.

    So instead we have Kwannon with obvious emotional scars, a strained relationship with Betsy, a tendency to perpetuate her damaged mentor/pupil relationship, plus added personal backstory like her arms dealer associate and daughter. It’s the first time she’s felt like an actual character instead of NotPsylocke. After HoXPoX and most of the #1s set up lots of heavy plot dominos to be knocked down, this was more setup for a character arc for someone that didn’t have a personality before this issue.

    Also, the Krakoa setup also provides some better dramatic tension. When normal X-Force teams start murdering people at random, the stakes are that maybe Xavier is disappointed in them. In Krakoa, they run the risk of infinite torture. Probably not the core three, but they’ll inevitably add some villains to the team (Psylocke explicitly says they’ll recruit more members, and they need to be people who like violence, so), and they’re fodder for Krakoa’s belly.

    Some clunky bits and the I’m not crazy about the art, but I was honestly expecting to give it one issue and then bail, and I’m sticking for the opening arc.

  26. Dave says:

    “I think why it exists has gotten clearer”.
    I still don’t. I liked this issue well enough, but I don’t see why this and X-Force aren’t one book, with Kwannon on the team. Who at Marvel is THAT big a Betsy/Psylocke fan that she’s now the lead character in TWO books simultaneously?

  27. SanityOrMadness says:

    Well, two things. Firstly, to have Kwannon as anything other than a face in the crowd, they need to establish her AS a character – the hypothetical X-Force book would have to have her as essentially a central character. And they need her to be a character so that they can de-Akira Yoshida-ify Betsy without losing probably the most prominent Asian female face on the team.

    Secondly, they need an “non-Krakoa” book, where characters in whole or in part reject Krakoa. This appears to be intended as that, in concept (although a weakness is possibly that the central characters don’t go far enough down that road)

  28. Brodie says:

    Honestly, I’m just irrationally annoyed Betsy has lost the butterfly entirely to Kwannon.

    (And partially worried that now any old story that featured Asian!Betsy will now be about Kwannon when referenced.)

  29. Adrian says:

    @Brodie Now there will always be an asterisk next to Psylocke with a qualifier as to who was wearing the title at the time when a past Psylocke event is referenced. I do not know why Kwannon would even want the moniker Psylocke as it is deeply interwined with Betsy. Fresh start, fresh name I would think. It is even more odd as the current story is playing heavily with the similarity between Kwannon and Kannon,Goddess of Mercy.

    They cannot retroactively make her Psylocke for all the Betsy stories. Anyone who gives a hoot about the character knows better. New readers aren’t going to pick this side title up anyway. Only completionists are probably going to read this. None of the characters so far are prominent X-Men. Not even Psylocke is that big a draw either so using the name doesn’t help. Despite it being one of the best X-Men runs I have read, Remender’s X-Force was a top 25 seller at best(and Wolverine was in it).

    So why not just take Kwannon and make her a separate character with the Kwannon moniker. Develop the character and if they are really serious about having a prominent Asian X-Man, rope her into the main cast. A good start would be featuring some more A list X-Men as part of her supporting cast so she can start getting some history with them. It is early days yet so maybe that is coming. It just feels like they have hamstrung themselves by mixing this all up with the Psylocke/Betsy history.

  30. Col_Fury says:

    I have a feeling that they’re going to pull a “she was in Betsy’s head the whole time so she remembers all of those adventures” deal. That way, they have a way out if/when Kwannon remembers something she “shouldn’t.”

    Just a guess.

    Also, I agree with Brodie; the butterfly effect has been Betsy’s signature since before she joined the X-Men. It’s a shame she seems to have “lost” it.

  31. Voord 99 says:

    @Adrian: So why not just take Kwannon and make her a separate character with the Kwannon moniker

    Oh, I think we all know why not. See also Old Man Logan (but this time with an added dose of terrible ‘90s superhero comics depictions of women as part of the mix).

    Of course, we don’t have to *like* it. I think you’re completely right that, creatively speaking, it would be much better to approach Kwannon as being her own character. But Marvel does not throw away valuable IP that already exists if there’s some way they can have their cake and eat it.

  32. Adrian says:

    @Voord yes that is probably quite true. I assumed Betsy being Captain Britain would be temporary.

  33. Voord 99 says:

    That’s definitely the more interesting side of it, and it will be interesting to see if Betsy as Captain Britain can actually stick.

    There probably hasn’t and even now won’t be much input from film and television into the publishing side. But it doesn’t matter, I think, because the comics side has evident come to think of “How would this character work in a film or TV show?” as part of the mix when thinking about individual characters.

    The big shining example of doing this successfully is Carol Danvers, who went from a second-rank (at best) character to being someone whom audiences around the world can immediately recognize, on the basis of a renaiming,redesign, and reconceptualization that were implemented in the comics first.

    One thing you can absolutely guarantee about Marvel (and not just Marvel, obviously) is that if something works, they will go, “Right, let’s do that again.”. (Not so good, notoriously, at figuring out when it stops working and it’s time to stop doing it.) Captain Marvel would obviously be the model for the new Captain Britain even if C. B. Cebulski hadn’t said that she was. (Would C. B. Cebulski ever lie to us? Well, OK, he’s probably not lying about this).

    And one can see why one would look at Brian Braddock and see him as a difficult character to make into a screen hero at the moment: his original conception is the product of a American Anglophile PBS conception of Britain as essentially composed entirely of the landed aristocracy and their servants.. And while plenty of Americans still like to spend time in that version of Britain, that’s not any more a popular profile for an action hero.

    Obviously, good stuff has been done with Brian since his conception, but you can see that, if you’re thinking in terms of how this character is going to come off to people with no previous familiarity, saying “Well, it worked with Captain Marvel, right?” starts sounding like a good thing to do in the meeting.

  34. Taibak says:

    FWIW, from a publishing standpoint I think this might be the best possible solution to the whole Psylocke mess. Given that Marvel is serious about having diverse characters, it makes sense to keep Psylocke around since she’s by far their highest profile East Asian character.

    On the other hand, there’s something deeply uncomfortable about having their highest profile East Asian character be a white woman in the wrong body.

    Putting Kwannon and Betsy in their original bodies is about as good a resolution to this mess as you can possibly get. It keeps the well-known ‘classic’ Psylocke in circulation while getting rid of the inherent racism of Betsy turning Asian just so she can be a ninja. You can argue that this is overly complicated, but since their backstory is already an overcomplicated mess, what’s one more change at this point?

    For me, the bigger problem is that they just waited to long to do this. They should have done this back when Kwannon first showed up. Have the fight at the Mansion, go to Japan to investigate, fight Spiral, then if she won’t cooperate have Forge or Beast modify Cerebro so Xavier can put everyone back where they belong. That would have been far more elegant than another 20 years of retcons.

  35. Taibak says:

    Voord: One of the best things about the MCU is that they’ve generally been really good at picking out the strongest elements of their characters’ backstories and focusing on them. If the rumours of a Captain Britain/Excalibur movie are true and if it focuses on Brian, rather than Betsy, they probably won’t focus on his class background. He’ll probably still be from a well-off family, although maybe not necessarily a member of the aristocracy, but they’ll probably focus more on how Alan Moore and Jamie Delano wrote him: the reluctant superhero who’s in WAY over his head and wants to go back to a quiet, normal life.

  36. Moo says:

    @Taibak. – My understanding of the situation at the time (and I can’t confirm whether this true or not, so take it with a grain of salt) was that the reason Kwannon was created in the first place was because someone felt that Betsy being cosmetically altered to appear Asian was in bad taste. The body-swap *was* the fix. I guess no one saw that as being a dodgy idea either.

  37. ASV says:

    One of the things I found so odd about the original Kwannon story at the time, having started reading comics a month before X-Men #1, is that I had no idea that the “new” Psylocke was meant to be Asian. Also no idea that Jubilee was Asian-American until the cartoon launched. The X-Men artists of the time, and especially Andy Kubert, drew everybody with narrow eyes — look at the cover of X-Men #22 and guess which of the two bodies is meant to be ethnically Japanese and which is meant to be English.

  38. Allan M says:

    @Moo, it’s sillier than that. In CBR’s Comics Legends Explained, after explaining that the original Claremont story had shown Betsy was white when she emerged from Siege Perilous, and then the Hand used plastic surgery to make her look Asian. So the Kwannon retcon, explaining why Psylocke became Asian, was unnecessary. First quote is by the writer, then Nicieza:

    “Nicieza, as he recalled to me when I asked him about it, just had not read that issue of Uncanny X-Men (thinking that Psylocke’s story began in Uncanny X-Men #256). As he stated:

    ‘So I started a storyline about the two different bodies because I screwed up the research and no one else in editorial noted it. In fact, no readers noted it until many issues after the storyline had started (don’t forget, this was before the instantaneous fact-checking and hating that can be accomplished on the internet today).’

    So Kwannon exists because Nicieza tried to fix a plot hole that didn’t exist. Illustrious beginnings.

  39. Dave says:

    “the inherent racism of Betsy turning Asian just so she can be a ninja…”

    Well, a similar thing had already been done, twice, with Wolverine’s samurai elements and Kitty’s martial arts training, WITHOUT any body or race-swapping. Wasn’t a big part of the reason for the body-swap that Betsy was seen as a bit dull (when there were already superior telepaths on the team)? Giving her the ninja training alone would’ve been old hat, so they added the body-swap.
    Would it have been acceptable to have her body-swap with…another British woman who had SAS training or something? We’re going to limit body-swaps to bodies of the same race? How bizarre.

    There could have been something interesting done with them bringing Kwannon back with a Cerebro resurrection, and Xavier having to decide what body they were going to clone for her, if they hadn’t jumped the gun in Hunt for Wolverine. Though the place in the past where they REALLY should’ve restored everything, if they were going to, was when Jamie recreated Betsy and didn’t put her back in her original body.
    Finally, if it has to be the case that Asian Betsy’s a no-no, then there was still no need to bring such a minor character as Kwannon back since there are other East Asian X-men who can get some extra focus instead of having two ‘Psylockes’.

  40. Taibak says:

    Dave: You’re overcomplicating this.

    Putting Betsy into a new body just so she could learn some new skills was stupid.

    Turning her into a walking stereotype was both racially insensitive and stupid.

  41. Moo says:

    @Allan – Ah, okay, thanks. I was aware he screwed up the story and had to redo it later because his original version conflicted with #256, but I wasn’t aware that him missing #256 was the reason he came up with the story in the first place.

  42. SanityOrMadness says:

    Firstly, what Taibak said.

    Secondly, even if that wasn’t true… it’s not as if anything came of the raceswap under Claremont, there’s no “added value” like Dave suggests.

    Hell, the issue after it happened, Wolverine *recognises* her. And not because of scent or somesuch, but because he pulls off her “Lady Mandarin” headpiece & he sees her face.

    And then, at the end of the story, she has some angst about being mind-controlled, but the fact that she is now unrecognisable is no part of it. And then she appears twice in the next ten issues and, again, it doesn’t even come up in either instance.

    It was treated less significantly than most of the costume changes in the Claremont run.

  43. Dave says:

    You don’t think the bodyswap made her a more, well, gimmicky character? Not in a disparaging way – comicbook characters need gimmicks.
    It’s taking the body swap to be insensitive that’s overthinking it – it’s a weird thing that happened to a comicbook character.

  44. Chris says:

    Psylocke’s transformation was a point in THE X-TINCTION AGENDA. The other X-teams only knew her because Wolverine vouched.

  45. Arrowhead says:

    I don’t think it’s unfair to call the character “insensitive.” “Ninja Psylocke” is a pretty clear “dragon lady” archetype – exotic, cool-tempered, violent, fetishistic outfit, Asian cultural signifiers. She’s not an all-out racist stereotype (like, say, The Mandarin) but potentially regressive unless you put extra effort into modernizing her (closer to Shang-Chi or Luke Cage). Hardly unworkable, but a little problematic unless carefully handled.

    But when you add in the bodyswap, you go from a sorta regressive Asian character… to a white person from a completely different background *acting* like a regressive Asian character while dressing up in an Asian *costume.* Thus the problem of “yellow face.”

    In terms of sorting this mess out… well, it was always going to be like tearing off a bandaid.
    It would have been cleaner to say that our Psylocke was really Kwannon the whole time, mistakenly believing herself to be Betsy and sharing some memories. That arguably makes her interactions with Brian and the whole Britain mythos over the years seem hollow in retrospect, but we’ve dealt with worse character damage from clunkier retcons.
    To protect Betsy’s character, you might instead say Kwannon and Betsy were “fused” into one soul, sharing all of Psylocke’s choices and experiences in the intervening years – and that now that they’ve split up their personalities are starting to diverge again. Maybe use a love triangle with Angel to help clarify this.

    In any case, it’s probably best (for both the IP and future stories) to shove the whole bodyswap mess into the “let us never speak of this again” bin, and essentially treat them as two separate characters.

  46. Chris V says:

    Am I missing something obvious here.
    What “superior telepaths” were on the team when Betsy joined?

    Rachel was with Excalibur.
    Professor X was gone.
    Jean Grey was with X-Factor.
    I thought Psylocke joining served the purpose of putting a telepath on the X-Men team again.

    As far as I can tell, Jim Lee just wanted to draw a “hot Asian chick”, and Claremont tried to come up with something.

  47. SanityOrMadness says:


    “Fused minds” was actually the original explanation for the Psylocke/Revanche thing, before anyone caught that it was shown Betsy was transformed *after* being found by the Hand, not before. The wrap-up when they killed off Revanche undid that and made it a definitive body-swap – complete with removing any elements of Kwannon’s personality from Betsy – because they just wanted shot of it all.

    What they appear to have done is the Superior Spider-Man thing – sure, Revanche was killed off just as Peter-in-Doc-Ock was killed off, but there were copies of Peter’s mind left in his Doc Ock-controlled body (in duplicate, yet).

    The other alternative is the Jason Aaron Hulk option – that Revanche’s last flare (including the residue she left in Matsuo to clean things up) actually put her back in her body, but in a way incapable of communicating or acting, even with Betsy, but Rosenberg making Kwannon unable to speak English goes against that.

    Chris V> What “superior telepaths” were on the team when Betsy joined?

    As near as I can tell, the “there are superior telepaths around, better change Psylocke” thing has nothing whatsoever to do with the Claremont/Lee body swap (as Dave has it) and everything to do with the years-later Crimson Dawn thing.

    [Also, Jean wasn’t even a telepath until the very last days of the original X-Factor, after the body-swap]

  48. Dazzler says:

    As problematic as Psylocke’s transformation probably was, I feel like the untransformation is more problematic.

  49. Col_Fury says:

    re: Arrowhead
    Oh! Now that’s a good idea, a Betsy/Warren/Kwannon love triangle. But wouldn’t it be terrible to find out Warren only dated Betsy because he had a thing for Asians?

    For real, though; I think there’s some mileage in that. 🙂

  50. SanityOrMadness says:


    I think the biggest problem is that they’ve been shown (in two different books) to ostentatiously avoid each other in a way that begs for resolution. Only, there’s no satisfying resolution to be had – they were both victims of Matsuo, Mojo & Spiral, so Betsy could only apologise for getting the not-great end rather than the horrifically awful end. Which is hardly great material, but it’s either that or one of them goes Full Villain over it.

    It’s not even as if either of them seems to out and out hate each other – Kwannon’s an assassin, but she’s passive-aggressively nicking Betsy’s codename rather than trying to kill her; and Betsy’s feeling guilty, but not curl-up-in-a-ball so. It might have been better just tearing off the plaster and having a conversation (however strained) between them in Excalibur #1 or Fallen Angels #1 to get it out of the way.

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