Who Is She?
This one’s going to be fun! Elizabeth Braddock is the sister of Captain Britain (uh, yeah, there is a Captain Britain. He wears a Union Jack as part of his costume, and looks Aryan, but is totally radical. I think he used Excalibur once, too. Albion! This is besides the point.) She appeared first as a backing character in her brother’s comic series, until the lure of X was just too strong. Chris Clairemont, her creator and a man who seems to harbour an overwhelming crush on his character, sent her to an alternate universe where she was given ‘bionic eyes’. Now, I haven’t read many of the older X-Men comics, but just hearing the phrase ‘she was given bionic eyes’ intrigues me. Anyway, she returned to the real world with psychic powers and these bionic eyes of hers, and got recruited into the X-Men almost immediately. After she joined, at some point she died her hair purple – the defining character trait for her for a long time. She called herself Psylocke, and became a valuable member of the X-Men team. She ran interference mainly, keeping the team aware of what was going on using her telepathy whilst staying in a safe location.
Then she got kidnapped and her race was changed from British to Asian. Oh, yeah, there’s that. Chris Clairemont has some crazy ideas sometimes, and his idea for Psylocke was to have her be abducted and brainwashed into a crazy ninja assassin who would then attack the X-Men. She also, during this process, became Asian for some reason.
Chris Bachalo can make anything look good, however, and when Betsy was most recently seen in the mainstream Marvel Universe she looked like this:
Hotness! Anyway, Clairemont killed her off in 2001, but she returned again later on, only to promptly be sent to hell. Did I just say hell? I meant to say ‘New Exiles’, a comic featuring a cast of characters who travel from dimension to dimension for little reason. It’s a comic Marvel seem to have given Clairemont as a way of keeping him away from the proper X-Men characters, but he demanded that if he were to be sent away in this fashion, he should at least be allowed Psylocke. So she went with him, and is now completely out of continuity with the rest of the X-Men, and that’s pretty annoying because she’s awesome. Happily, rumours abound say that she’ll finally return to the X-Men in 2009 at some point. Fingers crossed!
Why Is She Important?
On top of being incredibly awesome? Well, Betsy has been one of the main X-Men for aaaaaaaages. Like Havok, she’s always been hanging around in the background whenever something important happens, perhaps taking one or two moments in the spotlight before retreating again. What’s great about Psylocke is that she is accepted. If you list the main X-Men, you have Jean, you have Storm, you have Rogue. And you have Psylocke. It’s accepted that she is one of the most important X-Women.
There aren’t many of them left anymore. With Jean dead, Kitty missing, Rogue AWOL and Storm sidelined, the X-titles are coming dangerously close to having an all-male cast. That’s why Psylocke needs to return. She’s a classic character who has been vital in many of the biggest events – like Inferno, or X-Cutioner’s Song – and her presence helps make any comic feel like it truly belongs to the X-Men franchise. It’s hard to put, but surrounding Betsy is an air of credibility that the books are sorely missing at this moment in time. And she is a purple-haired ninja lady who has one metal sword and one psychic sword as her main weapons. She’s awesome.
Psylocke as a character is belligerent, too. Many of the X-Men passively sit by and wait to be attacked, but Psylocke is one of the few characters (along with Wolverine, natch, although recently he’s been pretty lazy as well) who seeks out the baddies before anything bad happens. It’s that kind of attitude that gives writers the chance to write a different kind of story – one where the X-Men go on the offensive, instead of find themselves in situations where they must struggle to survive. Psylocke is important, thusly, because she gives the X-Men momentum. And they desperately need that at the moment.