Monday, 22 June 2009

Nova, Uncanny X-Men, Killpower and the shape of things to come.

Greetings once more loyal It Came From Darkmoor reader,

Yes, it's been a while. During the month of may I mostly gave over the computer to my other half, for a project of her own she was working on. Maybe at some later date I will be able to tell you more at that. But for now just understand that May was a month away from the site, which as it happened also tied in with a heck of a lot of other things on my plate. I continued to post in Twitter and elsewhere online, especially around the unfortunate cancellation of Captain Britain & MI13, all the same.

A great thank you to those of you who sent Birthday wishes to me at the start of June. In the past few weeks I have experienced turning 30, finding a new house and arranging a mortgage, on top of starting at a new gym and a build-up of work from my employers too. I've meant to jump in with an update sooner, but time has not been on my side. Further on in this bulletin (So please keep reading to the end)I'll be detailing just where I'm going to be going from here, in order to get back on track. I think you'll like it.

But in the meantime Marvel UK properties have continued to pop up in modern continuity. And as always I've been watching out for them...

Starting out with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Nova, which became part of the DnA devised Cosmic Crossover Event "War of Kings". But meanwhile, in May's #23 a plot which has been building in the background for a while finally came to a very significant point, as far as Marvel UK fans are concerned.

You may remember back in October I first mentioned how Death's Head II's programmer, Dr Evelyn Necker, had shown up in the pages of Nova (Who the Necker You?). We know from Abnett and Sharp's Death's Head II that some ten years into the future an Evelyn Necker was working for AIM, having created Project Minion - a cyborg designed to assimilate the greatest scientific and warrior minds from galactic history. And here we had a slightly younger Evelyn Necker working for Project PEGASUS, who just happens to also be running a personal project called 'Project Minion,' along with some 'Death's Head' cyborgs which happened to look suspiciously like the Minion Cyborg who would later become Death's Head II.

But at that point we still had never seen a finite link between Necker working for PEGASUS and her future self. Until May's #23.

To catch you up to speed, at this point Richard Rider has had the Nova force removed from him (After a falling out with a corrupted Worldmind) and discovered that as a result he is actually now dying from the damage the Nova force did to his body. He has been consulting Dr Necker about ways of keeping him alive. However, that comes to an end when Norman Osborn turns up and shuts down Project PEGASUS, seizing its resources now that he runs the replacement organization for SHIELD.

Necker though is not willing to let Richard Rider die. So she grabs what records she has, throws him into her car, and drives them to a secret laboratory, hidden below an abandoned Drive-In movie theatre. To which Richard queries if Dr Necker 'Works for SHIELD'. She replies (Click to enlarge):


And there you have it. The circle is complete. Necker HAS been working for AIM. Now whether this means that Abnett and Lanning may yet choose to try bringing back a new version of Death's Head (Always a good idea, yes?) remains to be seen. But the doorway is open, and the option is there.

Plus, this unexpected little moment:


Certainly leaves further appearances in the pages of Nova as a possibility. She's not Gamora, but I can think of worse couplings out there..

May also threw me a very unexpected curve-ball in the pages of Matt Fraction and Greg Land's Uncanny X-Men, which momentarily cheered me up during the news of Captain Britain's cancellation. This one came quite out of the blue. In Uncanny they'd been building up a storyline involving Madelyn Pryor, Cyclops's ex-wife and clone of Jean Grey, creating a 'Sisterhood' of Evil Mutants... To be honest, I wasn't really that interested. But then, in Uncanny X-Men #508, Fraction had this Sisterhood going to Japan to retrieve a body. The original British body, it seemed of one Elisabeth Braddock. A body they healed back to health, somehow, before this happened:



'Hold on a second...,' I thought,'Did that just happen?'

Yes. It did. They put Psylocke back into her real body, again.

And the cover of Uncanny #509 continued with that:



Now, I've probably mentioned before that I have certain problems with the way {Psylocke has been written over the past 15 years. Back in the early 90s Chris Claremont had British telepath (And non-mutant twin sister of Captain Britain) modified by Spiral and Mojo, and brought under the service of Marvel's Japanese ninja cult The Hand. At the end of the previous storyline, in order to escape death, the X-Men travelled through mystical gateway The Siege Perilous. Each character found themselves somewhat altered and split apart from the group as a result.

Longshot and Dazzler ended up in another dimension. Rogue ended up with Magneto in the Savage Land. Colossus ended up in England, where he believed he was a British painter. And Psylocke ended up brainwashed and physically modified into an assassin.

The actual story which detailed Psylocke's journey, by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee (In Uncany X-Men #256-258), remains one of my favourite stories of all time. The references to Captain Britain's solo series, and Betsy's past relationships with BOTH of her brothers is really well written.

But when Claremont left Uncanny things began to get a little silly.

The change was never meant to be permanent. None of the other X-Men stayed the way they'd been left. But Marvel editors and marketing men liked a ninja who fought in a swimsuit like costume. Great for 1990s Marvel Swimsuit Specials! And so it stuck...

Fabian Nicieza retconned Psylocke's body modification into a Body Swap, with a
Japanese ninja named Kwannon. The two fought, then reconciled. Kwannon even briefly joined the X-Men, as Revanche, before being killed off by a virus. Thus removing any possibility of ever putting Betsy back into her real body.

I personally hate it. Most Psylocke fans I know out there also hate it. In fact many new readers do not even realise that Betsy Braddock is English. Because she doesn't look English, and over the years writers have struggled to write her dialogue, mannerisms and personality AS English. In fact she's almost been overwritten as being Japanese on a couple of occasions.

I personally detest the Japanese body, because it's an odd contradiction. None of her personality is trained towards that culture. And the longer she stays in that form the longer all ties to her former life, as a supermodel and agent of British espionage organisation STRIKE, go unexplored. Furthermore Marvel changed her Marvel UK power-set of telepathic blasts and precognitive flashes to badly explained telekinetic powers a while back. So seeing her finally back in her real British body, as fans have been pleading for over 15 years, and using those psi powers to manifest a psychic knife, I was cock-a-hoop!

Unfortunately, Marvel have a habit of disappointing me at the moment...


Yeah. You saw that right. Betsy Psi-bladed her brains out.

(Although there was a nice little interchange between Betsy and Dazzler there, which did at least acknowledge the characters' comradeship in the X-Men 'Outback Years'. A small bonus. Very small...)

She's now found her way back into her Swimsuit Ninja body, and the British one is firmly dead again. To call it disappointing doesn't really cover it. I understand that she'll be getting part of her Psi Powers back, but what a waste. It makes the characters back history even more complicated. That's never a good thing.

Now a couple of months back I mentioned how Motormouth had turned up as an agent of MI13, in Captain Britain & MI13. Here she was:



At the time she stated that her partner, Killpower, was captured when Dracula broke into the Hussain household (Faiza 'Excalibur' Hussain's parents) while they were assigned to protect them. Well, in this month's penultimate issue #14 Killpower does indeed make an appearance. I won't show too much, as it will give away a bit of plot which shouldn't be spoiled. You should go and buy yourself a copy instead. But just to reassure those who wanted to know for sure that he was in there, here you go:



The rest I leave up to you.

Whilst we're still on the subject of CB&MI13, I'm still trying to track down the second Marvel trade of the book. The Panini one has been out for a while, but the final copy of Marvel's own version of trade in Forbidden Planet, Coventry, was swiped from my grasp by another. So I went home and placed an order with Amazon instead. Two weeks later it still hadn't shipped, and so I sent them an email to find out why. I received the following:

"Dear Mr M A Roberts,

Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.co.uk.

Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience, but "Captain Britain And MI13 Volume 2: Hell Comes To Birmingham TPB" appears to have been a surprise sellout.

When you placed your order [ORDER # BLANKED OUT], we believed we had access to more copies - we then discovered that every one of our distributors had rapidly sold out.

Major distributors have thousands of copies on order from the publisher, all
apparently awaiting the next print run. As soon as more copies become available,we'll be able to dispatch them to our customers.

We will update you once we have received an estimated arrival date from the vendor."


well, it's a bugger for me. I'll have to keep on waiting, but in a certain light is good to at least know that perhaps, in some small way, Marvel might have made enough off trade sales to wonder if they've been a bit hasty about the book. Vocal fan pressure certainly hasn't eased up any. In fact that many people posted Captain Britain & MI13 questions on for Joe Quesada on CBR's Cup of Joe that they farmed it out into a separate article: Joe Quesada Talks Captain Britain, Event Fatigue

Oh, and the big news I meant to post separately - Panini's Captain Britain vol. 3 (The Lion and the Spider) finally came out! And for those Black Knight fans this one starts reprinting those Black Knight & Captain Britain stories from Hulk Comic. And about time too. Here's an Amazon link (But remember, there ARE other retailers): ISBN-10: 1846534011 and ISBN-13: 978-1846534010

And finally, onto what comes next for It Came From Darkmoor. A few of the older features have become a bit absent recently. I'll be trying to get a Cover of the Week up each week as a bare minimum, and the 'Who the Hell is...?' profiles will return in coming months, but I'm going to try and shake things up with a couple of new odds and ends, too.

Firstly, it's now been a good ten years since I read some of the Marvel UK material I talk up on this site and elsewhere. Partly to makes sure this Blog covers all angles, and partly to keep it all fresh in my mind ( ;D ) I'll be starting to re-read a few series and posting my thoughts, issue by issue, on here where and when I get the chance. I'll probably be beginning with the imprint years, but if anybody has a request for something earlier then by all means drop me a line at theswordisdrawn@googlemail.com . It may have a bearing on my final decision if enough of you want a deeper look at one specific series.

And secondly is an idea I considered early last year, but never quite got around to. The idea was to do an A to Z of some of the more obscure Marvel UK properties - some of which hadn't been covered in any detail before on the Blog or were just obscure characters which I loved, but others probably don't remember. The intention was to broaden the showcase of characters currently visible online.

Recently I did talk with Judge Dredd Megazine's Matthew Badham, about helping him out with a Marvel UK A to Z. That project sadly did not come off, but it got me thinking about the original idea and motivated me enough to start work on it proper. Matt's a bloody nice bloke, and he says he's okay with it, so look out for this new feature in the next couple of weeks.

If there is anything else you'd like to request, then by all means do. You have my email address and I'm always interested to hear what you guys think of the site.

You can also find me on Twitter at @theswordisdrawn where I frequently whitter on about more general Comic Book topics and anything which I happen to have found quite amusing that day. Feel free to drop by.

Right, well that's it for now. It's gone midnight and my eyes are dry from fatigue and continuing hayfever irritation(Thought - Why do I always get hayfever worse, directly after it's rained? There's something not right about that.)

Hope you all enjoy your week.

Speak soon

Mark
Sword)

3 comments:

  1. I think all of your ideas for the future sound both timely and marvelous.
    Please, keep up the great work here.

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  2. I agree with everything you said about Psylocke. This storyline was meaningless. The body swap was a story so many fans hated, and to redo the whole thing only to have the ninja version back is ridiculous. It's like Matt Fraction personally trolled every fan of the original Psylocke. He could have brought her back so easily from the Exiles world if he wanted to. I hate that we'll never see a permanent Britsh Betsy again. He admitted the only reason he did it was to bring in a more a racially diverse team. There are so many mutants he could have done that with. I feel like a sucker for subscribing to Uncanny back in March. It's such a waste of money and hope. Even without this story it was horrible.

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  3. Cheers nilskidoo. And Hi Chris.

    Yes, I'm really not sure where Matt Fraction was going with that story at all. If your comment about ethnic diversity is something he's actually said in interview, well... he wouldn't be the first person to have done that. But my problem with that is that Psylocke may look like she has an oriental heritage behind her, but at the rend of the day she does not.

    There is no part of her which has any connection to South-east Asia on a cultural level, whatsoever. She may be wearing that body, but inside it she's a British woman whose only true cultural frame of reference and whose whole personality, is rooted in BEING British.

    American writers across the 90s chose not to embrace that. Whether that's a case of not wanting to acknowledge that, or being uncertain as to how to write British dialogue, well, obviously only they can know that for sure. But I feel to deny something as fundamentally important to the character as that is kind of narrow-minded, and kind of lazy in terms of writing. It's ignored something which should really be just as important to Psylocke as being German is Nightcrawler, or being Russian is to Colossus. You can read that into their dialogue and actions. For Betsy? It's incredibly rare it's there.

    The bottom line for me, is that there are certain ways in which British people tend to react and respond to being in America. The concept of the Brit abroad may seem somewhat clichéd to some, but having BEEN a Brit in the States I know how that perspective can influence my actions, and just how alien things can sometimes seem, despite the common language and so many similarities between our two country. We don't see reference with any kind of frequency in Psylocke. And that is an incredible shame.

    I am still picking Uncanny up. I'll agree that it has not been playing its A Game since the team's move to San Franciso, but I do have a certain amount of confidence in Fraction. The Order and Casanova showed me that he can produce good material, and in fact the start of this new Crossover with Dark Avengers has been quite promising.

    It's just a shame that he's had to muck about with a character I'm always going to have an interest in reading.

    ReplyDelete