Tuesday, 20 July 2010

More British Marvel's out there, you may not be so aware ARE still out there... or British.

As I hope I've made clearer in recent times this Blog does not focus purely on the characters who were created by Marvel UK in the 70s, 80 and 90s. It's the larger part of what I do here, granted. But beyond that I do also like to explore the lives of British characters who were created by Marvel in the US, and remain part of the Marvel Universe as a whole.

And there's a few more of those than you might actually realise.

Blade would be the first example. When he started showing up in Captain Britain & MI13 I think it surprised a few people who largely thought of the character to be synonymous with Wesley Snipes to have actually been born in Britain. Eric Brooks is a perfectly British sounding name, of course.

Since the end of Captain Britain & MI13 we haven't really seen Blade. He will be appearing in the upcoming Spitfire One-shot as well as in X-Men: Curse of the Mutants - Blade #1.

Catchy title, huh? It's part of this new Vampire event by Victor Gischler. I've not really drawn much mention to it, because it effectively began by ignoring parts of the brilliant Vampire State storyline from last year. Gischler revived Dracula, with a radically different and somewhat alien appearance, only to kill him again in the course of a few pages.

Apparently this is a new Vampire Status Quo... But a fair number of Tomb of Dracula fans on CBR's forums have been pointing out that a number of details in this story just don't tally with past continuity. A great shame, for them. I know several long term Marvel Vampires fans who were really looking forward to this event, but have been left feeling quite disappointed so far. So, on current form, I wouldn't expect any acknowledgement of where Blade has been residing for the past year, or any other MI13 guest appearances in that one-shot.

Though I'd love to be proven wrong, of course. And at least they appear to be keeping his costume and tattoos.

Another example most people miss is Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, current Avenger and Agent of S.W.O.R.D.

Jessica was born in London, to two British parents. They did then move to Wundagore, where Jessica grew up, and I guess we don't tend to think of her as being British so much because we rarely see her in that context. Although she did start her recently cancelled ongoing series in London, where she was contacted by SWORD's Agent Brand.

Jessica has been a pretty much ever present face in Marvel over recent years. A favourite of Avengers supremo Brian Michael Bendis she was part of his New Avengers launch roster. It was revealed in Secret Invasion however, that the Jessica we saw there was, in fact, a Skrull. The Skrull Queen to be precise. Which has confused matters somewhat.

She remained with New Avengers until the recent reboot, and can now be found on the main Avengers team, penned by Bendis and pencilled by John Romita Jr.

Another closet Brit you might not know is X-Men character Fantomex.

Fantomex was created by Grant Morrison, for his New X-Men run, as a French accented bio-mechanical agent come adventurer type. Only the French accent was something which Fantomex would later make clear was a fake.

He too is technically British.

Fantomex was created in 'The World' a secret, self-contained, lab environment. Which just happened to be on British soil. So while Fanntomex tends to go where he
pleases (And I very much doubt he owns a proper Passport) ignoring International borders, he is technically a British National.

Fantomex recently returned from obscurity as one of the endless cameo appearances from X-Men characters past and present, in the pages of Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men.

Unlike many of those cameos though, it was unveiled last week that this was not going to be an isolated appearance of quite so little significance. At the end of X-Men: Second Coming #2 it was shown that Fantomex is going to be part of the regular cast of Rick Remender's up coming Uncanny X-Force, which will be arriving shortly, alongside Archangel, Deadpool, Wolverine and Captain Britain's twin sister Psylocke.

You see. More than you might think.

And of course there is one more upcoming British Marvel appearance I should probably mention. As this one I am sure the majority of folks will miss. And it occurs... here:

That's the cover to Frankencastle #21, again by Rick Remender and art by Dan Brereton.

Very Hammer Horror, no? Old school monster movie. Which fits the odd tone of the Frankencastle series very well. Which for those of you unfamiliar with the concept (And frankly it IS somewhat unbelievable when you first encounter it) you might want to take a look here.

And when you've finished asking 'What the Hell?' understand that the reason we are interested in this stems from the object which the League of Monsters are using to restore Frank Castle. A piece of 'Bloodstone'.

Where does that ring a bell from?

Well, possibly from here:

Ulysses Bloodstone, monster hunter and adventurer.

But sadly Ulysees is dead.

We're more interested in his heir. For Ulysees had a daughter.

Elsa Bloodstone.

You may know her from the 2001 limited series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

Or more recently from Warren Ellis' NextWave.

And, yes. She's British. Born over here. And inherited her Father's Bloodstone, along with a house full of Hammer style eccentricities, upon his death.

I don't think we've seen Elsa since NextWave. She's a character whom I had hoped might have been used by MI13 at some point, had it continued. Although she did appear to go through a rather unexplained progression, from insecure teen to adult, between here own series and NextWave. It still works, mind. As funny as all hell in places, too.

So keep an eye out for all four of these. They may only be titbits in the grand scheme of things, sure. But they are still flying the flag for the UK in their own little ways. So don't forget 'em!

(UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that Jessica Drew's origin has been amended slightly, in recent times. In the 2005 Spider-Woman: Origin limited series, by Bendis, Reed and the Luna brothers, the sequence of events is changed somewhat. 

In her previous origin Jessica was a child when the family moved from London to Wundagore. In Spider-Woman: Origin the Drews move to Wundagore while Jessica's mother is still pregnant, and her powers come as a result of her Mother being accidentally struck by a beam from her Father's experiment, while she was still in the womb. Which would mean that while she was concieved on British soil she would technically be a National of the Eastern European nation of Transia, in which Mount Wundagore is found.... 

Whether that origin will stand the test of time, I guess we'll have to wait and see. The fact that Jessica returned to London in her own mini would certainly tie a part of her to Britain.)


  1. I didn't know Blade was British until he popped up in MI: 13, and I didn't know Fantomex was a Brit until just now!

    I wonder what Death's Head's accent sounds like? ;)

  2. You know I've talked about this with a number of people over the years. It's really hard to call.

    I think in my head DH sounds a bit like an Eastern European mobster, in my own head. But the dialogue does not always fit. Yes?

  3. Part of me thinks he should sound like Simon Furman, but yes, the Russian mafia thing fits quite well, like Viggo Wossname in Eastern Promises.

  4. Bob Hope used to have a DC comic, and he was born in Lewisham. Is that clutchy-at-straws enough for this list?

  5. I discount it ONLY for being out of DC.

    Were it Marvel...? :)

  6. Elsa's not British. She was born in the US and moved to the UK when she was young (she was at least two before leaving the US, and she and her mother travelled for a while, so we don't know exactly when she settled in the UK).

  7. Elsa Bloodstone has appeared a few times recently, you can see some of the art for the "Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular" story here. The issue of her nationality is interesting - Marvel give it as American because she was born in the US (where here Dad's creepy mansion is) but she lived in the UK for most of her life (and her speech is very British) which would tend to suggest that her mother Elise is British (or she and/or Elsa are eligible for British citizenship somehow).

  8. Her mother having chosen to settle here for several years doesn't mean she's likely to be British - plenty of people are long term residents in countries foreign to them. I'd agree that Elsa probably has a British accent and speech patterns due to growing up here, but my comment was addressing Sword's mistaken belief that she was born here. However, he can be forgiven that mistake because Nextwave, a series which was happy to throw out established continuity for a quick laugh (because the writer didn't intend it to be in continuity) kept referring to her as British. Since it's been subsequently brought into continuity, a lot of continuity cracks have had to be papered over, explained as brainwashing (Monica and Elsa both recalling childhood incidents which couldn't have happened) and clones (Fin Fang Foom and Devil Dinosaur both appearing in contexts which clashed with appearances they had both before and after the series).

  9. Oh I'm not saying her mother is definitely British but the story doesn't contradict such an interpretation and it seems the more obvious idea* (even if that part of her is unspecified) and she has been mentioned by other people as a possible member of MI13 (so I think there is so much wiggle room you could easily make it work). It is also worth noting that being born in the US doesn't necessarily make you American (I wasn't born in the UK but am British) although her presence in the Initiative would suggest she is at least partly American. Also her father predates the concept of countries and nationalities and may have picked up a range of nationalities. I suspect Elsa could probably pick and chose from any number of nationalities if she wanted.

    However, yes, it is pushing the envelope rather to include her on a list of British Marvel characters out there.

    It does underline the difficulty of assigning nationalities to fictional characters in serial media as their origin can be changed at the stroke of a pen.

    * Leaving her husband and returning to settle in Britain has the whiff of someone coming home.

  10. I agree that it isn't impossible that Elsa's mother is British. However, "Leaving her husband and returning to settle in Britain has the whiff of someone coming home." isn't quite right - she left her husband, and travelled Europe for a while, before ultimately settling in Britain - that feels more like someone who either wanted to get away from the ex, or who wanted to travel for a while but eventually settled when her daughter needed to start school. Whereas returning to the US when the ex is dead to inherit his old house feels like someone coming home - the ex is finally not going to be around any more, and if you are a UK native then you'd be more likely to just sell the house than relocate to the States to move into it. Thus far the only people to suggest Elsa might be a possible MI13 member are fans.

  11. I'm listing frenchs characters,before ret-cons Spider-Wowan (at least his mother in Mark Gruenwald's version) and Fantomex (even if the influence of Fantomas stay) were possible candidates.

    It's just a pretext to mention i read your blog regularly and for thank you for your love of the obscur and of the precision.

    (not sure this sentence is exempt of mistakes)

    Salut !

    Marvel Uk comics board : http://members3.boardhost.com/Alterniverses/

  12. In the Marvel motion comics of Spider-Woman's 2010 solo series that went belly up after its first arc, the voice actress gives her a British accent :) Canon?

  13. Re Jessica Drew, she may have been born in eastern Europe but her parents are British so she will be British. You get your citizenship from your parents, not the country you happen to be born in. I was born in Guatemala but I'm still British.