As a proud Englishman, I enjoy reading about British characters who are well-written and complex. Psylocke fits that description as one of the most prominent British superheroes in mainstream comics. A member of the X-Men, Elizabeth Braddock is the twin sister of Captain Britain and one of the most powerful telekinetic users in the Marvel Universe. She was created by Chris Claremont and developed from a support character into a superhero with her own unique mythology.
Psylocke was born into the wealthy Braddock family and lived a life of privilege until she and her brother Jamie were taken hostage by the Red Skull’s agents. After this harrowing experience, she displayed psychic abilities and dyed her hair purple. Betsy was recruited into the Psi Division, where she was able to infiltrate the Hellfire Club and gain intel. It was during this time that she met Warren Worthington, the future love of her life.
Not long after, Betsy was kidnapped by the supervillain Mojo and brainwashed. She was rescued by Captain Britain and the New Mutants and eventually joined the X-Men. A major development occurred when Psylocke was taken by The Hand and used in a plot to save Kwannon, the brain-dead lover of the group’s leader, Matsu’o Tsurayaba. Betsy’s consciousness was transferred into Kwannon’s body, altering her appearance to that of a Japanese woman. Psylocke gained Kwannon’s fighting prowess and learned to focus her abilities to manifest as her iconic ‘psychic knife.’
As a member of The Hand, Psylocke became Lady Mandarin and carried out their orders. She was pitted against Wolverine, though when she attacked him with her psychic knife, it revealed the memories of who she used to be. Betsy broke free of the mind control and rejoined the X-Men. It was around this time that Psylocke stopped being defined by her connection to Captain Britain and developed into her own character.
Another major story that allowed Psylocke to develop was The Dark Angel Saga. As part of X-Force, she took part in missions that forced her to kill in order to protect mutants. Betsy started to lose her moral compass along the way. She had to kill Angel in order to stop him from wiping out all life on Earth as Archangel. The last part of her soul died with him and she started to numb herself afterwards. This caused a shift in personality that made her see murder as a necessary evil.
Betsy’s powers have evolved along with her personality. Although she originally had telekinesis, her abilities expanded to be able to form physical weapons. The most common is her psychic knife, which can disrupt the mind and nervous system of her enemies. Her powers also manifest as a purple butterfly symbol around her eyes. She also developed an immunity to telepathic assault and broadened her own telepathic powers during The Dark Angel Saga. This allowed her to overcome Archangel after she unlocked her full potential as an Omega level mutant.
Her fighting skills developed when she was put into the body of Kwannon. She combines her natural skill with her telepathy to predict an opponent’s movements, which makes her one of the greatest fighters in the Marvel Universe.
Psylocke has evolved into one of the X-Men’s most powerful members and become one of the most popular superheroes. Writers have added to her story over time, making her more complex and enjoyable to read.