Comic Book / Psylocke

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After and before the body swap
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"This is who I was. A last link to my life. Gone. A life that was ripped away from me a long time ago by one man. A man I thought I had made my peace with. I was wrong. Whatever mercy I had left in me burned away with that body. Whatever vestiges of Elizabeth Braddock that would spare him again are gone. Become now? Matsu'o Tsurayaba is going to die."
Elizabeth Braddock (Psylocke), Psylocke #1

Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke is a Marvel Comics character associated with the superhero team X-Men. She's one of the most famous British superheroes in Marvel Universe. She's created by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe. In England, she's first introduced in Captain Britain Vol. 1 #8 (1976), published by Marvel UK. In United States, she's introduced in New Mutants Annual #2 (1986). Her other alias include"Captain Britain", "Lady Mandarin", and "Lady Briton".

Betsy is a pilot, secret agent, supermodel, and twin sister of Captain Britain. She developed Psychic Powers and spent some years as a supporting character in her brother's book, then had a brief but disastrous go at filling in for him and was blinded by his nemesis. After that she tried to quit superheroing but was kidnapped by Mojo and rescued by the New Mutants. She was initially a character with mediocre fighting skills but excellent telepathy. She's later kidnapped in China and turned into a McNinja, getting magically body-merged with the mutant assassin Kwannon (resulting in the assassin looking like Psylocke, and Psylocke looking Asian but with her face still recognizable) and picking up super martial arts skills. She even got a psychic knife, which after she switched her powers from telepathy to telekinesis turned into a telekinetic katana.

Main Comics appearances
  • Psylocke and Archangel: Crimson Dawn (1997)
  • X-Men: Sword of the Braddocks (2009)
  • Psylocke (2010)

Other comics:

Animated series

Film

Video Games

Tropes

  • Action Girl: Eventually grows into one.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Briefly as female Captain Britain, replacing her brother.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Literally. A team-up with The Incredible Hercules revealed that during an earlier team-up, the two of them had flirted back-and-forth and then slept together. Before parting, Hercules told her that her beauty was "unforgettable"... and yet, back in the present, he didn't seem to remember her at all. Psylocke punches him in the jaw.
  • Animal Motifs: Butterflies, a symbol of her telepathy. They represent her gracefulness and change, what with switching bodies, becoming Captain Britain, gaining new psychic powers, and joining the X-Men.
  • Anti-Hero: Initially a pragmatic Type II during her British days, then after the body swap she became a darker Type IV. Over time she reverted to a lighter hue, even after joining the Black Ops squad Uncanny X-Force. Now she's somewhere in a complicated "Type IV trying to be Type II" stage.
  • The Atoner: In Uncanny X-Force Vol. 2, she is trying not to kill anymore, since it has become like an addiction to her.
  • Attempted Rape: Kaptain Briton, her brother's evil alternate reality counterpart, attempted to rape her. Fortunately for her, she discovered her previously minimal psychic powers were considerably more formidable than she believed at that point. Unfortunately for her brother Captain Britain, who was trapped in the alternate universe Kaptain Briton came from, he too faced this at the hands of villainess Sat-Yr-9, just without any ability to fight them off, adding to his growing list of never-mentioned-after rape experiences.
  • Ascended Extra: She was initially a supporting character in her brother's comics.
  • Back from the Dead: She was once fatally stabbed by the man known as Vargas while protecting Rogue and Beast, who were badly beaten by the villain. One year after her death, Betsy awoke where she had died, unaware of how she had survived, and was soon reunited with the X-Men. It is later revealed that the responsible party was her elder brother Jamie, who had Reality Warper powers.
  • Badass Princess: In the House of M reality, Betsy became Princess Elizabeth Glorianna Braddock, heir to the British throne and sister to Captain Britain the King.
  • Beta Couple: For several years, she and Archangel were the beta couple to Cyclops and Jean Grey. Then Thunderbird III came along.
  • Betty and Veronica: Was Veronica to Jean's Betty in the early days of the Blue and Gold team split, where she tried to start an affair with Cyclops. The whole story was eventually dropped with no real explanation. Given that many of Jim Lee's personal comics outside of X-Men contain cold and remote but incredibly hot ninja-babes who wear ass-floss uniforms, it's possible that this is something he interjected into the storyline himself after Claremont left.
  • Bi the Way: She has a brief sexual relationship with Cluster in Uncanny X-Force, and nobody even mentions the fact that they're both women. Slightly complicated by Cluster being an aspect of the (otherwise male) Fantomex, with whom Psylocke also had a relationship. Although she doesn't show any attraction to Weapon XIII, the third (also male) aspect.
  • Blind Seer: Kind of. After she lost her eyes, she could use her psychic powers to see through the eyes of everyone around her. She also occasionally saw the future.
  • Blood Knight: And in denial about it, in the 2010s X-Force series. She considers herself an addict (much like her alcoholic brother). Her addiction is killing people.
  • Blue Blood: The Braddocks are a high-class family, and she and Captain Britain have hereditary membership in the Hellfire Club's London branch.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: So common in the 90s and early 2000s that she illustrates the trope page, and many artists and fans actually call this the "Psylocke Pose".
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: More than once.
    • The first time was when she was captured by the Hand, body-swapped/merged with Kwannon, and programmed to serve as Lady Mandarin. That time the brainwashing was broken by her using her psychic knife on Wolverine, who at the time was in the grip of a hallucinatory psychotic break; the resultant double dose of bonus crazy was enough to override her brainwashing.
    • A more insidious example came from the Crimson Dawn, which was said to have stained her soul. The full implications were never completely explained, but she was generally reckoned to have become more ruthless and violent under its influence.
    • And again by Archangel, after he took his place as the heir of Apocalypse and transformed her into his Horseman of Death. This took direct intervention by Jean Grey to override.
  • Break the Cutie: Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1 is a never ending Trauma Conga Line for her.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Sometimes with Captain Britain, such as when she's with Excalibur and Exiles. In their civilian life, they are also very close.
  • Bulletproof Vest: One of the few non-invulnerable heroes to have the good sense to procure adequate body armor. Until she became a stripperific ninja, of course.
  • Captain Geographic: When she briefly becomes Captain Britain and Lady Briton.
  • Captain Superhero: As Captain Britain.
  • Character Development: Originally, she was the farthest thing from an Action Girl one could get and still be a superhero, preferring to use Jedi Mind Tricks and sneaky telepathic tactics as opposed to outright conflict. After the Freaky Friday that gave her martial arts skills, she went from Squishy Wizard to Bare-Fisted Monk, putting herself In Harm's Way more often than not, and sometimes (Depending on the Writer) suffering humiliating defeats as a result of it.
  • The Chick: In Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1, of Lady of War variety.
  • Cleavage Window: Her Captain Britain/Lady Briton costume.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: She keeps the costume that belonged to Kaptain Briton to briefly becomes Captain Britain. Later in Uncanny X-Force, she also briefly wears the costume again and assumed the alias Lady Briton. The costume increases her physical attributes to superhuman level, as well as grants ability to fly and create a personal force field.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: On the receiving end of this when Slaymaster injured her eyes and later when Vargas once killed her.
  • Cursed with Awesome: In Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1, she "sacrificed" her ability to feel sorrow to save Fantomex. She even points out she never would've had what it takes to save the multiverse without making the deal.
  • Death Is Cheap: Killed by a swordsman named Vargas in a one-sided fight. Fans of the character were not happy. Resurrected without explanation a few years later, and it was a few years after that that anything resembling said explanation was offered... and it reeked of Hand Wave.
    • However, Chris Claremont — noted Action Girl lover and Psylocke's creator, who's helped many an underutilized female character take a level in badass — was the writer of her death, her resurrection, and the story that revealed just how her resurrection happened. It's quite possible it was all planned, and would have gone much smoother if not for those meddling editors.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: She had a tendency to take out enemies well above her weight class left and right in the Exiles book.
  • Dirty Business: Often serves as one of the X-Men's most prominent anti-heroes, second only to Wolverine in terms of heroic pragmatism. This does not always win her friends, and in fact estranged her from her brother, but she can still manage to be genial enough to get along with her more pure-hearted teammates, particularly because she rarely does any killing in front of them.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the Uncanny X-Force time travel arc. The discovery that in the future she is a totalitarian dictator leads her to attempt seppuku; luckily, she survives.
  • Dye Hard: In-Universe, she was originally blonde, just like her brother. After the body-swap it seems to be her natural color.
  • Electronic Eyes: After she was blinded by Slaymaster, Spiral replaced her eyes with electronic ones that instantly adjusted to light and broadcast her adventures back to Mojoworld. Later, when Kwannon, in Psylocke's original body, was dying of the Legacy Virus, she sent the electronic eyes to Psylocke.
  • Exposed to the Elements: In a '90s issue, the team goes to Siberia. Psylocke, whose costume exposes most of her arms and legs, adapts by... putting on a short jacket, which she doesn't even bother to close.
  • Eye Scream: The assassin Slaymaster inflicted this on her during her brief time as Captain Britain.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Often, most commonly regarding the boots and ribbons (even in the movie). Standouts include her as a Horseman of Apocalypse and ''X-Men: The End''.
  • Flying Brick: Granted by Captain Britain/Lady Briton costume.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Psylocke and Kwannon, in one of the few permanent examples. It wasn't a clean switch, however. Psylocke received Kwannon's martial arts training while Kwannon's inferior telepathy got a power upgrade. Both ladies retained their original abilities, and Psylocke's face was still recognizable (even though she was later confirmed to now be in Kwannon's body). Essentially each of them still had a little bit of their old bodies in their new ones, and both could use Psylocke's signature "psychic knife". Kwannon eventually joined the X-Men herself as Revanche and remained on the team until her death from the Legacy Virus.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: Her very first superhero costume, as the second Captain Britain, had these. That motif carried over into her first X-Men costume before she dropped it in favor of a suit of body armor.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: A former supermodel with butterfly motifs, and is often depicted as a elegant Lady of War in a purple leotard. Even before that, she favoured a mix of purple and pink.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Her father is Otherworlder.
  • In Harm's Way: Kwannon's telepathy was much weaker than Psylocke's, and the psychic knife was a way of focusing her power. Betsy herself never had need of such a thing before the body switch, as she was perfectly capable of frying people's brains from a distance.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: She can manifest a telekinetic katana blade composed of raw psi-energy at will, which at its lowest intensity, functions to disrupt neural pathways and at its highest level, her katanas can slice an armored opponent and cut through the armor, but leave the attacker physically unharmed.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Oh, boy. Killing her brother Brian's evil twin probably doesn't count — by the time she finished him off, she knew it wasn't him. Killing her other brother Jamie (in order to stop his future self from becoming a multiverse-conquering demon) definitely counts, though, as does performing a complete mindwipe (and therefore effective execution) on Archangel. She also killed Matsu'o Tsurayaba, who she didn't love but her body's previous owner probably did.
  • Lady of War: She's stoic and ruthless, and her mastery in martial arts gives her movements a sense of smooth, graceful lethality. Her Psychic Powers tend to manifest as butterfly motifs, and allow her to form an elegant telekinetic katana as her weapon.
  • Laser Blade Below the Shoulder: Her psychic knife looks like this.
  • Leotard of Power: The ninja outfit.
  • The Lost Lenore: Almost completely forgotten since she moved to the X-Men, but Psylocke spent some time traumatised by the death of her fiance Tom Lennox.
  • McNinja: She is a British ninja.
  • Male Gaze: She gets this a LOT, probably one of the major characters in the Marvel universe. It is a rare issue that she does not show her butt to the reader.
  • Mercy Killing: She gave this to Matsu'o Tsurayaba, the person who body switched her, at his request.
  • Mind Rape: This is how she killed the evil Kaptain Briton. Later, she also inflicted this on Brian in Uncanny X-Force to kill their older brother, Jamie, because Brian hesitated to do it. At the time, Jamie was manipulated by Horoam'ce, the devil goat who wanted to get into the Starlight Citadel and seize the Multiverse.
  • Most Common Superpower: Subverted; she's not the best endowed of the X-girls. Probably the most revealing, due to her "ninja" outfit.
  • Ms. Exposition: Betsy is infamous for over-describing her powers, usually using a variant of "the focused totality of my telepathic powers".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Not so much with the Most Common Superpower, but the costume she was stuck in for twenty years was pretty Stripperiffic, giving her what might possibly be the worst wedgie in the entire Marvel Universe. Not forget that she is the poster trope of the Boobs-and-Butt Pose.
  • Multicolored Hair: When she was Captain Britain. Just look. Averted as Lady Briton, she keeps her purple hair.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: In Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1, she sacrificed her ability to feel sorrow in order to save Fantomex.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both of her parents are dead.
  • Powers as Programs: The X-Men's most egregious example. From her inception, no one seems able to decide what powers she should have. She started off as a telepath/precog, then dropped the precognition in favor of stronger telepathy, then got a "psychic knife" after her Race Lift. A near-death experience left her with the ability to teleport through shadows in addition to that, and then she lost all her powers during a fight with the Shadow King, only to come back with telekinesis and a shiny new sword. And that was before she died and came back... Since then, Psylocke has grown quite a bit in power, so much so that writers described her as coming into the Omega Class mutant bracket, namely, the most powerful type of mutant around, the ones whose powers have nigh-infinite potential. Her powers (which now are both telepathic and telekinetic) were described as in a league with the likes of Phoenix or Cable. Lately though, Betsy has manifested her powers as manifesting assorted melee weaponry out of psychokinetic energy. So far she's created morning stars, swords, knives, bows and arrows... each one with tremendous destructive power.
  • Psychic Powers: The type and level vary wildly over the years, as mentioned above. Sometimes telepathic, sometimes telekinetic, seldom but sometimes both at once; sometimes just enough give a little edge to a mostly Badass Normal ninja, sometimes Phoenix-grade.
  • Purple is Powerful: She dyed her hair purple and most of her costumes are purple-colored.
  • Race Lift: Justified due to her "Freaky Friday" Flip with Kwannon. She turns from British Caucasian girl to Asian.
  • Retcon: Originally Betsy's transformation was explained away as Spiral and Mojo altering her with magic and plastic surgeries, hence why Wolverine could still recognize her face. It was also implied that her camera eyes were still intact. Fabian Nicieza, however, hadn't known of the explanation and introduced Kwannon, stating that Betsy's body had been swapped with hers. He would then later retcon that explanation, to state that while their bodies were basically swapped, the results were incomplete and both wound up with a bit of each others' powers and features. Also, Kwannon ended up with the camera eyes, and blinded herself by removing them shortly before dying of the Legacy Virus.
  • Retired Badass: Used to be an agent of S.T.R.I.K.E., S.H.I.E.L.D.'s British equivalent.
  • She's Got Legs: A lot of art of hers likes to focus on her legs and butt.
  • Show Some Leg: In Uncanny X-Men 466, to help Rachel sneak out the mansion, Psylocke performs her daily exercises in plain sight of the Sentinels to distract their human pilot.
  • Smug Super: Tends to be extremely condescending.
  • Spy Catsuit: With this outfit.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Just like her brother and fellow British superheroine Spitfire.
  • Stripperiffic: The ninja bathing suit. 'Nuff said.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Initially averted — when her brother's evil dimensional counterpart tried to rape her, she responded by killing him, messily. Then a few issues later, she had her eyes poked out by Slaymaster; much later, she's killed once by Vargas. She got better, thankfully.
  • Thong of Shielding: Sometimes her costume covers her behind completely and just shows off her thighs. Other times, it could generously be called a g-string. It doesn't help that almost every panel she's in has her striking a pose like something out of a Hip-Hop video.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Possibly an inadvertent subversion — while on paper going from supporting psychic to badass ninja sounds like an upgrade, she actually proved far less effective in ninja mode, losing most of her super powers, frequently filling in as the Worf of the team, and getting rather brutally eviscerated by Sabretooth, an enemy she had previously been able to defeat by psychic powers alone.
    • There were somewhat justifying circumstances to that. Wolverine had previously "popped a claw" into 'tooth's head, and as he told her after she smacked him with a Psychic Knife:
    "Since the runt popped his claw on me — the glow don't work no more."
    • Anyway, Depending on the Writer... it counted as played straight (ninjas do evade a lot of attacks, unlike her previous, armor-clad self... plus her psychic blade in combination with her superior telepathy proved often to be a Game Breaker) or subverted (The Worf Effect mentioned above).
    • Of course, that writer from shortly before her death to many years after her resurrection is the Action Girl-loving-to-Author Appeal-levels Chris Claremont for quite some time. After her resurrection, she's been kicking ass, taking names, and making a lot of bad guys feel the wrath of her psychic blade, which now looks like a katana because Katanas Are Just Better. Against opponents who should rightfully be well out of her Super Weight class, she will, as per one of Claremont's favorite Author Catchphrases of late, "find a way to win." Today she is definitely more badass than where she started, even if it wasn't a consistent, steady climb.
  • Twin Telepathy: She and Brian share special bond through her telepathy.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: As Captain Britain and Lady Briton.
  • The Worf Effect: As mentioned above, after her Race Lift she spent some time the punching bag for every villain on the block (culminating in being killed off for the sole purpose of showing how dangerous Vargas was). Fortunately, when she returned to the spotlight in the 2010s it was in full badass mode.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: In her ninja costume.

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