Psylocke (Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock, sometimes incorrectly spelled as Elisabeth) is a fictional character depicted in various comic book series published by Marvel Comics, most notably those presenting the adventures of the superhero team The X-Men. The character has also appeared in various licensed adaptations. Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Herb Trimpe, she first appeared in the UK-only comic book Captain Britain #8 (December 1976). She was originally a supporting character in the adventures of her fraternal twin brother, Captain Britain, briefly substituting for him in the role.
Within the comics, Psylocke is a mutant; originally presented as a telepath, the character is now written as possessing telekinesis. The character is also shown to have a high skill in hand-to-hand combat. In the 2006 film, X-Men: The Last Stand, Meiling Melançon portrayed the character.
The first mention of Braddock's superpowers was in an Alan Moore story published in Daredevils. Here Moore establishes that the character has developed psychic powers, and begun to work for the fictional S.T.R.I.K.E. governmental organisation. The story also presents the character as having elected to dye her hair purple: this hair colour has subsequently become the dominant presentation of the character. The next major change for the character came in the 1986 relaunched Captain Britain series, where the storyline sees the character stand in for her brother as Captain Britain, and as a consequence rendered blind at the hands of the villain Slaymaster.
In the American comic book New Mutants Annual #2, writer Chris Claremont integrates Braddock into the X-Men franchise. The story sees Braddock abducted to the Mojoverse, where she is subjected to brainwashing, fitted with bionic eyes, and referred to as "Psylocke" for the first time. After being rescued by the New Mutants, she takes up residence at Xavier's school. After aiding the team unofficially for a while, Betsy proved herself by not only single-handedly facing Sabretooth, but also by using her telepathy to glean information about the Marauders from his mind during the events of the "Morlock Massacre". After the battle, Betsy is formally invited to join the X-Men and officially adopts the name "Psylocke" in the Claremont written Uncanny X-Men #213.
Initially written as a pure telepath with little fighting skills, in the Claremont written Uncanny X-Men #232 the character decides to adopt the wearing of body armor. This changes in the story presented in Uncanny X-Men #250-251, where the X-Men flee from terrorists through the Siege Perilous, an extradimensional teleportation device. In the follow-up story-arc, it is revealed that Braddock has fallen prey to the Japanese Hand terrorists, who brainwash and physically alter the character. Betsy now believes herself to be "Lady Mandarin", the Hand's supreme assassin. This physical manipulation involves the modification of Betsy's features, modifying them from the previously established depiction of Western to Oriental. After Betsy is rescued by Wolverine and overcomes her brainwashing, the character retains the combat skills granted through the Hand's modification techniques.
With the launch of a second title featuring The X-Men, the superhero team splits, with the character joining the team led by the character Cyclops. In Jim Lee written issues the character joins and becomes flirtatious with her teammate Cyclops, with Betsy eventually attempting to seduce him. At this point Kwannon, a character with the physical appearance of Betsy prior to the Hand's manipulation, is introduced. Kwannon claims to be the original Psylocke, accusing the Japanese featured Braddock of being an imposter. After creative team changes, the Fabian Nicieza written story arc of #31-32 establishes that Kwannon is the imposter. The writer's also explain away Braddock's flirtations with Cyclops as being part of a genetic and mental splicing in which the Kwannon imposter is first created.
In 1994, writer Scott Lobdell sets up a relationship between Braddock and her teammate Archangel in Uncanny X-Men #319. The character is severely injured by a crazed Sabretooth in the Lobdell written Uncanny X-Men #328. Lobdell also temporatily took her out of the X-Men roster in this issue. Braddock returns to the team in X-Men #77-78. Psylocke's relationship with Archangel ends in the Claremont written X-Men #109, where the character embarks upon a relationship with new Indian X-Men recruit Neal Shaara. In the Claremont written X-Treme X-Men #2 of 2001, the character dies, her comic book death lasting until 2005's Uncanny X-Men #455, also written by Claremont, who later stated in an interview that he had always intended to bring Psylocke back at some point. The character is currently depicted in the Exiles, a spin off comic book series from the X-Men franchise, set in an alternate universe. Psylocke is set to return to the main marvel universe, early 2009. She will appear in upcoming story arc X-Infernus.
When using her powers (during her run in Uncanny X-Men), a butterfly-shaped energy aura would appear around her face. It was never truly made clear in the comic books by the writers whether this was something that could be perceived by others or if this was simply an 'effect' to show when Psylocke was using her powers to the reading audience. This 'butterfly' (sometimes depicted as having eyes in its wings) was also the form Psylocke usually took when manifesting her astral form, both on the astral plane, and in the physical world; although she occasionally used an illusory image of her physical body. After her transformation, Psylocke's psi-form changed to reflect her new Asian appearance.
In addition, Psylocke could also use her telepathy to project a focused beam of directed psionic energy into a 'psycho-blast'. While the blast functioned much like a typical telepathic attack, it was also able to affect physical matter; when Psylocke used her psycho-blast on Sabretooth to defend herself from his attack, the telepathic blast also shattered the Cerebro metal helmet that she was wearing at the time. The psycho-blast could also pierce the Juggernaut's psi-proof helmet, a feat that Professor Xavier himself could not accomplish when he first met his transformed brother.
Psylocke also possessed limited precognitive powers that occasionally allowed her to envision probable future events, or to see quick flashes of the future. However, these visions were random and infrequent, and she had no control over them.
While in her original body, Psylocke was given bionic eyes by Mojo and Spiral which instantly adjusted to any intensity of light, preventing her from being blinded by brightness. The bionic eyes were also cameras, transmitting to Mojo everything that Psylocke saw.
For a time, Betsy took the role of Captain Britain from her brother, using the deceased Kaptain Briton's costume which had been modified by the Mastermind computer. This costume gave her superhuman strength and the ability to fly.
After her exposure to the Crimson Dawn, she also gained the ability to teleport herself and others using areas of shadow as gateways. The teleportation could cover huge distances; on one occasion she transported the X-Men from America to Africa in a few seconds. She could also teleport through the shadows of other dimensions. Psylocke has not been seen using this ability since her imprisonment of the Shadow King in the astral plane; during a mission against Stryfe, she mentioned to Nightcrawler that she no longer possessed this ability.
To keep the Shadow King imprisoned in the Astral Plane, Psylocke sacrificed the use of her telepathy, but at some point gained Phoenix's telekinesis instead. At first, due to the relative newness of her telekinesis, she couldn't exercise fine control over her powers, e.g. she could blast an enemy through a brick wall, but couldn't levitate small objects, like a dime from the floor. As time progressed, Psylocke grew more proficient at using her powers, she could e.g. use her telekinesis to reshape a pistol into smaller metal projectiles. Instead of her psychic knife, Psylocke began to manifest a telekinetic katana composed of raw psionic energy. At its lowest intensity her katana functions much like her psychic knife once did, short-circuiting the victim's nervous system on impact. At its highest level, the katana can slice through almost any physical matter. Psylocke's control over the katana is such that she can slice an armored opponent and cut through the armor, but only leave her opponent stunned or unconscious. Psylocke's telekinetic manifestations produce visible radiance in the physical world. Thus, she can use her psychic katana as a makeshift light source in areas of darkness. The katana can also affect beings that are more powerful than Psylocke herself.
She can also use her sword to shatter telepathic power-inhibitors imposed on others, despite her own lack of telepathy. With no telepathy to guide her when performing this task, she must rely on her instincts to give the blade the sufficient strength necessary to break the inhibitors, without doing permanent damage to the subject in question. During the timeline shift known as House of M, Psylocke showed the ability to summon two telekinetic katanas at the same time. It is unknown if she is capable of this under normal circumstances.
Aside from the blade, Psylocke can use her telekinesis to enhance her speed, strength, and fighting skills to superhuman levels. She can also levitate herself and others, or manipulate matter in standard telekinetic fashion. She can also create telekinetic shields of various sizes and strength, and her telekinesis has been said to be strong enough to shatter mountains. After her resurrection, Psylocke's telekinetic powers have been greatly enhanced. At the time of Betsy's resurrection, Marvel Girl claimed that Psylocke's telekinesis was on a level even she couldn't match.
After her resurrection, Psylocke was shown to be immune to all forms of psionic manipulations such as mind-reading, mind-control or mental attacks, and attempts of telepathic communication. This is a result of her brother Jamie's manipulation of the quantum strings that comprise her body. She is also immune or at least highly resistant to other psionic-based powers like the Savage Land Mutate Vertigo's disorientation power, or Nocturne's mind possessing abilities. Due to Jamie's alterations, Psylocke is also immune to any physical and mental alteration by beings who can radically restructure reality, such as Proteus. She can, however, still be killed in more traditional manners, such as being stabbed or shot. She is also at least partially resistant to magical manipulation. Psylocke is unable to alter or reduce her psychic immunity, or to undo any of the changes made to her by her brother.
Psylocke also appears to have recently gained the power to somehow render herself invisible, though to what extent she can control this ability is currently not known.
It is not known if Psylocke still retains her precognitive power.
As a telepath, Psylocke could take advantage of her powers in a fight by reading her opponents' movements seconds before they made them, giving her the opportunity to counter-attack faster. She could also use her telepathy to mask her presence from other people, humans and superhumans alike, e.g. from Wolverine's super-enhanced senses, or from Jean Grey's telepathy. She could also create telepathic illusions to distract her enemies while fighting them, and as a ninja, she used her psychic knife to incapacitate her opponents instead of killing them; although she will kill her opponents if she finds it to be necessary.
As a telekinetic, she often uses her powers to augment her strength and speed, making her fighting skills strong enough to match, and even outmatch other superhumanly strong opponents, like e.g. a holographic version of Sabretooth in the Danger Room. During a training session with Rogue and Thunderbird, Psylocke was able to match Rogue’s attacks despite the fact that Rogue had greatly enhanced speed and strength at the time.
During the time when the X-Men were based in the Australian outback, Psylocke gained possession of a unique suit of armor. Made of an unknown metal, it was lightweight and form-fitting, yet extremely resistant to physical damage, giving Psylocke an added protection to her physical body. The armor was also resistant to projectiles and energy weapons. Wolverine had the armor custom-ordered through a weapons and technology firm named Landau, Luckman & Lake for "a colleague". Mr. Chang, an agent of Landau, Luckman & Lake, loaned the armor to Lindsay McCabe since Wolverine had sent her to him. Tyger Tiger also wore the body armor for a short time, and she was briefly trapped in the armor due to a built-in security mechanism, which Wolverine managed to free her from. After travelling through the Siege Perilous and trading bodies with Kwannon, Psylocke no longer used the body armor. When Kwannon, in Betsy's original body, returned to Xavier's mansion, she was wearing an armor that was similar to the one Betsy used to wear, but it has never been officially stated whether or not this armor was Psylocke’s original one.
After returning to the X-Men in Kwannon's body, Psylocke mentally manipulated Cyclops, her team leader, into being attracted to her. After regaining her full personality from Kwannon, Psylocke offered a belated apology to Jean, admitting that the flirtation was due to the presence of Kwannon's lingering personality traits in her mind, but that she did in fact find Cyclops attractive.
Later, Elizabeth and Archangel had a relationship, but chose to end it after realizing that they were too different to stay together. After Betsy's death, Archangel suffered anguish from being unable to save her, but eventually made peace with it and moved on to a relationship with Paige Guthrie.
Psylocke and the X-Man Neal Shaara were romantically involved until her death.
So far, neither Warren Worthington 's nor Neal Shaara's reaction to Elizabeth's resurrection have been depicted or spoken of, despite having both Elizabeth and Warren fighting the villain Ghoul together, alongside other X-Men, in Generation M.
After joining the Exiles team, Elizabeth has begun having a flirtatious relationship with the Age of Apocalypse version of Sabertooth, hinting at a possible romantic relationship, which would be considered ironic considering her past dealings with the 616 universe's Sabertooth.
Originally, Psylocke was the only X-Man not depicted in some form or another in the X-Men crossover "Age of Apocalypse". However, for "AoA"'s 10th anniversary, a new miniseries was created and Psylocke made an appearance for the first time since the original "AoA" miniseries. Psylocke in the "Age of Apocalypse" appears as a ninja, with black hair and blue eyes. She is a telepath, and an old acquaintance of Weapon X. It also appears that Psylocke has an affinity for the shadows but bears no Crimson Dawn mark over her eye, as her "616" counterpart once did. This "AoA" version of Psylocke shows the ability to manifest two psychic knives at the same time, which are able to affect physical matter, as can be seen in X-Men: AoA #4, where she cuts the chains binding Charles Lensherr. An official explanation for Psylocke's Asian appearance, various powers, and fighting skills in the AOA universe has not been depicted, as she was initially assumed to be part of Apocalypse's disembodied brain trust collective of telepathic minds.
Psylocke's appearance is first noted by a captured Logan, who spots her glowing eyes in the nearby shadows. Psylocke then releases Charles from his chains and helps the rest of the captured group escape. She has a brief reunion with Logan, for whom she bears an obvious grudge, and battles Dagger, defeating her quickly. Psylocke later uses her psychic blades to counteract the brainwashing of some of the X-Men, first on Jean, who is released from Mr. Sinister's influence, and then on Kirika, which allows the young mutant to remember that Logan and Mariko Yashida are her parents. At the end of the series, Psylocke leaves for the refugee colony of New Japan with Kirika, Silver Samurai, and Sunfire.
In Excalibur (vol. 1) #94, Psylocke is a member of the underground resistance against Black Air, the British Security Service that rules Britain. She is first seen walking into the computer area under Braddock Mansion. She’s part of the Excalibur team that goes on a mission to rescue Douglock from the Black Air headquarters. Inside the Black Air HQ, Psylocke fights off techno-organic Brood replicas and uses her psychic knife to open up a neural linked brain-lock. Inside the lock room, she finds herself trapped together with the rest of the team. What happens to her afterwards is unknown.
In Wolverine: Days of Future Past #1, Psylocke is first seen as a mysterious hooded female that sneaks up undetected behind Logan and telepathically destroys his consciousness. It isn’t until the final panel that the mysterious woman is revealed to be Psylocke, the new Red Queen and one of the Lords Cardinal of the new Hellfire Club. In issue 2, Psylocke is seen by Shinobi Shaw’s side as they watch the trapped Scarlet Witch. As Shinobi brags about world domination, Betsy reminds him that without her help he wouldn’t have been so lucky and warns him about celebrating a victory in advance. He tells her that her name is never far away from his thoughts and that they will rule the world side by side. Suddenly, Psylocke cries out in pain and informs Shinobi that Wolverine has reawakened and that Emma Frost is responsible for bringing him back.
Psylocke summons Midnight (the female ninja that accompanied her to Moscow in issue 1) and she instructs her to kill Wolverine. Betsy asks her if she has any problems with betraying Logan considering their past together, to which Midnight responds that betrayal comes easily nowadays. Elizabeth doesn’t respond and instead smiles at Midnight, reminding her that they all have known defeat in the past.
In issue 3, Baron Zemo makes his way back to Shinobi and Elizabeth to celebrate their victory, just as Magneto makes his way into their base. A panicking Betsy yells to Shinobi to do something, and he tells her that the computer-defenses will soon be activated. Suddenly Betsy senses betrayal from one of the workers, whom she stuns with her psychic knife. She smiles as she finds out that the worker was Jubilee in disguise. As she’s preparing to kill Jubilee, Synch and Leech use their combined powers against Psylocke to intervene. Wolverine finally knocks her down with one punch, commenting that during the years she has grown a bit “rusty” with her martial arts skills. She’s taken back to Emma Frost’s base of operation and Emma later tells Jubilee and the rest of the team, that Betsy will be transferred back to her brother in England as soon as her recuperation is completed.
In the World Tour story arc of Ultimate X-Men, Agent Betsy Braddock, along with her partner Agent Dai Thomas, was introduced as a Colonel for the British Secret Service. She is a telepath and, judging by her own assertion, the most powerful in England. The "psychoblast" power she possessed in her British form in the "616" universe was manifested as a "psychic grenade" that she "detonated" in the minds of others. Agents Betsy Braddock and Dai Thomas, were assigned to aid Xavier in his search for his son, David (known in the mainstream Marvel universe as Proteus), a powerful mutant who could physically possess the bodies of others and manipulate reality. During the investigation, however, Agent Thomas was killed and Betsy's body was possessed by David, who set about wreaking havoc and killing innocent humans while in her body. She eventually managed to resist his control, albeit briefly, and pleaded with Xavier to kill her. Xavier could not bring himself to do so, but Colossus dropped a car on her, killing both Betsy and David Xavier.
Betsy's consciousness survived, however, somehow moving into the comatose body of an Asian girl called Kwannon. Kwannon was glad to be able to move on to the afterlife, and willingly gave Betsy her body. This body switch was actually a blessing in disguise, as Betsy had breast cancer which was potentially fatal. She regarded her near-death experience as intensely fascinating. The change has also led her to bear a less formal look, as she was seen after her body-switch with a number of cosmetic piercings. She somehow retained her telepathic powers in Kwannon's body and even gained the new ability to create a blade that can cut through most materials, even a Sentinel. She was said to be aiding in the formation of S.T.R.I.K.E., the British division of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recently, though, she was revealed to have been working undercover for Charles Xavier as a spy investigating the activities of Fenris.
Betsy officially joined the X-Men as Psylocke in Ultimate X-Men #83. Her employment with S.T.R.I.K.E. had ended because the body she currently inhabits is that of a minor, making her too young to serve as a government agent. She was recruited by Bishop into his new X-Men after angrily informing Cyclops that he had turned his back on the X-Men and the good they can achieve after he refused to help a group of mutants being attacked by Sentinels solely because he thought it would make the Xavier Institute look bad. As in the mainstream Marvel Universe, Betsy is the twin sister of Brian Braddock, who is now a member of the European Defense Initiative (the European Union's equivalent of The Ultimates), code named Captain Britain. Her father, Professor Sir James Braddock, is still alive in the Ultimate universe, and oversees the EDI's super-soldier program. In Ultimate X-Men #86, Bishop referred to Psylocke as his wife, when the Fenris twins threatened to kill her. In issue 88, Psylocke confronts Bishop about his comments about their future marriage, and from what he says, it is implied that Psylocke was killed before Bishop travelled back in time.
However; in Ultimate X-Men #90, Bishop is stabbed and killed by Wolverine. Xavier returns from the future revealing himself to be alive and Psylocke begins living at the Xavier Institute as a student and X-Man.