Thursday, November 30, 2017

Betsy Braddock, Chapter III – S.T.R.I.K.E.

Before the X: This third chapter covers Betsy’s rise into supermodel stardom and a superhero career that would last to this day. She may have been created by Chris Claremont, but it’s safe to say that the critically acclaimed writer Alan Moore is Betsy’s true father. After 6 years in limbo since her last appearance in 1977, Moore brought Betsy back into the fold and reinvented the character in Daredevils #3 (1983). Alan Moore gave Betsy her iconic purple hair and a secret agent backstory, established her as a telepath and turned her into a hero in her own right. For the first time, Betsy was depicted with strong character traits that would set her apart from her brother. She was fierce and even ruthless, going as far as to suggest that Brian should kill Slaymaster. The first half of Moore’s run covered here went from Daredevils #3 to #8. The flashback in X-Treme X-Men #3 (2001) has helped to flesh out Betsy’s early days as a supermodel and a secret spy. Likewise, the fashion magazines covers shown in Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn #1 (1988) prove that Betsy was a huge celebrity back in the day.


Moving back to England, Betsy Braddock became one of the world’s most high-profile supermodels. She was a “face” and ruled the covers of fashion magazines everywhere, just as she ruled the runways from Paris to Milan to New York. Betsy made a name for herself and was surrounded by her very own fashion crowd and favorite designers. She graced the covers of Vogue, Hello!, Playboy, Woman and Chic, which named her Britain’s most beautiful woman. [X-Treme X-Men v1 #3 / Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn #1 / X-Men: Sword of the Braddocks #1]

Two years later, as Betsy’s powers got stronger, she was contacted by Agent Matthew who worked for the Sci-Tech Division at S.T.R.I.K.E., an intelligence agency, the British version of S.H.I.E.L.D. The agency was setting up a Psi-Division and they wanted Betsy to be part of it. Betsy thought the work was interesting, finding out about her mind and its abilities. As a Special Agent, she also received minimum training in hand-to-hand combat and firearms. At the Psi-Division, Betsy worked alongside fellow psychics Alison Double, Avril Davis, Tom Lennox, Vicki Reppion, Kevin Mulhearn, Denis Rush, Andrew Hornby, Leah Mickleson and Stuart Hattrick. [Daredevils v1 #3 / Captain Britain v2 #13 / X-Treme X-Men v1 #3]

Early in her career, Betsy was assigned to infiltrate the “Master House” of the notorious Hellfire Club to catch the eye and interest of the Lord Imperial, Sir Gordon Philips, and the rising Black King of the New York Chapter, industrialist Sebastian Shaw. The Braddocks’ connection to the Club and Betsy’s modeling career made her perfect for the job. She was young, arrogant and had no fear, however Shaw’s servant, Tessa, warned Betsy that the Inner Circle would attempt to corrupt a soul as brilliant and innocent as hers and told her to leave for her own protection. By then, Betsy pursued a romantic relationship with her fellow psi, Tom Lennox. [X-Treme X-Men v1 #3 / Daredevils v1 #5]

After working for S.T.R.I.K.E. for two years, the agency was gradually infiltrated by a criminal espionage network led by the crime lord Vixen. By virtue of their powers, the Psi-Division realized what was happening, and Vixen hired the assassin Slaymaster to eliminate them. Kevin, Denis, Andrew, Leah and Stuart were killed, while Betsy and the others decided to go into hiding. At the same time after a few adventures in Otherworld and Earth-238, Brian was finally returned to Earth-616 with his memories back. With the twins’ psychic rapport restored, Betsy knew Brian was home. [Daredevils v1 #1, #3]

Betsy called Brian at Braddock Manor and informed him her life was in danger. They set up a meeting at a McBurgers in Oxford Street. It had been four years since they last saw each other. Betsy was amazed at how much taller and stronger Brian was, whereas Brian was shocked seeing Betsy with purple hair and learning she was a telepath working for S.T.R.I.K.E. Their conversation was cut short, however, as Betsy sensed Slaymaster killing her friends Avril and Vicki at a comic shop nearby. Betsy and Tom Lennox created a distraction to help Captain Britain defeat Slaymaster, though she hoped her brother had killed him instead. Brian then invited Betsy, Lennox and Alison Double to stay with him at Braddock Manor, which wasn’t bombed out after all, a mere illusion created by the Mastermind computer. [Daredevils v1 #3, #4]

Days later, the Omniversal Majestrix Saturnyne, hired an alien crew of mercenaries called The Special Executive to bring in Captain Britain. When the aliens infiltrated Braddock Manor, they planned to remove Betsy and Lennox out of the picture. As Lennox was taken out, Betsy woke up in the middle of the night because she shared a psychic rapport with him. She faced the alien Cobweb, but the complexity of the creature’s mind overwhelmed her. Betsy had no option but to shut her mind off as she laid unconscious on the floor and the aliens kidnapped Brian. [Daredevils v1 #5]

The next day, Betsy and Lennox had an argument. He wanted them to leave the house as Brian’s lifestyle was clinically insane; they were better off being chased by S.T.R.I.K.E. Betsy was furious at him because her brother had been kidnapped by creatures, whose minds weren’t even human. She just wanted to know where he was. As the doorbell rang, Brian returned in company of Saturnyne and the aliens of the Special Executive. Betsy was startled. Soon, Braddock Manor was visited by Linda McQuillan, known as Captain UK, who came with a warning: the British politician Sir James Jaspers had launched a superhero legislation campaign. The events mirrored those of her own Earth, which culminated with the death of all superpowered beings. [Daredevils v1 #8]


Finn said...

Interesting.. Keep up the great work ! And thank you !

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

Whenever people say that British Betsy wasn't beautiful, I give them side-eye. Clearly, they have not seen Alan Davis and Marc Silvestri's renderings of her. The Jim Lee thong and her being basically naked throughout the 90s and early 2000s was not her best look. Not by a longshot. She was stylish in the 80s.

Psyloco said...

Betts had being an Airplane pilot, a Supermodel and a Secret agent is kind an exagerated background.
But later, Claremont show how Betsy has always been crazy for adrenaline, sports and adventure and all started make sense.

KittyX said...

Not really. A lot of Marvel characters were models and heroes at the same time (Jean Grey, Hellcat, etc.) As for being a pilot, it's a job anyone can have, nothing out of the ordinary there. But yes, when her childhood was fleshed out it made perfect sense.