Friday, April 11, 2014

X-men Supreme Reflections Volume 4: Elizabeth Braddock PREVIEW

Well now that everyone has had time to digest the conclusion of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear and see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I feel the time is right to get started on the next phase of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. As I previously announced, I intend to do another installment of X-men Supreme Reflections. These character-centered vignettes give me a chance to take a step back from the ongoing chaos throughout X-men Supreme and explore some more intimate aspects of certain characters. I find it very satisfying because it helps give perspective for certain characters that otherwise wouldn't be gained from the main series. It's hard to squeeze in certain details when there are much bigger concerns like Magneto, aliens, and government conspiracies going on. And some of this perspective will be vital before proceeding into X-men Supreme Volume 5.

The first character I'll be exploring in this iteration of X-men Supreme Reflections is Psylocke. I've always had a keen fascination with her in the comics and not just because she's another beautiful, head-strong telepath. Psylocke has the added difficulty of having switched bodies. She went from being pretty British blonde to a Japanese ninja. That's quite a transformation and one I captured in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series during The Lotus and the Warrior arc. However, I approached her transformation differently. What happened to Elizabeth Braddock is directly linked to what happened with Kwannon Tsurayaba in the Overlord arc. Their lives are forever linked in this fanfiction series, but I haven't been able to explore that link as much as I would like.

It's a link that has often been overlooked in the comics. Reading about Psylocke these days, it's almost impossible to tell that she ever switched bodies. She shows no real issues with being in Kwannon's body. She just accepts it and functions perfectly fine. But is that reasonable? Does it really not bother her that much that she's living in a body she wasn't born in? That's something I've touched on a few times in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. It has been a major driving force in the romantic drama between her and Gambit. But I wish to take it a bit further in X-men Supreme. When Betsy's mind was transferred into Kwannon's body, it was a traumatic process to say the least. That process left quite a few scars and this first reflection will explore those scars. I've prepared an extended preview of what those scars entail.

I used to never have to worry about being overwhelmed like this. One of my strengths had always been a strong and focused mind. That’s not just because of my telepathic talents either. That’s been one of my most defining traits since I was a little girl growing up in another body.

I developed this and other talents throughout my early life in Essex, England. I came from a family that already valued a level head. My parents were both active in high level law enforcement and my older brother, Brian Braddock, acted like a cop most of the time so we were all well-versed in the law and order. My mother was a top barrister in Western Europe. She specialized in international courts weeding through the thick stacks of laws and regulations each country scribbled onto any old slip of paper. My father was a respected officer at Interpol who specialized in Asian crime syndicates. He was regarded as one of the top detectives in the agency and I always looked up to him for solving the mysteries that few others wanted to solve.

My father was a hero in a ways that didn’t require superpowers or fancy costumes. He made a difference using only his mind. As a little girl I would watch these old crime movies with him and he would point out all the clues and connections before the main character had his first clue. I know it’s easy to impress young children with damn near everything, but this left a hell of an impression. Instead of playing cops and robbers with my brother, I played detective.

It started off with puzzles. Boy did I drown hours on end with puzzles. From word searches to crossword puzzles, mazes, computer games, and rubix cubs I devoured every one I could get my hands on. My father taught me all the tricks of the trade. Every time I thought I was finished, he would encourage me to find the next step. There was always another step it seemed and sometimes it went beyond just solving the puzzle. He encouraged me to look at how I was solving it. What tools could I use to get the answer I was looking for? I didn’t have much to work with besides my own brain. I didn’t find out until years later that my brain had much more to offer.

My puzzle phase lasted until I was about eleven-years-old. My parents were worried that I was becoming too much of a recluse. By this time my brother was a teenager already training as a junior cadet in a British military academy. He was going to be a real soldier for the crown and he had plenty of people looking out for him. I didn’t have anywhere near that kind of support. I had practically no friends and I didn’t know too many kids that shared my interest. Every day after school I would go straight up to my room and work on puzzles. Socially, that was very healthy. Being the stubborn little bloke that I was, I didn’t see much reason to put myself out there. It took a jolt of tragedy to get me out of my shell.

One day my mother returned from a trip to Hong Kong feeling ill. My father and I thought it was just jet lag or the flu. Then the vomiting and fainting started. Overnight she became pale as a ghost and weak as a 98-year-old cripple. Something was terribly wrong so my father rushed her to the hospital.

There she was diagnosed with this rare form of tropical flu. It was native only to Southeast Asia and potentially lethal. They assumed she got it from her extensive travels to that area. My father suspected something more sinister at work. My mother had been working on this case against a team of Asian crime lords with ties to these Yakuza clans in Japan. While she and my father were used to catching heat from these guys, they were always careful and well-prepared. That didn’t mean they were untouchable. One rule of the criminal underworld is that no one is untouchable.

If my mother really was poisoned, there were no clues to follow. There was no evidence of foul play. Even someone as brilliant as my father couldn’t figure it out. He had to watch helplessly as my mother suffered for nearly three weeks in a hospital bed before slipping into a coma and dying. For me and Brian, it was pretty bloody devastating. It still haunts me to this day.

That would make a lot of sense if it didn’t feel so strange now because I’m in a body that she didn’t give birth to. Does that still make her my mother? The hell if I know. What’s even worse is this story of my life has to compete with the story of Kwannon’s.

The end of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear brought with it many possibilities. It also brought an extra bit of feedback. I know I've been encouraging it at every turn and it's nice to see some of my urgings heeded. It gives me hope that X-men Supreme Volume 5 will be even more successful and it gives me even more reason to continue X-men Supreme after. I have big plans for this fanfiction series and the more feedback I get, the more incentive I have to realize those plans. So once again, I urge everyone to take the time to provide feedback for X-men Supreme. Either contact me directly or post it in the comments section of each issue. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


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