Sunday, January 20, 2013

Celebrating 125 Mind Control Moments: Psy versus Psy

Its official! It took close to 5 years, but this is blogpost 125!

And what better way to celebrate 125 moments of mind control than by focussing on Psylocke, star of this blog's second most popular post? Well, focussing on the most popular blog, sure, but that's the first part of the Sage Saga and though it took five mind control stuffed chapters, her story has pretty much been told.

Still, Sage does make an appearance in today's entry, because she was part of Chris Claremont's 2008 Exiles reboot, the rather unimaginatively called New Exiles. Fans of the original Exiles were a little afraid Claremont would blatantly ignore the beloved continuity outgoing writer Tony Bedard had created in favor of his own pet characters...

They weren't too wrong.

Claremont came on board with issue 90 and did indeed get rid of most of the cast, replacing them with his personal favorites. As is any incoming writer's prerogative, to be fair. Claremont decidedly made the book his own by writing out everyone but Sabretooth and Morph, bringing in the 616-versions of Psylocke and Sage, and pairing them with alternate reality versions of other favored Claremont creations such as Kitty Pryde (Cat), Rogue (erm, Rogue), Mystiq (Mystique) and Gambit (the son of a black Namor and the Invisible Woman!) Staying on from the team's previous incarnation were Morph and Sabretooth.

But make no mistake, this really became the Psylocke show, as Betsy quickly took center stage and  remained there for all of the 18 issues New Exiles lasted.  Of course, when you're the feature star in a Chris Claremont comic, getting mind controlled is as inevitable as death and taxes. But this time around, she actually mind controlled herself... No really!

In New Exiles # 7, the team lands on an alternate Earth where the French are a world power and are about to invade the United States. The Exiles are sent in to right some wrongs, but seconds after arriving Psylocke is struck down by a mysterious force.

Just as her teammates come to her aid, Betsy wakes up a totally different person; speaking Mandarin Chinese and not recognizing any of them, Betsy uses her telekinetic powers to flee the scene.

For some unknown reason, she flies halfway across the globe to Shanghai, all the while feeling like she should be someone else. 

The rings she thinks of are actually the powerful Mak'luan artifacts worn by Iron Man's arch enemy the Mandarin. Late in Claremont's first run on Uncanny X-men, Betsy was brainwashed into believing she was Lady Mandarin, and wielded the same power rings as the villain. Arriving in Shanghai, she makes a terrible discovery.

Finding her alternative self dead at the hands of an equally alternate Slaymaster brings back unpleasant memories for Psylocke. She herself was once blinded by the Slaymaster of her own reality and this incident always left her more than a little afraid to face the villain. With good reason, because for a man without superpowers, the ruthless Slaymaster is remarkably lethal...

And now it seems a Slaymaster is killing Betsy Braddock in every alternative world he visits. Psylocke is so rattled by this discovery, she doesn't notice that someone is sneaking up behind her until its too late and he knocks her out. Much to her chagrin, she doesn't find it was all a bad dream after she recovers.... And worse than that, this world's Lady Mandarin might not be as dead as she looked.

But before we get to that, Psylocke is confronted by the owner of the house she just broke into: it happens to be none other than everyone's favorite immortal sensei/demon Ogun. Lady Mandarin was his prized pupil and he is more than a little annoyed at Slaymaster for killing her. After a brief struggle, Ogun makes an offer Psylocke can't refuse: he will train her to face her fears so she can stop Slaymaster and avenge his victims.

Naturally, she agrees, but during the intense training sessions in New Exiles # 10, it becomes apparent that, in her dying moments, Lady Mandarin used her own psychic powers to place her mind inside Psylocke. Lady Mandarin is slowly changing Betsy's body to mirror her deceased form, starting with the Crimson Dawn tattoo appearing on her face. As the training continues, the differences between Betsy and the assassin's apprentice slowly melt away. They become one.

But before she is allowed to pursue Slaymaster, Ogun asks his obedient pupil to perform one final, tiny little task: go to Paris and kill France's emperor Bonaparte. She merrily agrees and takes off for Europe, only to discover nothing was quite the way it seemed.

Yup, turns out Ogun was just grooming her to be a lethal weapon in Bonaparte's war with the Atlanteans. Namor's race rules the oceans with an iron fist and doesn't allow mankind to defile their waters. All they're allowed to use are wooden galleys from the 18th century. As fascinating a story idea as this really is, let's get back to the mind control mirth at hand...

Emperor Bonaparte uses a mind lock on Lady Mandarin's psyche in hopes of controlling her. However, the lock actually allows Psylocke to regain control of her mind and body. Quickly seizing the emperor, she uses him as a hostage to end the crisis the Exiles had come to prevent and everyone went home happy. Except for one little thing: Lady Mandarin was still in Betsy's mind and she brought company...

In New Exiles # 13, Betsy discovers both Lady Mandarin and Ogun have taken up residence within her mind, once more ready to completely take over. But just as the battle seemed hopeless, Betsy was pushed to the limits....

"Its not fair. I just want to live. I swear I'll be good. I can help..."

Ignoring Lady Mandarin's soul rendering pleas for life, Betsy finishes what Slaymaster started and kills her other self in a flurry of all things pink.

"Finally... I'm free."

Well, for the moment at least... So long as you're in a Chris Claremont comic, one is never truly safe... as we'll continue to highlight!

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