Issue(s): X-Men #20, X-Men #21, X-Men #22, X-Men #23
This infamous storyline tries to reveal that the Psylocke that has been with the team since Acts of Vengeance isn't the real Psylocke. The story hinges on Fabian Nicieza having missed Uncanny X-Men #255, the issue where Psylocke washed up on the island and was found by the Hand (source, although i remember FabNic originally admitting this on Usenet). This is the issue before Acts of Vengeance started; Nicieza thought that the story of Psylocke's transformation began in #256. Which is understandable from a certain point of view, but it seems weird for writers of the X-Men to a) not be fluent in Claremont's X-Men generally and b) to not really really make sure you know what you're doing before introducing a major retcon. There's also the question of editorial oversight, especially when it's the same editor as on the original story.
I also wonder what the point of the retcon was. I've noted in the past that there's something... weird about having turned Psylocke Asian in the first place. I don't think complaints about that, if any, were registering with anyone at Marvel at this point, but if the idea was to reverse the situation, i could see it. But to do that, this story should have ended with a definitive resolution saying that Psylocke really did wind up switching bodies with an Assassin named Kwannon (code name Revanche). Have a fight with the bad guys, switch bodies back, and the bad guy goes away, to come back on occasion like any bad guy. Instead, things are left much more ambiguous, and Revanche will wind up hanging around the X-Mansion after this story. I could also see if a simple reveal was the original intention but then the story got muddled and extended after people wrote in to point out the problem, but in the CBR article i linked to Nicieza says that no one noticed the continuity problem initially. So this is just another example of how stories from this period were introduced with no clear conclusion in mind and then dragged on forever. And maybe now's a good time to mention that these issues are also notorious for dropping the hint that there is a third Summers brother.
But back to Psylocke. Things start off with the tension or flirtation or whatever you'd call it between her and Cyclops getting dialed up to 11.
Now, again, if the idea here is that Psylocke really has the mind of an evil assassin named Revanche who is perhaps manipulating Scott, then this all makes sense. But apparently the idea here (you can see it in the same CBR link above) is to put Cyclops and Jean Grey through one final test before they decide that they should get married. And Psylocke is just an asshole.
Scott heads off to Alaska to find himself.
Later - after a good portion of an issue of angsty soap - Jean goes to confront Psylocke. The X-Men's computer - which apparently talks now - warns Jean that Psylocke is appearing on the premises in two separate locations, but Jean repeatedly ignores that.
Instead of talking things out, Psylocke stabs Jean with her psi-blade.
When Revanche (i'm going to call her Revanche from the beginning just to simplify things) shows up, Psylocke assumes that she's a hologram programmed into the Danger Room sequence by Jean.
Revanche seemingly slices Psylocke's head straight off. I guess that's symbolic, since she looks fine at the bottom of the page.
The rest of the X-Men (or i guess i have to say 'a group of X-Men') show up, and Revanche reveals herself to be a pre-Asianified Betsy Braddock.
Here's a weird line to give to Gambit, out of everyone here.
Gambit has only known the post-Acts of Vengeance Psylocke, so he should be the least interested in all of this.
Revanche says that she'll allow Xavier to read her mind. Psylocke, having been violated by a number of villains in the past, refuses to let him do so. Wolverine says that neither is lying or telling the truth (thanks!), saying that their "scents are the same but different", with neither matching pre-Siege Perlilous Betsy exactly. Wolverine also notes that Revanche is using standard ninja defense stances, which doesn't make sense if she's the pre-ninjified Betsy. Wolverine and Xavier agree that the only way to sort things out is to go to Japan. Wolverine himself won't be going on that mission; see the Considerations; it's said that Wolverine has "too many bitter memories" to come to Japan at the moment. So the team is really just the two Psylockes plus Gambit and the Beast (again, it's a weird choice of team; two guys that have barely worked with Psylocke). They infiltrate the home of Lord Nyoirin Henecha, who has allied himself with the Hand.
As i noted in the last arc, Nyoirin Henecha looks a lot like the way the Mandarin was drawn during the story where Psylocke was transformed, and i wonder if someone was using those issues for reference without realizing who he was or deciding at the last minute that he couldn't be used anymore. It's a really weird reveal - Psylocke's been duplicated and she's working for... some local gangster we've never heard of! But then he's being connected with the Upstarts, and everything about them is underwhelming. Shinobi Shaw is running around in this story too, but i can't summon the interest to talk about him. When the Upstarts get together, they say they are leaving Hong Kong alone in case the Mandarin comes back for it.
So the X-Men fight some ninjas and then find a picture of Psylocke - labelled Kwannon - in Nyoirin's house.
Then Silver Samurai shows up.
Brandon Peterson filled in on issue #21, but Andy Kubert is back for #22, and he makes a point of drawing the Psylockes in duplicate poses.
Silver Samurai is knocked out, and then the X-Men find Nyoirin's diary on a scroll behind the painting. No one questions the Junior RPG convenience of all of this.
The problem with this, as noted above, is that UX #255 showed the still-British Betsy having been found by The Hand. I mean, that's the continuity-related problem, anyway.
The scroll doesn't answer the question of why British Body Betsy has ninja attributes and can read Japanese, and Nyoirin shows up to say that it's because they're both Psylocke.
That's where the Psylocke plot in issue #22 ends, but the lettercol helpfully tells us that Kwannon and Betsy "have melded and become two separate composite entities", which is probably more clear than anything we learn in issue #23. The X-Men learn about the Upstarts from Nyoirin, and then they go and beat up Shinobi...
Similar to X-Force #23 and the Externals, this feels like it should have been a quick abort of the flailing Upstart plot, but at a minimum we still have the Siena Blaze plot coming up.
Meanwhile, we see the Dark Riders hunt down and (seemingly) kill Mesmero.
And then they kill one of their own - Psynapse - for failing to avoid Mesmero's hypnosis and for having the same nasty cough that is going around the X-universe.
Then, while Cyclops is in Alaska telling his grandparents about the Nathan/Cable/Stryfe thing for the first time, a sinister looking man named Mike Milbury shows up. He's a neighbor of the Summerses who says that he's met Scott before.
He is of course Mr. Sinister.
Sinister just wants to talk. He tells Scott that he "may have unleashed a terrible plague on mutantkind". As for why he's warning Cyclops, it's because he wants him and his brothers oh er excuse me I meant brother definitely singular to be safe.
Then the Dark Riders show up...
...and Mr. Sinister and Cyclops team-up to fight them.
Mr. Sinister kicks their asses so bad that they agree to not kill Cyclops.
However, he says that it's ok if they rough him up a bit, and then he teleports away. And then Cyclops kicks their asses (i'd show it to you but it's awkwardly laid out over a two page spread). Then it's decided that Cyclops has passed the test, so they stop fighting. They say that he's going to be at the forefront of "the battle for the ascension of the High Lord". Cyclops notes that Apocalypse and Stryfe have both mentioned that (i'm kind of surprised that present-day Apocalypse did, and i don't remember it, but i may have glossed over some of his ranting). He tells the Dark Riders that if there's any kind of war coming, the Dark Riders may very well have caused it by being involved in the situation that caused him to send his child to the future, since (he thinks) the kid came back as Stryfe. The Riders say "of course we did" and then teleport away.
In realtime i would have found the Sinister/Apocalypse/Stryfe hints to be interesting, even though it's really just as convoluted a plotline as the Upstarts stuff, which i did and do find boring. Maybe it's because the former feature super-villains and not a bunch of boring criminals who always seem to be taking a bath.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's said to have been a "week" since the X-Men returned from Siberia. See the Considerations for Wolverine #69-71; that story takes place in the middle of this one while the other X-Men go to Japan.
Illyana's sickness is just identified as a nasty cold in this issue. Xavier suggests getting her checked for Strep throat.
So this would seemingly take place before Uncanny X-Men #300 when it's identified as the Legacy virus. But per Michael's comment, the way things work out, this has to take place after Uncanny X-Men #300, which means Xavier is stone cold lying to Colossus in the scene above. I don't know if that was Nicieza's intention because that's pretty harsh even by modern Xavier standards, but that's the way it has to be. Cyclops doesn't return from Alaska until next issue (X-Men #24) and at that point Illyana is dead, placing this before Uncanny X-Men #301. But Cyclops appears in Uncanny X-Men #299-300, and he can't have been jumping back and forth from Alaska.
Rogue's eyesight has recovered by the start of this arc; in both issue #20 and Wolverine #69 she mentions that she's still sensitive to light, but she's otherwise fine.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showBarrage, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Deborah Summers, Foxbat, Gambit, Gamesmaster, Gauntlet (Dark Rider), Hardrive, Illyana Rasputin (Alt-Limbo version), Jean Grey, Jubilee, Matsuo Tsurayaba, Mesmero, Mr. Sinister, Nyoirin Henecha, Philip Summers, Professor X, Psylocke, Psynapse, Revanche, Rogue, Shinobi Shaw, Silver Samurai, Storm, Tusk, Wolverine
Aside from the obvious critical things that could be said about these issues, there's one small thing I found annoying:
In the end of #21, Beast gets slashed by Silver Samurai in the back (BTW. Fnord: you called him "Silver Sable" in the text). He should be seriously wounded... but, at the start of next issue, he's fine all of sudden. I hate this kind of thing...
Posted by: Piotr W | October 17, 2016 6:28 PM
Fabian has a bad habit of not doing his homework - another case in point, his impossible explanation of Guardian's "resurrection" (rendered intentionally impossible by John Byrne when he first presented it in ALPHA FLIGHT #25). They forgot to fix that mistake, unlike what they sloppily tried to do with this Kwannon/Revanche mess. Therefore, Guardian is still dead! :)
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | October 17, 2016 7:12 PM
Fnord, this story has to take place after X-Men 300 and before X-Men 301. Here's why- in X-Men 24, Scott returns from Alaska and apologizes to Jean for his behavior in issue 20, and Illyana is already dead at that point. At the start of X-Men 301, Xavier still hasn't told Peter that Illyana is suffering from the Legacy Virus- I think the idea is that Xavier is lying when he pretends not to know what Illyana's illness is. Incidentally, X-Men Unlimited 1 has to take place before this story since Scott is present during Unlimited 1 and X-Men Unlimited 1 is referenced in Uncanny 301. And the backup story in Uncanny X-Men Annual 17 has to take place before X-Men Unlimited 1 but the main story has to take place after this issue since Peter is in human form this issue, so you'll have to split the Annual up, which I know you enjoy doing.
Posted by: Michael | October 17, 2016 8:14 PM
That scene with Jean and Betsy is odd- Betsy tells Jean "Now you know everything". Know what? Betsy didn't know about Kwannon, so what else was there for Jean to know. Maybe Nicieza's original idea was that Betsy had some ulterior motive for wanting to split Jean and Scott up? Maybe she blamed them for Doug's death because they were fooled by Hodge or for what happened to Maddie?
Posted by: Michael | October 17, 2016 8:52 PM
Psylocke licked motor oil off of Cyclops' face! That is *not* sexy!
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 17, 2016 9:01 PM
First off, the important stuff: WHY in god's name is a Shinobi Shaw scene always in the hot tub or his bedroom?! Geez, l'm just glad this was a Code-approved book! (By the way his sudden inclusion in this story sounds suspiciously like "well we're in Japan so time to randomly throw all the 'Asian' characters together!")
2nd most criticl point: Nice touch to Brandon Peterson for giving Revanche the "Mariah Carey" perm she had when "she" went through the Seige Perilous. Too bad it ends up being a continuity error (Unless "Brit Betsy" has a very dedicated stylist on call.)
As for the Kwannon/Revanche plotline (and the intertwined "Psylocke sexually harrasses Scott because 'sexy'" storyline)...well you know how irate Spidey fans were about "One More Day", so much so that even to this day, it still inspires a new round of unmitigated fury? Well for THIS X-fan (and others, judging by the letter columns at the time), this is the X-book's "One More Day." I'll rant about why later, but this is basically "step two" in transforming Psylocke into an unusable character as she becomes encumbered in a barrage of confusing "baggage." But generally this whole plot should have a red marker writing "NO!" In 72 point font all over it!
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 17, 2016 10:17 PM
Shinobi is supposed to be Japanese, so while I agree his appearance here is gratuitous, he's not egregiously out of place. I think even in his first appearance, in an X-Factor backup, his business interests in Asia were alluded to. Still, he's not adding anything to this mess of a story.
This is pretty much the first and last we see of the Dark Riders' "testing" nonsense, isn't it? They did say something about it to Apocalypse when they "killed" him in Executioner's Song, and it'll get referenced again when this team of Dark Riders are killed off in Cable's series a year or so from now, but these issues are the only times the Riders actively try to test anybody. Maybe after getting whupped so badly by Sinister and Cyclops they realized they couldn't pass their own "test."
The testing thing seemed to be an idea of Harras's, going back to the way Caliban was used in the the early '50s of X-Factor. As a storyline, it's even more of a dud than the legacy virus.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 18, 2016 12:29 AM
This is the first time I've ever really heard of it, but could the Psylocke/Revanche thing be a remake of the Domino/Vanessa reveal in "X-Force" a little while back?
Posted by: ChrisW | October 18, 2016 1:38 AM
Does no one in the X-Mansion own a kerchief? Or a hat? Does Scott really need to use a tie as a sweatband? I only bring it up because it's one of the least stupid things about these issues. I remember reading these in real times and thinking, what the hell are they doing?
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 18, 2016 6:01 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think "Nyoirin" is a name that exists in Japanese? The same applies to the Silver Samurai's first name, "Kenuichio". For all their fascination with Japan, the X-Men writers didn't seem to bother to check whether the names they came up with were linguistically feasible.
Posted by: Tuomas | October 18, 2016 6:17 AM
@Michael, thanks, i'll look at it when i get to those issues.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 18, 2016 9:26 AM
@Erik: I think Scott is supposed to be wearing a handkerchief, albeit a super large, 90s-fied one. At least, that's how I always took it.
When these issues first came out, I hadn't read UNCANNY #255 yet, either, so I had no idea anything was wrong with the retcon (aside from it being generally pointless). And I didn't realize it was wrong until after Nicieza "fixed it" in issues #31-#32, so the thing held together in my head reasonably well for years.
Meanwhile, I was OBSESSED with the Third Summers Brother "mystery" for years. Vulcan is a complete trainwreck of a character who did way more damage than good, but there was still a part of me, lingering from reading these issues in real time, excited to finally have an official conclusion to that tease.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | October 20, 2016 10:33 AM
When I was a kid everyone at school loved these byzantine Nicieza mystery plotlines like the third Summers brother and Psylocke/Revanche. They don't hold up so well when you're past the age of 10 though.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 20, 2016 1:27 PM
@Austin, Red Comet- I thought it was obvious that Adam X was the third Summers brother after reading X-Force 30- don't ask me why that never made it into print.
Posted by: Michael | October 20, 2016 8:13 PM
Questions? Yeah I got a few. RE: X-Men #20
1) Anyone else see eery similarity of the Cyclops/Psylocke/Jean Grey to Scott's later affair with Emma Frost (except it that case he actually got together with the sexually aggressive telepath)?
2)Despite what Nicieza and Lobdell, says, I still suspect the flirtation was ALSO suppose to make us suspicious of Psylocke as much as it was to place a roadblock in Scott and Jean's race to the alter. It's too coincidental that this subplot leads directly into Psylocke's identity issues. Plus technically Summers and Grey don't really resolve their pre-marital problems. Scott goes away and then, without talking having any heart-to-heart or anything just declare that they are "fine" when Scott returns.
3) How can Psylocke's "focused totality of her psychic powers" even affect Jean anyway? Psi-screen anyway (and isn't Jean established as bek g the more powerful psi than Betsy? Isn't that one of the big reasons they kept changing her power around and giving her more scenes with more physicality?)?
Stupid, stupid, storyline.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 21, 2016 6:37 PM
@Michael: X-MEN #39 also lays out, pretty blatantly, the idea that Adam-X is the Third Summers brother (indeed, that was Nicieza's intent, as he's said in a few interviews). But for whatever reason, it never made it to the "confirmed" stage, so in my head, that particular mystery was always unresolved (I also wasn't a huge fan of Adam-X - even as a dumb kid he screamed 90s cliche to me - so I certainly didn't *want* him to be the brother. Not that Vulcan is loads better. He's pretty much a walking 00s cliche).
Posted by: Austin Gorton | October 22, 2016 3:44 PM
Re: X-Men #21
4) I'm glad Fnord brought attention to the Gambit panel, but let's go back to one he forgot to include which opens #21: Wolverine has Betsy pinned between two of his claws. By which i mean why do the X-Men immediately distrust non-British Psylocke, when just a few issues ago they completely shugged off that the guy they knew little about might have bern a traitor (you know, the one suggesting why the X-Men might be skeptical about Psylocke's loyalty? That one?) The same team that has already dealt with multiple clones and Skrulls and the like?
5) Why is Revanche so willing to let Professor X read her mind, given that she's the imposter? Was she so certain that the Asian one would object? Kinda risky, ain't it?
6) Why is she called "Revanche" anyway? The entire point of this arc is that that she's claiming to be the "real" Betsy, so why doesn't she just refer to herself as "Psylocke" and call the Asian version "Kwannon." It kind of clues us on not to take her claim seriously.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 23, 2016 12:58 AM
@Jon- 4) To be fair, Betsy didn't exactly help her case by attacking Jean for no real reason. Especially since she wanted to prevent Jean from knowing... something? (Seriously, that scene makes no sense except to make Betsy look guilty.)
Posted by: Michael | October 24, 2016 4:16 PM
7) If this is about Psylocke's "real" orgin, why are all these x-tra people like Silver Samurai and Shinobi Shaw cluttering up the issue (it must have taken rxeal restraint not to throw Sunfire in there)? Only Matsuo and (maybe Nyorin) are really relevant here. Speaking of which...
8) One wonders if Niceza forgot to read Uncanny #256 as well, because the lack of Spiral or Mojo in that explanation is bizarre. Even back then (as a wee young'un) I have assumed that Spiral somehow used her magic to transform Betsy (Incidentally a "revised" edition of the Marvel RPG from 1990 said that Psylocke was "mystically transformed" so even they seemed to have caught on quicker.n
9) What the hell is going on if that screenshot where Revanche reveals "the truth" about Psylocke. Did Revanche stab her? Is she really so shocked that she might be Nyorin's lover that she's bowled over? (Particularly since Kwannon turns out to be Matsuo's lover.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 1, 2016 3:28 AM
@Jon- 8) Mojo's and Spiral's role in Betsy's transformation was never mentioned after X-Men 256 until X-Men 31. The same thing happened with Gateway's presence during Maddie's transformation into the Goblin Queen. Claremont threw characters into dream sequences that neither he nor later writers knew what to do with.
Posted by: Michael | November 1, 2016 7:55 PM
I HATED the Revanche storyline as a kid; it just seemed like more boring identity muck-a-lucking to me. Even now, I'm still a fan of Nicieza's work but I'm thinking that X-Men 20 might be the absolute nadir of his 'seven-monthly-books' phase, and dimly suspect it's in the running for his single worst non-Liefeld X-book.
I missed the Skinner of Souls storyline--which for me now is kind of a bummer since it was basically one of the only appearances of the Exiles--but I picked up 20 and subsequently stayed away from the title for about a year because of it.
Posted by: George Lochinski | May 28, 2017 7:29 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|