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Welcome Psylocke to the X-Men

Brian Wood unloads on the baggage Betsy Braddock brings to his new series plus her skillset and more!

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X-Men #1 cover by Olivier Coipel

By Brett White

The X-Men franchise's latest mutation takes the action and drama that fans have come to expect from the team and multiplies it exponentially. X-MEN, the new series from writer Brian Wood and artist Olivier Coipel, stars six of the biggest characters in the X-Universe bound together by duty, fate and friendship to form a heavy-hitting fighting force.

Fittingly for a book simply called X-MEN, the women that comprise the team represent time-tested, fan favorite characters with rich personalities. Wood skillfully brought the group dynamics germane to close knit teams to life while writing the previous X-MEN series last year.

X-MEN #1 finds Psylocke in an emotionally turbulent place. She's spent the last few years on Wolverine's black ops hit squad in UNCANNY X-FORCE, where she rebooted the love of her life after Archangel's ascension to an Apocalypse-level evil, thus leaving Warren Worthington a clean slate with no memory of their time together. More recently, her extreme attitude caused her to be removed as a teacher at the Jean Grey School.

We spoke to Brian Wood to find out if the psychic ninja's status quo will find balance in X-MEN.

Marvel.com: You previously wrote Psylocke in X-MEN last year. Are you approaching the character differently this time around, considering the struggles she's overcome in UNCANNY X-FORCE?

Brian Wood: A little, perhaps not as much as people might expect. Psylocke's primary role on this team is that of muscle, but in a very different way. My editor [Jeanine Schaefer] has unofficially tagged her "the point person" in the tactical sense of the phrase. She reprises her role, from my X-MEN run last year, as Storm's sort of second-in-command and confidant. She's emotionally distant because she's tabling her recent past experiences in UNCANNY X-FORCE, but she can't keep a lid on that 24/7, so we'll start to see some of the bad [expletive] coming to the surface as we move forward.

On a lighter note, I'm expanding her arsenal of weaponry. I like the idea of her using actual weapons like her psychic katana, as opposed to mental projections, and I've already given her a longbow in the first issue. I'd like to keep that up, so she has a full arsenal of medieval gear to use. Magik shouldn't be the only one who gets to swing around a massive sword.

Marvel.com: Psylocke has a pretty complex history. What key elements of her past do you think shape her the most?

Brian Wood: I like to think of her as a soldier above everything else. I'm looking for an extremely dry sense of humor to give her—not quite black and not at all sarcastic, but really cutting and brutally delivered at times. It's all part and parcel with her past dramas, a coping mechanism or a façade of sorts, but one that meshes perfectly with her role on the team.

Marvel.com: Psylocke's been so wrapped up in the seedier side of things lately, does she really trust anyone?

Brian Wood: I like to think she trusts her teammates here, but maybe with conditions.

Marvel.com: Considering that Jubilee's first big hero adventure was alongside Psylocke and Wolverine, does Betsy feel any affection towards Jubilee, specifically spurred on by the situation she’s approaching the X-Men with?

Brian Wood: The primary reason this whole team comes together is because they all have affections for Jubilee. This is why I've said in the past that, while Jubilee isn't the leader of the team, she is its focus. To use a phrase my wife likes: Jubilee is the glue.

Marvel.com: With Rachel Grey around, Psylocke isn't the only telepath on this team. Does this free her up to use her other skill sets more? And which do you think the character enjoys more?

Brian Wood: Man, how do you make that choice? Also, I think she deploys each power set in different ways and according to the situation. Since she and Rachel both share telepathy, they tend to gravitate towards each other in my scripts; they share scenes, they work as a unit at times. In #1, I have this extended interrogation session and so the two women can basically strategize in real time via telepathy without tipping off the prisoner. It's just one example.

But sure, it does mean that Psylocke can be free to just wade into physical battle if Rachel's there.

Pick up X-MEN #1, available now, and be back here later this week to welcome Jubilee!

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