Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Profile: Lionheart

Lionheart

Real name: Kelsey Leigh
First appearance: Avengers #77 vol. 3, March 2004

History: this character, created by Chuck Austen, a onetime hack writer for Marvel, and artist Oliver Copiel, debuted as a third Captain Britain. She was a divorced mother with 2 children from southern England whose house had been invaded by thieving gang rapists who left her scarred across the face with broken glass when she tried to fight back against them. Her husband Richard was too terrified to help, and this led to their divorce.

Later, she found herself stuck in the middle of a battle between the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew. After Captain America and the Wasp were downed, Kelsey came to their help by holding up Cap's shield to guard them from a blast, but suffered injuries that led to her temporary death. She was resurrected by Brian Braddock, the original Captain Britain, and given a choice between the Sword of Might or the Amulet of Right to become a replacement for Brian in the CB role. She chose the former artifact, and discovered that if she were ever to reveal to her children who she really was, it would lead to their deaths.

What's wrong with how this was done? Not only was Brian depicted failing to warn Leigh of the consequences coming from the wrong choice of artifacts/weapons, the story setup was unbearably cruel, separating a mother from her children, as though the gang-rape and cowardly husband premise weren't bad enough. Adding insult to injury was how all this practically made it seem as though Leigh was paying for resisting her rapists by getting slashed; as though it were wrong for her to fight back. It's practically an example of writers who hate their own creations.

And they added insult to injury by depicting Leigh joining forces with a villain called Albion because she was angry at Braddock for what happened to her.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Fortunately, I think Chris Claremont, still working for Marvel at the time, fixed everything in a short series he wrote called New Excalibur; sort of a sequel to the old 1988-98 series. After Albion tried to assault the UK with his own dark forces and Excalibur fights back, she finally recognizes the mistakes she made, turns back to good and helps Excalibur defeat Albion. Brian then decides to set things right by reuniting her with her children and mother, thus putting an end to a very misguided storyline.

So in a modern era where you have Marvel's modern staff turning out some of the worst ever tales you could find, there was a silver lining with this case.

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