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HomeAnimeX-Men Writers Discuss Resolving Psylocke's Asian Rebirth Controversy

X-Men Writers Discuss Resolving Psylocke’s Asian Rebirth Controversy

A pair of X-Men writers discuss how they handled the controversy surrounding Pyslocke being reborn as an Asian woman.

Ever since the start of the “Dawn of X” era of the X-Men titles (where Jonathan Hickman helped guide a group of writers on the X-Books using Hickman’s revamped House of X/Powers of X status quo), one of the major storylines running through a number of different titles has been the process of getting Psylocke (Kwannon) into a better state of mind with Betsy Braddock, who had previously used the name Psylocke and had taken over Kwannon’s body for many years (Betsy is White and Kwannon is Asian). Kawnnon and Betsy are now both in their original bodies, but it obviously has taken a long time for Kawnnon to come to terms with what happened to her.

In a wide-spanning interview with writers Tini Howard (who writes Betsy’s adventures in Excalibur) and Zeb Wells (who writes Kwannon’s adventures in Hellions), the pair discussed the impact of the Psylocke body swap controversy and how they tried to resolve it as best as they could.

Howard noted that the Psylocke/Kwannon controversy came up soon into the “Dawn of X” era, “That’s something that we talked about from the very first X-meeting I was in. Even before we started forming our own stories, we talked about, ‘what are some things that are really important to us, some things we want to set up the way they deserve’? One of them was a resolution to that Psylocke situation that wasn’t just these two characters fighting until they got along. It was important not just to us creators but to fans, especially Asian fans and all female fans, who felt bothered or hurt by some of the ways that had been handled over its 30 years. Here’s this problem that’s really tangled and had also become important to people in various ways, so it was really necessary to resolve. This was something I took really seriously, and had my nerves about. But Zeb is incredible as a collaborator, he does such incredible work with Kwannon.”

Wells continued, “I thought a way I could build off what Tini was doing and honor the character, was to make Kwannon the most compelling character apart from all of that as possible. To show that there was a super interesting tragic character under all of that this whole time.”

Howard then added, “We just kind of developed these women having these separate fears and thoughts about each other until they could come together. It ends up being extra fun and satisfying because one thing we can do in these books, because we have so many different books going, we can have conversations feel different or look different or include different details. If you read Hellions, you know Kwannon basically had a psychic therapy session where she killed Betsy Braddock a bunch in her mind. I don’t think Betsy knows that, I don’t think she’s supposed to know that. It’s not important to her to know that, that was Kwannon’s therapy, that was her working through stuff.”

Howard finished by pointing out, “Betsy working through stuff was completely different, and she needed Kwannon to help her out of it. It was based on guilt and complicated stuff. Some of that was scary to write, because a lot of it is my own experience being a bumbling white lady. That’s an experience I can write about. It’s not even like she was being thoughtful about it like ‘i’m trying to get out of this,’ sometimes you get emotional and you’re nervous and you’re gonna do something that doesn’t make any sense because it brings you some kind of catharsis. No, white lady; get in your portal!”

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