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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Lionheart Seeing Her Kids is a BAD Thing?

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at one of the odder about faces you’ll see…

When Captain Britain first showed up, this is what his choices were…

Now I’m surely no stickler for continuity, but Chuck Austen really dropped the ball during his Avengers run when he had a new character given the same choice as Brian…

If you don’t say specifically that the amulet is for life and the sword is for death, then you miss the whole point of the exercise! The exercise is to see if the person chooses life over death, not amulet over sword! A bad mistake by Austen. Anyhow…

She served with the Avengers for a short time and left after Avengers Disassembled. She later showed up in the pages of New Excalibur, first working against Captain Britain but ultimately siding with him and Excalibur. So she is rewarded with….a visit to her kids?

So, I guess it is okay for her to see her kids now!


I missed this story so I have no idea what’s going on. That being said, it seems like a damn mess anyway.

As horrible as Austen’s Avengers run was, this was one of the stupider things he came up with. It seemed like he thought that if for some reason she couldn’t see her kids, it would add a layer of tragedy as opposed to just being hacky (he was wrong), but since he’s a horrible writer he couldn’t come up with any legitimate reason she couldn’t see her kids. So he just said “Uh, yeah, if your kids see you they’ll die. Because I said so, that’s why. Sure, that’s it.”

The “not seeing your kids” part I can deal with (and the whole “not really telling what you are choosing” thing, that’s sometimes how these myths go), the fact that it was turned into government’s call if she could see her kids or not is iffy though.

and the whole “not really telling what you are choosing” thing, that’s sometimes how these myths go

Not when that is not how this myth went, as shown above. Explaining what the sword and the amulet represented was how they chose Captain Britains. It was easy enough for Austen to just have her choose death, ya know? His story still would have worked.

It’s Chuck Austen, I think Marvel is forgetting a lot of what he wrote.

Wasn’t there a character who chose BOTH items? Possibly one of the Alternate Universe Captain Britains?

I want to believe that the New Excalibur writer (Chris Claremont, I believe) felt (accurately, IMO) that it was a good idea to let go of that cruel plot point was quickly and discreetly as possible. More so since odds were that no one would use Lionheart in a good while. And indeed no one has used her since AFAIK.

I believe there was a plotline where someone choose the sword and became a more grim-and-gritty Captain Britain for his realm.
I don’t recall ever liking anything Austen wrote. And I don’t think it’s because my memory is faulty.

Yes, Fraser, that would be a New Excalibur plot point.

I’ve got to say, this is a much better way to retcon stupid ideas. Just blatantly pretend they didn’t exist. Show rather than tell that the previous status quo is gone. I far prefer this method to the Busiek method of having one character do another expository Q & A session with another character explaining how everything they were previously told or believed was a lie.

For the longest time I’d only heard the “had to choose between a sword and an amulet” part of Captain Britain’s origin, and always did think it was a “weapons are bad, mmkay?” type of thing – something that didn’t so much prove your worth as your genre awareness: “if a benign mystical force gives you a choice between a weapon and anything else, choose anything else.” That kind of thing really does happen all the time in folklore and mythology. This is the first I’m hearing of the actual life vs. death explanation Brian was given, and it makes his origin a lot more reasonable.

If Austen knew about that element of the origin and intentionally removied it, that a was stupid way to go. But even if he didn’t know and, like me, thought it was a fairy tale-esque thing where you had to just intuit that Merlin like amulets more than swords, it’s still stupid for Brian and Meggan to screw Lionheart over that way – even if Brian had been given the exact same choice he was giving Lionheart, you’d think one of them would at least drop enough hints that she wouldn’t be picking at random.

Part of having established characters take over the stations of enigmatic eldritch forces should be a balance between them coming to understand why some things need to be done the way they’ve always been done and them bringing their own personalities to their duties and trying to temper the “speaking in riddles” nonsense with real-world common sense and logic. Like realizing that if you’re trying to get the right person for a role, you should ask the right questions and not just present them with the ancient riddle that’s generally worked out well enough in the past.

Well, maybe it’s okay now because of a linguistic technicality: Braddock said the children would die painful and horrible deaths if Kelsey revealed herself. In this case, Pete Wisdom did the actual ‘revealing’ and then she just confirmed his explanation. Either that, or the kids are still going to have terrible, painful deaths, it just hasn’t happened yet. Pete Wisdom has done worse while employed by British Intelligence.

I agree with ZZZ, the whole “not bothering to explain what you are choosing” thing is fairly common in mythologies, though it does vary if it is some kind of test to pick suitability (yes, if benign mystical force is offering a weapon and something else, always pick something else) or if it is indeed a real choice that if you pick A this thing happens and if you pick B that thing happens, with ups and downs.

It is a bit unclear which one this Captain Britain choice is, it indeed can be the second one and the person choosing sword can end up being grimmer and grittier warrior who is forced to sever connections to his/her past but who is really good at getting things done, while the one picking the amulet becomes more a valiant protector type. And both are genuine options.
But of course the person can come to regret the effects after making the choice even though it was genuine. Doesn’t mean those things need to be taken into consideration; stories are nasty things with no necessity for fairness.

And of course a writer can think it really is a question of making a good or bad choice, sometimes even if another writer had first thought it was a question of equal choices. Or a writer just can make a muddled mess without any clear idea what he is doing…

I think having the choice be blind is far more dramatic, and more in keeping with the idea of destiny. For example, Ogami making Daigoro chose between the ball (oblivion with his mother) or the sword (the life of a ronin) at the beginning of Lone Wolf and Cub.

Wow, I knew that I was basically unfamiliar with Captain Britain outside his early MTU appearances and his “…and MI13″ title, but this is the first I’ve heard of Lionheart.

Whoops, that last Anonymous was me. On holiday in London, appropriately enough.

The worst part of Austen’s story wasn’t this — it was the idea that Kelsey being hurt would cause damage to Britain, in response to which she…decided to embark on a dangerous superhero career in another country entirely? How…heroic?

This story was easily the worst thing Austen ever wrote. I mean, EASILY. Bring me your list of dumb things that happened in “The Draco” and I will dwarf it with this.

I do agree that his Avengers run was worse than his Uncanny X-Men run.

Well it was also pretty obvious. “If you reveal who you are to your children” okay, then someone else just needs to do that. The entire plotline should’ve been resolved in 3 issues.

I thought the whole thing was a stupid idea, even a child could tell if their mommy was wearing a costume.

actually the whole idea is pointless.

I like the clumsy page set-up that has the children reacting two panels after she un-masked.
This was a bad time to read Marvel.

There’s another aspect of this that’s been forgotten. Captain Britain 35 (1977 written by Gary Friedrich) showed that others prior to Brian had been offered the same choice. They chose the sword and died because it was the wrong choice.

David, I just read the origin (in Captain Britain: Birth of a Legend) and yes, the sword/death is presented as a Bad Thing—the boss villain in the splash page above grabs it up and immediately becomes Bigger, Nastier Evil. So that’s definitely been forgotten or at least radically retconned.

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