One incarnation or another of Union Jack.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1976
Creators: Roy Thomas (writer) and Frank Robbins (artist)
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Union Jack was a Marvel Comics superhero set during World War II, like The Silver Scorpion and The Red Raven. But unlike those two, or The Angel, The Blazing Skull, The Thin Man and at least a couple of dozen others, he wasn't actually there during the war. He was also a World War I superhero, which is how he was introduced in the seventh issue (July, 1976) of The Invaders, a latter day grouping of heroes …

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… set during that time, who didn't actually get together during World War II. He was a near-retired old man at the time, but Captain America had apparently heard of him even if the readers hadn't.

Union Jack, named after his country's flag (also used as a prominent element of Captain Britain's superhero togs) had been James Montgomery Lord Falsworth. He hadn't hadn't appeared in comic books during World War I any more than in World War II, if only because Marvel (to say nothing of modern-style comics at all) didn't exist back then. But he was part of a long-standing Marvel practice of strewing dual-identity heroes throughout history, which had already manifest itself in the creation of The Two-Gun Kid, The Black Knight and more.

Another representative of that practice, The Phantom Eagle, was quickly retconned into a member of Freedom's Five, so Jack could have a group to have been a member of. But he was soon transformed into a contemporary character, available for membership in The Invaders, by the simple expedient of having him crippled so his son Brian could take over the role and the costume. At roughly the same time, his daughter Jacqueline acquired the power of super-speed like The Whizzer, put on a superhero suit as "Spitfire", and joined The Invaders herself.

The new Union Jack was tied to a superhero who actually was in World War II, tho not very plausibly tied. When found behind enemy lines (in The Invaders #17, July 1977), he was using the superhero name "The Destroyer," and was conflated in modern continuity with Keen Marlow, which actually was The Destroyer's non-superhero name back in the '40s. Later, just in case any long-time readers remained unconfused, the "Destroyer" name and outfit were passed on to another latter-day Invaders member, formerly called "Dyna-Mite" (no relation). Later, as Jack, Brian got powered up by a lightning bolt in connection with an encounter with Thor, and got the ability to shoot mystic lightning from his hands.

Brian (who by the way, was fashionably homosexual) continued adventuring as Union Jack through World War II and beyond, but was killed in 1953, in a car accident. So he wasn't available in Captain America #253 (January, 1983), when the return of an old enemy necessitated the appearance of a new Union Jack. That role was filled by Joey Chapman, a friend of Lord Falsworth's grand-nephew Kenneth Chrichton (who assumed the role of the villainous Baron Blood).

Joey brought a working class air to the formerly-aristocratic Jack. If a Marvel writer ever has use for a modern version of the Union Jack character, Joey is available, even tho the original Union Jack is currently, finally, dead.

Union Jack has never been a Marvel media superstar, and probably never will be. But he's slated to appear in the 2011 release of Captain America: The First Avenger, where he'll be played by J.J. Field, in his first role as a superhero.


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Text ©2011 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.