Britannia, leader of Marvel’s newest team of British superheroes, The Union, represents a classic sense of heroism just in time for King in Black.
Warning: spoilers for The Union #1 are ahead.
Though Marvel has no shortage of characters from the United Kingdom, it just introduced its newest leader, Britannia, as one of the most revered figures in British culture. Debuting in a brand new superhero team just in time for the King in Black storyline, Britannia represents the whole of Great Britain in The Union, a team composed of heroes from England (Union Jack), Wales (The Choir), Scotland (Kelpie), and Northern Ireland (Snakes).
The Union #1 (written by Paul Grist, pencils by Andrea Di Vito with Paul Grist, inks by Drew Geraci, Le Beau Underwood, with Paul Grist, colors by Nolan Woodard, and letters by VC’s Travis Lanham) introduced her as Britain’s most popular hero, even beating out Union Jack, a longtime legacy character in Marvel Comics. Equipped with a sword and a shield emblazoned with the face of a lion, Britannia is a timeless and fierce warrior not afraid to put herself in harm’s way. This plays out dramatically when a symbiote dragon sent by Knull comes hurling down from the sky.
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Not one to waste time, Britannia launched into the air after the dragon. From the ground, Union Jack made a comment about Saint George not being around to kill it, referencing the patron saint of England who was famous for having slain a dragon. Britannia, however, broke the truth about Saint George, and said, “Good old George! Never came to England, though, or killed a dragon. Looks like that’s my job! Again!” before landing a killing blow.
Britannia being the original Saint George establishes her as a Thor-like hero in the United Kingdom. While she is not a goddess, she appears to be several centuries old and is imbued with a sense of legend due to the mythic status that Saint George has. Fighting with a sword and shield, she represents an older, more classic sense of heroism in comparison to a character like Union Jack. With part of the issue detailing clashes between Britannia and Union Jack, it is possible that the Union could document the struggles that older heroes face with adapting to contemporary superhero standards.
With that fate of the Earth hanging in the balance, thanks to Knull’s invasion, it is uncertain what the future holds for Marvel’s newest superhero team. With so many of its members being brand new to the Marvel Universe, it is quite possible that even more elements of British culture may be shown to have originated with various characters of the Union. Either way, with Britannia left gravely wounded at the end of The Union #1, it will be up to her teammates to be the heroes that the United Kingdom needs in this dark hour.
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