SIR JAMES BRADDOCK
Real Name: James Braddock
Identity/Class: Extradimensional (Otherworld) human, falsely claimed to be U.K. citizen
Occupation: Scientist, specialising as a physicist
Group Membership: Captain Britain Corps, Inner Circle of the London Branch of the Hellfire Club
Affiliations: Emma Collins, Merlyn, Sir Benedict
Known Relatives: Elizabeth Braddock (wife), James Jr "Jamie" Braddock (son), Brian Braddock (son, a.k.a. Captain Britain), Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock (daughter, a.k.a. Psylocke)
Aliases: Doctor Braddock, Black Bishop
Base of Operations: Braddock Manor, England, Earth-616
First Appearance: Captain Britain Weekly#14/1 (January 12th 1977)
Powers/Abilities: Sir James was extremely intelligent, an expert in several areas of science. Although we never saw him in battle, he has been described as the greatest warrior of his generation of the Captain Britain Corps, and it seems likely that as a member of that group he probably possessed other powers, perhaps similar to those his son Brian later gained (flight, superhuman strength, etc). However this is unconfirmed.
History: (Captain Britain II#7 (fb)/ Excalibur II#2 (fb)) - Sir James Braddock was an agent of Merlyn, a member of his chosen guard, the Captain Britain Corps, which had been created to protect the Omniverse. A scientist, warrior, philosopher and strategist, he was the greatest hero among a legion of heroes. Because of this, he was Merlyn's natural choice to be given the most vital quest any member of the Corps was ever given. He was sent to Earth-616, to take a carefully chosen mate, and father a hero who would be far greater even than he.
(Excalibur II#2 (fb) - BTS) - Before departing Otherworld, James told Sir Benedict, the guardian of the Sword of Might, that his son would one day come to claim the sword.
(Excalibur II#3 (fb)) - James also recorded his own psionic engrams in a device set to trigger and produce an interactive hologram which could explain James' true origins to his son when he eventually came to claim his heritage.
(Captain Britain II#1 (fb) - BTS) - Shortly after the end of World War II, James arrived on Earth, replaced Earth-616's James Braddock and purchased Braddock Manor. He apparently used the confusion following the conflict to explain the lack of official documents about him. (see comments)
(Captain Britain II#7 (fb)/ Excalibur II#2 (fb)) - Soon after his arrival, Sir James started the process of developing Mastermind, a computerised "node of the omniversal knowledge", to serve as a watchpost for his new continuum. James married Elizabeth, and fathered three children, James Jr, Brian and Elizabeth (a.k.a. Betsy).
(Excalibur I#97 (fb) - BTS) - James joined the London Branch of the Hellfire Club, rising to become the Black Bishop of the branch's Inner Circle. During this time he met the Club's butler, Rutledge.
(Excalibur I#87 (fb) - BTS) - James worked as a consultant physicist on a government project which developed special bullets made from the machined-skin taken from a mutant named Pizer, whose epidermis was a hard, semi-sentient plastic.
(Excalibur I#100 (fb) - BTS) - The Hellfire Club took James' invention and exported them to Genosha. James, who had believed the application of the work he had been doing was benign, aimed at developing a mutant detection device, learned of this, and resigned his bishopric.
(CB I#29/1 (fb)) - James and Elizabeth had one of Brian's university professor's, Professor Scott, come to dinner with them and their younger son. At the meal, the Professor shocked them all by announcing his plans to retire, as he was fed up with being mocked and ridiculed by most of his students. James tried to dissuade him from doing this, but Professor Scott was unwavering.
(CB I#14/1 (fb)) - James Braddock and his wife Elizabeth were waiting up anxiously for the return of their son from his night out. James decided to check on the computer while he waited, and his wife stated that she would accompany him, in the hope that it would stop her fretting about the boy. In the basement laboratory James noticed a power shortage in the workings, and started to repair it. He located the seat of the problem, and asked his wife to pass him a wrench. When she did so, and both of them were in contact with one another, the computer deliberately unleashed a lethal charge of electricity, which killed them both.
(The Daredevils#1/1 (fb) - BTS) - Their son Brian was outside in the driveway with his date for the night, Valerie Campbell, when the senior Braddocks were killed by an electrical explosion. The youths were close enough to Braddock Manor to see the flash.
Comments: Created by Gary Friedrich (writer), Herb Trimpe (penciller) and Fred Kida (inker), massively retconned by Alan Davis and Jamie Delano. Since Brian Braddock first thought about his parents as having died in some unspecified manner back in CB Weekly#4, so Chris Claremont, who was writing the strip at that point, may also claim some creative input.
In Excalibur II#2, Brian sees a uniform previously worn by his father, and recognises that it belongs to the "original Captain Britain Corps". Brian used to know absolutely nothing about the Corps and its history (he only learned for certain that there were other Captains in Daredevils#6, and as late as Excalibur I#44 still didn't know much about the Corps as an organised group), so presumably he found time to bone up on it. But what I want to know about is the "original" comment - was there a different version of the Captain Britain Corps that pre-dates the one Brian belongs to. And if Sir James, a member of that original Corps, was sent to an alternate Earth to father a new Captain Britain, could this also have been the fate of the other members of the original Corps? Are most of Brian Braddock's contemporaries also the half-breed children of Otherworld?
In Captain Britain II#1, it is mentioned that Sir James purchased Braddock Manor in the 1940s, and police officer Dai Thomas mentions that no documentation existed for him prior to the end of the war. However the first of these statements conflicts with the original Captain Britain series. According to Captain Britain Weekly#9, Braddock Manor "was built a quarter millennium ago", "on land that's been part of the Braddock heritage since before the Romans came." This suggests that the Braddock family clearly goes back way before the arrival of Sir James from Otherworld - he appears to have attached himself to an existing family, and may even have replaced his counterpart, the James Braddock of Earth-616. On the discrepancy in dates, I wonder if the Manor had been in the Braddock family, then sold off like many stately homes were when the family finances got too low. Sir James could then have bought it back when he arrived from Otherworld. It also strikes me as unusual that Merlyn couldn't have faked the necessary documents for him - perhaps the "destroyed in the war" excuse was actually the truth. On the other hand, given the proliferation of Brian counterparts among the Corps, that James Braddock Sr could have been a real person on Earth-616, complete with counterparts on other worlds (including Otherworld). Then the Earth-616 one probably died during the war, and needing to have a James Braddock on 616, Merlyn fixed things by sending the Otherworld one along to fill the gap. That would cover the ancestry, "in the family for generations", "member of Hellfire Club", bits. In Marvel Atlas#1 it was confirmed that Otherworld's James Braddock replaced his 616 version after WW2.
It is worth remembering that the only witness to the death of Sir James and Lady Elizabeth Braddock was the Mastermind computer (Brian saw the flash of light, not the deaths), and that the visions of their deaths the computer showed Brian Braddock might well not be accurate accounts - we know that he doctored some of Brian's encounter with Valerie Campbell, so there is no reason to trust the accuracy of anything else he showed. The computer made out that the reason the couple were working on the system at the time they were electrocuted was because they were worried about their errant son not being home yet, and decided to do some work to keep themselves occupied while waiting. However Brian was an adult - he could drive, making him at least seventeen, and he was in a pub, which means he should have been at least eighteen. More to the point, if it only happened a few months before the debut of the CB strip (Mastermind says it happened in "the not-too-distant-past" just before he shows Brian the vision), then Brian was almost certainly a university graduate - which would make him in his early twenties! I know parents never stop worrying, but I suspect that Mastermind lied about their motivation for working on the computer system when they died, in order to magnify Brian Braddock's feelings of guilt.
The hologram of Sir James in Excalibur II#3 tells a slightly different story, claiming that Sir James deliberately programmed Mastermind to kill him and his wife since his mission to sire a future hero and saviour was successful. This seems somewhat dubious - why kill his wife, whom he presumably loved? If it was necessary to introduce tragedy in Brian Braddock's life to shape him towards becoming a hero, then surely faking their deaths wouldn't have been a problem for someone who works for Merlyn. In the history above, I've left it as ambiguous as I can on this - Sir James might have known that Mastermind intended homicide, or he might have not.
Mastermind also created an illusion of the Braddock parent's skeletons to greet Brian on his return from his first trip to Otherworld. Though not a genuine appearance by the couple, it's a somewhat surreal conversation scripted by Alan Moore, and I've included a synopsis of it below for completeness' sake:
(Daredevils#2/1) As Brian entered the Manor's basement, his father called out to greet him. Sir James' skeleton berated his son for not visiting sooner, noting how lonely they both were now they were dead. Elizabeth's skeleton told James to be quiet, pointing out their son probably had his own life to live, probably with Valerie Campbell, and so wouldn't have time to spend with dead people. Then she asked her son why he hadn't rung ahead to tell them he was coming, to give them time to get ready. James responded that this was "just like a woman", and that he kept telling Elizabeth that nobody expected them to keep up appearances anymore now they were dead.
Brian apologised to the visions of his late parents, but James snapped that it was too late for that now. Brian should have been sorry when he was "getting up to monkey business with that cheap little tart" Valerie. Elizabeth scolded James for his language, insisting that though they might be dead, they still had their standards.
Brian, however, agreed with his father, insisting he had let them down and allowed them to die. James accepted the apology, and noted that the important thing was that Brian was there now, home to stay. They had left his room just as he had left it. Elizabeth told James not to rush the boy, pointing out that if he wanted to stay, there would have to be some changes; Brian would have to be dead like them if he wished to remain.
Tears streaming down his face, Brian agreed that was what he wanted; to stay with them; to be dead like them. At this the computer behind the illusions manifested a hologrammatic representation of itself, and commended Brian on his mature decision. As Brian began to recall his previous encounter with the computer, the skeleton of James told him to cut the chatter and let the man get on with killing him.
Between two times with Mastermind doing it, and once on Otherworld where some other device caused it, Sir James Braddock easily wins the "Dead guy most likely to talk to his son in the form of a hologram" award.
An observation based on Brian having witnessing the electrical flash which killed his parents. Both of the senior Braddocks were killed in the basement of the Manor, so no one outside should have seen the explosion. I guess Mastermind, aware no one else was in the building, overloaded all the electrics throughout the Manor, to make the "accident" scenario more believable. A newspaper article visible in Captain Britain II#1 makes it clear that the explosion cut off power to "several hundred homes in the vicinity".
One last observation. The vast majority of information we have about Sir James Braddock is second hand, supplied either by the Mastermind computer or a hologram of Sir James on Otherworld. Both of these sources may be of dubious veracity. Merlyn would have had a hand in the information they supplied, and we know what a manipulative lier he is...
CLARIFICATIONS: Sir James Braddock should not be confused with
The wife of James, and mother of Brian, Betsy and Jamie. She was killed along with her husband when the Mastermind computer electrocuted both of them.
-Captain Britain Weekly#14/1 (fb), (Excalibur II#3 (fb), CB I#29/1(fb), 14/1 (fb), Daredevils#1/1 - (fb) BTS
Top image: Excalibur II#3, p9 (excluding ads), pan1
Headshot: Captain Britain I#14/1, p7 pan2
Braddock with Merlyn: Captain Britain II#9, p9, pan3
James asking for wrench: Captain Britain I#14/1, p7 pan7
Skeletons: Daredevils#2/1, p7, pan4
Elizabeth: Captain Britain I#14/1, p7, pan4
Captain Britain I#29 (27 April 1977) - Gary Friedrich & Larry Lieber (writers), John Buscema (pencils), Fred Kida (inks), Larry Lieber (editor)
The Daredevils#1-2 (January - February 1983) - Alan Moore (writer), Alan Davis (artist), Bernie Jaye (editor)
Captain Britain II#1 (Januray 1985) - Jamie Delano (writer), Alan Davis (artist), Ian Rimmer (editor)
Captain Britain II#7 (July 1985) - Jamie Delano (writer), Alan Davis (artist), Ian Rimmer (editor)
Excalibur I#87 (July 1995) - Warren Ellis (writer), Ken Lashley (pencils), Tom Wegrzyn (inks), Suzanne Gaffney (editor)
Excalibur I#97 (May 1996) - Warren Ellis (writer), Casey Jones (pencils), Tom Simmons (inks), Suzanne Gaffney (editor)
Excalibur I#100 (August 1996) - Warren Ellis (writer), Casey Jones, Randy Green & Rob Haynes (pencils), Tom Simmons, Jason Martin, Rick Ketcham & Rob Haynes (inks), Suzanne Gaffney (editor)
Excalibur II#2-3 (March-April 2001) - Ben Raab (writer), Pablo Raimondi (pencils), Walden Wong & Pablo Raimondi (#3) (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Last updated: 12/08/04