Back in the mid-1970′s, America was Bi-Centennial crazy. Writer Roy ‘the boy’ Thomas had been itching to work on a comic set in Marvel’s historic WWII era and he finally got his wish with the new series called the Invaders. A loose modernization of the All Winners Squad from the days of Timely Comics, the series featured the heroes of the Second World War including Namor the Sub Mariner, The Human Torch and Toro, as well as Captain America and Bucky. The series was a hit and it allowed for the opportunity to create new characters, including the mighty Union Jack of Great Britain.
The character became more of a mantle or title handed down through the ages from family member to family member all the way from WWII to the modern age of the 1970s’. For some reason the character of the Union Jack seems to spend an awful lot of time fighting vampires. Armed with his a service revolver and dagger, he fought the forces of darkness threatening his homeland dressed in his country’s flag. Neither super-powered nor aided by chemical enhancements, the Union Jack has ever been a faceless servant of his country.
The character had his start in the 1976 Invaders series but later proved popular enough with writers to bring back into Marvel Comics continuity. The move from a Tory to Labor government seems to have had an impact on the soul of the character as the latest bearer of the Union Jack mantle is a working class laborer named Joe Chapman. While not as popular as Captain America or Captain Britain, Union Jack has starred in two mini-series and has also guest-starred in many monthly titles including the recent Captain America comic by Ed Brubaker.
World War I Era Union Jack
An active agent of Her Majesty’s government from the first Great War, the unlikely Lord James Montgomery Falsworth is first presented as an elite lord, but he has actually served alongside Phantom Eagle, Sir Steel, Silver Squire and Crimson Cavalier as members of the Freedom’s Five in the First Great War. Revived to combat the threat of the evil vampire Baron Blood, Union Jack joins up with the Invaders and tragically loses the use of his legs in the ensuing entanglements. He did manage to impale the cursed vampire on a silver spike, learning that Baron Blood was actually his brother John.
World War II Era Union Jack
The second Union Jack was Lord Falsworth’s son Brian. Secretly operating as the Mighty Destroyer (no relation to the main character of the recent MAX series), Brian is enlisted by his father who is confined to a wheelchair yet determined to continue his fight against evil any way that he can. Captured and experimented upon by crazed Nazi scientists, Brian Falsworth is made into a super-human soldier another attempt to recreate the USA’s hero, Captain America. Even gaining the ability to shoot sparks of lightning from his hands, this second version of Union Jack has more than just a gun and knife at his disposal to fight Hitler’s horde.
Joining the All Winner’s Squad along with his sister Spitfire, the Destroyer and the Angel (no relation to the mutant of the same name), the second Union Jack hunted Nazi war criminals after the war’s end. Dying before his time in as car crash, it seemed that Brian Falsworth would be the end of the Union Jack legacy.
Modern Era Union Jack
The latest version of the Union Jack is not related to the Falsworth family at all, but is driven to represent his countrymen all the same. After rescuing the first Union Jack from the clutches of Baron Blood, the elderly James Falsworth, Joe Chapman is chosen to represent the sceptered isle as a member of the Knights of the Pendragon. A working class man, he clashes with the upper class Captain Britain regularly. Chapman has established his place as the Union Jack serving on his own, as a member of the mystically-chosen Knights of the Pendragon and as a member of the newly formed Invaders alongside USAGent, the original Human Torch, the Flaming Skull, and the obscure pliable hero The Thin Man.
Chapman is looser with his choice of weaponry but usually dons the traditional Webley revolver as is customary and a silver-tipped dagger to destroy vampires. His abilities are also boosted by the Power of the Pendragon, making him a mixture of a mystical and modern soldier. Currently unaffiliated with any superhuman team, Union Jack works as an agent of MI-5 when needed.