Marvel has revealed that a surprising hero was immune to possession by the King in Black. In The Union #5, fans learn that Union Jack was impervious to Knull, and it was all thanks to the hidden power of the Union's founder: Britannia!
A team of villains-turned-heroes formed to replace the UK's European superhuman protection in the wake of Brexit, the Union were held together by Britannia, the living embodiment of everything great about Britain. Sadly, Britannia was quickly killed by the King in Black's invasion, leaving Union Jack to pick up the pieces of a team who had no faith in him or themselves. Joseph Chapman, the most recent hero to take on the Union Jack name, was able to rescue teammate the Choir from Knull's clutches, but was mysteriously spared from being made an unwilling member of his army. Now, facing supervillain Steve Darwin, it's finally revealed why.
When issue five opens, Darwin is gloating over his acquisition of the powerful Empire Stone, but it becomes apparent something is not right with Union Jack. He stands up and begins walking like a zombie towards Darwin; it is then that Britannia’s ghost busts out of Jack’s body. She tries to stop Darwin but is overpowered. Later, she reveals to Jack that she used his body to protect her spirit and, in turn, used her spirit to protect his body, preventing Knull from being able to possess him, and even keeping Jack safe when he electrified the Choir in order to save her from the King in Black's influence. Britannia once again merges with Jack, and the two defeat Darwin, depriving him of the Stone.
Britannia’s spirit protecting Union Jack from the King in Black makes sense. A living embodiment of a larger ideal, Britannia seemed almost supernaturally able to inspire belief in her teammates, and other heroes have seen success fighting off Knull's influence thanks to their faith in a higher power. But this moment also raises some questions about Britannia. The series had implied that Britannia is incredibly long-lived, and may even have had multiple lifetimes. That Britannia can live on as a spirit was a surprise revealed this issue, and one which makes it clear that she's an incredibly powerful hero on Marvel's roster, albeit with a backstory and power set that are still largely unknown.
The King in Black was an almost unbeatable force only defeated thanks to cosmic intervention, and his threat may not be over. With his title and command of symbiotes passing to Eddie Brock, and his darkness infecting Brock's son Dylan, there may come a day when Marvel's heroes have to face some version of Knull again. Thankfully, The Union #5 - from writer Paul Grist, with art by Andrea Di Vito, inks by Le Beau Underwood, colors by Nolan Woodard and letters by Travis Lanham - reveals that Britannia's spirit can be a powerful weapon in any future struggle.
Fans knew that no normal weapon was capable of striking down the King in Black, but no-one was expecting the incredible battle ax that Venom forged to slay the God of the Symbiotes in the closing chapter of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman's epic clash between good and evil. Escaping Knull's God Hive just in time to bond with the Enigma Force, Eddie Brock and his symbiote partner were able to seize control of Thor's hammer Mjolnir and the Silver Surfer's board, merging them into a mighty battle ax capable of tearing Knull to shreds.
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