The Exiles version of Psylocke manifesting her “psychic katana”, on the cover of X-Men: Sword of the Braddocks #1: “The Face Of Fear” (art by Alex Garner)
In her earliest appearances in Uncanny X-Men, Psylocke possessed the power of telepathy. She could read and project thoughts over long distances; control minds; subdue and tap into other’s powers; affect people’s memories; project mental illusions; and generate psi-bolts that could stun, injure, or kill others. She could also project her astral self, and the astral bodies of other people, into the astral plane. She could scan entire towns with her mind, and leaf through the psyches of the inhabitants of a city to learn of their condition or intentions. She was powerful enough to telepathically “shout” to her teammates in Australia while she was in Washington D.C. without the aid of any type of power-enhancing apparati such as Cerebro. She could also probe individuals to check up on their status.
When using her telepathic powers, a butterfly-shaped energy aura would appear around her face. It was never truly made clear in the comic books by the writers whether this was something that could be perceived by others or if this was simply an “effect” to show when Psylocke was using her powers to the reading audience (although it was implied that it could be). This “butterfly” (sometimes depicted as having eyes in its wings) was also the form Psylocke usually took when manifesting her astral form, both on the astral plane, and in the physical world, although she occasionally used an illusory image of her physical body. After her transformation, Psylocke’s psi-form changed accordingly.
In addition, Psylocke could also use her telepathy to project a focused beam of directed psionic energy called a “psycho-blast” that could incapacitate or kill a living being instantly. This attack was powerful enough to pierce the Juggernaut’s psi-proof helmet. The psycho-blast was able to affect inorganic material as well as living targets (when directing a psycho-blast at Sabretooth the energy destroyed the metal Cerebro helmet she was wearing). Psylocke also possessed limited precognitive powers that occasionally allowed her to envision probable future events, or to see quick flashes of the immediate future. These visions were random and infrequent, however, and she had no control over them.
While in her original body, Psylocke was given bionic eyes by Mojo and Spiral which instantly adjusted to any intensity of light, preventing her from being blinded by brightness. The bionic eyes were also cameras, transmitting to Mojo everything that Psylocke saw. For a time, Betsy took the role of Captain Britain from her brother, using the deceased Kaptain Briton’s costume which had been modified by the Mastermind computer. This costume gave her superhuman strength and the ability to fly.
After her physical transformation into a Japanese ninja assassin, she gained highly developed fighting skills in addition to her telepathy, which at this stage was not as powerful as it had originally been before her transformation, as half of her psionic potential still resided with Revanche in her original body. After Revanche’s death, Psylocke’s telepathy was restored to its previous strength. The most common usage of her powers was the manifestation of a “psychic knife”, which operated in the same manner as her “psycho-blast” ability, but at close range. Described as the focused totality of her psychic powers, she often used it to disrupt the minds and nervous systems of her foes by driving the glowing “blade” of psionic energy into their heads. At least once, she utilized two psychic knives simultaneously. During this time she chose to fight up-close most of the time, using her new martial arts skills, although she could still utilize distanced telepathic assaults. At least once, she experienced a precognitive flash while in her new body.
After her exposure to the Crimson Dawn, she also gained the ability to teleport herself and others using areas of shadow as gateways. The teleportation could cover huge distances; on one occasion she transported the X-Men from America to Africa in a few seconds. She could also teleport through the shadows of other dimensions. Psylocke has not been seen using this ability since her imprisonment of the Shadow King in the astral plane; during a mission against Stryfe, she mentioned to Nightcrawler that she no longer possessed this ability.
To keep the Shadow King imprisoned in the Astral Plane, Psylocke sacrificed the use of her telepathy, but at some point gained Phoenix’s telekinesis instead. At first, due to the relative newness of her telekinesis, she could not exercise fine control over her powers, e.g. she could blast an enemy through a brick wall, but could not levitate small objects, like a dime, from the floor. As time progressed, Psylocke grew more proficient at using her powers, e.g. she could use her telekinesis to reshape a pistol into smaller metal projectiles.
Instead of her psychic knife, Psylocke began to manifest a telekinetic katana composed of raw psionic energy. At its lowest intensity her katana functions much like her psychic knife once did, short-circuiting the victim’s nervous system on impact. At its highest level, the katana can slice through almost any physical matter. Psylocke’s control over the katana is such that she can slice an armored opponent and cut through the armor, but only leave her opponent stunned or unconscious. Psylocke’s telekinetic manifestations produce visible radiance in the physical world, and so she can use her psychic katana as a makeshift light source in areas of darkness. The katana can also affect beings that are more powerful than Psylocke herself. She can also use her sword to shatter telepathic power-inhibitors imposed on others, despite her own lack of telepathy. With no telepathy to guide her when performing this task, she must rely on her instincts to give the blade the sufficient strength necessary to break the inhibitors, without doing permanent damage to the subject in question. During the timeline shift known as House of M, Psylocke showed the ability to summon two telekinetic katanas at the same time. It is unknown if she is capable of this under normal circumstances.
Aside from the blade, Psylocke can use her telekinesis to enhance her speed, strength, and fighting skills to superhuman levels. She can also levitate herself and others, or manipulate matter in standard telekinetic fashion. She can also create telekinetic shields of various sizes and strength, and her telekinesis has been said to be strong enough to shatter mountains. After her resurrection, Psylocke’s telekinetic powers have been greatly enhanced. At the time of Betsy’s resurrection, Marvel Girl claimed that Psylocke’s telekinesis was on a level even she could not match.
After her resurrection, Psylocke was shown to be immune to all forms of psionic manipulations such as mind-reading, mind-control or mental attacks, and attempts of telepathic communication. This is a result of her brother Jamie’s manipulation of the quantum strings that comprise her body. She is also immune or at least highly resistant to other psionic-based powers like the Savage Land Mutate Vertigo’s disorientation power, or Nocturne’s mind possessing abilities. Due to Jamie’s alterations, Psylocke is also immune to any physical and mental alteration by beings who can radically restructure reality, such as Proteus. She can, however, still be killed in more traditional manners, such as being stabbed or shot. She is also at least partially resistant to magical manipulation. Somehow these various immunities also affect her detectability from higher order technological equipment. For example, all sensor-arrays of the Exiles Crystal Palace are not able to detect her—as if she does not even exist. Beside this immunity, she is able to use her telekinesis to modify her own molecular structure to render herself invisible to at least the naked eye.
However, Psylocke’s telekinetic powers seems to evolve with the return of her telepathy since her encounter with the Sisterhood as, at first, she has rarely been seen using her telekinesis to levitate objects or create her trademark telekinetic katana. It appears also, that she is focusing more on developing her returned telepathic powers and that the various immunities that were granted to her by her resurrection at the hands of her brother seem to have vanished or at least greatly diminished, as during the Necrosha event Proteus was not only able to possess Psylocke but also was able to alter her body structure. During the “Second Coming” storyline, Betsy has once more been depicted using her telekinesis for considerable feats: such as making a shield to protect herself and X-23 from bullets, ripping a Nimrod robot in two and even achieving what appears to be a form of flight or levitation.
Returned powers and abilities
The events involving the Sisterhood of Mutants triggered a return of her original telepathic abilities. Upon rejoining the X-Men, Psylocke states that while she is still primarily a telekinetic, she has gained the mental ability to telepathically “suggest what people see” (i.e. cast telepathic illusions). In an interview, writer Christopher Yost and editor Daniel Ketchum confirmed that Psylocke now possesses both telekinesis, telepathy, and empathy. Additionally, she is once again able to focus her telepathic energies into a solid psychic knife and can still manifest her telekinetic katana.
As shown in the events of the Psylocke miniseries, she still appears to be an unusually strong and powerful telepath, with a range of abilities similar to what she possessed at her introduction, as well as manifesting her trademark psychic knife. Psylocke is also shown to have levels of telekinesis sufficient to increase the strength and power of her physical blows as well as ward off attacks via force fields and telekinetic “pushes and pulls”. During the Utopia storyline, she was seen manifesting her telekinetic katana, but of late she has been seen using a pair of traditional katanas as well. After the events of “Second Coming”, Psylocke establishes that her psychic abilities fluctuate in strength; if her concentration is divided as a result of a telepathic response to her environment, it has an adverse effect on her telekinesis.
During the “Dark Angel Saga”, Psylocke’s full psionic potential was unlocked by the Jean Grey from the Age of Apocalypse timeline. She was able to overcome Archangel with her newly strengthened and increased telepathy – a feat that had previously been beyond her power. Writer Rick Remender has stated that she is now an Omega-class/level mutant and telepath on par with Jean Grey and Professor Xavier.
Psylocke has been classified as a master martial artist, though the specific fighting arts she has mastered have never been revealed. Psylocke’s fighting skills and techniques have been shown to surpass those of the average Hand ninja, or Crimson Dawn Undercloak, and have been said to rival those of a ninja master. In addition to the fighting skills she learned from The Hand, Psylocke has recently received training from fellow Exiles teammate Sabretooth and from an alternate reality’s Ogun, who used science and magic combined to alter the passage of time itself, allowing them to accomplish a lifetime’s work in a few short hours, thus improving Psylocke’s skills once more.
As a telepath, Psylocke could take advantage of her powers in a fight by reading her opponents’ movements seconds before they made them, giving her the opportunity to counter-attack faster. She could also use her telepathy to mask her presence from other people, humans and superhumans alike, e.g. from Wolverine’s super-enhanced senses or from Jean Grey’s telepathy. She could also create telepathic illusions to distract her enemies while fighting them, and as a ninja, she can use her psychic knife to incapacitate her opponents instead of killing them; although she will kill her opponents if she finds it to be necessary.
As a telekinetic, she often uses her powers to augment her strength and speed, making her fighting skills strong enough to match, and even outmatch other superhumanly strong opponents, like a holographic version of Sabretooth in the Danger Room. During a training session with Rogue and Thunderbird, Psylocke was able to match Rogue’s attacks despite the fact that Rogue had greatly enhanced speed and strength at the time.
During the time when the X-Men were based in the Australian outback, Psylocke gained possession of a unique suit of armor. Made of an unknown metal, it was lightweight and form-fitting, yet extremely resistant to physical damage, giving Psylocke an added protection to her physical body. The armor was also resistant to projectiles and energy weapons. Wolverine had the armor custom-ordered through a weapons and technology firm named Landau, Luckman, and Lake for “a colleague”. Mr. Chang, an agent of Landau, Luckman, and Lake, loaned the armor to Lindsay McCabe since Wolverine had sent her to him. Tyger Tiger also wore the body armor for a short time, and she was briefly trapped in the armor due to a built-in security mechanism, which Wolverine managed to free her from. After traveling through the Siege Perilous and trading bodies with Kwannon, Psylocke no longer used the body armor. When Kwannon, in Betsy’s original body, returned to Xavier’s mansion, she was wearing an armor that was similar to the one Betsy used to wear, but it has never been officially stated whether or not this armor had the same capabilities as Psylocke’s original one. The same can be said for the armor worn by Psylocke’s resurrected original body, after it was brought back during by Madelyne’s sisterhood, wearing armor of the same coloring.
Elizabeth Braddock has been involved in a series of romantic relationships during the years. As a member of S.T.R.I.K.E.’s Psi Division, she was involved with fellow agent Tom Lennox. He was murdered while trying to defend her, during which time she was telepathically linked to him. Telepathically experiencing Lennox’s death left Betsy traumatized for a time.
After returning to the X-Men in Kwannon’s body, Psylocke psionically and telepathically manipulated Cyclops, her team leader, into being romantically attracted to her. After regaining her full personality from Kwannon, Psylocke offered a belated apology to Jean Grey, admitting that the flirtation was due to the presence of Kwannon’s lingering personality traits in her mind, but that she did in fact find Cyclops attractive. Later, Elizabeth and Archangel had a romantic relationship, but chose to end it after realizing that the differences between them were too great. After Betsy’s death, Archangel suffered anguish from being unable to save her, but eventually made peace with it and moved on to a relationship with Paige Guthrie.
Psylocke and the X-Man Neal Shaara were romantically involved until her death. After joining the Exiles, Psylocke has been flirting with teammate Sabretooth. They passionately kissed each other, eventually leading to both acting on their romantic feelings more intimately. Some time later, Psylocke and Archangel have been seen to be in the process of rebuilding their romantic relationship. Psylocke later had a brief romantic and sexual relationship with both Fantomex and his female counterpart Cluster, after Fantomex was separated into three people.