Marvel Comics have announced plans for a new British superhero team named “The Union”.
The crew, led by existing character Union Jack, will be joined by new heroes representing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as Britannia, the leader of the team.
The series has already drawn ire on social media from anti-unionist campaigners, with the Tweets that announced each character attracting hundreds of critical comments.
The National, the Scottish independence-supporting newspaper, wrote that it comes “at a time in real life when relationships between Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England have never been so tense”.
The comic’s creator, Paul Grist, was also forced to defend the apparent lack of an English hero. The current Union Jack, whose real name is Joseph Chapman, is English, but will retain his Britain-wide identity.
Independence-supporting Twitter users lined up to criticise Marvel. Responses included: “Really big mistake”, “Disgusted by this”, “Who’s his sidekick? Captain colonialism?”, and “This is disgraceful. You are meddling in politics which you do not appear to understand.”
Grist joked on Twitter that “my working title was the United Kingdom’s International Powerhouses. Couldn’t get it past small-minded editorial.”
Each character carries a tag-line. For instance, the Choir, the Welsh character, is accompanied by the line “The hills of Wales echoes [sic] with song. Her voice destroys them.”
Snakes, the Northern Irish character, makes reference to the legend of St Patrick expelling the snakes from Ireland, while the Scottish character is named Kelpie, after the mythical loch-dwelling beast.
“What better way to take on a space invasion,” Marvel asked in their announcement, “than with an alliance of heroes that spans the globe?”
The characters will appear in a five-issue mini-series. It is scheduled to arrive on shelves in May.