Marvel’s British heroes, the Union, have just discovered the secret identity of one of their members, and none of them will ever be the same again.
Warning: Contains spoilers for Union # 3!
A member of the British Marvel super team. the Union just revealed the scariest secret identity of all time. Since his introduction at the beginning of the series, Snakes’ identity has been hidden from view by a large hood. In Union # 3, Written by Paul Grist with art by Andrea Di Vito, readers see the true face of Snakes. It is one that was hidden for good reason, even if it has roots in an ancient Irish legend.
The Union, Britain’s newest superhero team, is a mess. With their beloved original leader dead and their newly appointed leader unable to unite the team, it seems this team will have a hard time saving anything, including the others. When former supervillain The Choir is kidnapped, the team teams up against Shifter, a shapeshifting supervillain. While Snakes originally has the upper hand, things fall apart quickly, in more ways than one.
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When the desperate supervillain Shifter turns into a gorilla and tries to rip Snakes apart, it is revealed that there is not a single body to break. It turns out that the hero’s name and salute “I am snakes” it was completely literal. Dozens of writhing snakes spill out, shocking Changeling so much that he reverts to his regular form. It’s a horrible revelation, but one that makes it clearer than ever that former Britannia leader had some very specific criteria for the people she chose to make her team.
With the exception of Union Jack, a close friend of Britannia before the team’s formation, each member is in some way a monster. Kelpie has the power of hydrokinesis and is named after the mythical creature, which is known to enjoy drowning people, it is hinted to be because that is exactly what it is. The Choir can break stones with its voice; something he used to do as the supervillain Skreem. On the contrary, Britannia was the model of heroism, but died facing the forces of the King in Black, taking the hope of all. Although he is a worthy and unconditional soul, it is now revealed that Snakes is the least physically human of all of them.
Snakes is the Irish representative of the Union, which makes it more appropriate for his body to be made up of snakes. It goes back to the legend of Saint Patrick, who is said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland. It seems that instead of leaving, the snakes joined forces, donned a robe, and became the kind of hero only Britannia would trust. This team seemingly brings together the strangest variety of beings representing different parts of the UK and expects them to work together. The real eyesore is their inability to work as a team now that their unifier is gone.
By exposing the darkness just below the surface of a team meant to signify unity, the Union acts as a commentary on Britain itself. This team is riddled with past sins, one that finds it nearly impossible to get along, but one that can only move forward with all the good guys and bad guys alike. You have to accept the errors of your individual and collective past, not pretending that the monstrous truth is not there, but by acknowledging that truth and coming to a new understanding. With only two issues remaining in his miniseries, the Union We don’t have much time to find a way to work together, but Britannia offered each a vision of a better way forward. One by one, the team will have to learn to trust its members, even if it means exposing their darkest secrets to the light of day.
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