Real Name: Courtney Ross
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Senior Vice-Presidents of Fraser's Bank
formerly University student at Thames University, London
Group Membership: worked for Fraser's Bank
Affiliations: friend of Brian Braddock, Excalibur (Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix, Shadowcat), Jacko Tanner, Sandy York, Spider-Man (Peter Parker);
knew, and was possibly a student of, Dr.MacKenzie
Enemies: The alien beneath Loch Ness, Arcade, Black Baron, the Crazy Gang of Earth-616 (Executioner, Jester, Knave, Red Queen, Tweedledope), the robotic Loch Ness Monster, Miss Locke, Mr.McNab, Sat-Yr-9
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: The Ice Queen (her employees' nickname for her)
Base of Operations: Frasers Bank, London;
formerly Thames University, London
First Appearance: (first UK appearance) Captain Britain Weekly #3/1 (October 27th, 1976)
(first US appearance) Marvel Team-Up I #66 (February 1978)
Powers/Abilities: Courtney was an unskilled but resourceful fighter. She was well versed in financial systems, running a major London bank, and had a hidden talent for stand-up comedy.
Height: 5' 9" Weight: 140lbs Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde (previously dyed auburn)
History: (Exc I #1, bts) While still at school, platinum blonde Courtney Ross decided her striking hair colour made her too flashy and individual. Desiring to blend in more, she died her hair auburn.
(CB I #3/1, bts) Courtney Ross arrived at the Flying Finish pub to meet some friends from Thames University. She asked one of the staff, Dora, if her friend Brian Braddock had been around, displaying more than a casual interest.
(CB I #3/1) Courtney Ross met Jacko Tanner and Sandy York in the pub. After berating Jacko Tanner for his rudeness about the absent Brian Braddock, Courtney confirmed with them their plans to go to the cinema. Then she had to tell Sandy off for making a joking comment disparaging Jacko's intelligence. She spotted the newly arrived Brian on the other side of the pub, and went to ask him if he wanted to go to the pictures with them, but he declined, to her obvious annoyance.
(CB I #4/1, bts) A few days later Courtney decided to see if Brian would join her for breakfast. Sandy told her that Brian was down at the University's gym.
(CB I #4/1) Courtney caught Brian just as he left the gym, and he agreed to her breakfast invitation. However seconds later, the supervillain Hurricane attacked the campus. Brian told Courtney to stay put in a place he believed would be safe from the assault, and then raced off.
(CB I #5/1) After Hurricane had defeated Captain Britain and flown off it triumph, Courtney joined the crowd gathered around the downed hero Captain Britain. As the hero struugled to his feet, Courtney spotted Dr.MacKenzie, Brian's tutor, and asked him if he had seen the errant lad. She expressed concern for his safety, since she had last seen him run into the middle of Hurricane's attack, unaware that Brian was in fact standing in front of her in his superhero persona. The hero noticed that a nearby building, damaged in the attack, was about to collapse, and pushed Courtney out of the falling debris' way in the nick of time.
Later, as students and rescue services worked to free those trapped in the rubble, Courtney pitched in. While she strained to shift a heavy rock, Captain Britain suggested she go easy on herself, only for Courtney to inform him that her friends were buried there, and that she would stop when the job was done and not before. She did temporarily break off her efforts a few minutes later to greet Brian who had emerged unharmed from behind part of the damaged buildings, claiming to having been knocked unconscious by some flying debris.
(CB I #8/1, bts) Courtney and Brian arranged to go on a date.
(CB I #8/1) Brian and Courtney were walking through the newly falling snow the day of their planned date. As Brian casually discussed his time at Darkmoor with Courtney, they were observed by the jealous Jacko Tanner and his friend Tommy. Their stroll was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Betsy, Brian's twin sister, who told him that their brother Jamie had been in an accident. As Betsy dragged Brian away, he called to Courtney, asking her to tell Dr.MacKenzie about his sudden departure, and promising to phone when he could. Courtney responded by asking him to keep himself safe.
(CB I #19/1) A few days later Courtney was with Jacko Tanner and other students as they watched the news reporting about the supposed death of Captain Britain. Courtney was upset over the demise of a man who had saved her life during Hurricane's attack, and was angered when Jacko was flippant and dismissive over the hero's passing. She lost her temper, and slapped him across the face. Jacko stormed off in disgust, telling her to go and find Brian Braddock to hold her hand instead. As he departed, Courtney thought of the absent physics student, and wondered why the man she desired seemed to shy away from life and hide his heart.
(CB I #28/1) Courtney spotted the long absent Brian in a street near his flat, and rushed over, full of questions. She insisted he join her for tea, and tell her where he had been. He stalled for time (afraid that if she pried too much, she would discover his other life as Captain Britain), saying he wanted to buy a newspaper first. As soon as he saw the headline, which showed a picture of a mechanical hawk destroying a factory (see Lord Hawk), he exclaimed loudly, then rushed off, informing a protesting Courtney that he had an appointment he was late for.
(CB I #30/1) In the middle of a battle between Captain Britain and Lord Hawk, Courtney tried to draw the hero's attention, shouting to him while rushing across the street. Her concentration elsewhere, she did not see a double-decker bus driving towards her. Captain Britain, who did spy the vehicle, called a warning and rushed to stop her, but she was struck down in front of him. She did not respond to the hero's worried entreaties, and blaming himself for her injuries, he cradled her broken body in his arms. Soon afterwards Captain Britain watched as Courtney was loaded into an ambulance. One of the paramedics informed him that she was badly hurt, but still alive.
(CB I #37/1, bts) Courtney continued to recover in hospital from her road accident. Jacko Tanner and Brian Braddock laid aside their differences long enough to attempt to visit her, but didn't make it because the supervillain known as the Highwayman ran them off the road.
(Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain Weekly #233) Courtney Ross travelled to Scotland's Loch Ness as part of a Thames University trip planning to hunt for the famous monster. As they arrived at the inn they were going to stay at, she asked Brian Braddock if he believed the monster existed. Brian's non-committal response drew a string of derogatory remarks from Jacko Tanner, eventually leading to Courtney telling Tanner to shut up.
The next morning the students headed out to the Thames University bathysphere for their first dive, and Courtney noticed with concern that Brian was missing from their number. The vehicle was lowered into the murky waters of the loch, and Courtney activated the sonar, which almost immediately picked up a contact. As Jacko pointed out an increasingly large leak, and ordered that they should be winched back up quickly, Courtney looked out of the porthole and spotted the monster rapidly approaching. However the cable tethering the bathysphere to the surface snapped, and inside the diving vessel the tension swiftly mounted. Then Jacko spotted Captain Britain outside, much to Courtney's relief. The hero hauled them to the surface and deposited them safely on the dock, before diving beneath the waves once more to confront the monster.
(SSM&CBW #234) Jacko showed Courtney the cable which had clearly been cut. Courtney responded by showing him a button she had found in the storage shed, torn from someone' coat. Jacko examined her find, and glancing around the people standing on the dockside, pointed out to Courtney that McNab, the local innkeeper, had a matching patch missing from his vest. Courtney watched as Jacko confronted the innkeeper, who confessed all, then broke free and leapt into the Loch in an attempt to swim away. Then there was a large explosion underwater, and the people on the dock caught a brief glimpse as the treacherous innkeeper was swept away in the sudden tide. Shortly afterwards Brian Braddock turned up again, telling Courtney and Jacko that he had fallen asleep in the heather while out for an early morning walk. With no equipment to carry on their search, the students returned to their bus and went back to town.
(SSM&CBW #235/2) Courtney Ross met a prospective new student to Thames University, Roddy, Lord Kemp. They chatted and he invited her to visit his ancestral home, Darkmoor Castle, for the weekend. Spotting Brian Braddock, Courtney called him over and introduced him to Lord Kemp as well.
That weekend Courtney joined Lord Kemp in driving to his home, where he introduced her to the family retainer, Hugo, who showed her to her room. Lord Kemp told her she was free to look around, but that one room was out of bounds. Late that night, when Courtney was asleep, a horrific figure slipped into her room, and the figure of the vampiric Black Baron loomed towards her.
(SSM&CBW #236/2) Just as the Black Baron was about to bite Courtney, he was interrupted by the arrival of some of his castle guards, stone gargoyles which had captured an intruder, Captain Britain. The Baron dismissed his servants and went to bind the hero, but Captain Britain awoke. The Baron fled Courtney's room with the hero in close pursuit. Throughout this commotion, and the later departure of the Baron for London, Courtney continued to sleep, as if entranced.
(SSM&CBW #238/2) Hours later Courtney was taken by the Black Baron in his vampiric form to greet his master, the demon whom he had sold his soul to centuries before. Horrified, she tried to escape, hurling a lamp at him, but it bounced off the supernatural villain harmlessly. Then the Black Baron asked Courtney's permission to change her into a vampire. Courtney fled in fear, and ran into Lord Kemp. Her relief at seeing this friendly face was short lived though, as his features shifted and transformed, until the visage of the Black Baron loomed before her once more. Courtney flinched back, but then rescue arrived in the form of Captain Britain, who crashed into the room and after a pitched battle, stabbed the Baron through the heart with a makeshift silver dagger. Then the hero took Courtney into his arms and flew with her to the Baron's private chamber, where he destroyed the villain's satanic contract. As the entire castle went up in flames, Courtney and her rescuer flew to safety on a nearby hilltop, where they witnessed what seemed to be the face of Satan himself glaring out of the conflagration that was devouring the castle.
(Exc I #4, fb) Captain Britain agreed to do a sponsored kiss to raise money for Cancer Relief. Courtney spent an entire month's wages and bought the entire roll, then made sure she got her money's worth.
(MTU I #65, bts) Courtney was kidnapped by the assassin Arcade, and transported to New York, where she was placed in Murderworld, ready to lure Captain Britain into a death-trap.
(MTU I #66) Captain Britain was fighting his way through Arcade's insane killer funhouse when his attention was drawn to Courtney, trapped within an airtight container inside a giant treasure scoop game. The hero fought his way past androids to get to the game controls, then worked those controls trying to lift Courtney's capsule to safety, even as the room he was in flooded with water. Spider-Man, also captured by Arcade, ripped the lid off the room Captain Britain was in, and together they broke the nearly unconscious Courtney out before she suffocated. As gas began to pump into the room, Spider-Man ripped out one of the walls and the three kidnap victims fled. They eventually emerged from the sewers into a New York Street, where they were picked up by Captain Jean Dewolff of the NYPD. She drove the two Brits to headquarters for a debriefing, dropping Spider-Man off on the way.
(bts) Courtney flew home to England.
(Exc I #4, bts) Shortly afterwards Captain Britain went missing, and Courtney assumed he had been slain by one of his enemies. She grieved for a long time, then got on with her life.
(Exc I #1, bts) She graduated University and went into banking, swiftly rising up the ranks until she was Senior Vice President of Fraser's Bank (and gaining the nickname, the Ice Queen). She also let her hair return to its natural colour.
(Exc I #1) Courtney had a meeting with old friend Brian Braddock. Each briefly noted how the years had been kind to the other, and then Brian settled down with Courtney over a drink to discuss getting the bank's assistance for a project.
(Exc I #2) Courtney was working late that same night, thinking how much she enjoyed her job, when she spotted a fiery image in the sky outside (the Phoenix effect). She felt this to be perversely appropriate: as soon as Brian Braddock re-entered her life, the world became strange again. Glancing at a picture of herself and Brian from their university days that she kept on her desk, she remembered how important he had once been to her, then stiffened her resolve and told herself "That was then,... this is now."
(Exc I #3) Brian and Courtney went for a walk along the Thames Embankment, with Courtney listening to Brian discuss the problems with his superhero lifestyle. She asked him why he didn't just give it up, and he pointed out that when he had tried that before, his sister was maimed and eventually killed as a result. They discussed his lack of direction, and Brian asked her if it was wrong that he wanted a life that was just a little for himself. Courtney responded that she had thought he was happy in his new life, especially with his "lady friend" Meggan. Brian responded that Meggan was lovely, but he had never been able to talk with her the way he could with Courtney. Before this conversation could progress further, Brian's team mate Phoenix telepathically interrupted, requesting Captain Britain's presence urgently. Courtney asked him if he had to go, and he replied that they were his friends, his responsibility. As he flew off, he called to her that he would be in touch, and Courtney replied that she would be waiting.
(Exc I #4) Courtney was at work late again, and was reminiscing over a photo of her charity kissing session with Captain Britain. Her reverie was interrupted by the Crazy Gang, who had broken in to kidnap her. She ducked the Executioner's axe, and knocked him off balance into her desk. The Red Queen jumped on her back, but Courtney sprayed Chanel perfume into her eyes, and while the Jester and Knave were arguing who should attack her next, she spun the obese monarch around and bowled them all off their feet. Fleeing her office, she faced Tweedledope bearing down on her in a carriage pulled by rats. Throwing her shoes to scatter the rats, she bounded up and over the carriage, using Tweedledope's head as a step. Racing outside she was relieved to see a police car patrolling nearby, and ran to report her predicament. When she entered the car however she discovered the "police" inside were Arcade and his assistant Miss Locke. Arcade swiftly explained she was to be bait for Captain Britain again, then Miss Roak shot her in the face with a stun blast.
Courtney awoke to find herself dressed like a Playboy bunny and strapped into a wheelchair, with the lunatic assassin leering over her. He showed her his monitors to give her a taste of what she was in for. On the screens his previous victim, attired similarly to Courtney, could be seen desperately trying to please a robotic audience of hecklers, until finally a giant mechanical foot squashed the poor unfortunate flat. Then Arcade shoved her wheelchair forward, and it tipped her forward to drop into another room, onto the stage she had seen on the monitors. The audience quickly secured her attention by narrowly missing her with a number of throwing knives, and Courtney began to tell jokes as if her life depended on it. Arcade was less than impressed some time later when he realised that Courtney was actually winning the audience over, proving to be a dab hand when it came to improvised stand-up. Having captured Excalibur in the meantime, the assassin triggered a trapdoor under Courtney, dropping her to the next level of his Murderworld.
(Exc I #5) As Courtney slid down a ramp, robotic arms re-dressed her in an Alice costume. She came to a halt in a bizarre Wonderland set-up, where she was confronted by both Excalibur and the Crazy Gang, several members of both teams having swapped bodies with their opponents as a result of a device built by Tweedledope. The Red Queen, about the only superhuman in her own body, ordered the Executioner (Phoenix's body) to decapitate Courtney. The banker started to flee, resulting in an insane chase sequence where Excalibur (in the Crazy Gang's bodies) tried to keep up with Courtney while the Crazy Gang (in Excalibur's bodies) pursued. Then the topography of Murderworld shifted, the floors and walls twisting and turning, sending everyone off in different directions. Courtney landed outside a fake pub, and near the Executioner (Phoenix). Narrowly dodging an axe blow, Courtney ran into the facade and barricaded herself within. Then the window exploded inwards, as Arcade (who had been dragged into his own creation by Shadowcat) tried to escape the Executioner's axe himself. The Executioner resumed its pursuit of Courtney, but was laid low when Meggan (Knave's body) landed on it. Courtney stopped to get her breath back, only for the Jester (Nightcrawler's body) to wrap his tail around her neck.
The Jester took Courtney to a conveyer belt with a giant saw at the end, and tied her to it. As he started the belt moving, Nightcrawler (Jester's body) came to the rescue, armed with some swords. While the two dueled, Courtney rapidly approached the spinning blade. She was cut free in the nick of time by Arcade, but repaid him with a right hook to the chin. The collapsing killer knocked over a crucible full of marbles, which tripped Courtney up, sending her through another trapdoor. She landed on a rocketship which immediately launched. She flew past Meggan (Knave's body) and the Knave (Meggan's body) fighting it out, into a section of Murderworld signposted "Space Wars" where she narrowly avoided the Executioner's blade again. Her flight was brought short when Tweedledope (Captain Britain's body) caught her ride. Before he could hurt her, Captain Britain (Tweedledope's body) grabbed Tweedledope, causing him to drop his prize. Courtney fell down yet another hole, and landed on another stage. This time the audience were animated custard pies, and she was sharing the limelight with a band, Cat's Laughing. The band, a product of a program Shadowcat had put into the Murderworld computer system, gathered the rest of the two battling teams, who continued their battles amidst the custard pies. Courtney decided this was no place for her, and was about to flee again, when Captain Britain (Tweedledope's body) managed to pass her the body swap device during a brief hiatus in his fight with Tweedledope. Shadowcat (own body) phased up through the floor, and explained to Courtney how to use the gadget to return everyone to their own forms (Shadowcat couldn't do this herself as her power would disrupt the device).
Courtney returned first Meggan and the Knave, then Captain Britain, Nightcrawler, Tweedledope and the Jester to their proper bodies. However when she tried it on Phoenix's body, it didn't work, and the Executioner (in that body) swung its axe round. It looked certain the axe would cleave Courtney's head from her shoulders, but Shadowcat phased the Executioner / Phoenix at the last second, causing the axe to pass harmlessly through its target. Later, after all the criminals had been rounded up and the police arrived to take them away, Courtney and Arcade exchanged a few heated words, as he asked all his enemies to admit to themselves that they had actually had fun.
(Exc I #5 / Exc I #56 (fb)) A few days later, Courtney prepared herself for a date with Brian. She had to admit to herself that annoying though Arcade was, her experience in Murderworld had made her feel alive, and she felt as though she had been reborn into a world of infinite possibilities. Her good mood was disturbed when she noticed her front door, which she recalled locking, was now ajar. She called out, demanding her intruder step into the light, but her words stumbled to a halt when the intruder did just that. The intruder was her exact double (Sat-Yr-9, an evil counterpart from another reality, although Courtney didn't know that). Courtney only had a few seconds to be astonished before Sat-Yr-9 incinerated her, leaving only an ashen outline on the floor.
Comments: Created by Chris Claremont (writer) and Herb Trimpe and Fred Kida (artists).
Courtney's statistics listed just prior to her history come from the last version of the Official Handbook of the marvel Universe. They are actually Saturnyne's stats, but since she and Courtney are identical counterparts to one another, I feel it's reasonably safe to assume Courtney's were be the same.
Although Jacko Tanner mentions that Brian Braddock "will regret taking Courtney away" from him, there was no evidence that she and Jacko actually dated. Just because he thought he was in with a chance doesn't mean they were a couple, though they might have been at some point.
In an early Captain Britain Weekly, Brian Braddock is seen casually telling Courtney about his time at Darkmoor. Y'know, that top-secret government-run research station. So much for the Official Secrets Act!
An illusion of Courtney Ross in peril was used by Merlin to test Captain Britain's responses in Captain Britain Weekly #36. Since this wasn't really her, I'm not including it in her history above. Likewise, in SSM&CBW #237, Captain Britain checks on a sleeping Courtney in Darkmoor Castle, only to have her transform into a hideous hag and then fade away - another illusion, which means the real Courtney doesn't appear in that issue.
It's not exactly clear when and where Courtney finally found out Brian was Captain Britain. She definitely didn't know during the Black Baron affair, and she did by Excalibur I #3, where Brian freely discusses his team mate problems with her. When reminiscing at the start of Excalibur I #4 she thinks to herself how Brian was always serious about his role, and that even during the period she believed him dead, his example helped her go on. This suggests she knew his identity at least by the time he went missing, coming home from America. So at some point either shortly before she was kidnapped by Arcade, or perhaps when she was in New York with him, he shared his secret with her.
When Captain Britain finally discovered that Sat-Yr-9 had murdered Courtney, he swore that he would not rest until the villain was made to pay for this. That was in 1992. Let's hope one day he keeps his word. Reintroducing her, getting the readers to like her, and then summarily killing her was one of the best written but cruelest things Chris Claremont has done, in my opinion. The final image we have of her, an ashen outline on the floor reaching out for the flowers Brian Braddock brought over for their date, flowers dropped by the man who so often saved her life, while he unknowingly kisses her murderess, remains incredibly poignant to me, even now. She deserves a measure of justice.
Profile adapted from the version I did for the Appendix to the Marvel Universe site.
CLARIFICATIONS: Courtney Ross is a dimensional counterpart of, but should not be confused with
Opal Luna Saturnyne, Omniversal Majestrix, @Marvel Superheroes (UK) #380
Sat-Yr9, Courtney's killer, @Captain Britain II #2
Sat'Neen of Erath, @Excalibur I #43
Courtney should also not be confused with
Betty Ross, WWII ally of Captain America and Bucky, @Captain America Comics #1
Betty Ross, girlfriend and later wife of Bruce Banner, @Incredible Hulk I #1
Betty Ross of Earth-Amalgam, @Spider-Boy #1
Everett Kenneth Ross, lawyer and friend to Ka-Zar and the Black Panther, @Ka-Zar V #17
General "Thunderbolt" Ross, pursuer of the Hulk, @Incredible Hulk I #1
General Thunderbolt Ross of Earth-Amalgam, @Spider-Boy #1
General Ross of Earth-Ultimate, @Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #3
Images: Excalibur I #1, p.20, panel 2
Excalibur I #3, p.27, panel 6
Captain Britain Weekly #5/1, p.1, panel 3
Excalibur I #3, p.18, panel 7
Excalibur I #4, p.1, panel 1
Excalibur I #5, p.14, panel 7
Excalibur I #56, p.7, panels 5 and 6
Excalibur I #5, p.30, panel 7
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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