Captain Britain #1-2
Issue(s): Captain Britain #1, Captain Britain #2
Brian Braddock is an assistant in a secret nuclear complex called Darkmoor Research Centre on an old English fairy mound. The lab is attacked by a guy in a Kirby-tech mech named Joshua Stragg, aka the Reaver, and his band of mercenaries.
You might not realize, since it's a secret base and Brian is seen smoking a pipe, that Brian is really just a college student on a summer internship. He looks like a professor to me.
Brian flees and falls off a cliff as he's escaping. He's rescued by the wizard Merlin and a woman identified as the "lady of the skies", who will later be named Roma.
Brian is told to choose between an amulet and a sword, and Brian chooses the amulet, which he says is a "symbol of life" over the "symbol of bloodshed".
Merlin seems to think this was the correct choice, and Brian gets super-powers. The powers are transferred via a meteor said to come from the Siege Perilous.
Stragg had been following him, and he picks up the sword, which transforms him into Captain Britain's opposite (called the Dark Reaver in the Marvel Tales reprint but not in the original).
Since originally writing this review, i've subsequently purchased two deluxe hardcover trades that cover all of Captain Britain's early appearances. One nice thing about the original issues is that, since it starts mid-story, we get to be amazed along with Captain Britain about his new powers.
Those scenes occur before the origin in the original. Note him naming himself and realizing that the name was given to him along with his costume.
In the second issue, he figures out how to use his baton for the first time (the baton is colored gold instead of red white and blue in the Marvel Tales version, which makes it look more like the upgraded scepter he gets later).
This is relatively early writing for Claremont, and it's fairly unremarkable. Certainly not as good as his X-Men or Iron Fist work. Trimpe's artwork still has that second tier classic Silver Age look, very much in keeping with Trimpe's hyper-Kirby style (the bad guy goon turning around to stare at the reader is a familiar thing).
Captain Britain's original costume design was pretty cool.
As Walter notes in the comments, the deluxe trades include lots of earlier sketches of the costume from series editor Larry Lieber, so he was likely responsible for designing it.
Mark notes in the comments that the Marvel Tales reprints were discontinued after these issues due to the amount of effort involved in condensing them. That may be, but it seems like they went through a lot of unnecessary effort, some of it to the detriment of the story, like weirdly changing the dialogue so the Reaver calls Captain Britain "sonny" instead of "Captain" in one panel. A lot of additional effort in art and dialogue with these scenes:
There were also additional splash panels drawn for the opening page of each part of the reprint. There were plenty of actual splash panels from the issues to choose from, or, you know, you don't have to open with a splash panel, guys.
The dust jacket for the deluxe trade has the following info:
Until the mid-1970s, Marvel UK existed soley as a reprint house, repackaging Marvel's U.S. output into weekly black-and-white magazines for British audiences. That all changed with the debut of Captain Britain, a title featuring new stories set in England and starring a hero who was as British as could be - and printed in color for the first 23 issues! Captain Britain was sold only in Great Britain, and American audiences were out of luck - until now!
He may be as British as could be, but it's worth noting that the creative team on this book is all American and will remain so for quite a while.
Thanks to the involvement of Chris Claremont here, as well as later high quality stories by Alan Moore, Alan Davis, and others that raise Captain Britain's profile, the events in the British-only series will eventually become relevant to US audiences, especially when we get to Excalibur. And Chris Claremont had a habit of referring to the events of these issues without providing footnotes or tons of context. So it's a shame that the Marvel Tales reprints didn't continue (preferably without alterations!) but it's nice to be able to go through them now that the trades are available.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #131, Marvel Tales #132, Marvel Tales #133
Inbound References (9): show
Mark Gruenwald later explained that the reprints were stopped because of the difficulty of editing 8-page stories to fill 5-page slots and because "The stories stunk anyhow".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 11, 2012 4:25 PM
Brian is chased to the stone-structure (Loch Daemon) here by terrorist Joshua Stragg who is called The Reaver. Is that Reaver one of THE Reavers?
The reason I ask is it's later shown in Claremont & Davis's Excalibur series (cf. #2) that a gutted-out ruin called Gateway Technologies is built right near this stone structure. Besides asking if it was The Reaver, or several Reavers, that gutted it, what is more interesting is how a "Reaver" chased Brian to the stonehenge structure nearby, where he first encountered Merlin and Roma, where there is a placed called "Gateway", and at the start of the Australian Outback era of Uncanny X-Men we are introduced to another Gateway, this one enslaved by the Reavers, until the Reavers are defeated by the X-Men, who were basically pointed at them - like bullets out of a gun - with the trigger person being Roma.
So we've got a "Gateway" and a "Reaver" at two separate parts of Earth. And in both places, Roma is there, not only taking an interest but influencing events.
What is the significance of those two locations and why do both not only have Reavers in each, but also a Gateway?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 30, 2013 10:08 AM
Interesting observation, Nathan, though probably this is just Claremont reusing names he likes--cf. his first Maddie Pryor in that Avengers annual.
I do wonder though about Forge's 'Nam unit being the Marauders and Sinister's Marauders having a native Amwrican member with technomorphic powers. Why the parallels when nothing is done with them? But that's something for Fnord's 1986 entries...
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 31, 2013 12:13 AM
@ Walter: Possibly but both Maddie's were introduced whereas when we get to Excalibur #2 with Gateway Technologies at the same time as Gateway being introduced in Uncanny a much closer parallel seems intended:)
Yep, I've previously posted about Forge's Marauders, and Scalphunter's similarities to Forge. However, recall that the Sabretooth of the Marauders intended by Claremont as a clone of the original, 'Tooth having leased out his DNA (and there's a case to be made for Vertigo of the Savage Land Mutates too). So was Scalphunter cloned from Forge's genetic material?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | February 1, 2013 4:39 AM
Merlin refers to the area where Brian finds the sword and amulet as the Siege Perilous. It's interesting that the first appearance of the other Reavers circa X-Men 229 ends with them being sent through the Siege Perilous portal Roma gave the X-Men.
Claremont wrote CB for about ten issues and apparently butted heads with the editor. To my surprise, the stories actually get better immediately after Gary Friedrich takes over: Friedrich introduces the Mastermind computer, blows up Braddock manor, introduces STRIKE, and first names Roma. Alan Moore revisits most of these elements during his run.
I believe CB's costume was designed by Larry Lieber. The Birth of a Legend hardcover--a classy package, I must say--includes several early Lieber sketches for the costume.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 19, 2013 11:21 PM
It's been speculated that Claremont's use of the Siege Perilous was taken from Andre Norton's "Witch World".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 11, 2013 3:46 PM
Mark Drummond, I love the fact that you know of Andre Norton's Witch World! I'm a huge fan.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | October 11, 2013 11:04 PM
Claremont later admitted in Amazing Heroes #134 that he quit this title, but he was butting heads with the editor so much he felt he was on the verge of being fired anyway.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 8, 2014 4:26 PM
FNORD - were these reprinted in the Captain Britain trade paperbacks?
Posted by: clyde | February 14, 2015 8:42 PM
Yes. I initially reviewed these issues from the Marvel Tales reprints and i've now gone back and added to the entry after going through the deluxe hardcover trades. The trades also reprint the Marvel Tales version in the back of the first volume.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 14, 2015 11:53 PM
For whatever reason, Claremont just isn't a great fit with Captain Britan IMO. I first met the character in his Marvel Team-Up appearance (by Claremont, of course) and it never once crossed my mind that Claremont could have previous experience with it.
I vividly remember finding Captain Britain an exciting character, and hoping to soon find more stories with him. Stories that I just assumed outright to be by someone else as opposed to Claremont, who gave me a subtle yet powerful vibe of handling someone else's character.
I guess I'm not much of a comicbook facts paranormal.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 15, 2015 4:20 AM
Technically Claremont IS British but he moved away from Britain when he was a child.
Posted by: Michael | February 15, 2015 9:01 AM
These were before my time to be buying the weeklies, but I probably would have if I was 10 years older. Then I'd have dropped it when it went black-and-white, as I did with other Marvel UK weeklies in the '80s. Fortunately, Secret Wars (and SWII) and Spider-Man of that era were all done in colour.
Posted by: Dave77 | May 3, 2016 1:40 AM
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