Issue(s): Marvel Super Heroes #387, Marvel Super Heroes #388, Daredevils #1, Daredevils #2, Daredevils #3, Daredevils #4, Daredevils #5, Daredevils #6, Daredevils #7, Daredevils #8, Daredevils #9, Daredevils #10, Daredevils #11, Mighty World of Marvel #7, Mighty World of Marvel #8, Mighty World of Marvel #9, Mighty World of Marvel #10, Mighty World of Marvel #11, Mighty World of Marvel #12, Mighty World of Marvel #13
Published Date: Jul 82 - Jun 84
Title: "A crooked world" / "Graveyard shift" / "A rag, a bone, a hank of hair..." / "An Englishman's home..." / "...Thicker than water" / "Killing ground" / "Recommendation: Executive action" / "Judgement Day" / "Rough justice" / "Arrivals" / "Waiting for the end of the world" / "The sound and the Fury" / "But they never really die" / "The candlelight dialogues" / "The twisted world (reprise)" / "Among those dark satanic mills" / "Anarchy in the U.K." / "Foolsmate" / "Endgame" / "A funeral on Otherworld"
Alan Moore - Writer
Alan Davis - Penciler
Alan Davis - Inker
Here we have the only work Alan Moore ever did for Marvel. And despite being very early in his career, it's quite good. Witty dialogue, realistic characters, and interesting plotting, including concepts like super-hero registration that Marvel will return to several times. There's also a Days of Future Past type concept that suggests familiarity with the Claremont/Byrne story from a year or so earlier.
One thing about the pacing: these stories were delivered in very small initial chunks as part of a larger magazine that included reprints of American comics. Therefore things happen quickly, there's no time for resting between storylines, and there are frequent shifts and dropped plotlines as the story evolves between issues. It's a minor distraction.
The art is by Alan Davis, and it's also very good. There's a slight human-but-cartoony aspect that works well at conveying both the dramatic moments as well as some of the out there reality warping stuff. The original stories were in black and white, but they were colored for an X-Men Archives featuring Captain Britain reprint series in the 90s, and the color prints were subsequently used for this trade paperback.
We start in the middle of a story (i am annoyed to learn that while the source of my trade paperback reprint is the X-Men Archive issues that first colorized these Captain Britain stories, they neglected to include the first few issues of Marvel Super Heroes that start the first arc, because they weren't written by Moore - although they were drawn by Davis) where Captain Britain is in an alternate dimension with his partner/sidekick Jackdaw and the untrustworthy Saturnyne. The world they are on is one in which all super-heroes have been killed.
And the robot (or actually, a "cybiote") that killed all the super-heroes, called the Fury, shows up to kill them.
Saturnyne teleports away, and Jackdaw and Captain Britain are killed.
This dimension and the Fury are under the influence of the reality-warping Mad Jim Jaspers.
The godlike Merlin and his daughter Roma resurrect Captain Britain and put him back in his own dimension.
Answering the question of why he doesn't reveal himself to the Captain, Merlin goes through a series of transformations showing off some of his past visualizations including, confusingly, the one that was revealed to actually be the mutant later known as Maha Yogi (see Fanfix for more on that).
Back in his own world, he finds that his mansion, which had been destroyed, has been secretly rebuilt by a super-computer in the basement. He manages to subdue the computer.
Then he receives a call from his sister, Elizabeth.
She's a telepath working for the the British version of SHIELD (called STRIKE), and she needs Brian's help because someone's killing the telepaths on the orders of a gangster called the Vixen.
A mercenary called Slaymaster shows up and attacks.
Elizabeth is specifically a precog at this point. She's got a boyfriend Tom who's a telekinetic. But all of the mental-powered STRIKE agents are referred to as "telepaths" generally.
Vixen herself isn't actually shown until later, during the Mad Jim Jaspers storyline (she'll try to assassinate him, too).
After Slaymaster is defeated, the Vixen calls in Arcade. Oddly, though, this plot line is dropped completely.
Instead, a group of extra-dimensional super-beings called the Special Executive show up at Braddock Manor.
After a misunderstanding fight...
...they reveal that they have come to ask Captain Britain to travel to an inter-dimensional court to be a character witness for Saturnyne, who is on trial at the Dimensional Development Court because the alternate dimension that she teleported away from earlier devolved into chaos.
That dimension is dubbed #238 by the Court. We learn that Captain Britain is from dimension #616, making that the designation for the main Marvel Universe.
These numbers are seemingly insignificant throwaways (although 616 is apparently the actual number of the beast), but the 616 designator will eventually be used by Marvel geeks everywhere to help distinguish the "real" Marvel Universe from all the alternates.
Lots of alternate universe Captain Britains as well.
When Brian refuses to help, they forcibly bring him along, and once there, he and the Special Executive fight their way out...
...and he takes them and Saturnyne back to his mansion in dimension 616, where the STRIKE telepaths that are already hiding there. It's a zany bunch.
Then Captain UK shows up. She's the Captain Britain alternative from the alternate dimension that went crazy. She's there to warn that, in her dimension, the trouble all started when the government called for super-hero registration, and eventually the super-heroes were all killed.
She escaped to our dimension. And now she sees signs that the same thing is happening here. This universe's Sir Jim Jaspers (the reality-warping mutant that created The Fury and destroyed the Earth-238 universe), supported by Henry Gyrich and Sebastian Shaw, begins an anti-super-hero campaign.
Due to his own powers, he quickly re-writes reality so that he's in charge of Britain and there are super-hero concentration camps. And he's also mad.
After a number of big battles and other madness...
...Jasper is eventually killed when the Fury, which had managed to find its way to the Earth-616 dimension, catches up with him.
Captain Britain and Captain UK take down the Fury...
...while Saturnyne acquires some DNA.
She later uses it to force her way back into the title of Majestrix of the Dimensional Development Court.
There's a very brief first appearance by Meggan, a character who will eventually be a regular member of the Excalbur team. Here, she is just one super-being held in the concentration camps during Jasper's reign of terror.
The events in these issues are simultaneously played out as a chess game between Merlin and his daughter Roma.
At the end of the story, Merlin dies...
...and Roma sends his body through something she calls the Portal Perilous to return him to the universe.
When referred to as the Siege Perilous, this artifact will later have some significance to the X-Men. Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, is amongst those who attends Merlin's funeral...
...along with Captain Britains from various alternate realities, including the hilarious Captain Airstrip One (from the world of Orwell's 1984).
Psylocke, caught in a concentration camp and distressed after her fellow ESPer Tom was killed while she was in his head, is said to have met and befriended Victoria Bentley, a magic user from early Dr. Strange stories. It's an unusual pairing that won't receive any further development, to my knowledge.
Chris Claremont would draw on a lot of the elements introduced here for both his Excalibur series as well as the main X-Men title. It's also worth observing the degree to which Alan Moore (assuming there wasn't editorial involvement) was playing with the rest of the Marvel Universe. Using Shaw and Gyrich shows an awareness of Claremont's X-Men, and so it's not a coincidence that Jaspers' super-hero concentration dystopia resembles Days of Future Past. There's also references to events in Hulk and passing reference to the Avengers and SHIELD, etc. From my perspective, it's too bad that Moore didn't have a falling out with Marvel because i would have liked to see what else he could have done in their universe, although i suppose most people would prefer that he went on to create Watchmen.
Still, it's nice to have these stories, and we did get to keep the great Alan Davis.
Quality Rating: A-
Historical Significance Rating: 8 - first Psylocke & Meggan. First Siege Perlious. Initial Super-Hero Registration concept.
Chronological Placement Considerations: Captain Britain got a new costume and a power update just slightly before this series began.
So obviously this storyline takes place after any appearances of Captain Britain where he's wearing his old costume, such as Contest of Champions and the Wraith War in ROM #65 (even though that was really an art error). The MCP places Captain Britain's appearance in Captain America #305-307 during Daredevils #4-5 in this series; i've placed the Cap issues directly after this entry. Due to the Wraith War and the Captain America issues, i've got this trade in 1985, which means it's later than the publication date of even the last issue in this collection. Since Captain Britain is mostly isolated from the rest of the Marvel universe at this time (except for the events i've mentioned) it's a mostly harmless adjustment, but you kind of have to wave your hands around what "last month" means in relation to the Hulk's amnesty, and the placement of Shaw and Gyrich may not be optimal (but i think it's ok).
- While Merlin and Roma are rebuilding his body, they recap his origin from Captain Britain #1 as well as additional scenes from the British comics.
- Captain Britain's mansion was destroyed in a story featuring Captain America. No footnote is provided, but it was Captain Britain #18 (Thanks, Michael!)
- A speech by Jasper, broadcast on television, references the Hulk's presidential pardon ("last month") from Hulk #278.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Captain Britain vol. 2 TPB