Issue(s): Mighty World of Marvel #14, Mighty World of Marvel #15, Mighty World of Marvel #16, Captain Britain #1, Captain Britain #2, Captain Britain #3, Captain Britain #4, Captain Britain #5, Captain Britain #6, Captain Britain #7, Captain Britain #8, Captain Britain #9, Captain Britain #10, Captain Britain #11, Captain Britain #12, Captain Britain #13, Captain Britain #14
Cover Date: May 84 - Feb 86
Title: "Bad moon rising" / "Tea and sympathy" / "In all the old familiar places..." / "Myth, memory and legend (Pictures, Puzzles & Pawns)" / "Law and disorder" / "Flotsam and jetsam" / "Sid's story" / "Double game" / "A long way from home" / "Things fall apart" / "Childhood's end" / "Winds of change" / "African nightmare" / "The house of Baba Yaga" / "Alarms and excursions" / "It's hard to be a hero..." / "Should auld acquaintance..."
Alan Davis / Jamie Delano / Jamie Delano & Alan Davis - Writer
Steve Craddock - Script on Mighty World of Marvel #14
Mike Collins - Script on Mighty World of Marvel #16 and Captain Britain #4
Alan Davis - Penciler
Alan Davis / Alan Davis & Noel Davis / Mark Farmer - Inker
Simon Furman - Assistant Editor
Chris Gill / Iam Rimmer - Editor
The credits listed above may be a bit spotty. It seems Jamie Delano scripted all of the Captain Britain issues, excepting issue #4 and the last two, but i'm a little unclear whether "script" includes the plot, which may have been done in collaboration with or entirely by Alan Davis, who also scripted the last two issues, plus Mighty World of Marvel #15.
Noel Davis helps ink Captain Britain #11-13 and Mark Farmer inks #14; Davis does the rest.
Delano is a good writer (he was handpicked by Alan Moore to follow up his John Constantine and his Hellblazer series was very good), and i'm sure his involvement has a lot to do with the quality of the series, but regardless of the specific credits, Alan Davis is clearly the driving force here. These issues follow-up on Davis' Captain Britain run with Alan Moore, but the tone is somewhat lighter and there is somewhat less of an emphasis on the alternate dimension stuff. Let me stress "somewhat" in both cases; these issues definitely have their dark moments, especially compared to US Marvel comics at this time, and the alternate universes certainly have their relevance here.
I have all of these issues collected in a trade paperback that also adds color (which i appreciate, although i know some prefer the clarity of black & white pencils). The original stories were delivered in approximately 11 page installments along with other stories, mainly reprints from other Marvel books as well as Dr. Who comics and one-offs. At 11 pages per month, the pacing is certainly different. Read altogether, it feels a bit frantic, with some sort of climax required for each issue, but i imagine read at a monthly pace it would have been rather frustrating (at least to me) since you weren't getting a lot of story at a time. But this format was more or less the standard in UK comics, and the creators manage it much better than, say, when Marvel US tries a similar format with Marvel Comics Presents. The flow here still feels a bit off to me, but not as bad as that.
A large part of these issues is devoted to the development of the character of Meggan. Meggan was introduced in the previous trade, but not much was shown of her. She was an oppressed super-being living underground during the alternate-reality anti-super powers regime. In these issues, she begins as something of a were-creature.
She later learns that she's a metamorph, and her initial appearance was based on the preconceptions of the Romani tribe she lived with. She finds a new form for herself...
...and we learn that her powers are quite respectable and go beyond simply shape-changing. She's basically a primal force of nature.
Captain Britain's sister Elizabeth, aka Psylocke, is also developed here to a degree, although she doesn't get the same amount of attention as Meggan, and what's done with her here is nothing compared to what will happen to her under Claremont. She has spent some time away and recovering after the ordeal of seeing her psychic friend Tom Lennox killed in the previous trade.
While she and Brian generally are shown to have a good sibling relationship, things sour when a group called STRIKE (sort of a SHIELD analog but also something of a British spy genre parody)...
...semi-forceably sets themselves up in Braddock Manner. While this causes Brian to quit being Captain Britain, Elizabeth is convinced to stay and take up the mantle.
Her stint as Captain Britain doesn't last long, however. She's blinded by Slaymaster, which is pretty brutal.
Elizabeth later rejects an offer to get "photoreceptive cybernetic implants", saying that her mental powers compensate for her blindness.
There is a lot of intelligence in the writing here. Situations that you would rarely see in US comics at this time, like Captain Britain appearing at the home of the parents of a bystander who was killed during the initial battle between Captain Britain and Meggan...
...are handled with a lot more maturity and a lot less melodrama.
Similarly, the development of Dai Thomas, who starts off as a hero-hating police inspector, is done very well. He starts off by extrapolating Captain Britain's secret identity with relative ease...
...and while that falls into the general "deconstructionist" category started by Moore in the previous issues (and perfected in his later works), it's Thomas' appearance later that humanizes him.
While the intelligent writing is a highlight, there's also a surreal aspect to these issues. There's the Crazy Gang, stuck in our dimension after the alternate-reality problems from the previous arc.
Without Mad Jim Jaspers to lead them, they are literally clueless, and they wind up bungling various crime capers until they hit on the idea of advertising for a new leader. They are contacted by the Slaymaster, but he first disguises himself as a caterpillar-man...
...and claims he's a "leader of extreme genius". He exploits the Crazy Gang in a plot to capture Captain Britain. It's part of a bid to form a partnership with Vixen...
...but she doesn't treat him as an equal. There's an interesting bit about how much of Brian's powers are from his costume (which is strikingly similar to Guardian's suit)...
...(unlike Guardian, Captain Britain can control his costume through the cybernetic helmet even when he's not wearing it)...
...and how much are derived from the magic granted to Brian by Merlin.
Next we have a return of the Fury, this time as a crazy vegetable creature...
...who turns out to be a homeless guy named Sid who was actually infected (or powered up) by the real Fury.
There's also a string of kidnapping attempts set up by an alternate-universe Saturnyne...
...who also employs Gatecrasher and the Technet.
This group is an earlier-timeline version of the Special Executive that appeared in the previous arc.
There's also the Cherubim, a group of young mutants exploited by STRIKE.
They are pulled from a group of children affected by Mad Jim Jasper's warping (and so they get called Warpies)...
...and the majority of the kids wind up taking refuge in the Braddock mansion.
Mastermind, the sentient computer who runs Braddock manor...
...winds up being put in charge of the Warpies.
An operative for an agency called the RCX (Resources Control Executive, the successors to STRIKE, which in turn was the UK's version of SHIELD) also stays at the manor to supervise the Warpies.
Mastermind has feelings for the Braddocks' human housekeeper, Emma, who he inadvertently damaged during his earlier villain phase when he controlled her mind. He eventually sends her on a cruise with a synthetic copy of his more human looking form ("Jeeves").
We also meet a character called Doctor Crocodile...
The origin of his unusual features is that a Warpy blew up in his face.
Doc Croc has captured Brian's brother Jamie, but Brian winds up abandoning his brother when he realizes that Jamie was involved in slave trading and other unsavory activities.
The series ends with Captain Britain and Meggan in a relationship and living in the lighthouse that will be the setting of the Excalibur series.
So basically, a lot going on! It's a very well written series (marred only slightly by the pacing issues) with, of course, very nice art by Davis. I tend to gloss over the alternate timeline stuff (there's a whole sequence with Roma resurrecting Captain UK's dead husband that i didn't get into; Roma eventually takes her back to Otherworld because her presence in our reality prevents the world from healing from Jasper's warping) but a lot of the concepts developed here will get further play in Chris Claremont and Alan Davis' Excalibur series.
Quality Rating: A-
Historical Significance Rating: 4 - Origin and development of Meggan. Psylocke blinded. Groundwork for Excalibur.
Chronological Placement Considerations: These issues span a publication period of 1984-1986. Having such a large run of issues in sequence would normally be a problem, but Captain Britain was pretty isolated from the rest of the Marvel Universe and it doesn't seem to cause any problems. The previous Alan Moore trade covered issues from 1982-1984, and the first issue of this series is the next issue of Mighty World of Marvel after the end of the Moore trade, but the story starts "six months" later (at least by my reading; it's possible that Moore's stories started six months ago, but either way there seems to be a generous gap between the trades).
- Obviously the events of the previous trade have a lot of relevance.
- When the Captain Marvel stories are moved from Mighty World of Marvel to the new Captain Britain book, issue #1 takes the opportunity to recap Captain Britain's origin from the original Captain Britain #1-2, along with flashbacks and montages covering his stories to date. All of the villains below are from Captain Britain #3-39 except the Reaver (the knight in the lower left) who is from issues #1-2, and the Werewolf and alien in the lower right corner and Slaymaster (the guy in the yellow costume getting kicked in the face), who are from Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #233-247.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Captain Britain: Before Excalibur trade paperback