UPDATED 24/07/14- see below for the costume colour reveal.
UPDATED 25/07/14 – lots of new pages found.
As a Captain Britain fan you may not be aware that he nearly had a very different start to his comic book career. It all started In 1973 when UK comic publisher IPC floated an idea for their version of Captain Britain which remained hidden for many years, until its reveal in the Captain Britain trade “A Hero Reborn.”
Code named JNP52 (Juvenile New Project 52) to keep the idea secret from other publishers this Captain Britain was placed in the hands of writer Tom Tully while Eric Bradbury handled the art. Tom Tully was a distinguished comic scribe better known for his work on UK football strip Roy of the Rovers; while Bradbury had a long list of sterling work on UK comic strips and was later to draw the controversial Hook Jaw for 2000AD.
Below are the only two pages of pencils that exist for this project, click to enlarge. ( UPDATED Not true check out Super I.T.C.H. here.)
Comic book guru Dez Skinn a former IPC employee who bought this secret project to light is interviewed in the Captain Britain trade about this Cap who never was, and why the comic never took off. Skinn puts it bluntly:
“Imported US comics sold around 10-15000 a month whereas UK titles sold in excess of 250,000 a week. So the super hero style was hardly a model worth emulating.”
What would this Cap have been like? Skinn answers:
“The IPC version differed in every way imaginable. rather than an anglicized Spider-Man (see my article about that here ) …it was far more SF based strip with a bleak future-Britain where our hero comes back in our time of need, almost Arthurian.”
Sadly beyond the one page feature in the Captain Britain trade from where I drew the above interview quotes there are little details about this alternate Cap. This doesn’t stop me however from arming myself with the star scepter of speculation, and trying to second guess some more details about this Captain Britain that never was.
The first thing that strikes me is a passing resemblance to Miracle/Marvel man, I’ve done a composite picture below for comparison.
I’m going to imagine the prototype Captain Britain might have even been wearing a similarly coloured costumed to his counterpart; as red, white and blue being the UK’s national colours it would be rather unpatriotic if he wore anything else.
UPDATED – see the tiny pic below for the actual costume colour reveal. Please note the quality isn’t that great but the costume colour is the red, white and blue I predicted plus some dashing yellow boots and wristbands.
As for the setting it was quite common in comics of the Seventies to imagine the future as an atomic wastelands devastated by war or instead a world controlled by a 1984 type dictatorship. As Captain Britain is super powered I think the writers would have gone with atomic destruction,the reason for this is that irradiated monsters and insects that might be present would have given our hero a worthwhile tussle or two. Sadly the new picture posted above just shows Cap beating up some generic looking thugs with not a mutated foe in sight.
Now is this Captain Britain a product of the comic’s dystopian future or was he summoned through time and space to this new world? I imagine Cap as a time traveler for two reasons. Firstly Cap being new to the setting allows it to be explained in great detail for the readers, and secondly a certain time travelling BBC hero Dr Who was extremely popular at the time this idea was around, so a time travel element to the story might have lured in readers.
This never was Cap does have something in common with the one who was to emerge from Marvel UK a few years later. Note Skinn said that his coming in the time of Britain’s need was almost Arthurian, the Captain Britain we know and love today had his origin and many of his adventures firmly in the Arthurian mythology with characters like Merlin etc.
So what do you think of the Captain Britain that never was? Sound off in the comments below.