Then there was the time Captain Britain died off panel.

Sometimes words fail me when writing about Captain Britain and todays post is no exception as I bring you a tale about one of the times Cap bit the dust, nothing new about that you might say well this time there is, as all the action and death takes place off panel.

This oddest of deaths needn’t have happened as things were looking good for Cap, Alan Davis had just finished his Excalibur run tying up a lot of continuity problems while writing and drawing excellent stories and things for Excalibur and Captain Britain never looked stronger, until this happend.

Captain Britain in Excalibur 68

Yes in the space between Davis’ last issue and Scot Lobdell’s first Captain Britain ” dies, ” off panel, with only a very weak explanation. Of course this being comics Cap soon returns as the mullet headed Britannic whose story is so complicated it’s worth a post of its own.

Britannic

Anyway my favourite part of this article was finding out what other writers thought of all this tom foolery, which is best seen here in ClanDestine issue 10 ( an Alan Davis creation.)

Captain Britain in Clandestine 10

And I must say I heartily agree with him.

More weird Captain Britain trading cards.

Last week I looked at some Captain Britain trading cards from the early nineties, as I was researching these ( Ok looking through my trading card folder, ) I came across two more that I had thought of adding to the first post but because they come from a more superior range of Marvel cards I thought they deserved their own post.

Lets start with their history, between 1992 and 1994 Marvel released three series of deluxe trading cards that went under the impressive title of Marvel Masterpieces , Captain Britain actualy appeared in the first two series so lets have a look at his cards.

First from 1992 Cap by Joe Jusko ( my favourite art despite Cap’s head being smaller than the width of his arms ! )

Captain Britain Marvel Legends series 1 by Joe Jusko

At least there are no random stats about Cap for me to gripe about but yet again the text mentions that our hero is hot-headed and has a stubborn personality that is apparently that bad it gets in the way of his being a hero. This to me is a round about way of saying Captain Britain is hard to write properly so many of those who have scripted his adventures have just never researched or written him correctly.

The next card is from 1993 and is drawn by Byrne and Hunt ( note the actual card is cut so as the text is misisng its not a bad scan ! )

Captain Britian Marvel Legends series 2

The text is a bit harder to read on this one so I’ll just point out that yet again Cap is ” a young hot head, ” who defends Europe as well as the UK, why the Europe reference or the addition of the word young unless its to defend the hot-head description is beyond me.

Sadly Captain Britain didn’t even make the cut for the third Masterpiece series but Pheonix, Nightcrawler and the Black Knight did, leaving me confused but sort of glad as I don’t think I could have taken another poorly researched Cap trading card.

Captain Britain in Night of the Hawk.

Welcome back to my look at the early adventures of Captain Britain, when we last saw Cap he and Captain America had just defeated the Red Skull but heroes can never rest.

But first the Cap facts. Night of the Hawk came out in Captain Britain issues 27 to 32 published in 1977, it was written by Gary Friedrich and Larry Lieber with John Buscema and Tom Palmer handling the art, but we now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Our adventure starts with a blissful Brian Braddock remembering how he helped an old friend of his Professor Scott by building him a fully functional mechanical hawk, keep quiet at the back if you have already guessed where this adventure is going.

Captain Britain dreams of hawks

In a quick flashback we learn the prof has been robbed of his real hawk pets by pollution, hence Cap making him a mechanical one out of the goodness of his heart.The sneaky Prof then takes this harmless toy and recruits an out of work munitions engineer to upgrade it to a destructive level, so armed the Prof begins his crusade too rid Britain of all its sources of pollution but a photo of his hawk in action leads Captain Britain to his door.

Munitions worker

Cap and the hawk face off but by snatching his quarterstaff Cap is defeated, typically with the hero at his mercy the Prof does as all good villains do and refrains from killing him, instead he inserts a homing device into Cap so his hawk can track him down later.

Widening his targets for destruction the Prof seeks to destroy Piccadilly Circus , however Cap is on the scene and so faces off again against the hawk. Seemingly unable to defeat the mechanical bird and concerned about the effects of the battle on the innocent bystanders Cap poses for a moment of guilt before the police arrive and he and the hawk flee the scene.

Captain Britain feels guilty

Just a quick interjection here look at how guilty Cap is and how well this comes through in the art just with the look in his eyes and the angst ridden fists, Buscema and Palmer really nail the art in just one small panel. Then in the next shot that evil grin on the Prof’s face is just superb and we are left in no doubt he’s mad, bad and dangerous to know !

Cap flees to his university for safety but the Prof and his foul feathered fiend follow him and again they fight but this time the hawk seizes Cap himself and carries him high into the air without his quarterstaff. Now next the story does something we rarely see in Captain Britain comics and that is it allows our hero to solve his dilemma with his brain power, as Cap rewires the hawk to carry him to safety

Captain Britain rewires the hawk

But as Captain Britain lands the law is waiting for him and yet again he is threatened with an unmaksing until a mysterious voice rings out summoning Cap to an unknown fate.

Captain britain is summoned

These seventies stories are an insane roller coaster of action, angst and then more action, its hard to put across to anyone reading this article that each chapter of Night of the Hawk is only about seven pages long, yet so much happens. Surely the ability to put so much story into so little a space is due to the tight scripting of Friedrich and Lieber but they are helped in no small manner by the art team who use every single panel be it big or small to great effect.

Anyway join me again soon for the next Captain Britain seventies story which is a real milestone in his early adventures.

Captain Britain spotted in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

If you’ve never played a LEGO video game then you might wander why the appearance of Captain Britain in one is a cause for excitement and this post, well the LEGO games are huge and for Cap to be making an appearance means he’s in at least someone’s A-List when it comes to games.

20130822-184317.jpg

LEGO games are mostly platform and brick collecting in nature with a sideways look at the source material that inspires them so don’t be surprised if they poke fun at Cap but being as they have also mocked Batman, The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars he is in good company.

The bizzare world of early Captain Britain trading cards.

Trading cards are funny old things they can be great money makers for comic book companies but they can often seemed rushed and the heroes they portray bear only a passing resemblance to their funny book counter parts.

Here are some Captain Britain trading cards that were released as part of the Marvel Universe series that came out yearly from 1990 – 1993, see what you think of their representation and arbitrary facts about our favourite hero.

Here is the card from 1990.

Captain Britain Marvel Universe series 1 1990

OK the art is a bit lacklustre and the suspect did you know fact really only occurred in this terrible story here, not a great start and then there’s mention of Cap being hot-headed which you will see becomes a sadly common theme. However all this daftness pales into insignificance next to the info ( pulled from who knows where, ) that Captain Britain has taken part in 514 fights. If you take into account Cap came along in 1976 and this card was released in 1990 then he was having a fight nearly every 10 days whereas using the same data from the Hulk card he was only having a fight every 14 days , make of that what you will !

Anyway enough maths here is the card from 1991.

Captain Britain Marvel Universe series 2 1991

OK so there is better art and a more accurate fact on this card but I am never a fan of Captain Britain being portrayed against something British just in case it seems whoever picks up the card needs a further visual clue as to who he is. However this pales against Cap’ s intelligence rating of 2 out of 7, I mean is this meant to defend the comment that he is still hot-headed ?

Lets move quickly onto the card from 1992.

Captain Britain Marvel Universe series 3  1992

So in the last 12 months Cap has obviously been going to night school or something similar because his intelligence has increased by a whole point ! But hold on what’s this in the description it seems Captain Britain now has a selfish nature and check out the date on the Cap quote its 16 years old, sack the fact checkers I say !

Lastly here is the card from 1993

Captain Britain Marvel Universe series 4 1993

Yet again another succesful year of home study for Cap sees his intelligence rating increase again but in all honesty this card disgraces itself in many ways, poor art, the wrong rating again for Captain Britain’s intelligence when we know he is a genius and I must mention the art again, why does it look like Cap has set his farts on fire or is passing terrible wind?

As a bonus and a break from the insanity here is a very early Cap trading card from the seventies.

Captain Britain card from Marvel game

My things were simpler then and better for it.

Captain Britain meets Deadpool – not as bad as you might think !

I must confess when I originally learnt that Captain Britain was to team-up with Deadpool it felt like a little bit of my soul died, then I read the comic and I was quite surprised. Sure its full of bad jokes, has a dodgy plot and is obviously a money making tie in but it does have some redeeming features, but first the science bit.

Deadpool Team-Up number 893 ( it had a very weird numbering system don’t ask, ) came out in May 2010, Rob Williams was the writer, Matteo Scalera handled the art and Ramos & Delgado did this rather neat cover ( which is a major spoiler for the plot, but then covers often are !)

Deadpool team up with Captain Britain

The story starts in typical Deadpool fashion with an over the top movie homage this time to James Bond, full points to Deadpool for playing blackjack with what look like Top Trump cards but…

Deadpool top trumps

minus points for calling a woman a bint.

Deadpool calls a woman a bint

Anyway Williams has done his continuity homework and its seems an old foe of Captain Britain’s known as Slaymaster despite being dead ( Cap killed him after he blinded his sister, ) is still causing trouble as the location of his high-tech armoury is now in the public domain.

Cap is sent off to make sure the weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands while Deadpool is only to keen for this to happen providing the hands are his.

Both arrive and the obligatory mistaken fight sequence occurs but our heroes are too late as another mercenary has beaten them to the haul and is now armed and dangerous. In a Monty Pythonesque moment Cap and Deadpool recreate a scene from Holy Grail and bravely run away and here is where the madness begins.

Deadpool and Captain Britain run away

As you can probably guess from the cover some sort of identity swap is involved but this time our heroes don’t swap bodies but instead trade cultures. This is a cue for lots of jokes about the UK and the USA and their respective cultural stereotypes, some funny and some not so.

Deadpool and Captain Britain culture swap

There is a great moment when Deadpool is paralysed with British angst whereas Captain Britain gets overly confident before Deadpool goes slightly over the top in his battle wear. Then in a marvelous end scene that I feel is a tribute to Cap’s original Slaymaster encounter he offs the villain with no regrets at all.

So there you go a comic that is really just an excuse to make fun of the stereotypes the UK and USA have about each others respective cultures but done in a way that only makes you occasionally cringe. Despite this being a Deadpool title both heroes come off looking a bit daft so I am unable to have my usual rant about poor representations of Captain Britain in cross overs, much to my disappointment.

So there you go I like a comic with Deadpool in and I never thought I might one day type that.

Modern Masters : Alan Davis part 3. Problems with Marvel UK and DC.

Welcome to part 3 of my extended look at the work of Captain Britain’s number one scribe and artist Alan Davis, using as a reference TwoMorrow Publishings book Modern Masters: Alan Davis.

If you want to read my first two posts on this subject about Davis’ early career and how he broke into comics click the appropriate link, otherwise lets move right on to part 3.

Modern masters volume 1 Alan Davis

When we left Davis he was becoming an established UK artist with work for Marvel UK and 2000AD but dark clouds had begun to gather when Marvel UK changed editors and Moore and Davis began to run into money issues.

Davis explains it like this.

” Captain Britain began life on a shoestring budget with zero support or intervention from the management. As the strip gained attention and awards the money people got involved and the casual informal friendly working environment became professional… While there seemed to be no chance of any real profits from the Captain Britain strip the money people had ignored us. As soon as the possibility of money from reprints arose they were alerted to their oversight and tried to correct it retrospectively.”

Moore left Marvel UK and went to DC to start work on Swamp Thing which caught Davis by surprise as he was asked to take over scripting Captain Britain, yet again he sells himself and his talent short when asked how he felt.

” … I didn’t think I’d be capable of doing it. I was worried I’d make a fool of myself. ”

Anyway write he did and some excellent work was produced by himself and new writer Jamie Delano ( later to find fame with his stunning work on DC’s Hellblazer, one of my all time favourite comics next to Cap. )

At this time Davis began to draw Batman and the Outsiders for DC comics…

Batman_and_the_Outsiders_Vol_1_28

but I’m getting ahead of the story here, lets let Davis explain.

” I never sent any samples to DC. They had already begun coming to Britain to look for artists … it was during one of their head hunting visits that I met Dick Giordano and he eventually offered me the Aquaman mini series. ”

Alan even designed a new Aquaman costume which was never used but is pictured below.

Alan Davis unused Aquaman art

However DC were so impressed with Davis’ work that instead of a small mini series the offer was changed to a major Batman book instead, yet again Davis was nervous but the series was a resounding success. Ironically this work blocked a more lucrative offer from Marvel to draw the X-Men but Davis’ work on Batman was getting noticed and he was asked to move onto the more prestigious title of Detective Comics.

Davis had a wonderful take on Batman’s world which I will let him explain.

” There was something of a Grimm’s fairy tale about it. The Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler etc are all such weird characters – straight out of Alice in Wonderland. The only way I can accept the basic premise is as a surreal, dreamlike construct. ”

Marvel were still keen to recruit Davis and they knew a brilliant way to tempt him over to their side.

” Chris ( Claremont, ) phoned me .. ( saying, ) Marvel is doing another X-Book and its going to be set in England and Captain Britain is in it. .. I don’t know whether Captain Britain was included in the group to encourage me. ”

Davis also at this time said goodbye to working on Detective Comics, here he explains why he left in the middle of the much publicised Batman: Year 2 storyline.

” There were lots of problems with deadlines. It got really stupid I just had to be free of it. .. I felt like I was being treated very badly. But when I complained or attempted to change things I was ignored or placated with empty promises.”

The final straw for Davis came when DC changed his art on Batman: Year 2 due to a discrepancy in the gun Batman choses to use in the story ( don’t ask it’s one of the oddest Batman stories ever and is explained brilliantly here.)

Below check out the original black and white Davis art for Batman : Year 2 and the altered final colour version.

Batman year 2 original Alan Davis cover

Batman year 2 altered Alan Davis cover

Davis explains why this caused him to finally walk away from Batman.

” It was the loss of trust. That’s the thing that really annoys me realising I was working with people who really didn’t give a damn about what I was doing. I just didn’t want to work with them.”

So the stage is set for Davis to return to Marvel and the character he helped define, join me again soon as we continue our look at Davis’ move onto Excalibur, Clandestine and more.