Welcome to the start of a trial of a new feature for 2015 on the Captain Britain Blog, a guide/review to the first forty issues of the Seventies Captain Britain weekly comic. Each week I hope to bring you my thoughts on the early adventures of Captain Britain in the form of an examination of his early escapades issue by issue, for more details and how the reviews will work click here.
Once your ready let’s start with….
Captain Britain issue 1. Published October 13th 1976.
Writer:- Chris Claremont.
Artists:Herb Trimpe and Fred Kida.
You have been watching:- First appearances of: Brian Braddock/Captain Britain, Joshua Stragg/The Reaver, Merlin and his daughter Roma – both not named.
The story so far:- Assistant physicist Brian Braddock is working at the Darkmoor Nuclear complex when super villain Joshua Stragg attacks the plant with the evil plan of capturing all the scientists there to work on his dastardly schemes. Brian attempts to escape on a motorbike to warn the police, but blinded by Stragg’s hovercraft he crashes. On wakening Brian is confronted by Merlin and Roma who tell him he must choose between an amulet and a sword, which could mean life or death for him and the world.
Continuity:- A lot of the staples of Captain Britain continuity are introduced here foremost being his supernatural guardians and other world meddlers Merlin and his daughter Roma who will plague Cap throughout his early years.
The choice of the sword and staff to a UK hero in waiting will reappear in the Avengers volume 3 issue 77 from 2004, when Lionheart debuts.
Captain Britain works in a Nuclear Plant and attends university so we can presume he is highly intelligent, perhaps he’s not at Tony Stark or Reed Richards levels but it seems he has a brain to be reckoned with.
This issue also contains one of the very few references to Brian Braddock’s smoking habit, as we see him puffing on a pipe in one panel.
Although the cover boasts this is a special origin issue, the actual story inside is untitled.
Well said old chap: Check out the snappy dialogue from Cap as he decides on his new name.
Stand out panel: What’s not to like about the Reaver’s dramatic entrance announced with a mighty SKBRAM!
Final thoughts:- All super heroes have to start somewhere and in today’s comic book world of over extended story arcs and convoluted origin stories Captain Britain’s debut shines for its brevity. Telling in seven pages what today might take seven issues Cap bursts into life in a story that has it all: evil villains, near death origins, supernatural interference and more. Certainly the comic presents a quirky view of the UK from a US perspective but Trimpe and Claremont were no strangers to England, and in no way do they present to twee an image that might grate or fall into parody.
However rather than my waffle I feel the best way to introduce Captain Britain is to quote Stan Lee as he says in his intro to the book …
” With indescribable pride we have presented for the first time anywhere Britain’s greatest super hero. Defender of the weak and oppressed, destroyer of evil and injustice, the mightiest most mysterious man on earth, Captain Britain.
Why not dig out your copy of Captain Britian issue one and let me know your thoughts on Cap’s debut in the comments box. If you have any constructive ideas to improve the review format I would also welcome your comments.
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