Captain Britain at Wimbledon. The joyful insanity that is Spidey Super Stories 32.

Did you know that in 1978 Captain Britain appeared at Wimbledon or as it was known then Wimbleton? Did you know that at the hallowed tennis club he joined Spider-Man in a tennis match against Dr Octopus? No? Well all of this happened in Spidey Super Stories issue 32, let me tell you about it.

Before we start I must confess I only found out about this story in the last twenty-four hours and I am indebted to followers of the Captain Britain fans’ page and blog Facebook page, in particular Janet Black for bringing this piece of Captain Britain madness to my attention. This story is so great it would be rude not to share it with my readers but first a bit of background

Started in the Seventies Spidey Super Stories was a comic spin-off from the TV show of the same name. Issue 32 saw Spidey team up with Captain Britain in a rather topical adventure set at the Wimbledon/Wimbleton tennis tournament. For those who like the facts this story was written by Jim Salicrup and penciled by Win Mortimer, it was published in March 1978.

Please enjoy the story as it appeared so many years ago below, apologies for the quality of the scans they are taken from YouTube.

Cap attempts to foil a heist by Doc Ock. You have got to love those old fashioned bank bags full of coins, so impractical.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 2

Spidey in London for various reasons joins in, only for there to be the usual mix up. I love the last panel here with the “SOCK” as Cap brains Spidey.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 3

Aunt May is dragged into the fight as Doc Ock uses her as a hostage to get to Wimbledon/ Wimbleton. At no time is it explained why Aunt May has a flower pot on her head but moving on.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 4

Cap and Spidey team up and head after him, despite the petty name calling. Flag face indeed!

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 5

Doc Ock shows he’s certainly not going to play fair.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 6

Armed with a web bat and staff Captain Britain and Spidey challenge Doc Ock. Gotta love those super mustaches on the Wimbleton judges.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 7

And Doc Ock reveals his true motives, stealing the Wimbledon/Wimbleton prize money.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 8

Luckily with a combination of web and force field Cap and Spidey stop the nefarious villain.

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 9

And with Aunt May rescued by Spider-Woman, Doc Ock is marched off to jail

Super Spidey stories 32 Captain Britain 10

I’m for once lost for words, this one-off story is so mad and marvelous in its insanity. I love the idea that Captain Britain appeared at Wimbledon/Wimbleton, I love the idea Doc Ock is good at tennis simply because he has so many arms and I love the fact Cap uses his brains and force field to capture the Doc.

I’m not sure why Wimbledon is renamed Wimbleton, I mean it was only in 1977 that Cap faced off against the Queen and Marvel didn’t see fit to change anything then so why Wimbledon’s name was altered is beyond me?

Apparently I’m informed this isn’t Cap’s only appearance in Spidey Super Stories and I have an eBay order out for another wild tale. If your interested in this series why not check out Robin Barnard and his talented friends excellent parodies of these comics on Facebook. Check it out here.

Until next time you can keep up to date with all the Captain Britain news and views by liking The Captain Britain fans’ page and Blog on Facebook, or on Pinterest, or subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the link top right. Already following the site on Facebook? Well you can still help by liking and sharing the blogs posts, thanks in advance. You can also email the site with news, feature ideas or whatever is on your mind at captainbritainblog@gmail.com

Facebook followers not only get the regular posts but extra content I dredge from the site’s archives or I find as I trawl the internet

 

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Just what were Alan Davis’ plans for Captain Britain in 1991?

If you speak to Captain Britain fans about his time in Excalibur nearly all will agree that the title was at its best when Alan Davis took over the book. With that in mind today I’m going to bring you an Alan Davis interview from 1991 when he was cornered by Marvel Age magazine before his run on Excalibur started, and where he spoke about his hopes for the book and Captain Britain.

The article starts after the cover shot below, you can either read the scanned pages or following them I have picked out some points of interest, so you can get the get the feel of the interview if you cannot read the scans.

Marvel Age issue 100 Alan Davis Captain Britain interview

Yes at one point in time Marvel did allow their comics to reach issue 100 and not reboot them, anyway here’s the interview.

Marvel Age issue 100 Alan Davis Captain Britain interview page 1

 

Page 2

Marvel Age issue 100 Alan Davis Captain Britain interview page 2

Page 3

Marvel Age issue 100 Alan Davis Captain Britain interview page 3

The interview starts with a potted history of Davis’ involvement with Excalibur before promising us  “an ambitious new story line that will reveal the true purpose behind the origins of the team.”  High stakes indeed what were Davis views?

“Editor Terry Kavanagh has asked me to wind up some of the loose ends and make resolutions to certain character developments.” A fair comment, as recent issues of Excalibur prior to Davis’ take over had to me become a bit of a continuity nightmare and full of “funny” stories which certainly didn’t lead to any character development, and often where far from being kind to the team. Marvel editorial were I’m certain probably well aware of this, and while no note is made of dwindling sales I can’t help but feel handing the title over to Davis might have been a kill or cure editorial choice. Luckily they chose well, but back to the interview.

Excalibur and Captain Britain foes Gatecrasher’s Technet were due to return and Davis describes them brilliantly: “They’re basically pretty useless and incompetent: getting into situations where, because of their own clumsiness and lack of planning things fall apart.. ” A true definition of the Technet certainly, and those who read Davis’ Excalibur run will certainly remember he shook them up, and gave them a temporary new leader.

Davis when asked about the plot replies: ” It’s all very complex, I’ve got myself a flowchart of where everyone’s going to be at different points, in different dimensions.”  Looking back this was certainly reflected in Davis’ writing, never where there issues as throw away as recent Excalibur stories had been up to his coming on board, but never where the stories so convoluted that like other X titles fans might feel lost.

Let’s take a look at how Davis planned to handle Captain Britain: ” Although he’s an intellectual Captain Britain’s very quick-tempered and slightly arrogant in his own knowledge”. Plot wise Davis stated “Basically our Captain Britain is a rogue. He’s not done what he’s told.. he’s let his side down and he’ll be in for some penalties.” Davis played his cards close to his chest here as he wrote in Cap’s cursed blunder factor that had made him as he was, and how it’s removal bought forward a more stable person who was no longer a buffoon, but a fully fledged hero confident in his power and aware of his responsibilities.

Alan signs off with how his career and drawing and writing Cap’s have seemingly become entwined. “When I left working for Marvel UK I thought I’d waved goodbye to Captain Britain… it was only when Chris – Claremont – offered me Excalibur that I started to work on him again. Then when I left last year I didn’t think I would ever work on Excalibur again. It was completely out of the blue when Terry Kavanagh offered it to me to write and draw.

So, I hope you enjoyed that retrospective look at Alan Davis and how he felt prior to his taking over Excalibur in 1991, if you want to read more about Davis and his early work check out my articles here…

Alan Davis Modern Masters part one.

Alan Davis Modern Masters part two.

Alan Davis Modern Masters part three.

Alan Davis scripted Excalibur 42 to 67 and his whole story has been collected in three trades, if you haven’t read it yet it’s highly recommended with its massive story lines, great art and offbeat sense of humor.

You can keep up to date with all the Captain Britain news and views by liking The Captain Britain fans’ page and Blog on Facebook, or on Pinterest, or subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the link top right. Already following the site on Facebook? Well you can still help by liking and sharing the blogs posts, thanks in advance. You can also email the site with news, feature ideas or whatever is on your mind at captainbritainblog@gmail.com

Facebook followers not only get the regular posts but extra content I dredge from the site’s archives or I find as I trawl the internet

 

 

A Captain Britain seasonal story, ” Should Auld Acquaintance.”

As Christmas gets ever closer I thought it would be interesting to look at a seasonal Captain Britain story, and a quick scan through my Captain Britain omnibus soon located the ideal festive frolic.

The tale in question is “Should Auld Acquaintance,” from Captain Britain issue 14 published in February 1986, Alan Davis handled the writing and art while Mark Farmer did the inks.

Captain Britain 14 Cover
Our Story opens on Christmas Eve as Captain Britain and Meggan relax in their lighthouse, however this being a comic book story nothing perfect lasts and their celebrations are interrupted by the arrival of their old nemesis Inspector Dai Thomas. Who was very lucky to make it judging by the weather.

Captain Britain 14 intro

Rather than cause trouble – despite his claiming to know Captain Britain’s secret identity – Thomas has come to ask for help, it seems there have been a series of grisly murders of criminals in Glasgow, 27 in all, all carried out at speed with terrible mutilation. Ah there’s nothing to give you that joyful festive tingle like a few brutal murders, please stick with the story it does cheer up – eventually.

Meanwhile Captain UK has just had her Christmas ruined by Roma who has told her that her presence on Captain Britain’s Earth is causing the birth of Warpies – deformed children with super powers. Captain UK must leave but she has nowhere to go as her home dimension and husband were destroyed by the Fury. Are you still not seeing the Christmas cheer? Please bear with me as this story gets darker before the happy ending comes.

Captain Britain 14 Roma and Captain UK

We move forward to Christmas Day and return to the lighthouse where at Thomas’ request Cap is pretending to be a mobster in the hope of luring the killer to him. His disguise leaves a lot to be desired, still you’ve got to love that hat. Luckily Meggan is a lot better at changing her appearance.

Captain Britain 14 Captain britain gangster

Meanwhile at Cap’s old ancestral seat of Braddock Manor also home to the Warpies and his sister Betsy, supercomputer Mastermind disguised as a butler named Jeeves – don’t ask it’s a long story – is concerned. It seems Emma, the Braddock’s faithful maid is terminally ill, and Jeeves wishes to make her limited time a happy one and secure a bright future for the Warpies that doesn’t involve government control. Incidentally Emma is famous for saving Cap from Mastermind totally by accident, you can see that story here.

Anyway back to the main plot Cap and Meggan arrive in Glasgow and proceed to smash-up the city and put fear into its underbelly in the hope of drawing the killer out.

Captain Britain 14 Captain britain karate chop

Back at Braddock Manor love is in the air for Betsy as despite her blindness her latent psychic powers are developing, and Jeeves has plans to take Emma away from it all while still safeguarding the Warpies.

The story then shifts to New Years Eve as Cap, Meggan and Thomas believing they have drawn enough attention to lure the killer go on a stake out. While they wait old grievances are aired and cleared.

Captain Britain 14 Captain britain and Thomas make up

This is a great page so well handled by Davis, a lot of mistakes between protagonists in comics are only solved by them beating the living hell out of each other. But not here, instead we have two rational people admit they made mistakes and become friends through this.

Things are also looking up for Captain UK who finds Roma has for once used her time and mind manipulation powers for good to reset continuity, so Captain UK is reunited with her husband. This is a nice move on the part of Roma who along with her father Merlin has been responsible for a lot of grief for anybody putting on a Captain Britain uniform.

Captain Britain 14 Captain Uk happy ending

Meanwhile at the stake out as midnight strikes the killer is revealed.That evil-looking face and slashing tentacles seem to me to be inspired by monsters from Japanese mythology, and as it attacks Davis leaves us in no doubt as to its powerful menace.

Captain Britain issue 14 fight

Luckily Cap saves the day with a well-timed punch.

Captain Britain 14 Captain britain punch out

And the story ends with a happy ending for all as…

Captain Britain issue 14 never the end

Captain UK and her husband bring justice to their dimension, Betsy’s in love, the Warpies are well cared for, Emma enjoys the rest of her life and Cap and Meggan get some well-earned rest.

That last panel leaves you with a warm glow doesn’t it, but just why is this story so continuity heavy and published late for the festive season it centers around?

Well this story was to be Captain Britain’s last book with him as the main star until he joined Excalibur a year later – and that was a mixed bag of adventures – knowing so Davis has tried his best to tie up a lot of loose ends; some of which had been hanging around since Alan Moore was on the book. A nice touch is that the stories title and the seasonal setting give more meaning to the plot, and as we move from an old to a new year the characters move nicely from an old to a new life. The positions our heroes find themselves in seem logical, and it is a tribute to Davis story that nothing feels out of character or convoluted.

As Davis pencils his own script the whole transition is lovingly rendered and his going solo as writer/artist is a foreshadowing of his excellent Excalibur run a few years later.

You can keep up to date with all the Captain Britain news and views fit to print by liking The Captain Britain Blog on Facebook, or on Pinterest, or subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the link top right.

Facebook followers not only get the regular posts but extra content I dredge from the site’s archives or I find as I trawl the internet.

 

 

More thoughts on the Marvel UK relaunch

Over the weekend Andy Lanning was interviewed by CBR and let slip some more information about the Marvel UK relaunch Revolutionary War.

You can read the full interview here and after you’ve digested it read on for my thoughts on the new news concerning the relaunch.

First of all I was pleased to read that Lanning gives us a firm total on how long the series will be, who’s in it and a bit more.

There are going to be eight issues in total which will include an Alpha and an Omega issue that are the bookends which tell the main story. But that story also runs through six one-shots that each focus on an individual character. I think the order is Dark Angel, Knights of Pendragon, Death’s Head, Motormouth, Super Soldiers and Warheads. Each of those characters will get a one-shot against the backdrop of this over-arching story that the Alpha and Omega issues tell. It’s going to come out over three months with two issues, and then three and then three.”

So firstly I hope Captain Britain is in the main story because if he isn’t and as he isn’t down for a one-shot then its going to feel like the Marvel UK universe relaunch is incomplete. What is good news though is we are getting a mini series of a good length with accompanying one shots so the story shouldnt be truncated and one shots of supporting characters are also a great way to let them shine without derailing the main story.

Lanning is vague on who will be joining him and Cowsil on author duties though with this comment,

Well, Alan Cowsill and I are going to write four of the issues. We’re writing the Alpha and Omega issues as well as “Death’s Head” and “Warheads.” The other four we’ll hopefully get four English writers to do.”

If Alan Davis doesn’t write and or draw something for Revolutionary War then something will be missing in my opinion, as for the other writers we can only speculate on who they might be and if by making sure they are English if this choice will help or hinder the project.

At the end of the interview Lanning does slip in the name of one of the artists, Richard Elson

” Richard Elson is drawing the Alpha and Omega issues, and time permitting, I’m going to be inking him on that as well. He’s been doing some great stuff for Marvel of late on “Thor” and the “Morbius” series, and he started out on Marvel UK as well. There’s a lovely symmetry there, and Rich and I have actually worked together outside of comics stuff, but this is our first chance to work as writer/artist, which will be awesome. That was one of the boxes ticked, as far as I was concerned.”

A quick look at Elson’s drawing pedigree via the link above reveals a distinguished line going back to 2000AD, have a look below at some of his great art used as the cover for that comic’s story Kingdom which I think looks superb.

kingdom

And heres another Elson piece from Marvel’s Thor.

Elson Thor

So there we go some firm information about the Marvel UK relaunch, are you happy with what is being released or do you think something is missing why not leave a comment with your thoughts on the relaunch so far.

Captain Britain and The Knights of Pendragon in ” Taxi for Commander Thomas.”

The front cover and first page of a comic can be so influential on a buyers choice, making them excited to take that issue to the till eager to read more or returning it to the comic book shop shelf with a disgruntled ” meh. ”
One great comic that used this tactic well was The Knights of Pendragon issue 1 from Marvel UK whose cover and first page hooks the reader, making them not just eager to buy the issue but also keen to add it to their pull lists, or at least it did for me.

But who were The Knights of Pendragon, how does Captain Britain fit in and why were they one of Marvel UK’ s best comics and one of the few to make the transition to a second series ? Read on and all will be explained.

The Knights were launched in 1990 and their first series ran for 16 issues and their second ran for 15 issues, they were created by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson , while Gary Erskine handled the early art and Andy Lanning the inks.

The Knights are bought together to be the earthly representation of the Green Knight and help him in his battle against The Bane who is a destructive force of nature.The Captain Britain connections begin early as the first Knight selected is Dai Thomas one of Cap’s supporting characters, but I’m getting ahead of myself here lets look at issue 1 and what made it leap from the shelf into my heart.

First off an Alan Davis cover always works for me and check the price of 95p what a bargain!

Knights Of Pendragon issue 1

However despite the almost supernatural look to this cover nothing prepares the reader for this great first page.

Knights of Pendragon page 1

Yes that’s a riot in a burger bar as the customers choke to death, note how the use of quotes and graphic imagery predate a similar look in the mature comics range Vertigo by three years. Also I wonder if this image caused any complaints, as this violent illustration is certainly not what any reader would expect to find in what they might have mistaken for an all ages superhero comic with Captain Britain on the cover.

Anyway on with the story where Commander Thomas is summoned to London to oversea the burger bar investigation and here in a blink and you’ll miss it appearance is where Captain Britain turns up as an unofficial taxi service. Now normally I might moan here but Cap comes back in future Knights issues and has a good showing so I’m willing to overlook this mistreatment of him, plus Erskine draws him superbly looking so pissed off at the whole taxi idea.

Captain Britain and Dai Thomas in Knights of Pendragon

If you think after people choking to death on fast food this comic can’t get any more graphic then you like Commander Thomas will be taken by surprise by the last page reveal. The set up is Thomas has traced a lead from the burger incident back to a farm where the owner is using illegal chemicals and pesticides to boost his crop yield.

However when Thomas turns up the farmer is suspiciously absent, that is until someone looks in the fruit punnets.

Knights of Pendragon we didnt look in the punnets

Now remember this is an all ages comic and Erskine with his great art leaves very little to the imagination in this grisly scene, it’s also this page that made me realise I was reading something great and made me impatient to see what was going to happen in issue 2.

As I said earlier the Knights had two series of comics and I would recommend any fan of good reading get series one but not series 2. Why ignore the second series, well in my opinion it took everything that was great with the first and ignored them to turn the team into just a normal bunch of super heroes so the magic of the first series was never recaptured. However Andy Lanning has promised we will see the Knights in his Marvel UK revival , whether they will be the cool first series Knights or the sub par super hero team from the second series remains to be seen, I know which ones I want.

Captain Britain meets Dark Angel

Not many comic characters get threatened with legal action from the Hell’s Angels but Marvel UK’s Dark Angel did when she appeared under her original title of you guessed it Hell’s Angel. However despite getting off to a rocky start Dark Angel was a great addition to the Marvel UK universe so let’s have a look at her, her origin and the time she met Captain Britain.

Dark Angel

Dark Angel’s origin is a twisted affair that starts when Shevaun Haldane’s father betrays the demon Mephisto who as punishment kills him and takes his soul to torment, Shevaun witnesses the Angel of Death arrive too late to save her father’s soul and is offered the chance to confront the evil her father had perpetrated. To do so the Angel gives Shevaun a fragment of the universe, a suit of body armour to control her new power and a new title Hell’s Dark Angel, basically if this sounds a bit complicated owning a fragment of the universe meant Shevaun could amongst other things absorb and manipulate energy and turn her body into a pocket dimension known as the Void to prevent attacks striking her.

Anyway the cross over with Captain Britain takes place in Dark Angel number 6 written by Simon Furman while Gary Frank and Andy Lanning handle art chores, the story goes that due to reports of a monster eating people on Darkmoor the local police call in Excalibur for help.

Excalibur meet Dark Angel

Being as this is a Captain Britain Excalibur appearance naturally Cap is all clumsy and it is left to Meggan to realise the beast is actually Shevaun’s brother but only after the necessary fisticuffs have taken place.

Captain Britain meets Dark Angel

A a quick aside much as I despise Captain Britain being made to look like a buffoon you’ve got to love the ” ooof, ” panel above for its marvelous depiction of a bemused Cap.

Dark Angel despite its intriguing premise of techno-wizardry and a great leading character only lasted 16 issues and some cross overs before she fell into limbo not to appear till years later in Captain Britain and MI-13 which you can see here.

Andy Lanning has said we can expect to see Dark Angel in his Marvel UK relaunch (covered here) and I for one am intrigued to see how she has been faring and what Lanning’s plans are for this interesting character.

Dark Angel finale