Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders. If you only buy one Secret Wars comic make sure it’s this one

When Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders was announced a lot of Cap fans myself included were excited by the idea but disappointed not to see the original Captain Britain in his own Secret Wars title. Since then we’ve had Secret Wars issue 2 and fans are now uncertain if they are glad their wish came true or not.

Anyway now Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders issue one is finally here I can honestly say it’s a great read and fills the original Captain Britain gap so well I think fans are going to be disappointed it’s a limited series. Why is it so good ? My full thoughts follow the cover image, beware they contain spoilers. So if you haven’t read Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders yet do yourself a favor and get hold of a copy, read it and then come back. You won’t regret it!

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders cover issue 1

Mighty Defenders opens with an interesting twist on Marvel history and Ewing continues to entertain throughout issue 1. The cast is well introduced, with Ewing never straying too far from the action and he also brings an interesting sub plot to the title as characters seem to remember their pre Secret Wars identities in mini flashback sequences, that added a nice extra dimension to the story. And what a great story it is.

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders Fazia Hussain enters

Faiza is lost, adrift almost in time and space. She also remembers her life before Secret Wars, which we see in this nice flashback panel.

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders Fazia Hussain remembers Captain Britain

Seeking refuge in Yinsen City, Faiza’s actions violate the laws of Dr Doom who in an act of petty revenge destroys the peace by allowing Yinsen’s despotic neighbour, Mondo City, to invade. Which they proceed to do quickly and in style.

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders look at all my guns

Faiza and the Defenders of Yinsen City are quick to retaliate, in a great tightly paced action sequence that Davis illustrates magnificently. But just when things are going well….

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders Fazia Hussain in action

Faiza is laid low by a sneaky telekinetic attack from this Battleworld’s version of Emma Frost and the issue ends with her captive but defiant.

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders Fazia Hussain in trouble

That’s a great  looking panel and I was going to discuss the art in detail. However after some thought all there is to say is Alan Davis draws the hell out of this story and it all looks bloody gorgeous. On top of this great art when you then add in Mark Farmer’s inks and Wil Quintana’s colours you get a really rather lovely looking book.

So if you only pick up one Secret Wars title I certainly recommend this one. It has a cracking story, marvelous art and will keep you gripped from cover to cover. I’ve tried to not reveal all the surprises and great extras that pepper the book as I hope as you encounter them as I did they will bring a smile to your face and make you just want to read more.

Have you read Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders yet? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Why not let me know in the comments section below.

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

Advertisements

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.

 

 

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.

Modern Masters: Alan Davis part 2, early days at Marvel UK and 2000AD.

Welcome to part 2 of my extended look at the work of Captain Britain’s number one scribe and artist Alan Davis, using as a reference Two Morrow Publishings book Modern Masters: Alan Davis.

Modern masters volume 1 Alan Davis

If you want to read the first part of my look at this amazing book which covers Alan’s early influences, how he got a job at Marvel UK and his thoughts on redesigning Captain Britain’s costume then click here. But now onto part 2.

When we left Alan he was just starting work drawing Captain Britain with writer Dave Thorpe on stories for Marvel Super-Heroes, here is a very honest quote about how he got on.

” In the first instance I felt very out of my depth , I really didn’t know what I was doing. That’s why Paul ( Neary, Marvel UK editor,) was so crucial. ”

It wasn’t long before Alan and Dave fell out over a story which was never published, in which Captain Britain was going to go over to Northern Ireland and get caught up in the political situation there. Alan explains he expected to lose his job being the new boy but Marvel UK baulked at placing Captain Britain in a sensitive real world situation so asked Thorpe to rewrite it. Alan explains why the rewrite didn’t work.

” Belfast became Fablest, Protestants became Rottenpasts and the Catholics became Coalitch. The Rottenpasts were orange growers and Coalitch were potato growers. This is when I got angry because I was insulted that anyone might think I couldn’t see through something so transparent. ”

Then Alan admits things could have taken a bad turn for his fledgling career.

” I was quite prepared to walk away and never work in comics again than draw the story the way it was. ”

Thorpe was quickly given his marching orders and replaced with Alan Moore and Davis not only drew Captain Britain for him but also found time to draw some issues of Marvelman or as he came to be known Miracleman. Here Davis explains the difference between how he approached the art on both.

Alan Davis Marvelman

” On Captain Britain I knew where the story was going and where it had come from and there was often a certain amount of negotiation on the script. But with Marvelman I would always defer to Alan … (who) had choreographed a deliberate pace and rhythm between the text and the art. ”

Alan also reveals how he coped with the more ” wordy, ” Captain Britain that Moore was scripting.

” My most significant influence on Captain Britain grew from my concerns about the density of incidence and volume of text… My solution was to turn an artboard on its side and divide it into two slightly larger than print size pages. This allowed me to spread the art and more importantly the text across twice the area.”

Alan’s artistic talents on Cap and Marvelman didn’t go unnoticed and soon he had a call from UK sci-fi anthology 2000AD asking if he wanted some work, as ironically they were losing key talent such as Bolland, Gibbons and O’Neill to American comics. Alan’s first work for them was a significant turning point in his life as he explains.

” The first job they gave me was Harry 20 on the Highrock… It’s essentially Escape from Alcatraz in outer space. Now the crucial thing was that by accepting this job I would have enough work to afford to give up the day job. ”

Harry20 on the Highrock

Alan’s co-artist on Harry20 dropped out so he ended up drawing the entire story and it is all the stronger for it I believe, if you haven’t read it hunt down a copy it’s a damn fine escape yarn with stunning early Davis art.

Even after quitting the day job Alan still wasn’t sure that he could make it.

” I was scared to death . I started working in comics about four months after my son Thomas was born. By the time I started working at 2000AD my daughter Pauline had been born so I was no longer the free spirit, I had responsibilities. ”

However working again with Alan Moore Davis was about to start work on some of his and Moore’s finest ever work , the two alien delinquents known as D.R. and Quinch. Alan says this about his influences for one of my favourite Moore Davis collaborations.

D.R. and Quinch

” I’d seen Animal House and thought it was based on that in a generic sort of way and after having been dubbed the gritty realistic artist I conversely wanted to prove I could draw other styles of art…. I was trying to do something which was grotesque big foot cartooning in the tradition of Leo Baxendale’s Grimly Feendish.”

grimly feendish

Alan then looks back at D.R. and Quinch and his other early work and strangely comments.

“I wonder what was going through my head I thought I was doing the best I could but now I look at it and think it’s incompetent. ”

So on that bombshell we’ll leave part 2 of this look at Alan Davis early work here , don’t be put off by Davis’ criticism of his early art, D.R. and Quinch contains some of his greatest early pencils as does Harry20 on the Highrock and both are worth adding to your collection if you have never read them. Marvelman or Miracleman as it came to be known remains out of print due to complicated legal argy bargy but the entire run can be picked up off Ebay and if you have the cash and want to read some of Alan Moore’s best ever superhero stories with some great Davis art seek them out.

Join me in the next week or two when I dig out more treasure about the career of Alan Davis and don’t forget to come back on Monday for a special anniversary post.

Modern Masters: Alan Davis. Part one.

Quite often the title of a book or comic doesn’t accurately reflect the contents that are found within its pages, so it’s nice to report that TwoMorrow Publishing’s Modern Masters: Alan Davis is exactly what it says it is.

It’s great to have a book about Alan Davis who is one of my favorite Captain Britain writers and artists that covers his whole career in great depth and as the volume is sadly out of print I thought it might be nice to share its contents here.

Now as the book is mostly a detailed interview that covers so much of Davis work and career I thought it would be best to split up my review into two or more parts so I can cover as much of it as possible but not with overlong posts.

My first impressions of the book is the great eye-catching Davis cover of Captain Britain and his current Marvel project at the time the book came out KIllraven, I think it’s the petulant look on both characters faces that sells it to me, anyway onto what’s under the cover.

Modern masters volume 1 Alan Davis

Davis starts the interview by talking about his very early influences and they are an eclectic mix, Dan Dare, The Beano and Dandy comics , diorama building and sculpting all occupied his time. Interestingly enough like many a comic lover Alan then discovered American comics through their black and white British reprints which I remember being all over news agents like a rash especially when Star Wars came out.

Below is a very early Davis piece entitled ” The Bar Fight, ” I’ll let him tell you about it.

Alan Davis bar fight

” This was one of a number of complex images I was trying to create after seeing Da Vinci’s sketch for ‘ Adoration of the Kings. ‘ I had been looking at a number of classic art books to see what I could learn. ”

I mention this piece as by using it as an example it reveals Davis’ perfectionism and how he re drew this work 30-40 times until he was happy with it and how he often does this to improve his art.

Before the interview moves on we get some art pages of Davis influences and I must say one came out of nowhere and surprised me, I mean I was expecting to see Frank Bellamy and Frank Hampson but John M. Burns artist of the soft porn strip ” George and Lynne,” was an eye opener. Then I began to think that for a lot of kids exposure to art came in the form of the daily funnies in their parent’s newspapers and so I suppose if your going to learn to draw the female body you’ve got to start somewhere !

The interview moves on and talks about Davis and how he got his break in comics, he tells the story like this,

” I was queuing up to meet Paul ( Neary, head of Marvel UK,) there were art students all around with their big professional portfolios and I had a plastic bag with some drawings stuffed into it. I thought I really shouldnt be here…. I felt really ridiculous when I got out my felt tip drawings and handed them to Paul . But Paul said they were exactly what he was looking for… to cut a long story short I was eventually asked to do Captain Britain and that was it.”

Of course the rest is history so to speak as Davis joined Marvel UK and started working with little known ( at the time, ) writer Alan Moore on Captain Britain, interestingly enough Davis has this to say about his redesign of Cap’s costume which you can see below in his first Cap page.

Alan Davis first Captain Britain work

” The lion rampant ( Cap’s first red costume, ) was a real joke in the UK because although it is a heraldic symbol it was best known as a sign to denote the quality and freshness of eggs. There were all sorts of jokes about Captain Britain being a good egg. Paul wanted a total redesign so that visually Captain Britain would be an American style super-hero, but with a British sensibility. ”

Well I think Davis nailed the design and its interesting to note that over the years and many costume designs Captain Britain has had he always ends up if not in the Davis original then something close to it, proving its iconic status.

More next week on Davis early work with Marvel, Alan Moore and more but I’ll just leave you with some rare art from the book.

Here is a great Garth promotional piece Davis drew, the effect of the different aspects of Garth as he travels through time is a striking image that catches and holds the eye. I remember reading Garth in the Daily Mirror newspaper as I was growing up and its a shame there are no real collections of this great strip.

Garth by Alan Davis

Here in a different style to his normal crisp pencils is a Davis Night Raven piece. Night Raven was originally printed by Marvel UK and was part created by another of my favorite writer/artists the talented David Lloyd whose work I think influences Davis here.

Nightraven by Alan Davis

So join me next week for part 2 of my look at Alan Davis’ career in comics taken from the excellent volume Modern Masters : Alan Davis.