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.

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