Captain Britain Weekly #1-39;
Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #231-253;
Hulk Comic #1, 3-30, 42-55, 57-63;
Marvel Super-Heroes #377-388;
The Daredevils #1-11;
The Mighty World of Marvel #7-16;
Captain Britain #1-14.
New Mutants Annual #2
X-Men Annual #11
Captain America #305-306
The Knights of Pendragon #1-18
Captain Britain and MI13

Shortly after I discovered the work of Alan Moore I learned that he had written Captain Britain for Marvel UK and I immediately wanted to read those stories. In 1987, Chris Claremont and Alan Davis collaborated on Excalibur Special Edition and I again wanted to read those Moore/Davis Captain Britain stories. A year later, the popularity of the Excalibur ongoing series led to the release of a trade paperback collection of the last 17 installments of Captain Britain’s UK series. These stories were very good, and although they were drawn by Alan Davis, they had been written by Jamie Delano. I still wanted to read those Alan Moore stories! Finally, in 1995, Marvel released a Captain Britain mini-series (somewhat deceptively titled X-Men Archives: Captain Britain) which featured the stories immediately predating those contained in the tpb, drawn by Alan Davis and written by Dave Thorpe and… Alan Moore!

I was familiar with earlier appearances of Captain Britain in his original costume (from Marvel Team-Up #65-66 among others) as well as more recent appearances (such as New Mutants Annual #2, X-Men Annual #11 and Captain America #305-306), but I was interested in the significance of his sartorial shift. The first story in X-Men Archives: Captain Britain #1 cleared that up, but the stories began in medias res (or so I had perceived at the time), and I wanted to know what happened before that!

Flash forward nearly 15 years to 2009 and the recently concluded Marvelman/Miracleman discussion which got me interested in Captain Britain all over again! Marvel recently released a Captain Britain Omnibus, and judging by the costume the title character was wearing on the cover, I was about to have my curiosity slaked at last! So I culled some duplicated comic strip collections from my shelves and traded them in for the hefty volume, only to discover it contained only the Thorpe/Moore/Delano and Davis stories I already owned! But I also found out that all of the original stories I was interested have been collected in British editions.

So starting soon I will begin to cover Captain Britain’s entire UK run!

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So the X-men Archives series started at #377?

My Captain Britain collection starts here, although these comics are back home at my parents house, so I can't read them.

bad mood

Which is a pity, as I'd love to read along.

And the Archives don't start with Alan Moore joining?

Did Mad Jim Jaspers first appear with a bunch of card-themed bank robbers? (Or circus-, or Alice in Wonderland - themed? Its been 15 years...)

and the new one is little more than wrapping the character in a flag, which we’ve all seen before.

Come on now! Basing it on a flag makes it all the more difficult. I think Davis' design is a classic. I loved the fact that he worked in the horse-guards' gloves, white trousers and helmet chin-strap. That's some conceptualising!

In contrast, what do Captain America's little wings stand for? Although I understand the A doesn't stand for France!

I was interested in Vindicator for years before I realised that he had literally wrapped the Canadian flag around him. Great design, but it took a while to figure it out. Or maybe I'm just thick?

Also, in a certain light, the top part of Davis' design, above the trousers, kind of looks like a short jacket which prefigures Animal Man and his nineties copyists by almost a good decade.

Anyway, even though I have my trouble with the Union Jack and its whys and wherefores, Davis' costume is brilliant. Also, 'Great Britain' is a somewhat artificial political construct, but the Union Jack is its symbol, whereas the Lion on the previous suit stands for one-third of the 3 lions of one traditional English flag. Although England was probably the prime beneficiary of the Union of the 4 nations, England is not Britain.

Or perhaps the Lion represents the one which stands opposite the Unicorn on the The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom, which is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II., or the government, neither of which I would argue are Britain, mmmm per se. And what were those eccentric English types doing adopting an animal from a completely different continent as their mascot anyway?

As the inventors of the rules of cricket, of course, they are beyond normal understanding.

Back to the very notion of Captain Britain- the United Kingdom includes Ireland, whereas Great Britain does not. The current name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If Captain Britain wears the Union Jack, does he somehow represent Ireland too, as the flag is supposed to? So, come to think of it, the Union Jack doesn't quite match someone called Captain Britain. But it's closer than the Lion and the cut-off balaclava of the first uniform!

Now you can see why the Marvel UK were leary of the whole idea of a Captain Britain. It’s also why, once they took over the writing, more Captains came along who represented other similarly arbitrary regions. Captain UK, Captain England, even Captain Midlands and Captain Airstrip One!

England itself isn't the single identity you might suppose. The current government went as far as to offer the people of the North-East England a devolved local assembly, a little like what Wales or Northern Ireland now have. However it was turned down.

Constitutionally it’s actually quite interesting now. Whereas the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own regional government to pass local laws and spend money on their specific needs, the people of England must depend on the UK parliament, which contains perhaps one-third members from outside England, and who aren't necessarily interested in the well-being of UK citizens outside their jurisdictions.

But I’m getting off the point, which has to do with what these things represent, and that Davis’ outfit had more to do with ‘Britain’ than the previous one. They should have called him Captain Briton and had him covered in swirly blue Celtic-style tattoos and with a long drooping Asterix-like moustache.
I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this thread, Jeff - the memories! I remember being terribly exciting when Captain Britain Weekly debuted - colour at last, although the trade off was that we lost the usual glossy cover. Still, a superhero all our own . . . by Americans who knew nothing about the UK bar what they'd seen in Hammer and Swinging Red Bus films, and filled the book with derivative character and stories. Bah!

I remember there was one week when the printers cocked up the colour section, with pages printed out of order, meaning it was re-presented correctly the following week in an extra-length issue.

Things did indeed improve in Hulk Weekly, as Brian resurfaced in a strip reminiscent of the moody, spooky fare served up in such terrific boys' weeklies as Valiant, Lion and Jet and if I remember correctly, with the focus shifting off the Black Knight, the strip was renamed Captain Britain.

But it was Mighty World of Marvel, Daredevils and Captain Britain Monthly when things got really good, with modern superhero stories by UK creatives. And terrific letters in the lettercols (ahem).
Yes, Figs, both the so-called X-Men Archives series as well as The Captain Britain Omnibus begin with #377. I’ve never looked at the Alan Moore CB tpb, but could it be that it includes only the Alan Moore material? If so, I suspect that’s what Detective 445 used to lead his discussion on the old board. According to his profile he hasn’t logged on to the new site in a couple of weeks, but when he does he’ll find an invitation in his inbox to join this new discussion as I begin to incorporate his old posts today.

And, yes, you’re remembering correctly that Mad Jim Jaspers first appeared with the playing card / circus / Alice in wonderland-themed Crazy Gang, but I’m not certain how much of the conclusion was intended by original writer Dave Thorpe, how much was guided by editor Paul Neary, or how much was pure Alan Moore inventiveness. Jaspers was a reality-contolloing mutant, and his headgear would change from panel-to-panel.

No, the “A” on Captain America’s face mask doesn’t stand for France, but I understand he once followed the band Van Halen (or was it Wings?). ;)

And I do like the Alan Davis’ new costume design; my point is that I also liked the original. Speaking of it being all the more difficult, these stories were originally presented in black and white, but when Captain Britain joined Excalibur, Alan Moore had to redesign the costume yet again to make it easier to color! I was hoping to provoke some discussion of the relative merits of the costumes’ designs (by someone more knowledgeable than I), so thanks for providing that!

Welcome to the discussion, Mart! I was hoping to attract readers with firsthand knowledge of the character!

Moving on…

Marvel Super-Heroes #387: “A Crooked World”
Marvel Super-Heroes #388: “Graveyard Shift”
The Daredevils> #1: “A Rag, a Bone, a Hank of Hair”

From January 31 through March 25, 2006, Detective 445 led a discussion of the Alan Moore-written adventures of Captain Britain. For whatever reasons, I was unable to participate nor was I in the mood to reread the series at the time. I knew I would someday be in the mood again, however, and for the past three years it had been my intention to bump the old thread back up to the top, quoting relevant portions as I progressed. I won’t be able to “bump the old thread back up to the top,” however I have reformatted ‘Tec’s discussion from the old board for use here, so for the next 18 entries (not including responses), I’ll be following ‘Tec’s lead.

On January 31, 2006 Detective 445 said: This is very early, very raw Alan Moore but right off the bat, you can see that he is exploring the same ideas and themes that would later come to define his writing.

The story starts off in the middle of what appears to be the previous writer's plotline, an alternate Earth adventure. But that plotline is quickly diverted. Moore wastes no time in killing off a primary supporting character (Jackdaw), introducing an omnipotent insane villain (Jim Jaspers) and an unbeatable enemy (The Fury) and eventually killing Captain Britain himself. This all happens in the first two chapters which total 10 pages. Talk about hubris!

The third installment/chapter explores the history of the Captain Britain character. At the same time we watch him become literally rebuilt from scratch by Merlin. It's a dry run for the "Anatomy Lesson" of Swamp Thing and also serves further notice that this will be Moore's Captain Britain and no one else's.

Alan Davis' work here is also very raw but you can already see that he's something special...


‘Tec has hit all the salient points. Here’s what Alan Moore had to say about his first issues in what he refers to as “a confused stumble down amnesia alley” (as opposed to a stroll down memory lane): “The opening pages show a writer taking on perhaps only his third or fourth continuing series, halfway through a storyline that he’d neither inaugurated nor completely understood.”

Alan Moore’s actual first issue, Marvel Super-Heroes #387, isn’t a very good place to start reading because it begins toward the end of Dave Thorpe’s storyline. It’s actually a worse place to start than #377. A better place to start would be with The Daredevils #1 (featuring Daredevil and Spider-Man reprints in addition to Captain Britain), which is not only the first issue of a new series, but also Alan Moore’s first “real” issue. ‘Tec’s comparison to “Anatomy Lesson” is an apt one, because just as Swamp Thing was killed in the previous chapter only to be redefined, so too is Captain Britain, re-grown from his femur (practically all that’s left of him after his destruction) as alluded to in the title.

“A Rag, a Bone, a Hank of Hair” actually follows Hulk Comic #30 quite well (if one pretends Captain Britain actually did die in that issue rather than almost die), because The Daredevils #1actually does present “the full origin of Captain Britain,” and I mean full, summarizing the character’s entire history from Captain Britain Weekly #1 to present. My favorite piece of metatextual dialogue is spoken by Merlin: “One would almost think that it had all been planned.”

This Merlin, BTW, is definitely alien, and although he reveals himself to be a shapeshifter, showing himself in five different forms including the” Merlin” from the Balck Knight feature, I don’t necessarily believe there was no human Merlin, nor that the Merlin from the Black Knight feature was an alien throughout. Although the Merlin (spelled “Merlyn” in the Steve Parkhouse stories, although I didn’t mention it before) who sent Captain Britain from Otherworld to this alternate reality was definitely the alien, I choose to believe Merlin was a mortal being in most of his appearances, but the alien Merlin would occasionally impersonating him for reasons of his own. Moore leaves this point open to interpretation.
I understand, John. I'm just glad I know you're aware this discussion is going on. Perhaps the comments from you "past self" will jog your memory and inspire you to post even if you don't have the opportunity to dig out those issues.

The Daredevils #2: “An Englishman’s Home”

On February 1, 2006 Detective 445 said: This installment finds the newly reconstructed Captain Britain being deposited back onto his own earth by Merlin. Merlin has hinted that the reformed Captain is physically a-ok but that he can't be sure about his mental state.

We then observe as Brian Braddock visits his mansion which was supposed to have been destroyed in a pre-Moore story. Braddock enters the mansion and immediately encounters strange visions that can't possibly be real. Is he indeed insane as Merlin feared?

As it turns out, there is a supercomputer residing in a cave under the mansion that has been protecting it and is also attempting to kill Braddock via the strange visions.

Braddock eventually subdues the computer in a scene reminiscent of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and learns that he can reprogram it and use it to his advantage. He decides to set up shop in the mansion and use the cave as his headquarters. "Should I give it a name? Maybe ...'The Brit Cave.' Silly, Brian Silly."


I’m going to admit right off the bat that by the time I read this story for the first time in X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain #3 I had already completely lost the plot! Under similar circumstances these days, after having been convinced there was a story I wanted to read in the first place, I might continue to buy the series with the intention of reading it in a single sitting upon completion (or I might decide to tradewait), but in 1995 I decided to plod along, even though I didn’t quite understand all that was happening.

One of the reasons I like character revisions of this nature is not simply because they are good stories on their own merits, but also because they’re so much better than other previous lesser stories, and better still if they manage to incorporate material from those earlier stories so that “one would think that it had all been planned” (as I quoted Merlin yesterday).

In this story, Moore revisits and reintroduces plot elements from earlier stories such as his adventures alongside Captain America and the (apparent) destruction of Braddock Manor, the death of Brian’s parents, the circumstances leading up to it and why he feels guilty, and Mastermind, the supercomputer housed beneath the mansion itself. It’s one thing to read these stories “cold,” but it’s quite another to experience them with a familiarity with the originals. I got so much more out of them the second time around!

‘Tec’s comparison to 2001: A Space Odyssey is spot on. Compare Mastermind’s dialogue to HAL 9000’s when Brian has made his way to the circuitry-cavern which houses its higher computer brain functions: “Brian… you’re not being fair to me, Brian. I can’t use the lasers in here. They might hit part of me. Give me a chance, Brian. I’m sorry I tried to kill you. I’m sorry I killed your parents. I had to, don’t you see? It was survival. I want to live, Brian. I’ll tell you everything, Brian. Is that a deal? Is that a deal, Brian? The mansion was never destroyed. The STRIKE bombers hit a hologram of the mansion. I was protecting myself, that’s all.

“Of course, once everyone tought the mansion destroyed, it was easier for me. I just projected a hologram of ruins while I lay low… waiting… growing. Oh, yes, I can grow now, Isn’t that clever? I found I could absorb minerals from the ground, build new parts, extend myself. I’m nearly alive, you know. I’m the first computer that’s learned how to do that, Brian. It would be such a waste if you were to kill me. You won’t kill me, will you, Brian? I’m not bad, Brian, not really…

“What are you doing, Brian? I thought we had a bargain? I thought we were friends? Just put that plate back, Brian… back into the other room. I won’;t use the lasrs, I promise. We’re friends now. Please, Brian. Don’t do…”

Can’t you just hear HAL saying, “My mind is going, Dave. I can feel it”?

Anyway, as ‘Tec indicated, Brian reprograms the computer eliminating it’s personality. He now lives in a mansion cloaked by a hologram of ruins, a mansion no one knows still exists. Then… the phone rings.
These early Moore adventures, starting with Daredevils were my introduction to Captain Britain stories as I had only seen the previous incarnation in house ads.

Moore really gave you a feeling that Brian had a long and tragic history. Of course it didn't bother me that I wasn't around for it first time. I think part of the attraction of these worlds are that they have a vast unknown backstory by the time we jump in. Also, when you are 12, something that was published 5 years previously is ancient history, and of course you wouldn't know anything about it...

But there is some interesting alchemy about the issues of a cherished series that we haven't read. Just as Scott McCloud showed us that we filled the gutters between the panels with incident and action, the comics that we didn't read seemed to be full of high emotion and life-changing events. We'd piece it together later out of the bits and pieces we read going forward, but the actual comic itself, if we ever got a chance to read it, would be a bit of a comedown when compared to the great drama we had composed in our heads.

Moore gave Captain Britain's background and history a weight and gravitas that sad to say, the original comics don't seem to have had, going by your synopses up the thread.

Its funny that he completely ignored the Black Knight/Otherworld period which you and indeed he have described as extremely fine comics, and instead went back to the shrill melodramatics of the home being blown up, and the insane mercenary character with the hand, and his sister being a mutant, and his origin being EYKIW-ed twice.

It's as if he was only interested in working with the duff bits to show how they should have been done in the first place.

There's hubris there, but spinning gold out of straw too.

I mentioned on the old board that Moore was using Braddock to show a sane person's reaction to the insane succession of events that make up a superheroes life - ie he goes a bit crazy! Brian's tenous grip on his sanity was disputed there, so I'm glad you mentioned Merlin's doubts at the outset of this era. I didn't just make it up!

I skimmed a lot of your synopses up to now as I want to read those stories some day, but I'm looking forward to revisiting these comics. Like most of Moore's work they have a high position on my personal favourites list.
I've said it before, but a 1970 comic to me in 1975 seemed longer ago than a 1975 comic does to me today!

Figserello said:
It's as if he was only interested in working with the duff bits to show how they should have been done in the first place.

Exactly!

The Daredevils #3: “Thicker Than Water”

On February 2, 2006 Detective 445 said: Having sufficiently rebooted Captain Britain and set up his base of operations, Moore and Davis waste no time in launching him into a new plotline. The Captain is contacted by his sister Betsy. (Don't ask me how this fits into X-Men continuity, I have no idea). We learn that Betsy is a fashion model and a pre-cog who has been working for S.T.R.I.K.E. (the UK equivalent of SHIELD.) Apparently there is an assassin pursuing members of the STRIKE Psi Division. The Captain immediately rushes to his sister’s aid. By the end of the installment, we learn that this assassin is Slaymaster, who appears to be a pre-Moore villain. (And not a very impressive looking one.)

This installment also features a cameo by Moore and Davis.


Actually, I believe the cameo is of Ron Wilson and Chris Claremont. Regarding how this story fits with X-Men continuity, it predates it. And if you think Slaymaster is unimpressive now, you should have seen him before! At this point, Alan Moore begins reintroducing characters from the earliest Captain Britain stories, giving the character as a whole a sense of continuity so that “one would almost think that it had all been planned.” It was Betsy on the telephone, BTW (in case you hadn’t guessed from ‘Tec’s summary and the chapter title), who knew he was in the mansion thanks to her newly-revealed psi-abilities. In addition to Betsy and Slaymaster and STRIKE, Moore also bring Vixen back into the plot. You remember: the villain who was mentioned way back in Captain Britain Weekly #3 and #8 and then forgotten?

My favorite scene from this issue is when Brian and Betsy meet in a “McBurgers” restaurant. Many years have passed (in comic book as well as real time) since they last saw each other, and each is carrying a mental image of what the other looked like when last they met. They make eye contact but at first fail to recognize each other because both have changed so. Brian has filled out quite a bit, and Betsy has dyed her hair purple!
You can see a photo of Ron Wilson here. Is that him in the cameo?
Well, he was younger, thinner, and had more hair as well as a mustache, but I think so, yes. The cameo is of a black guy and a white guy, and the white guy looks more to me like pictures I have seen of Chris Claremont than those I have seen of Alan Moore. I've never seen a picture of Alan Davis, but he isn't black, is he?
Here's a picture of Davis.
So that would be a "no." :P

It's Ron Wilson and Chris Claremont; I'm sure of it.
Detective 445 said:
Thanks for the correction guys. I'm not sure why I thought it was Moore and Davis but I'm sure you're right.

Well, it stands to reason. What I should've done was left that line out of you original post and just said, "This story features a cameo of Ron Wilson and Chris Claremont" and been done with it. :P

Back inna day, I usually did enjoy reading the original version of a footnoted scene (if I was able to track it down), but I do remember being disappointed by stories, years after the fact, that didn't live up to their covers, most recently, some of the stories from the "Kryptonite Nevermore" storyline which I saw advertised in the '70s but never fully read until the collection released earlier this year.
Hmm, any chance of scanning in the cameo? I remember that Alan Davis didn't look like that curly-haired chap back when those stories were coming out. Black hair, flatter . . .

Gawd, 'Betsy Braddock'. Has there ever been a Brit named Betsy? I find the psi-powers more likely. I like it when she gets Elizabeth. And a pox on't Chris Claremont for making her an X-person!

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