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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Captain Britain has a certain fascination for me too.

I think its a bit like my fondness for Paul McGann's Doctor. He is both of and outside the main 'canon' - of Marvel superheroes in CBs case.

Were the stories you are reading now ever printed in the US? I take your point about them being produced by pretty top-drawer US talent, but they were primarily for the UK market.

Claremont had spent some years of his life in the UK by that point. Just when he was a child, wasn't it?

As an aside I'm halfway through the Blade Black and White TPB collection at the moment and it is loaded with very peculiar Claremontian 'Englishisms'. Not least a black character who calls policemen pigs to their faces and still retains ownership of his teeth. (Blade seems to be English - a native of old London town. I hadn't known that, or had forgotten it.) Claremont gets very close to seeming to be authentic, but it never quite clicks.

For Blade and the X-men I suppose it was enough that the US market thought it was authentic, but the Captain Britain strips would have been judged by a more canny audience. I'll make a guess now that the accents are less 'stagey' in these issues of Captain Britain.

Claremont did move things forward with 'internationalising' the Marvel universe in his day, and bringing in people from different cultures and dialects. Still, he didn't go far for the names. Wagner, Rasputin, and Thomas are all amongst the first names you'd think of amongst famous Germans, Russians and Welshmen, respectively. Still, to this day, there aren't many Welshmen in comics, so that's something. Dai Thomas appears in the Blade TPB, by the way.

Aren't a spanner and a monkey-wrench two different things? One has a fixed head, suitable for only one size of bolt, and the other is a big heavy thing with an adjustable head?

I very much prefer the later costume. The Davis-designed costume is one of the great superhero costumes. All the elements are there for a reason. The original costume must have had some effect on me though, as one of the superheroes I made up when a child had a similar mask, with the top of the face and hair uncovered. He was called Wonder-boy - don't laugh!

The lion must have been a pain to draw in all those different angles.

I can't really judge the original outfit as it was one of those things that were just 'there' when I was first reading comics, but if I was presented with it now, not having seen it before, I'd say it would look hideously ugly! The big medallions around the neck were probably the whole rage in 1976, but geez...!

All of the first 23 issues were drawn by Herb Trimpe and inked by Golden Age artist Fred Kida (of Airboy fame). I don’t know if it’s even possible to feel nostalgic about something one has never seen before, but this series makes me feel nostalgic so I guess it is.

I know exactly what you mean. I got Essential Godzilla a while back and just loved it. Great unshowy but iconic work by Trimpe there too. It was from 'my' period of the MU. Late 70s. Although I'd never read a Marvel Godzilla comic before, the type of stories in it, the general look of everything, the overall status quo, were all just how it was when I started reading Marvel comics. It was a powerful hit.

The era in this comic too, is just about 'my' MU (or just before it), and I was very tempted to buy these books, but they were just a bit out of my budget.

For what its worth, you might want to take extra care with those volumes. The binding on Panini TPBs is a little inferior to the usual Marvel/DC TPBs and individual pages sometimes come loose - in my experience anyway.

Should have mentioned it before... [whistling smiley here - photobucket is down!]
Mike Williams said:
As far as I'm aware, none of the UK HULK!! strips have been reprinted, unless it was in Rampaging Hulk!

A few appeared behind Avengers reprints in Marvel Super Action.
Claremont jokes in his introduction that being born in England was his primary qualification for being assigned Captain Britain (and Herb Tripme had lived in Cornwall for a time). The English slang gets a little better during the Friedrich period, but I suspect it won’t really click until the script is taken over by an authentic English writer.

A spanner and a monkey wrench may be different tools, but they’re interchangeable as far as the cliché about “throwing a spanner/monkey wrench in the works” is concerned. I’ve got to admit, the title of John Lennon’s second book (A Spaniard in the Works) confused the hell out of me for years until discovered the British version of the well-know (to me) U.S. saying.

Speaking of being judged by a more canny audience, that touches on something I mentioned yesterday concerning Marvel UK editorial’s take on the character. Bob Budiansky (who first inked and later plotted some stories I haven’t gotten to yet) had this to say: “I remember thereaction we got from Marvel’s London office when Captain Britain was presented to them: decidedly cool, approaching frosty. We were told the British didn’t like to be too showy about their patriotism; could we change his name? And the Union Jack plastered across his face mask—we British aren’t into flag-waving like you Americans. Oh, and whatever you do, please keep the Royal Family out of it.” As you will see, Marvel U.S. ignored that bit of advice, too.

Speaking of drawing the lion symbol on the costume, penciller Ron Wilson (who took over from John Buscema in the stories I plan to cover later today) said, “The first thing Larry [Lieber] and Stan Lee, who was the managing editor at the time, asked me to do was ensure that Captain Britain was always instantly recognizable as himself on the covers (it seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how such an obvious mistake could happen). Consequently, I always drew Cap head-on or in three-quarter profile so that he would always be facing the reader and thereby ensuring that the lion symbol on his chest was clearly visible.” He also speaks of making extensive use of photographic reference for drawing London.

I bought that Essential Godzilla a couple of years ago, too!
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Speaking of drawing the lion symbol on the costume, penciller Ron Wilson (who took over from John Buscema in the stories I plan to cover later today) said, “The first thing Larry [Lieber] and Stan Lee, who was the managing editor at the time, asked me to do was ensure that Captain Britain was always instantly recognizable as himself on the covers (it seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how such an obvious mistake could happen). Consequently, I always drew Cap head-on or in three-quarter profile so that he would always be facing the reader and thereby ensuring that the lion symbol on his chest was clearly visible.” He also speaks of making extensive use of photographic reference for drawing London.

Hmmm - that always really annoyed me at the time, but then I'm a Scot, and patriotism for me meant something different.

As to the photo references, yes there was a lot of use made of them, but not in the right sort of way. For example, Brian Braddock attended South Thames University - but the photo reference used was the South Bank home of the National Theatre. The goegraphy of London also left a little bit to be desired as far as I recall...
CAPTAIN BRITAIN WEEKLY #28—SUPER SPIDER-MAN & CAPTAIN BRITAIN #232

CBW #28-32:

The John Buscema artwork is still a pleasure to behold, but the story is a bit lame. “Lord Hawke” is actually retired college Professor Scott, Braddock family friend for whom Brian built a mechanical hawk when the last of his was killed off by pollution. Professor Scott then contacted a laid off munitions factory worker to install small missile launchers to the mechanical bird and went off to seek his revenge against society. There’s no way this villain should have taken five issue to defeat, even in short weekly installments. Midway through the story John Buscema was replaced by Ron Wilson inked by Bob Budiansky.

CBW #33-36:

These four issues, the last written by the Gary Friedrich / Larry Lieber team, retell the Captain’s origin with “EYKIW” elements thrown in for good measure. It turns out that the “old priest” and “young priestess” who granted Brian Braddock his powers are actually Merlin the magician and his daughter Roma. What’s more, Merlin is revealed to be “a star-born space traveler” who “journey(s) throughout galaxies, studying andaiding their countless life forms!”

I’m none too fond of this revelation but I have a possible explanation. “Merlin” tellsCaptain Britain that he “walked your Earth disguised as a mortal magician in the court of King Arthur!” I choose to interpret that, not as the alien masquerading as a mortal, per se, but as a specific mortal, namely the real Merlin. No doubt this EYKIW will be EYKIWed once again once Captain Britain becomes a regular guest star in the Black Knight’s strip and his origin is retold yet again, so I’m willing to let it pass with no further comment until I get to that point.

One thing I do like is that Captain Britain’s staff was completely redesigned as a “star scepter.” It’s not the staff itself I objected to, but rather the fact that it was continually described as being made of wood yet was drawn to look like machine-tooled metal, and also that it’s button-controlled functions (such as a force filed) were decidedly non-magical.

CBW #37-39; SS-M&CB #321-232:

Ron Wilson remains as penciller with Pablo Marcos supplying inks, but things were shaken up on the writing side beginning with this run. Len Wein (!) writes issue #17 only, then former inker Bob Budiansky takes over on plot and Jim Lawrence is brought in on script. Midway through the story, presumably to take advantage of Spider-Man’s greater popularity, Captain Britain Weekly is cancelled and the story shifts to Super Spider-Man (now re-titled “…and Captain Britain).

The story is set against the Silver Jubilee anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The villain is the motorcycle-riding manacled Highwayman and his boss the Manipulator, the deposed ruler of the African nation of Umbazi. The Manipulator’s real name is Basil Crushstone, perhaps why he uses a pseudonym in the first place. Crushstone was a petty tyrant in the first place, but when a mind-controlling gem was unearthed in an Umbazi diamond mine, he became even worse.

The Highwayman ingratiates himself in with the Royal Family and substitutes a ring with the mind control gem with one from the Queen’s own jewely collection, which is apparently on display for any and all to see. The highlight of the story is seeing a mind-controlled Queen Elizabeth personally commandeer the Royal Navy and lead it into battle against the nation of Umbazi.
SUPER SPIDER-MAN & CAPTAIN BRITAIN #233-238:

From here on out (through #247) the stories are plotted by Larry Leiber, scripted by Jim Lawrence, drawn by Ron Wilson (mostly) and inked by either Fred Kida or Pablo Marcos Studios. Issues #233-234 deal with the Loch Ness Monster, which ends up being an alien being from outer space. “Nessie” doesn’t really exist… or does it? #235-238 is a pretty standard gothic horror tale complete with all of the tropes one would expect: castles, vampires, werewolves, bats, animated skeletons.

Some of the dialogue, though, is… well, you decide. While fighting a Mechanical sea monster Captain Britain thinks, “It’s jaws are wide open! It wants to swallow me whole! Mustn’t panic—must keep my wits—and concentrate to expand my scepter! Expand! EXPAND!” In another scene he says, “Return, scepter! Fly into my grasp! So I may draw strength from your glowing power of goodness!” I haven’t read internal monologues that bad since Sidney Mellon’s Thunderskull! I wonder what Sigmund Freud (or Fredric Wertham, for that matter) would make of these!

That's the end of the second tpb collection.
Did you mention there were 4 of these collections so far? Where does the 4th one end?

Are there plans for any more?

The early ones would interest me for the whole late 70's MU feel, but the stories move into a whole different phase when the British creators take over.

I get the impression it gets way more surreal and strange from then on.
According to Amazon.co.uk, volume four will become available November 5 of this year. There in contradictory infomation in the product description about which issues will be included, but my best guess is that it will finish off the Black Knight / Captain Britain feature then segue directly into the Dave Thorpe / Alan Davis revival, and, if the series continues beyond that, Alan Moore will kick off volume five. But that's just a guess.
SUPER SPIDER-MAN & CAPTAIN BRITAIN #239:

I read only one issue of the four-parter that kicks off the third Captain Britain tpb before I crapped out last night, and I regret to announce that it’s not off to an auspicious start! As the story opens, five people — a soldier, a starlet, a professional athlete, a racket boss and Captain Britain — are being flown to enjoy a free stay at a new casino and resort hotel on Eden Island. After they disembark from the robot-controlled plane which transported them there, it explodes on takeoff, effectively stranding them there. The island is populated by numerous genetic mutations (my favorite is the giant spinning flower) and run by one Dr. Claw.
Sounds like "The Most Dangerous Game" meets Fantasy Island.
Please tell me that at some point, Dr. Claw says, "I'll get you next time, Britain - next time!"
After they disembark from the robot-controlled plane which transported them there, it explodes on takeoff, effectively stranding them there

Wouldn't it just flying away also have stranded them?

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