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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I suppose so, but the passengers were expecting it to come back. Blowing it up sends a clear message to Doctor Claw’s victims. Watching from afar, Claw rationalizes his decision thusly: “That’s why I pressed the destruct button -- to make you the prisoners of Doctor Claw!” (referring to himself in the third person, as all the best mad scientists do). There will be no “next time” (as we shall see), Bob, but Claw has plenty of other corny dialogue throughout. I see a bit of The Island of Dr. Moreau in this story, too, Darin.

SUPER SPIDER-MAN & CAPTAIN BRITAIN #240-242:

In the chapter titled “Shrink in Fear,“ Claw’s giant henchman Fong places the ersatz vacationers into “dwarf-ray cylinders,” and after emerging, they must deal with Claw’s cat, giant mutated ants, and a hawk which snatches Captain Britain for the cliffhanger. “My sceptre shrank, too,” thinks Captain Britain, “so I’ve still a weapon to fight with.” Aloud he shouts, “Up, sceptre! Up! Pull me from these grasping claws!” When that doesn’t work, he asks rhetorically, “So you want a mouthful, do you, feathers?” Then thrusting his sceptre into the hawk’s beak he shouts, “OK! You want it, you’ve got it!” Is it just me or is anyone else turned on?

Dr. Claw is eventually revealed as a hideously deformed mutant confined to a (flying) wheelchair by some sort of bio-chemical tests for which he blames Britain. He decided to seek his revenge on five random citizens who had nothing to do with the tests in any way, shape or form, nor, for that matter, does anyone even know about this plot. Despite being unable to use his legs to walk, he nevertheless can use his taloned feet to attack Captain Britain from his flying wheelchair!

Eventually Captain Britain gets the upper hand and Dr. Claw retreats to an active volcano (natch!) where he has hidden his escape plane (where else?). After a brief tussle, Claw’s wheelchair is knocked into some electrical equiptment where he is first electrocuted, then unceremoniously dumped into molten lava. Still not quite dead, he’s left behind to await the revenge of his mutated army.
Sounds like mad pulpy fun. Just a succession of mind-boggling events with no time to stop and rationalise anything before the next thing happens.

A much revered cornerstone of comicbook production.

When does Doctor Bong appear? Photobucket

Weren't there crossovers with Marvel Team-Up and other stateside* comics? Did you think about trying to source them for your read-through?



*I think that's the first time I've used that expression!
It's mad Ed Wood kind of fun! Doctor Bong would not be out of place.I'll be dealing with the Marvel Team-Up stories tomorrow. If you think #239-242 were wild, wait until you read about...

SUPER SPIDER-MAN & CAPTAIN BRITAIN #243-247:

This five-parter introduces Slaymaster, an assassin for hire and master-of-disguise who is sort or a cross between Bullseye and the Chameleon. His themed murder spree is more reminiscent of a Batman villain such as the Riddler or Two Face, though. He is also known as the “gimmick murderer” because all of his victims have hobbies and he kills them in different ways related to their hobbies. They also, coincidentally, have names relating to their hobby. For example, his first victim is a weapon collector named Archer whom Slaymaster kills with an arrow. His second victim is a car collector named Gunn who he kills with a booby-trapped pistol fired to begin a car race.

Some of these killings are a kind of a stretch. A man named Waxman who owns a wax museum is killed by one of his wax figures; an art collector named Lady Gila is killed by a giant gila moster. An offhand reference to a shark leads Captain Britain to trail Slaymaster to his employer’s yacht, the Mako. Can you imagine trying to plan a crime spree like that? Even finding collectors whose names match their hobby would be time consuming enough, but that’s not all! Each and every one of them collected something of value coveted by a person in a unique position to do harm to the British government!

Here’s the plan: ex-shipping magnate Konrad Kharkov seeks revenge against the Britain so he hires Slaymaster to commit the series of crimes described above in order to steal objects of value with which to bribe certain foreign officials to cut off exports of certain goods and commodities to England. Each one on their areas of interest just happens to coincide with a collector whose name matches his or her hobby and also just so happens to own the item each official covets most. Hell, killing them in ways appropriate to the collectors’ respective names/hobbies is the easy part!

Captain Britain is so close on the trail of Slaymaster throughout the story that he’s still at the scene of each murder when Chief Inspector Thomas arrives. Yeah, like that’s not suspicious!

I’ve also got to tell you about Waxman’s Superhero Museum. It’s a regular comic book shop in front but with a superhero wax museum in the back room. He has life-size replicas of all the most popular super heroes, including Spider-Man, Thor, the Hulk, and… Electro-Man!? (Guess which one does him in.) Behind the wax museum section of his shop there is an actual bank vault in which he keeps vintage comics stacked floor to ceiling. Slaymaster is after the only known mint condition copy of Spider-Man #1 with which he plans to bribe a United States Senator (a gift for his sick son) to vote against a U.S. loan to Britain.

Kharkov’s yacht, BTW, comes equipped not only with its own giant cybernetic octopus, but can also transform into a submarine by encasing itself in a huge transparent bubble!

In the end (which seems somehow anticlimactic after that build-up), Kharkov tries to double cross Slaymaster who throws him overboard to the sharks. Shortly thereafter Captain Britain uses his sceptre to knock Slaymaster to the same fate.
Wasn't the Slaymaster brought back by Moore?

Not to diss the stories you are reading now - they sound like great fun - but the Bearded One really did spin gold out of straw by the time he got to ol' Brian.
I remember Slaymaster during the Moore run -- vaguely. I can't recall the plot details.
As I recall, he had a suspiciously French-looking goatee, so was obviously a bad un.

He had the wonderfully grotesque backstory of hardening one of his hands in sand then rocks etc and then carving it into a deadly chopping weapon. !!! Which probably happened to him between this early appearance and his appearance under Moore's pen.
I've read the Thorpe/Moore/Delano/Davis material only once before and remember very little of it, but I do seem to recall a revamped Slaymaster. Regarding Moore spinning gold out of straw in comparison to these stories I don't disagree, but the Parkhouse/Neary/Stokes Black Knight strip (co-featuring Captain Britain and which I'll begin looking at tomorrow) is very, very good!

SUPER SPIDER-MAN & CAPTAIN BRITAIN #248-253:

These issues reprint Marvel Team-Up #65-66, which is where I (and probably most American readers) was first introduced to Captain Britain. Marvel UK took the story which originally appeared in a two-part monthly comic and chopped it up into a six-part weekly one. Consequently, the British version has four additional splash pages never seen in America. I suspect that this was the intention all along because the transition between the additional breaks is flawless and looks to my eye to be the work of Claremont and Byrne, the writer and artist of the American version. The tpb presents the American pages in color and the four additional British splash pages in black and white.

Captain Britain’s origin is retold (or told for the first time to an American audience), but with the EYKIW trappings of Merlin and of him being an alien space traveler left off. In other words, Chris Claremont restored Captain Britain’s origin to the way he himself originally wrote it. This story has been reprinted in Marvel Tales #201-202.

Tomorrow I will begin discussing Captain Britain’s appearance in the “Black Knight” feature of the weekly Hulk Comic, but today I would like to mention a thing or two about that publication first. I’ve never seen even a single issue of Hulk Comic, but I have now read a bit about it. In addition to the Black Knight strip (which Alan Moore once described as “magnificent”), Hulk Comic also includes: the title feature by Dave Gibbons; Nick Fury and Ant-Man, two features drawn by a 17 year old Steve Dillon; a new character called Night-Raven, a V for Vendetta prototype drawn by David Lloyd; Master of Kung Fu reprints.

When editor Dez Skinn decided to integrate Captain Britain, a character he thought had unrealized potential, into the Black Knight strip, he decided to do it very low key no cover blurb, no hard sell, just a tantalizing mystery. The Black Knight became the longest running back-up feature in Hulk Comic.
HULK COMIC #1, 2-30:

I’ve been looking forward to this series of stories because it coincides with another recent reading project of mine. Not too long ago Marvel released a Masterworks edition which featured the entire run of the all-too-short-lived (five issues) Black Knight of the 1950s by Stan Lee, Joe Maneely and others. That led me to re-read other Black Knight stories and I’ve been champing at the bit to get to these!

These stories are written by Steve Parkhouse and drawn for the most part by Paul Neary and John Stokes. More importantly, at long last, Captain Britain had a British creative team and the difference showed. The feature is a fast-paced, action-packed Tolkienesque epic told in staccato three-page installments. Like the previous Captain Britain stories (since Captain Britain Weekly #23, anyway), these are presented in black and white. Those earlier stories, however, displayed a certain lack of color, whereas with these, the blacks and whites are an integral part of the composition, like the cinematography of a black and white film. It looks for all the world to me as if EC Comics had done Classics Illustrated featuring superheroes.

The action opens in Cornwall and Modred is quickly introduced as the story’s villain. The Black Knight has been sent on a quest by Merlin to find a certain hero, and Captain Britain is introduced in the very first installment as an amnesiac stranger. (Oddly, the Lback Knight is referred to as neither Sir percy nor Dane Whitman, although he speaks more like the ancestor than the modern day descendant.

A witchy woman named Sarah Mumford (with a cat named Graymalkin, of course), plays a supporting role early on, and introduces the first to join the questing party, the Pathe Finder known as The Walker and his wolf Lupe. As described by Sarah, “Once there were twelve Path Finders, the men of power who perceived the paths of the world… and revealed them for others to follow. But six were led astray by the evil ones… the Nether-Gods!They turned against men… their paths lead to madness… and death.”

Modred sends trolls against the trio, then an ogre and eventually goblins. The Black Knight’s Steed, Valinor, is injured, and he stays behind whil the Walker leads the Stranger down one of the Old Paths, because only by following them can the reach the entrance to Otherworld where Merlin awaits. Their path leads them through the small village of Stenleigh, once misspelled “Stanleigh” (on purpose, I think), which may reveal a wizard more powerful than Merlin who’s really pulling the strings. But I digress…

The farther they travel down the Walker’s path, the more surreal their surroundings become. Valinor had been healed by eating the fruit of the tree Sarah Mumford had been turned into by Modred, and the Black Knight eventually caught up with the Stranger (now revealed to be Captain Britain) and the Walker (now revealed to be King Vortigen in Otherworld). They soon meet the elf who would become the fourth member of their party, Moondog.

Unfortunately, circumstances would soon cause them to part. In a great battle, the Black Knight’s Ebony Blade is shattered, the Walker’s Rowen staff is broken in half and Moondog is captured. Vortigen leaves to replace his staff while Captain Britain presses on with the quest to join Merlin in Otherworld. The Black Knight again remains behind to guard the rear, but he’s not very useful with just a short sword. Eventually, he acquires Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake and is able to rescue Moondog, but before they can enter Otherworld they must defeat Vortigen’s mortal enemy, the rogue Path Finder Cormac. They do, but Captain Britain is is fatally wounded in the process!

The action shifts entirely to Otherworld, a kind of Fairie realm, with issue #23. The image of Merlin appears in the sky looking very much like the wrathful God of the Old Testament, but his physical manifestation is much more frail-looking. Because Captain Britain was killed on the threshold of Otherworld, there’s a chance that his soul can be retrieved and his body healed. Merlin sets about doing so, but meanwhile they are attacked by Mandrac, Lord of the Netherworld.

Mandrac is served by two giant black crows who manifest from his winged helmet. They can also assume the form of human twins, which they do when Moondog shoots one with an arrow. The other, Nightshade, weilds a blade called Nightbringer, which darkens the sky when drawn. The Black Knight wins out with Excalibur and the forces of Mandrac and Modred are routed for the time being, leaving the heroes to rest, regroup and lick their wounds.

As Captain Britain awakes at the end of issue #30, Merlin says, “Be still… the dream is over, the danger gone. Soon your mind will be clear… clear as a crystal pool. And from its depths we must uncover the secret you have kept for so long!”

“But that must wait,” the next issue blurb informs us, “as we proudly present THE FULL ORIGIN OF CAPTAIN BRITAIN NEXT WEEK — DON’T MISS IT!”
Hmmmm! You're really selling this segment of Captain Britian's adventures. I've never seen them, unless I leafed through the Hulk comic in the shop back when I was wee. I think the TV HUlk was my big concern then, or was that too early?

Where are we now in terms of the Panini collections? The middle of the 3rd one?

I'd like to buy it sometime, even if all four books are beyond my budget for now.

And shouldn't that be Issue's 1 & 3-30?

BTW having the listing of all the Captain's appearances in your intitial discussion post makes it very handy as a reference at the top of each page. This is different to the old board, and perhaps we should think about having similarly useful information in there in long threads like this one?

Just a thought.
I don't have the publishing dates handy, but yes, I do believe the popularity and presence of the Hulk on TV was responsible for the launch of Hulk Comic. I'm really enjoying this sequence of stories (which begins almost exactly midway through the third tpb collection.) I plan to give a brief overview of all three trades tomorrow, but the third is half excellent, half dreck. A really good collection would collect all the Black Knight stories between two covers. I'm not certain if Captain Britain remained all the way through #64; I think he might have been sent home before the Balck Knight's tale was fully told. And yes, that should have been 1, 3-30 as the Black Knight feature did not appear in issue #2.

I did set up the initial post with a "table of contents" purposefully, knowning it would appear on the "forums" page as well as at the top of every page of this discussion. Also, because the initial post is "editable," I will be able to add to it (which I plan to do) when I get to that point. Thanks for noticing!

HULK COMIC #31-63:

Unfortunately, this is the point at which the series of trade paperbacks I’ve been reading leaves off… at least for the time being… so I still don’t get that transition to the Alan Davis stories I was hoping to read when I started this furshlugginer reading project and discussion! I was tempted to title this thread “The NIGH Complete UK Captain Britain” when I started, because I knew I was going to get to this point before volume four is released (November in the UK, remember!), but I can insert it out of sequence if I want. Besides, I plan to take this discussion much farther than what’s currently listed in the “table of contents” in the initial post to this thread, so really this is going to be “The MORE THAN Complete UK Captain Britain” discussion.

How’s that for truth in advertising?

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for volume four to be released and shipped overseas, I’m just going to have to pretend Captain Britain’s injuries were so severe Merlin sent him home. I can only hope that the origin from Hulk Comic #31 makes a true Mopee of the EYKIW from Captain Britain Weekly #33-36, which is possible given that Chris Claremont completely ignored the outer space alien aspect of it in his retelling of the origin in Marvel Team-Up #65.

I can really hardly wait to read volume four. I’m not certain exactly which stories it will contain (Hulk Comic #31-63 plus the first of the Thorpe/Davis stories I hope), but perhaps I’ll finally get to read that transition story I’ve been wait for for so long. I can tell you this: never again will I re-read the stories in the Captain Britain Omnibus without also re-reading the Parkhouse/Neary/Stokes Black Knight stories first.
I said at the top of this thread that I didn’t plan to spend too much time on these three tpbs because most people following this discussion would not have had the chance to read them. As it turned out, I devoted far more time to them than I had intended, but that’s only because I read them so slowly and wanted to keep the discussion moving. My original intention had been to present a brief overview of the contents, which is what I shall provide now.

VOLUME 1: Not very deep but a whole lotta fun! Written by Chris Claremont and Gary Friedrich, art by Herb Trimpe throughout, all in color.

VOLUME 2: This volume starts strong but loses steam and tapers off as Gary Friedrich yields to writers Larry Lieber and Jim Lawrence, and artist John Buscema gives way to Ron Wilson. All black and white.

VOLUME 3: This volume is almost equally split between some of the best Captain Britain stories I have ever read (Steve Parkhouse / Paul Neary / John Stokes) and some of the worst (Larry Lieber / Jim Lawrence). Sandwiched in between is a pretty decent Chris Claremont / John Byrne two-parter from Marvel Team-Up.
For the upcoming series of posts, the Dave Thorpe and Alan Moore-written material has been collected in X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain #1-7, plus the Alan Moore and Jamie Delano-written material has been collected in trade paperback, and the whole shmeer has been collected in the Captain Britain Omnibus.

MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #377-386:

From the introductory material of X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain #1 (1995): “Helped by his elfin companion Jackdaw, the Captain was instrumental in thwarting the evil that was threatening Otherworld and, as a reward, he and Jackdaw were sent back to Earth by Merlin. This is where Alan Davis and Dave Thorpe took up the reigns of the story in an untitled adventure that first appeared in black-and-white in the British monthly comic Marvel Super Heroes issue #377.”

This story begins immediately after Merlin apparently sent Captain Britain home to his own dimension, apparently in Marvel Super-Heroes #376. Not so in either case, as it turns out. What I didn’t realize at the time I first read this story is that it wasn’t continued from Marvel Super-Heroes #376 one month before, but from Hulk Comic 18 months before! What I saw at the time as a direct continuation of a story in medias res was in fact, a brand new story featuring, for all intents and purposes, a brand new character.

If I would have just substituted, in my mind, a traditional superhero splash page in place of the transitional page used (depicting Merlin sending Captain Britain and Jackdaw between dimensions, the two of them floating through the ether, the Captain’s sceptre disappearing and his costume inexplicably changing, and landing in a bank vault and confronting the Crazy Gang), that would have almost worked. It wouldn’t have, quite, because as we will soon learn, Captain Britain did not return to his own reality at all, but rather an alternate dimension.

Alan Davis was tasked with designing Captain Britain’s new look, and he stacked the odds in favor of the one he liked by designing a few other crappy ones for Marvel UK editor-in-chief Paul Neary to choose from. I liked his old one, but I like his new one, too. The reason I like the old one perhaps a little more is because it was unique, and the new one is little more than wrapping the character in a flag, which we’ve all seen before. But the change was to more than just his costume. Despite the fact that the character’s identity remained Brian Braddock, the change in direction is as profound as when Wesley Dodds dropped the gas mask and fedora for a superhero union suit and traded Dian Belmont for Sandy Hawkins.

Issue #377 introduces Mad Jim Jaspers and the Crazy Gang, then doesn’t really do much with them. It soon becomes clear that Captain Britain has landed in a reality alternate to his own Britain. Issue #380 introduces Saturnyne and the Avant Guard. Saturnyne is also known as “Her Whyness” and works for the Dimensional Development Court or DCC. The DCC’s 50,000 year program calls for all alternate realities to move into a new age of enlightenment, but the progress of all Earths is linked, and this particular reality is the most primitive and is retarding the whole timetable. It is, therefore, Saturnyne’s duty to institute an operation known as “The Push” in order to catch this reality up.

Series artist Alan Davi says , “Paul [Neary] and writer Dave Thorpe had already rationalized the storyline and characters by the time I became involved. Saturnyne, the Avante Guard, Jim Jaspers and his Crazy Gang, Captain UK, the Corp, the twisted reality and basic Omniversal politics. My impression was that Paul originated all of the weird, wacky, cosmic elements and Dave was responsible for the social commentary and political allegory. I just wanted to draw super heroes.”

Issue #385 is a fill-in story (written by Paul Neary) which takes place just prior to #377 (while Captain Britain and Jackdaw are passing through limbo), and issue #386, Dave Thorpe’s last as writer, reintroduces Jim Jaspers just as The Push gets underway.

NEXT: Alan Moore!

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