Sunday, September 1, 2013

CAPTAIN BRITAIN'S COSTUME

There seems to be a debate in the fandom regarding Captain Britain's costume. I see a lot of folks who prefer the original over Alan Davis's redesign.  To each their own, but the Davis costume is Captain Britain to me.

Art by Alan Davis

Granted, I did first encounter the character wearing the Davis costume, so that's certainly part of it. And there's nothing wrong with the original design by Herb Trimpe.  It just doesn't say "CAPTAIN Britain" to me.  It looks like something for a street-level character like Union Jack.  It doesn't fit the name.
Art by Alan Davis

But I suppose the entire character design is part of it, too. I noted a while back that when Cap's stories started out, he was very much a character in the vein of Spider-Man.  He was more of a gymnast than a powerhouse/brick type. When Davis redesigned Cap's costume, he also bulked up our hero's physique to Superman-esque proportions. There's a comical bit in an EXCALIBUR issue where Cap tries to wear the original costume, and it no longer fits his enormous frame.

Anyway, Cap has now worn the Davis costume and extremely similar variants of it for far longer than anything else, so I guess it's here to stay, which is fine by me.



And we shouldn't forget that about ten years ago, while the hated Chuck Austen was writing AVENGERS, Cap's original costume was re-purposed for a new character named Lionheart. I was okay with that.  In fact, I kind of think it looks better on a woman than a man:
Lionheart
Art by Olivier Coipel

6 comments:

  1. My biggest issue with the original Cap costume was the big ol' lion on the front of it, simply because that's the kind of thing that is just detailed enough to be difficult for artists (even the same artist) to reproduce every time out.

    Whereas, say, the star on Captain America's chest is a simple geometric item, the lion is much more complex.

    So as far as "wearing a representation of your country" costumes go, the Union Jack (flag)-inspired Davis costume seems more elegant and straightforward than the original.

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  2. HI. I loved both the seventies and eighties costumes, but both are wrong. He is called Captain Britain so why a Union flag?

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  3. I guess, in a way, that's a benefit of my being an ignorant Yankee -- I never thought of that! It would be kind of like if Captain America wore the New York state flag instead of the stars & stripes, I suppose. Interesting.

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  4. Where you first encountered Captain Britain in the Davis costume, I first saw him in the original. So that might play into my appreciation of it. Overall, though, I just think it's a strong, unusual design. The original costume and set of powers versus the later version of the character really feel like two separate characters to me, which is probably as much a product of the gaps in his publication history (even greater for American readers) as the undeniable changes wrought by Davis et al.

    As luck or fate would have it, Union Jack was introduced in The Invaders earlier in 1976, maybe six months before Captain Britain debuted, and while I haven't read anything about the Marvel UK office having to avoid duplicating the former's look it may have played a role in Trimpe designing a costume with a less straightforward gloss on the British flag.

    Speaking of which, I don't get the comment from Anonymous. The United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is technically a different thing than Great Britain itself (which is England, Wales, and Scotland), but as far as I can tell there is no flag for just Great Britain in use, while the historical versions I've seen are just the union flag without a red cross-stripe. Surely most people use "Britain" and "the UK" fairly interchangeably, and Captain Britain isn't supposed to be a superhero for the British isles exclusive of Northern Ireland; witness the alternate-universe version, Captain UK.

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  5. The comparison wouldn't be like Captain America wearing the New York state flag, by the way, because the UK is the larger rather than the smaller grouping. So it would be like Captain America wearing the flag of all of North America (if there were such a thing) instead of just the Stars & Stripes. Or something.

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  6. Yeesh, I'm more ignorant than I thought! My entire life, I've thought "United Kingdom" and "Great Britain" could be used interchangeably! You just taught me something, Blam.

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