|CAPTAIN BRITAIN TPB (2002)|
Incoming writer Alan Moore, before he became THE Alan Moore, runs briefly with Dave Thorpe's premise but immediately and brutally takes the story in his own direction. In response to the reality warp, the British government activates a deadly robotic organism called the Fury, which we learn is responsible for this world's superhero purge of years past.
In the span of pages, Moore redefines Captain Britain's status quo. Saturnyne retreats and Jackdaw is slain by the Fury. Cap has no time to grieve as the unstoppable robot comes for him next. Our hero is rescued by Jim Jaspers, who reveals that he was the one responsible for the purge. Once a powerful politician, Jaspers convinced the government that super-beings were a danger that had to be eliminated. He came up with the design for the Fury and then set it loose on his Earth's superhumans.
No sooner is Jaspers' story finished, than the Fury catches up with Captain Britain and -- kills him!
It bears mentioning that at this point, the Captain Britain strips are only a few pages long each. Moore crams all this bleakness and backstory into two such chapters. There is little room for the story to breathe, but in a way, it may be better off for that fact. The quick-paced action and equally concise narration, all leading to Cap's untimely demise, add an astonishing sense of dread to the whole story. Alan Davis's artwork of course masterfully visualizes the menace conveyed by Moore's words.
This story came along a couple years after the seminal "Days of Future Past" from the Claremont/Byrne UNCANNY X-MEN, and it borrows a few cues from that epic. Moore, at this stage, is about on par with Claremont as far as narration goes, but -- in my own opinion -- when it comes to conveying the menace and horror one should feel at reading a backstory in which "everybody dies", Alan Davis, though still honing his craft, is far ahead of the John Byrne/Terry Austin team. Even when drawing a bleak, depressing future, Byrne was still drawing superheroes. Davis, on the other hand, is drawing a bleak, depressing world which just happens to have a superhero in it. Particularly, his mastery of blacks and shadows is used to great effect.
So, with Captain Britain dead, Moore and Davis take a chapter to re-tell his origin, this time adding some much-needed backstory to young Brian Braddock, finally fleshing out this cipher we've been reading about for several years. All of Cap's major adventures to date are giving quick visual interpretations by Davis, and by the time the recap is over, our hero lives again. The entire chapter is narrated by Merlin -- now revealed as some sort of trickster god -- to his daughter, Roma, as he recreates our hero from scratch.
(Note: Though still spelling his name with an "I" at this point, subsequent tales will rename this character as "Merlyn". I will henceforth call him by that name.)
The resurrection complete, Merlyn deposits Captain Britain back on his own Earth at Darkmoor, the very place where he gained his powers years ago. Cap returns to his home, Braddock Manor, where he encounters the Mastermind computer again, now learning it is not the mainframe he once deactivated, but rather a huge web of circuitry hidden beneath the manor house. Cap defeats the computer and begins reprogramming it to serve him.
His work is interrupted, however, by a phone call from his sister Betsy. Remember her psychic powers, which Chris Claremont hinted at years ago? Well, so do Moore and Davis. Betsy -- now with dyed purple hair, by the way -- has joined the ESP division of STRIKE. But she and her fellow psychics have been targeted for death by a mysterious assassin and she needs her brother's help.
|Slaymaster vs. Captain Britain|
- Cap has a home and base of operations, courtesy of Braddock Manor and the Mastermind computer, the former created by Claremont and the latter by Lieber and Friedrich.
- The Vixen, not heard from since Claremont's third story, nearly a decade previous, is back as a threat, infiltrating STRIKE...
- ...which was created by Lieber and Friedrich...
- ...and which now employs Betsy, Cap's psychic sister created by Claremont, again -- years ago, and who has become a target of...
- ...Slaymaster, also created a few years back by Lieber and Jim Lawrence.
Next: The Moore/Davis run concludes with the "Jaspers' Warp" saga!