In roughly 2002 or so, Marvel published a CAPTAIN BRITAIN BY ALAN MOORE & ALAN DAVIS trade paperback. It contained only the material the two Alans produced together, but nothing else. I have no idea why they didn't include this small handful of stories, illustrated by Davis and written by Dave Thorpe, as well. They do a great deal to set up the Moore-Davis run (which will be covered in the next post).
As the Alan Davis era begins, we find Captain Britain and Jackdaw on their way home from Otherworld, when they are sidetracked by a trip to a parallel Earth. Along the way, Cap's costume inexplicably changes to the Davis-designed look -- a superior costume in my opinion, but the arbitrary change is somewhat jarring. Cap simply says something to the effect of, "my costume -- it's changing!" as they pass between dimensions, and that's the end of it.
Immediately upon their arrival on the parallel Earth, Cap and Jackdaw encounter one Mad Jim Jaspers and his sidekicks, the Crazy Gang -- a group well known to readers of EXCALIBUR a few years down the road -- robbing a bank. Cap is unable to thwart the villains, and they escape in Jaspers' helicopter.
It's unclear from this appearance if Jaspers and the Crazy Gang were intended to be recurring characters or throwaway villains, but regardless of their intended future, Davis does an excellent job of designing them. I've always found the Clown to be a particularly creepy looking character (as most clowns are, but this one is moreso).
Cap spends a little time on this world fighting crime and trying to figure out where he is, learning along the way that all super heroes were "purged" at some point in the past. Eventually Cap and Jackdaw encounter the delightfully slinky Opal Luna Saturnyne, a regular supporting character for the remainder of Alan Davis's association with Captain Britain, and her Avant Guard, a group of inter-dimensional repairmen who have come to this Earth to set right some cosmic evolutionary imbalance.
Cap agrees -- after a classic misunderstanding -- to help them, and together they perform something called "the Push", with successful results -- saving this parallel Earth from the ambiguously described genetic defect which had plagued it -- until Mad Jim Jaspers' mutant reality warping powers kick in, and the entire universe begins to die. Thorpe leaves us on this note, and the stage is set for Alan Moore to take over with the next issue.
Opal Luna Saturnyne
Alan Davis's early association with Captain Britain is interesting, but in my opinion not particularly compelling. Davis himself notes in the foreword to the omnibus that Dave Thorpe was not particularly interested in writing superheroes, and it shows here. The weirdness is a bit much, and the story is somewhat hard to follow. Fortunately, the tastes and approaches of Davis and Alan Moore will be much more simpatico, as we shall soon see.
Davis's art is a bit crude here as well, but his smooth style, which will become a trademark in years to come, is evident in certain places, especially in close-ups of faces and in particular in nearly every rendering of Captain Britain's helmet -- my favorite part of this redesign.
Davis's devotion to the female form is also abundantly present in the pleasing form of Saturnyne, a character who always brings out the artist's best, and who I believe to be the sexiest female among his many shapely creations.
Next: A young fellow by the name of Alan Moore shows up.