Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Readers may recall that I already wrote about this issue and the next a couple years back as part of my very first review series here, on the subject of Captain Britain. But that post was written primarily with attention to Cap’s side of the story and wasn't done “in-depth”, so here's the revised and expanded version (and forgive me if, between this issue and the next, I regurgitate a bit of that old post).

Stan Lee presents: SPIDEY and CAPTAIN BRITAIN!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker/Colorist: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Bruce Patterson | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Spider-Man swings across Manhattan to Empire State University, where he changes to Peter Parker for a meeting with the Dean of Students. The dean informs Peter that the school wants an exchange student from England to board with him for foreseeable future. Peter is introduced to Brian Braddock, and the pair leaves the dean’s office.

In England, a mysterious American assassin named Arcade is hired to kill Brian. Back in the U.S., later that night, Peter changes to Spider-Man for a night out, but passing police sirens outside awaken Brian, who spots the web-slinger swinging away from Peter’s bedroom. Assuming Spider-Man has harmed or kidnapped Peter, Brian changes to his alter ego of Captain Britain and gives chase.

The costumed heroes have a brief skirmish but in the end make peace. Captain Britain recaps his origin for Spider-Man, then the duo is captured by Arcade.

Continuity Notes: Captain Britain/Brian Braddock was created by Chris Claremont in the pages of Marvel U.K.’s CAPTAIN BRITAIN comic, though Claremont remained with the character for only a few issues of his weekly series before departing.

Though he is shown only in shadow, this issue marks the debut of Claremont’s pet assassin, Arcade, a recurring character over the years in X-MEN. Also appearing for the first time is Arcade’s gal Friday, Miss Locke.

Arcade is hired by agents of the Commission, the top brass of the Maggia, the Marvel Universe’s go-to crime family. The men have deduced that Captain Britain could be one of a number of men, and want all the possible suspects killed.

The meeting between Arcade and the Commission agents is observed by a mysterious woman who notes that she will thwart any assassination attempts in Europe, but Brian is on his own. My speculation is that she’s a lady cop named Kate Fraser from Claremont’s early CAPTAIN BRITAIN comics, though official sources apparently identify her as Sabrina Morrell, a supporting character from Claremont’s later run on SPIDER-WOMAN. But her identity will remain a mystery for the rest of this storyline, and Claremont himself will never identify her in any future comics.

Peter notes that, between pages, he took Brian out for a night on the town with party girl Mary Jane Watson and some of her friends. Later, when he’s attacked by a guy named Captain Britain on the very day a British exchange student moved in with him, Spider-Man easily realizes that Cap and Brian are one and the same -- though he doesn’t reveal this deduction to Cap.

Captain Britain’s recapped origin (apparently dropping the specifics about who he really is) reveals that he was on the run from a man named Joshua Stragg, a.k.a. the Reaver, when he was confronted by a pair of specters who offered him either an amulet or a sword to defend himself. He chose the amulet and was imbued with the power of Captain Britain.

The duel between Cap and Spidey draws the attention of the NYPD, and Jean DeWolff (in her dumb roadster) leads the search for the two misunderstood heroes.

Arcade uses a garbage truck to snag the duo, a tactic he would employ in future Claremont comics (with the exact same accompanying “SFLANNG” sound effect). Arcade has a male companion operating the truck with him and while he’s not identified by name and looks nothing like the man in question, official sources state this is his other assistant, Mr. Chambers.

My Thoughts: Spider-Man’s never-ending night has come to an end, and Claremont has moved on to a new day in the web-slinger’s life. As last time with Ms. Marvel, Claremont teams our hero up with a character he has written before (and in this case created), though since Cap has been long out of Claremont’s hands at this point, there’s no particular character development given to him. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see Claremont return to his creation, even if briefly, and bring him to the U.S. audience for the first time.

However, as the first part of a two-parter, nothing really happens here. We get a lot of set-up and the obligatory hero vs. hero misunderstanding fight, but that’s it. The idea that Brian might move in with Peter for any sort of permanent period is laughable, especially when presented in the pages of the third-tier Spider-Man book, and honestly isn’t a very good hook for the story. The dean makes it clear that this arrangement is temporary, but he informs Peter that he’ll be paid fifty dollars a week while Brian stays with him, implying that he’s expected to room with our hero for at least some reasonable period of time. However, outside of this issue and the next, I don’t believe anyone -- not even Claremont -- ever acknowledges this setup again.

Still, Claremont’s grasp of Spider-Man’s “voice” is still unexpectedly strong, and Byrne’s artwork is decent, though not quite as polished as in previous installments. Read in one sitting with part two, this issue is good enough. But as a single monthly installment, it’s pretty sub-par.


  1. Later, when he’s attacked by a guy named Captain Britain on the very day a British exchange student moved in with him, Spider-Man easily realizes that Cap and Brian are one and the same -- though he doesn’t reveal this deduction to Cap.

    That is a nice continuity nod to the old issue where Gwen Stacy leaves to London after her father dies, and Peter goes there after her, but then ends up having to do some public Spidey business and realizes that he can't meet Gwen as Peter after all because the maths would be too easy.

    Arcade's male henchman is in fact Mr. Chambers. (from memory;) ) Unless of course they actually meant there was a Mr. Locke too, which would make the homicidal Arcade/Locke romance sort of thing even more deprived if she had a husband around.

    1. D'oh! You're right, of course. My mistake. I've corrected it. Thanks, Teemu!

      I hadn't considered this as an inverse of Peter's London trip, but it is when you think about it. I always appreciated that Stan Lee did that. All too often superheroes show up in exactly the same location as their alter egos and nobody bats an eye. It's a little hard to swallow.

    2. It's especially egregious for someone like Batman, who is famous in both his identities. There's simply no way Bruce Wayne could go anywhere and not be noticed, so when he goes out as Batman in the same place, it's ridiculous that no one puts it together.

  2. I love that the Dean is responsible for informing a student about changes to their living situation. :)