Monday, September 16, 2013


Captain Britain vs. the Fury
After rescuing his sister Betsy and her fellow psychics from Slaymaster, and knowing the Vixen's forces will still be searching for them, Captain Britain brings them to live, at least temporarily, with him at Braddock Manor. Not long after, Cap is kidnapped by a group of dimension-hopping mercenaries from the future called the Special Executive, and taken to the "Omniversal Hub", where he has been called to serve as a witness for the defense in a trial against Opal Luna Saturnyne, charged with failing in her duties to save the alternate Earth where Cap first found her.*

While at the Hub, Cap learns that he is part of a corps of similarly costumed heroes -- one for every Britain on every Earth in the omniverse. It would be generous to say that our hot-headed hero does not get along with his fellow corpsmen, engaging in fisticuffs with them multiple times during the trial. The "Captain Britain Corps" is more of a throwaway gag here, but the concept would gain great traction later under Alan Davis and Chris Claremont.

Eventually, after the trial has devolved into a massive battle between the Corps, the Ominversal "bailiffs", Captain Britain, and the Special Executive, our heroes escape when Saturnyne makes a deal with the Executive's leader, Wardog. The group returns to Braddock Manor on our Earth, just in time for the arrival of Linda McQuillan, a.k.a. Captain U.K. of the Earth Cap and Saturnyne failed to save.

Linda has been watching the rise to prominence of Sir James Jaspers, a politician with some dangerous ideas about policing the superhuman community. Having escaped from her Earth ten years before, when the purge began, Linda knows how this will end. Things are proceeding here just as they did on her Earth, and she knows another purge is inevitable.

About this time, the Fury returns, a small piece of it having escaped the destruction of its world and finding its way to ours. It has rebuilt itself, and attacks Linda as she leaves Braddock Manor. Cap, the Special Executive, and Linda manage to bury it temporarily, but not without losses. The Executive depart to lick their wounds and Linda, shell-shocked, is escorted away by Saturnyne.

Along the way, we learn that the Vixen is a woman in about her sixties, when she receives a call from Jspers. He knows she now runs STRIKE and wants her to help him eradicate all superhumans. It makes sense that the Vixen would be a woman, since a vixen is a female fox -- but the few mentions of her prior to this revelation usually kept her gender neutral or, on at least one occasion, referred to her as a man -- though possibly by characters who had never met her. Regardless, it's unclear if this is what Chris Claremont had originally intended her to be. A woman, certainly -- Claremont's philosophy has long been, "is there any reason this character can't be a woman?" We will learn later that she is some sort of dominatrix, which fits the Claremont mold quite nicely as well. But I can't help thinking that Claremont's Vixen would have been much younger and hotter. In a way, the decision by Moore and Davis to make her an unattractive middle-aged woman is refreshing.

Moving on, this is where the story begins to lose me a bit. In recent chapters, Moore has thrown in cameos by Arcade, Henry Gyrich, and Sebastian Shaw -- all antagonists from Claremont's X-Men stories -- but when Jaspers' plan succeeds, and all British superhumans are rounded up in concentration camps, we see very little of the larger Marvel Universe's response. I realize the Avengers would probably not interfere in matters of British law, but still -- some reactions from the world's larger superhuman community might have served the story better. As it is, this saga suddenly feels much more isolated from the Marvel Universe than it did previously, even though there weren't a wealth of appearances by other heroes previously, either. But maybe that's just my own weird hang-up.

So -- a great deal of time passes. Internment camps pop up around Britain, but Cap keeps fighting.  The government finds and reactivates the Fury. Jaspers slowly goes just as mad as his alternate world self, even creating a new Crazy Gang to keep him company. Cap challenges Jaspers, but the Fury interrupts their battle. It is about to kill Cap (again) when it catches sight of Jaspers and goes for him instead. Long story short, the Fury kills Jaspers, but then Linda -- spurred into action by Saturnyne -- somehow kills the Fury.

The totally unstoppable, unkillable Fury.

I have to say, it's all very anti-climactic. Captain Britain is reduced to a background character in his own story. We learn that this was all manipulation by Merlyn, having moved every piece into place to allow this to happen. Why? I'm not sure. If his motive was explained, I don't believe it was very clear. But the end result is that the hero of the series sits slack-jawed in the background as one of his greatest enemies kills the other, and then stands idly by again as his friend kills the last one standing.

Brian Braddock meets (some of) the Special Executive
Oh, and somehow Merlyn dies as well. Again, I'm not quite certain why or how, other than that when it looks like his manipulations are about to fail, he keels over and dies. Perhaps he had expended too much power moving everyone into position. There is a bit during the Cap/Linda/Special Exec/Fury fight, where he directly intervenes to help our heroes, so that could be it.

But regardless, he is dead, and Roma takes his place as the Omniversal Guardian. Further, she promotes Saturnyne to the position of Omniversal Majestrix, her right hand. A funeral is held for Merlyn -- attended by a who's who Captain Britain supporting characters from the past, such as the Walkers and elves of Otherworld, the Black Knight, and King Arthur.

Alan Moore's run ends with a bit of a whimper, as far as the action goes. The Fury and Jaspers were both built up into unbeatable threats, and in the end they both were unbeatable -- for Captain Britain, at least. Merlyn's funeral provides a nice coda to the entire saga, but it would have been nice to see Cap take a more active role than that of a helpless bystander in the grand finale to this epic saga. It almost feels like Moore wrote himself into a corner and hastily threw together a conclusion.

Next: Alan Davis takes over sole plotting duties!

* Do you ever get halfway through a sentence and find yourself unable to believe that you're actually typing it? (Apologies to Alan Moore.)


  1. Based solely on your recaps, I can kinda see what Moore is going for in having Linda defeat the Fury - the Captain Britain who failed to save her world from the same fate redeeming herself by saving this one - and that, by necessity, relegates "our" Captain Britain to the sidelines.

    Even then though, it sounds like that idea could have been executed better, and probably even without fully sidelining the main character.

    all British superhumans are rounded up in concentration camps, we see very little of the larger Marvel Universe's response.

    That would be bug me too. In fact, the thing that keeps Kurt Busiek's big Kang War story that he closed out his Avengers run with from being crowned one of my favorite stories is the fact that it was this huge sweeping story that saw heroes locked and major cities destroyed, and was never referenced in any other titles.

    Granted, that's not Busiek's fault, especially since the story occurred at a point in the Quesada/Jemas years where they were adamantly against line-wide continuity, but still. Bugs me every time I read it...

  2. Yes, I get the story he's going for with Linda winning in the end, but in that case, I feel like this should have been a "Captain U.K." series rather than a "Captain Britain" series. That's waht really bothers me about it.

    I recall one mention of the Kang War in another title, which was written by Fabian Nicieza in THUNDERBOLTS. And even then, it was really just minor lip service that wound up making the whole thing feel less important rather than bigger!

    Agreed that it was due to Quesada and Jemas, by the way. If Bob Harras had still been running things, it would have been the year's big crossover event. Heck, even nowadays it would be a big crossover event. There was just that brief, weird period where Marvel was not simply not doing crossovers, they were rabidly anti-crossover.

    1. There was just that brief, weird period where Marvel was not simply not doing crossovers, they were rabidly anti-crossover.

      That was weird. And while I can certainly appreciate their desire to not have a big linewide crossover every year, I didn't like that they took it so far as to actively eliminate nearly ALL inter-universe connections amongst the books, which sucked a lot of fun out of things.

      Basically, I didn't need "Kang War" to be another "Maximum Security" or "Civil War", but handling it like Claremont did the Casket of Ancient Winters in X-Men would have been nice.