Monday, September 9, 2013


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.


  1. 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.

    Jarring it may be, but there's something to be said for the economy of the occasional "shut up, that's why" explanation, especially when it comes to something like a costume change (when the real explanation is obviously that the creator wanted to change it).

    Do you know if these stories were reprinted anywhere other than the omnibus? I have the two recent pre-Davis hardcover collections and the Moore/Davis trade (which reprinted the old X-Men Archive reprints of that material), but someday I'd like to read all this pre-Excalibur Captain Britain stuff, and that omnibus, being out of print, is hella expensive.

  2. I agree to some extent on the costume change business, but my brain won't let me move past it without some sort of explanation! Even a passing comment that Merlin changed it just for giggles would be fine.

    For some reason I thought these stories were in the X-MEN ARCHIVES series, but I could be mistaken. I do know they were collected pretty recently in a single trade by Panini in the U.K., though buying them would obviously entail international shipping costs. Otherwise, I'm not sure if they've shown up anywhere. Which seems really odd, since without them the Moore run begins unintentionally en media res, with little explanation as to what has gone before.


  3. @Teebore: // someday I'd like to read all this pre-Excalibur Captain Britain stuff //

    Ditto. It's been long enough since I bought the 1988 Davis-&-Delano TPB and that 1995 X-Men Archives mini that reprinted the two Alans' stuff just before it (which per the GCD apparently did begin with the Dave Thorpe material) that I don't mind buying that stuff again in a deluxe edition to have the whole saga together. Like you say, though, I don't want to pay a premium for it and would be happy to just have it on Marvel Unlimited.

    1. I think a small handful of the Davis/Delano stuff is on Unlimited, but otherwise that library is pretty short on Captain Britain material. And of course the Omnibus commands a hefty price on the aftermarket these days. But lately Marvel has returned some of their older Omnibus volumes to print, and/or re-released them in trade paperback format. Perhaps we could see the same happen for Cap.