Monday, September 23, 2013


Presenting a special extra-length post to close out the Classic Captain Britain era!

When last we saw Captain Britain, he was on his way home from Sat-Yr-9's parallel Earth.  He arrives in time to console his sister, Betsy, following her murder -- in self-defense -- of Kaptain Briton.  Shortly thereafter, Mastermind reveals to Brian and Betsy that their father was not a human being as they had always believed, but a citizen of Otherworld and a chief adviser to Merlyn.  Mastermind then takes on the holographic appearance of a human butler, to better serve Brian and his family.

Meanwhile, Garbriel and Michael, agents of the Resources Control Executive ("RCX"), the agency which has replaced STRIKE, have tracked down Linda McQuillan, Captain U.K., who is living in peace on our Earth.  They introduce her to the Warpies, mutated children created by the Jaspers' warp.  They want Linda to help them coerce Captain Britain into serving them as a symbol, hopefully preventing a coup of the British government due to civil unrest created by the reality warp.

Brian refuses, with one of the greatest lines in all the Captain Britain mythos (at right).  Until that moment, Captain Britain had never really done or said anything to live up to his name.  He was a hero to be sure, but never a particularly patriotic one.  For a borderline jingoist like myself, it was a pleasure to reach this panel and see that yes, Brian does have some pride in his country, even if he isn't as overt about it as Captain America (aside from the costume made out of the flag, of course).

Anyway -- before Brian's refusal can be fully debated, a group of dangerous creatures called the Cherubim escape from the RCX vehicle outside and begin to wreak havoc on Braddock Manor.  Captains Britain and U.K., along with Betsy, defeat the creatures, and during the conflict Meggan unlocks a shapeshifting power within her, changing into a beautiful girl.  It seems she was never truly a were-bat; this form was created by her subconscious through the superstitions of the people she grew up with.

It's interesting to note that the story isn't shy about pairing Cap and Meggan after her transformation into a sex goddess.  Brian had little interest in the girl before her metamorphosis, but almost immediately afterward, they become a couple.  Further, issues of EXCALIBUR by both Chris Claremont and Alan Davis will explore whether or not Brian has anything other than a physical attraction to Meggan.

Following the fight, Betsy allows the Warpies to move into Braddock Manor as a safe haven.  Brian is not pleased, but soon leaves the house when he receives a call from his older brother, Jamie, who is being held at the mercy of an African witch doctor named Joshua N'Dingi -- a.k.a. Dr. Crocodile (or Doc Croc for short).  Cap and Meggan go to Jamie's rescue, but when Brian learns Jamie is being held due to his part in a human trafficking ring, he leaves his brother to the mercy of Doc Croc.

Jamie's story is short -- too short, in my opinion, for the subject matter.  In just one issue, we learn that Jamie was corrupted by the wealth and power he gained as a champion race driver, and that he somehow descended down a path that eventually led to him dealing in slavery (sexual and otherwise, it appears).  Another issue to flesh this backstory out would have been nice, especially since the following story is a simple throwaway tale in which Cap and Meggan meet the mythical witch, Baba Yaga.

But Jamie's story is over, or so we believe... this would have been an acceptable end-point for him, but Chris Claremont, never one known for his ability to leave "good enough" alone, will make some questionable choices in revisiting Jamie in the pages of EXCALIBUR.

Cap and Meggan next find themselves transported to the distant past to rescue Gatecrasher from imprisonment at the hands of a band of Incas.  This is another throwaway story, but a fun one.  When Cap and Meggan return finally to the present and to Braddock Manor, they find that the RCX has outfitted Betsy with a Captain Britain uniform, and had Linda train her in its use.  Betsy now serves as the symbol Brian refused to be, prompting Brian to crush his helmet and quit the role of Captain Britain.

But Brian's retirement is short lived.  Having been trained fully by Linda, Betsy heads out to a high noon showdown with the Vixen and Slaymaster, wearing a special costume to increase his strength.  Slaymaster makes short work of Betsy, slicing her eyes and blinding her.

Brian, now living in an isolated lighthouse with Meggan, receives a psychic cry for help from his twin.  He races to his sister's aid, beats Slaymaster to a pulp, and kills him.  Realizing that if he doesn't reassume the role of Captain Britain, the RCX will simply find someone else to do it, he dons his uniform once more.

As an X-Men fan, having known for many years that Betsy was blinded by Slaymaster, I think I had built this story up in my head to the point that anything would be a disappointment, and disappointed I was in Betsy's brief stint as Captain Britain.  Her "on panel" time in the role lasted only a single issue, and her fight with Slaymaster was not the culmination of any sort of ongoing story, but rather simply her responding to an invitation from the Vixen to come get beat up.  The moment of her blinding, and the scene where Cap kills Slaymaster were both as powerful as I had expected, but there was no build-up to make them seem like a payoff to anything.

The final issue of CAPTAIN BRITAIN is notable for being the first collaboration between Alan Davis and Mark Farmer.  Farmer has been Davis's regular inker for about two decades now, to the point their names are practically inseparable in comic book credits.  In the story, Dai Thomas confronts Brian at his lighthouse and reveals that he knows who he truly is.  He needs Captain Britain's help for a case, and he has swallowed his pride to ask for it.

Cap and Meggan work with Thomas to solve a string of serial murders, while at the same time the various members of Cap's cast are given send-offs:
  • Betsy, still living with the Warpies, plans a trip to Switzerland (where we will find her the very next year in a NEW MUTANTS annual by Chris Claremont).
  • Emma Collins is dying, and Mastermind takes her on a cruise to give her some time off in her last days.
  • Roma gives Captain U.K. a new Earth to protect -- Sat-Yr-9's world -- and reunites her with the lover she thought killed by the Fury on her original Earth.
  • Dai Thomas and Captain Britain finally bury the hatchet after years of animosity.
And thus ends the saga of Captain Britain as a solo character.



  1. Chris Claremont ... will make some questionable choices in revisiting Jamie in the pages of EXCALIBUR.

    Huh. I always thought more of that Jamie stuff came from pre-Excalibur Captain Britain stories, but I guess not.

  2. That surprised me, too. I had assumed he'd always been a reality-warper, but in every pre-EXCALIBUR appearance, he's just a normal guy. I think my issue is that almost everyone in the family has retroactively become "special" -- and not all by Claremont's hand.

    But you have Brian, who is chosen/destined to be Captain Britain; Betsy, who is a mutant telepath; Jamie, who is a mutant reality-warper; and their father, who was Merlyn's right-hand man in Otherworld. I guess the mom was probably normal, but that's it.

    On the other hand, though, I suppose the fact that their father is an extra-dimensional being could explain the three kids. It still all feels somewhat thrown together, though.

    1. On the other hand, though, I suppose the fact that their father is an extra-dimensional being could explain the three kids. It still all feels somewhat thrown together, though.

      There's definitely a tipping point at work. One random member of a family having super-powers is fine, but the more "special" characters you add, the more necessary it becomes to explain how this one family has so many special characters in it beyond coincidence. So in that regard, making the dad be connected to Merlin makes some sense.