Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #377 (September, 1981)
“The Return of Captain Britain”
Writer – Dave Thorpe
Art – Alan Davis
Letters – Peri Godbold
Colors – Helen Nalley
Edits – Paul Neary
Cover Price: 56p
Well, just what in the heck is this???
An actual blog post at the humble blog? Well, in short – yeah! This is a little project I’ve been considering for awhile now… just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it.
Part of me considered making this yet another audio endeavor… but, let’s face it, my voice is all over the place right now, and isn’t impressing all that many folks!
Also, I really missed the blogging format. Even though Blogger is still kind of a pain in the butt (well, actually quite the pain in the butt), I still have this desire to continue working in the written format.
I apologize for the shift in direction over the past… well, nearly a year, at this point. Those of you who have been with me from the get-go (or for a long while anyway) will hopefully understand and appreciate, that after a certain event, I needed to “shift gears”, so to speak.
I also apologize for this new direction… as, it’s most definitely not a return to the old “Random DC Comics Reviews” format that I’d long established here. Instead, I’m looking at backfilling some of our knowledge base for the X-Lapsed podcast.
For those who are listening, first: thank you… it’s been an interesting experiment shifting from daily blogging to daily podcasting – and, at this point, we’re over six-months in… with new content on the channel each and every day. Second: you’ll know that we recently wrapped up the 22-part X of Swords (or, as we affectionately call it “Ecks of Tens”) event crossover.
This is a story based out of Otherworld… and predicated on a lot of early Captain Britain lore. While I’ve waxed nostalgic over my experience with the Alans Moore and Davis Captain Britain stories… it’s been such a long time since I revisited them that I feel as though I may’ve missed out on some of the context of the story… and, as such – failed in my attempt to pass that context along to the listeners.
And so… X-Lapsed Origins!
Here, with this “sister series” which mixes our X-Lapsed medias, I’m hoping to provide some broader context… while also perhaps introducing less-seasoned X-Fans to some seminal stories which still resonate and inform the books to this very day. Sometimes we’ll bump into contradictions… but, heck – that’s half the fun, right there!
Without any further ado… let’s check out “The Return of Captain Britain” from 1981.
We open with… an INFO PAGE! Okay, okay… I’m kidding. But, not really. Ya see, I’m using X-Men Archives #1 (July, 1995) to get this story, which is a strange and almost anachronistic book indeed. We’ll talk more about that later… but, for now – this INFO PAGE gets us caught up on what’s been going on in Brian’s story to this point. Basically, Captain Britain and his elf pal Jackdaw just helped the Black Knight and Merlin thwart a threat in Otherworld (Brian also appeared and competed in the Marvel Super Heroes Contest of Champions event miniseries), and now – he’s been sent back to Earth. Along the way, Brian’s costume changes from its original design, to it’s more familiar one… also, his power sceptre vanishes – more on that in a bit.
Our hero (and his pal) plop down in the UK, where they find themselves faced off with… The Crazy Gang! This is the first appearance of a character who will loom quite large during this endeavor… and is still relevant now: Mad Jim Jaspers! He is flanked by… well, the Crazy Gang: Jack of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, Coco, Executioner, Tweedledope, Dormouse, and the Conjurors. They immediately enter into battle.
Brian is unsure as to how he’ll be able to defend himself and battle these baddies without his magic sceptre… but, he manages to knock the Executioner for a loop with a punch. He then hops out a window… freaks out for a moment about his inability to fly without that, ya know, magic sceptre — only to realize that he doesn’t appear to need it anymore. He assumes that Merlin simply transferred the sceptre’s power to his new costume.
Mad Jim then throws an exploding teapot at the Captain… which, sounds like something I’m making up – but, it’s not!
Jackdaw slides in to swipe the Conjurors’ magic wands… Brian bumrushes them (along with Jack of Hearts) from behind… causing a whole lot of coin to go flying… much to a pair of hoboes delight.
The Crazy Gang then make their daring exit. After tossing a smoke bomb, they load onto their… teapot-shaped helicopter, and make like a tree. This leaves Brian and Jackdaw pondering exactly what just happened… and, well – they’re both at a loss. Our hero then picks up some of the coins… which he doesn’t recognize at all. On the wall is a political poster… which, doesn’t mean a whole heckuva lot to me – but tells Captain Britain that… this isn’t the UK (or England… or Great Britain) he remembers.
Well, this is weird one, innit?
First, I gotta say – this must’ve been a spectacularly hard-sell back in ye old 1995. I mean, even if you were tangentially familiar with the Captain Britain lore… you might come into this thinking (and hoping) it’s the Alan Moore run… or, maybe the original Claremont run – but, no! It’s the bridge between the two. Alan Moore’s story doesn’t even start until the next issue of X-Men Archives! This means there are seven Dave Thorpe chapters in this first ish.
This issue has a foreword by Alan Davis, which is titled: “Stick With it, it gets Better!” (included below), which isn’t much of a ringing endorsement, is it? But, it is true.
While this short story (it’s an eight-pager, all of these installments will be short – remember, these are from the UK weeklies) didn’t exactly rock my socks… and, honestly, without the INFO PAGE I’d have been completely lost (actually even with the INFO PAGE I was still kinda grasping), I did enjoy this.
It was cool getting to see the first appearance of Mad Jim Jaspers… who, as mentioned, will loom large as we proceed. The rest of The Crazy Gang characters… ehh, I mean, they are what they are. They look to be… well, very British. Which, isn’t a qualifier or indictment in either direction – but, nonetheless… I mean, I don’t think you could mistake them for being anything but a British creation.
We learn a little bit about Brian’s new powerset here… with no more reliance on his magic sceptre. Instead his powers seem to be imbued by his new costume. Definitely a shift to the status quo… and, I’m glad we get it out of the way here – albeit in kind of a clunky way. Some of these thought-balloons were so fumbling and overwritten it almost justifies Marvel abandoning them in later years.
Overall – I think this is going to be a fun little experiment. Not sure what the schedule will be… or, even if there’ll be one. I definitely want to hear your thoughts as we work our way through — and also, if you have any suggestions for any post-Captain Britain X-Lapsed Origins subjects, please send them my way!
Look forward to introductions of many Otherworldly concepts… such as Saturnyne and more from Mad Jim! We might even see some more Braddocks… and believe it or not, we’re going to get a neat little reference to MiracleMan to boot!
NEXT CHAPTER: Outcasts by Thorpe and Davis
Please follow and like us: