Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #381 (January, 1982)
Writer – Dave Thorpe
Art – Alan Davis
Letters – Jenny O’Connor
Colors – Helen Nally
Edits – Paul Neary
Cover Price: 63p
Today’s piece is sorta-kinda special… well, as special as a short discussion of an ancient non-Alan Moore-written Captain Britain strip might be.
This chapter was actually recently reprinted as part of Marvel’s TRUE BELIEVERS reprint line… and, as such – should be quite easy to come by if you’re looking to follow along with this series, or just to experience the fun on your own.
We’re going to be getting into some Saturnyne here… including the first time she’s actually called that. If you’re interested in learning more about Her Royal Whyness, then these next few chapters will be right up your alley!
We open with Jackdaw cradling the devolved Captain Britain. The Avant Guard inform our Elf pal that he’s coming with them. He doesn’t wanna… but, has very little choice in the matter. They decide to leave Betsy’s Beautiful Monkey Brother behind, as they are sure he poses them absolutely no threat. Hmm… these Avant Guards are kinda dumb, no? From here, we pop in on Whitehall’s Corridors of Power, where a Secretary is flapping his gums about this new colorful costumed character who just appeared – referring, of course, to Captain Britain. Now, Whitehall – is apparently a road in Westminster which runs toward Parliament Square. I had no idea, but I suppose it’s good to know! Anyhoo, this Secretary orders that the “Status Crew” (oof) are sent out to deal with Cap.
Elsewhere, poor radical Jackdaw is hooked up to a machine of sorts while her Royal Whyness examines him. This is the first time she refers to herself as Saturnine (with an “I” instead of a “Y”). She finds the li’l Elf to be kinda cute… and suggests that bringing back Brian is something she might decide to do.
Speaking of which, at that very moment – Captain Monkey is bathed in that same Junkheap Juice… which causes him to re-volve into his human form. As this plays out, Saturnine informs Jackdaw about her plan. Ya see, she’s here at the behest of the DDC (Dimensional Development Court). Her job is to bring the most primitive of Alternate Earths up to a certain level so that the DDC’s “50,000 Year Programme” can usher the Earth Series into a new era. I’m explaining this rather poorly… but, it is a bit abstract.
Saturnine has been tasked with “leveling up” this Crooked Earth… which takes us back to “The Push” that we heard about last chapter. This “Push” has to do with the evolutionary Junkheap Juice – this liquid evolves things upon contact, which would accomplish the Lady’s current mission. As she’s spilling these beans, Captain Britain bursts through a wall to confront her.
Jackdaw attempts to convince Brian that Saturnine is one of the good guys here… which, I mean – knowing what we know about her now, is kind of a hard pill to swallow, innit? I suppose she’s more a force of chaos than evil… but, still. Anyhoo, this discussion is interrupted by the arrival of… oy… the Status Crew.
Another fun chapter… and a really neat bit of (alternate) world building!
I’m really digging how the information we’re getting has been dealt out in dribs and drabs over the course of these first few chapters. There’s some “high concept” stuff at play here, but the way it’s being delivered makes it relatively easy to digest (though, admittedly – still kind of challenging to explain… at least with my own limited abilities).
I appreciate Saturn(i)ne being depicted here as something of a nebulous entity – Brian isn’t sure if she is someone he ought to trust… and, the reader likely isn’t either. That would go on to be Opal Luna’s lot in life, even to our present day Ecks of Tens. Her task here is an interesting one – leveling up this “primitive” Alternate Earth (which doesn’t exactly appear to be all-that primitive… but, I suppose that’s all relative) so that her bosses can usher in this “new Era”. Doing so via a weird evolutionary fluid is an interesting approach… almost too easy, and certainly too easily exploited. Looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
This Crooked London being presented as a place without superheroes is cool as well. Superheroes were “banned during the sixties” here. We know that there once was a Captain UK, but no longer. I’m assuming we’ll be learning more about that as we continue on.
Adding to our punny groups, we meet the “Status Crew” here – almost certainly (I mean, c’mon) a play on “status quo”… which, when put into context, is really a perfect name for them. I know I kinda groaned when I heard their name the first time – but, I gotta say – it’s perfect! To be fair, I often groan anytime Peter David uses puns… even though, it’s almost always done creatively… and I totally love when he does it.
Overall – another great building-block chapter… really looking forward to more!
NEXT CHAPTER: Against the Realm!