Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #384 (April, 1982)
“Friends & Enemies”
Writer – Dave Thorpe
Art – Alan Davis
Letters – Jenny O’Connor
Colors – Helen Nally
Edits – Paul Neary
Cover Price: 63p
Welcome to our second-wave of seminal Captain Britain stories! We kick off the contents of X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain #2 (August, 1995) today… which, is sadly the last issue of this seven-issue miniseries that I own.
The good news is, I have many of the subsequent stories in the turn of the century Captain Britain trade paperback that Marvel put out, which is probably most remembered for Joe Quesada goofing up the indicia to leave some copywrite clarification out of the final product (which was apparently quite the deal-breaker for Alan Moore when it came to him even entertaining working with Marvel again in the future).
We’ll talk about that more later though… for today, we’ve got the penultimate Dave Thorpe chapter!
We open with a “Crommie” walking down a darkened London street… we’ll learn that “Crommie” is code for someone who lives on Cromdale Road… and that each neighborhood in this Crooked London is occupied by turf-protecting gangs. So, this Crommie… Jeff, is wandering through “enemy territory”. He’s doing so in order to check in on a girlfriend of his, who he misses dearly. He is attacked. Nearby, Captain Britain and some members of the Avant Guard prepare to taint the water supply with the Junkheap Juice in order to jumpstart “The Push”.
Brian still seems kind of uneasy about going through with this… but appears to talk himself into it, by revisiting his own recent experience with the stuff. If you recall, he was devolved into a monkey not too long ago… and only after dipping into the juice was he returned to his more Beautiful British Blonde form — even stronger than he was before! He also reflects on the fascist-led Status Crew members he’d had a run-in with… who, seems to evolve mentally after engaging with the juice. His thoughts are interrupted by the nearby gang-beating of the poor Crommie lad.
Captain Britain swoops in, and gathers both Jeff and his local girlfriend, Sharon. The hooligans hurl insults in his direction, but all Brian wants to do is get these kids to safety. I mean, these baddies seem more annoyed than astonished to see a man who can fly!
Brian drops Sharon off at home before taking Jeff back to Cromdale Road. There, he finds that the Crommies have taken up arms… and are looking to enter into some gang warfare with the hooligans.
Well… this was a pretty weak one, wunnit?
I kinda get what they’re going for here… showing these Crooked Londoners as clannish, territorial, and warlike, and maybe justifying the use of the Junkheap Juice to enforce an evolutionary “push” onto them… but, this just kinda fell flat.
I mean, even if we take it as a Romeo and Juliet riff, where we have a couple in love, from two different (and opposing) groups… this still doesn’t quite work. Mostly due to the fact that Sharon doesn’t seem all that interested in Jeff. She doesn’t want to see him hurt, but there’s nothing here that says they’re anything more than passing acquaintances. Well, maybe Jeff’s a bit smitten – but, Sharon seemed more put out than anything.
I gotta wonder if Dave Thorpe realized his time in the writer’s chair was coming to an end here, is it feels like we’re still in world-building mode. Almost half of this story is devoted to recap, and setting the stage for what’s about to come. I dunno… just not a great outing.
Art was still top-notch… so, at least there’s that. Hopefully things will pick back up next chapter… which, again – is Dave Thorpe’s swan song before these pages start getting even more crammed with words!
NEXT CHAPTER: If the Push Should Fail…