Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #387 (July, 1982)
“A Crooked World”
Writer – Alan Moore
Art – Alan Davis
Letters – Jenny O’Connor
Colors – Helen Nally
Edits – Paul Neary
Cover Price: 63p
Well… it’s about to get real, gang.
This is the start of the “meat and potatoes” of this initial X-Lapsed Origins project… “the Alans run”. Today we’re going to meet one of the scariest big bads in comics… The Fury.
It’s also the start of a very interesting (and not at all overdone at the time) deconstruction of the super-hero.
Remember folks, this is a half-decade before Watchmen… and very early into Alan Moore’s amazing run on Marvelman, both of which would explore many similar concepts as we’ll be seeing here. This is gonna be a good time!
Let’s give it a goo…
We open in England… not our England, of course – the Crooked one. We see a bank of monitors being… well, monitored by the Status Crew. They are identified as protectors, which is something we have seen in practice. Of course, they answer to fascists – but, they are – to their minds – protecting the country. They’ve been in power for a decade, and their first order of business was to kill all of the super-heroes. All’s been quiet ever since… until now. The Major, upon seeing the Crookeding of London, assumes that the cause of this is the recent arrival of Captain Britain (and to perhaps a lesser-extent, Saturnyne)… he declares that they have no choice but to unleash — The Fury!
We shift scenes over to the good guys… and the Crookeding of London is making the building they’re holed up in start to crack. Brian wonders if this is a side-effect of “The Push” – Saturnyne assures him that it’s not. They all head outside before being crushed… and find themselves faced by – well, The Fury! This horrendous monster is introduced as a Cybiote whose specialty is… killing super-heroes. It Blasts the Bejeezus outta Betsy’s Beautiful Blonde British Brother Brian!
Brian slumps to the ground… but rallies for a counter-attack. This is quite unsuccessful… The Fury doesn’t even seem to notice that Cap bashed into him with all of his might. Saturnyne siccs the Avant Guard on the beast… but, c’mon… that ain’t gonna do jack. Seeing that this fight is futile… her Royal Whyness blips out with her crew — leaving Brian and Jackdaw to fight The Fury on their own! Worth noting, that while The Fury is scanning Captain Britain here, the narration mentions that the monster was responsible for taking out “the atomic powerhouse called Miracleman” – that’s isn’t going to be the last mention of that character during this run… we’re even going to get to see him (from behind) in a panel!
She also leaves poor Dimples behind! The Fury makes short work of him.
Then — Jackdaw! Brian rushes over and cradles Jack’s dying body. The li’l Elf isn’t too worried though… knowing that Merlin’ll whisk him away to Otherworld before he dies just like the last time. Only… he doesn’t!
An enraged Brian lunges at the Fury… and is swatted away as though he’s nothing!
We wrap up with our hero looking toward the sky… and seeing a teapot-shaped helicopter. The man inside unrolls a ladder and introduces himself as — someone who Brian has already met… Mad Jim Jaspers.
Well, this was just wonderful — wasn’t it?
This chapter was the first bit of vintage Captain Britain I got to experience back upon the release of that turn of the century “Alans” collection. I was not expecting much, to be honest — and really, only bought the thing because, a) I’m an X-Completionist, b) people online were so excited to see this back in print, and c) I heard about the controversy surrounding the indicia snafu, and didn’t wanna miss out.
Well – this was all I had to see to know I’d be hooked. I wanna say I read the entire collection in one sitting… such a captivating, and actually kinda scary story. The Fury is an amazing antagonist… a horrifying perversion of metal with only a single mission statement: Kill Super-Heroes. We don’t have to worry about rationalizing, justifying, or humanizing The Fury. It is only here to kill. And, how bout that design? Simple but horrendously scary. I love how its eyes are instantly recognizable. If you were to see those glowing shapes in the darkness, you’d know exactly what you’re about to be dealing with.
I love the presentation here – I mean, how can you beat The Fury? There’s a reason why Chris Claremont originally wanted to use The Fury for the Mutant Massacre — I mean, really – how do you beat it? This is gonna be a fun read.
Let’s talk “playing the ball where it lay”, because this is a problem I have with a lot of current-year comics. New writers come on and much of what came before their run is immediately jettisoned to make room for their “opus”. Here, Moore is playing with the concepts and table-setting established by the Dave Thorpe run. Mad Jim Jaspers, the Status Crew, The Push. Now, this is kind of a chicken and egg situation, I suppose – I’m not sure how much input Moore might’ve had in setting up what was to be his run… but, if he’s simply building off of the foundation Thorpe had put down – this is a heckuva way to do it!
Now, we lose Jackdaw here. This was one of the few things I remembered about these early Moore chapters — and why I was kind of confused when Jackdaw was already killed a few chapters back. I knew he wasn’t long for the world — but, was sure that wasn’t his actual death. As for his death scene here — it’s really well done! I love that he isn’t scared… he’s sure Merlin was going to save him — but then, he didn’t! Really such a powerful little scene there.
Saturnyne establishing herself as less heroic was a nice touch. We’ve never been sure exactly what her constitution or alignment was to this point. We know she had a task to accomplish — and that she was willing to work alongside Brian in order to get it done, but that’s really all we knew. Now we can see her a bit more clearly — she’s looking out for herself, and only for herself. She even leaves her poor lovestruck assistant, Dimples behind without a thought!
One last thing before we close out – this chapter includes a mention of Miracleman — and, if you know me, you know I’m going to talk about that. I’m a little confused here, as at this point (1982), Miracleman is still known as Marvelman. I wonder, did these panels read “Marvelman” in the original Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) mags? Or, was it always “Miracleman”? One might suggest that this Miracleman isn’t the same as the Miracleman we all know — but, a bit later on during this run, we’re going to actually see him. It’s from behind, but there’s no mistaking that this Miracleman is Mike Moran.
Overall – this is a goodie, which I implore you all to check out. This is just the opening salvo for The Alans… and, at the risk of over-selling things, it gets even better from here.
NEXT CHAPTER: Kiss Me Quick