X-Lapsed Origins – Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #388 (1982)

Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #388 (August, 1982)

“Graveyard Shift”
Writer – Alan Moore
Art – Alan Davis
Letters – Jenny O’Connor
Colors – Helen Nally
Edits – Paul Neary
Cover Price: 63p

Today we’re taking a look at the second chapter of the Alans run on Captain Britain.  As we saw last time, our new creative team isn’t exactly shy about killing off characters… we lost us a Jackdaw and a Dimples!  Heavens me!

I wonder if our new scribe might try and top himself here.

We might just find out that not even our titular hero is safe!

Let’s gooo!

We open with The Fury watching the broken Captain Britain as he pulls himself into Mad Jim Jasper’s teapot chopper.  It’s made clear here (and even clearer in just a bit) that despite Brian apparently fleeing… the cybiote beast is not done with him.  We next join Beautiful Bri as he questions Mad Jim – blaming him for everything that’s gone on since he’d arrived in this twisted version of London.

This leads us to a bit of a quick n dirty origin for Mister Jaspers… and the take on him that we would see very briefly during the Claremont run leading up to the Mutant Massacre.  James Jaspers was a power-player in the government, who made the suggestion that it would be in the best interest of everybody that super-heroes not only be banned… but wiped out.  He used scare tactics to sway the people to his cause… and even created The Fury as his means to an end in achieving his goal.  Ya see, the gimmick here is that Jaspers himself is a Mutant (with reality-warping powers, naturally)… and, he didn’t want any super-powered competition.

It’s also made quite clear here that “Mad” isn’t just a silly descriptor for this fella… he’s flat-out insane.  The scene twists a bit — and Brian can see that the inside of this tiny teapot chopper is actually quite huge… impossibly huge.  Deep inside, he sees a banquet hall and a long table.  Seated there are some of his fallen friends, including Algernon, Dimples, and poor ol’ Jackdaw.  They all have sinister smiles on their faces.

Brian is then approached by the face of a child, who asks him for some money.  This is the same child who Brian had creepily asked if they “believed in magic” a few chapters back.  Our hero can’t take it anymore – and so, he books it out of the chopper.  Unfortunately for him, he cannot summon enough concentration to attain flight… and so, he crashes down to the ground below.  Turns out he’s landed in a superhero graveyard.  He walks past several headstones (including one for… Miracleman!).

He finally comes across the open grave for Captain UK.  Now, we’ve heard a little bit about this Captain earlier in this run… but, outside of knowing that they had vanished, we don’t know all that much.  Brian kneels down before the freshly dug grave and sobs.  He wants to know why Merlin would send him to such a place.  He doesn’t get long to ponder this, however, as… The Fury has not given up its hunt.  The Cybiote Blasts Betsy’s Beautiful Blonde Brother Brian from Behind until all that’s left of him are a Bundle of British Bones!

We wrap up elsewhere, with a woman suddenly shocked to attention — as though somebody had just walked over her grave.  Hmm…?

Another great chapter — and what an ending!

The Fury achieves its goal in taking out — what might be the only remaining hero on this Crooked Earth… and we get to learn quite a bit about Mad Jim Jaspers.  I love how silly and petty his entire rationale is.  He’s a powered Mutant… and, ushered in this wave of fear over the masses simply because he didn’t want any super-powered competition!  How great (and “Mad”) is that?

I enjoyed seeing his origins… finding out that this weirdo creep was, at one time, a mover and shaker in the government.  Not only that, he was apparently a trusted member of government.  Seeing this again only makes me wish that Claremont was allowed to use him as part of the Mutant Massacre.  For folks unaware (though, if you’re reading this minutia-laden blog post, you probably already know this), Claremont had introduced Sir James Jaspers during the Trial of Magneto in Uncanny X-Men #200 (December, 1985) – allegedly with designs on using him (and The Fury) as part of the Mutant Massacre.

From Uncanny X-Men #200 (December, 1985)
Chris Claremont (w) / John Romita, Jr. (a)

He is presented as a normal fella here… and, I would have to assume that most American X-Fans of the day didn’t have much of a clue that this dude was significant in any way.

The “madness” effects here were very well done.  I loved Jaspers’ hat changing from panel to panel… as well as the nightmarish banquet scene which haunted Brian to the point where he literally threw himself out of a hovering helicopter!  It was a great way to show just how Jaspers’ madness was permeating into our hero’s mind… and a sure sign of just how powerful a whatever-path Mad Jim truly is.

I suppose we ought to talk about the death of Captain Britain here, no?  I’m not sure anybody was buying this for a second… but, there’s a certain amount of genius to it which might not be immediately apparent to those of us reading this in collected edition… or, with four-decades of hindsight.  This is actually the final Captain Britain chapter to appear in Marvel Super-Heroes (UK).  Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #389 (September, 1982) only features a three-page text-piece on Cap by Alan Moore (included below).

Captain Britain would actually vanish for five-months (publishing time), returning as a strip in Marvel UK’s new anthology mag, The Daredevils – which, in addition to Cap, would feature: Daredevil (duh), and Spider-Man.  This sort of break in publication isn’t something we see often… my mind immediately goes to the couple of months that DC Comics dropped the Super-books from the schedule following Funeral for a Friend.  It’s a great tactic to really “sell” that our character might actually be gone.

We wrapped with a shot of a woman… who, I mean – we all know this is Captain UK, right?  It’s not like it’s being presented as a big secret or anything — but, this is worth mentioning as it’s a seminal bit in the journey to establish the Captain Britain Corps.

Overall – still really enjoying this — and I hope you are as well!  Please feel free to drop a comment or shoot me an email!

NEXT CHAPTER: Captain Britain’s strip returns… five-months later – in a completely different Marvel Mag!  Boy howdy, these British books are hard to navigate!

Alan Moore Text Piece from Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #389:

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