X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain #2 (1995)
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.
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.
Picking up right where we left off, Captain Britain is delivering the Crommie lad, Jeff back to his Crommie kin. They’re happy and relieved to see him, however are outraged at the Block 45 Gang for attacking him. They’ve bout had enough… and it’s time to finally put an end to this turf war. Brian bugs out to check in with a member of the Avant Guard to see how close they are to getting “The Push” flowin’ through the reservoirs. While there, chatting up the Guard, Cap is shocked to see — his old pal Jackdaw! Jack tells Brian that he’s got a plan to stop the fighting while The Push is being prepared.
And so, lickety-split, Brian Britain is back in battle… well, stopping a battle, I suppose. He uses his forcefield to push the warring gangs apart while making a sorta God-like speech, threatening retribution and whatnot. This… doesn’t work so well.
Thankfully, it does manage to buy Jackdaw enough time to enact his plan… which is, well — so very British. Ya see, he offers them all tea. They ain’t in the mood to drink, however. And so, Jack uses his mental powers to convince them to drink… and so, they do. Here’s the rub — the “tea” they’re drinking is actually laced with the Junkheap Juice… so, a few sips in, it’s all good in the hood(s).
We wrap up with our good guys celebrating the fact that The Push was a success… This weird London has been 95% successful in its evolution… so, high-fives all around!
But hey… we’re certainly not going to leave this on such a high note, are we? After all… who was that fella from the first chapter? Ya know… dude with a little mustache, and a teapot shaped helicopter? Who was that guy? Anybody remember? Well, Brian, Jackdaw, and Saturnyne (with a “Y” now) sure don’t. Whatever happened to Mad Jim Jaspers? Well… seems he was just biding his time… letting the heroes do their thing before deciding to strike — and boy, does he! We wrap up this run of Captain Britain stories with this alternate London… going all shades of (literally) CROOKED!
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!
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!
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.
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…?
|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.
We open with the proclamation that Captain Britain is dead. We zoom into a small planetoid shape, which the deeper we go looks more and more machine-like… full of metal pipes and whatnot. When we finally arrive at the core, we meet Roma and her father, Merlin who have been able to collect a precious few pieces from the remains of Captain Britain… mostly some of Beautiful Brian’s British Bones. Also, I’d assume a rag and a hank of hair, if the chapter title is to be believed.
Roma is tasked with using these remains to craft a new body for our hero… while Merlin attempts to piece together splinters of Brian’s personality – which conveniently facilitates a look back at Brian’s memories… ie, his character-career to this point. While Roma does her hoodoo, Merlin tells us a little bit about who Brian Braddock was. He was a twin, part of a poor family, a somewhat introverted student of science.
He fancied himself a student of physics, as it was a cold and precise science, without any ambiguities. Hmm… in the Marvel Universe? I’d think concepts of physics would be anything but precise there. Anyhoo, his parents would pass away in an accident, which only made Brian more introverted and withdrawn. One day while working at the Darkmoore Research Centre, the place was attacked by a man named Joshua Stragg – also known as The Reaver. Brian fled the scene, however, stumbled into his own origin story – wherein, he was offered that choice – ya know, the Sword or the Amulet. Brian would become Captain Britain. Roma wonders if he’d have been happier just living an ordinary life… but, Merlin ain’t hearin’ none’a that.
As Captain Britain, Brian would find his worldview challenged (science vs. sorcery) having some strange adventures indeed… tangling with Vampires, Dire Wolves, and the Children of the Shadowlands. This would ultimately drive him kinda batty… to the point where, at one point he threw himself from a plane. Hmm, that seems to be a tough habit to break for our hero. He’d land in the drink, and wash up on a beach in Cornwall without any of his memories. He’d live in solitude for two years before being called upon again… this time, teaming with Dane Whatshisface, the Black Knight in Otherworld.
From here, we skip ahead to Captain Britain (in his current day togs), finally at peace as a being of both science and magic, being sent outta Otherworld along with his Elfin Associate, Jackdaw. Sent back to Earth… but, not his Earth. This is the story we’ve been covering to this point.
Then, a quick n dirty retelling of the last several chapters – Mad Jim Jaspers creating The Fury as a way to eliminate all super-types in his crooked world (except himself)… and The Fury ultimately SKARAKing Beautiful Brian to death.
By this point, Roma has finished putting the pieces back together… and Captain Britain’s body is finally ready to receive some magical shock paddles. Merlin does the thing… and our hero is back among the living. As he wakes, he’s sent plunging back down to Darkmoor, and the circle of stones. Brian wakes up, and thanks God that he’s back on his home Earth.
We wrap up back in Otherworld, with Roma asking her father why he didn’t show himself to Brian. To which, Merlin shapeshifts (for some reason) asking which form he should have shown him. Roma sheds a single tear for the poor doomed Captain, and we’re outta here.
We close out this issue of X-Men Archives with… a bit of filler. This is the story that appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes (UK) #385 (May, 1982). Ya see, the story that was supposed to be slotted here was, according to several British comics historians, supposed to be an overtly political tale which would mirror some at-the-time recent events going on in Northern Ireland. Marvel UK wasn’t keen on all’a that… and, in fact, artist Alan Davis allegedly threatened to quit the book if the story went to print. This is what would lead to Dave Thorpe leaving the strip. While on the subject of Dave Thorpe, my research tells me that Alan Davis attributes the Marvel Universe “616” designation to him. That’s news to me – I had always seen Alan Moore credited with that! Anyhoo – there’s not much to this story… it’s pure filler, wherein “Binary Beings” spot Captain Britain and Jackdaw passing through limbo on their way from Otherworld to the Crooked Earth (if we were numbering this chapter, it’d be zero). The gimmick here is… well, unclear. One of the Binary Beings represents the mind… the other, the body – I think? Our heroes find themselves zapped on board.
Brian finds himself before another pair of Binary Aliens… who have apparently taken Jackdaw for dissection. Poor elf can’t catch a break. I think these aliens assume that, since they are two-person acts – then so too is Captain Britain and Jackdaw? I think? This is kind of a mess.
Captain Britain fights his way to Jackdaw – and rescues him before a chicken-headed scientist can start cutting him into pieces. Brian grabs the chicken-head’s “other half” (again, I think…) and threatens to take him out if they’re not allowed to leave.
Our heroes go to flee… and find themselves engaged in battle with robots. Jackdaw uses his psychic energy to amplify the alien teleport system… which ultimately boots them from – wherever the hell they were. It’s actually a cool little effect here – the panel itself actually crumples like paper, with Jack and Bri kinda getting tangled in it.
We close out with the revelation that neither of our heroes will remember this encounter… and, honestly – that’s probably for the best… because I doubt they’d be able to explain it if they did!