Sunday, 28 September 2008

A reader asks...

Hello, once again.

Most weeks now I find myself receiving emails from people who read this blog, asking questions about Marvel UK. Since the successful launch of Captain Britain and MI:13 there have certainly been more, and while I usually tend to reply to those individually sometimes I find myself wishing I'd answered those on the blog itself.

So, having received this email with a couple of questions from Samuel Voke, today, I thought I'd take the time to do just that. Sam wants to know:

I have been a fan of Captain Britain since I found some old copies of Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain about thirteen years ago under some carpeting my parents were taking out and I am also a long term fan of Excalibur. But I will be the first to admit I am no a marvel historian or expert, and was wondering if you could clarify what Brian's position was on the Civil War, and if it was ever put into an issue (perhaps fleetingly in a Claremont issue of Exiles or New Excalibur). I would have loved to have seen Stark fly to Britain and try influence our regulation on Superheroes.

I would have liked to have seen that too, Sam. I was always kind of disappointed that with New Excalibur being in such a prize position to interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe that it never really took advantage of that. It is a shame. There was no New Excalibur Civil War tie-in, I'm afraid. I think that Chris Claremont kind of missed a trick there. However, as far as Cap himself appearing in Civil War goes that did happen. And in the most unusual place - Black Panther #22. See below (Click to enlarge)

This was all during T'Challa and Storm's kind of World Tour to drum up support against the American Registration Act. During Civil War, of course (Regardless of how hard different titles tried), things all very much came down to Captain America's anti-registration effort being the good guys and Iron Man's pro-registration campaign being the bad. And so at the time that this was printed Brian does kind of come off as a bit of an ass for seeming to support registration.

But it's not as simple as that. For one you do have to remember that at the time Excalibur, as with the original incarnation of the group in its early days, was very closely allied to the British government's department for weird happenings (MI:13, just as the original had been tied to W.H.O.). And at the time of Civil War a British Registration Act was being brought through - as described in Civil War: Battle Damage Report:

We assume from comments made by Paul Cornell in earlier interviews that this bill was passed as an Act of Parliament in Great Britain. The concessions described above more than likely refer to the less extreme approach to the enforcement of the Act itself. For example, as of Captain Britain and MI:13 #1 the Prime minister states that as of the Skrull Invasion all powered heroes in Britain now work for MI:13. But it's not like anybody is actually going to go out and round them up to assist that. It much more voluntary. This is a Nation which had Conscription in two world wars, and a long memory of that. If conscription were attempted in Britain today it would almost certainly not work. There would be riots and disorder, and a lot of people refusing to go to war.

Brian is pictured in Civil War: Battle Damage report alongside Pete Wisdom, Alistaire Stuart, Union Jack, Lance Hunter (Former Director of S.T.R.I.K.E.), Joseph Hauer (Super Soldier) and Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison to the UK - since been revealed as a Skrull) looking over the Bill. Knowing those concessions may have been Brian's chief reason for being in favour of the Act - perhaps not being quite aware of the less public facing elements of Civil War Stateside.

You've also got to remember that Brian is very proud to be a hero. He's worked very hard to gain that positive public image. In America costumed heroes like The Avengers were welcomed by US citizens, that wasn't so much the case in Britain. In fact within many areas of society, and particularly from within the law enforcement community, they were not look upon favourably. Brian had to fight damned hard to be seen as a force for good in those early days. His old room-mate, from his tenure in America, taught him a certain mantra about 'Power and Responsibility' which he was rather fond of ;D. A philosophy young Brian took to heart - and one he very much believes ALL heroes should.

His stance in that issue very much follows through into his work with the new MI:13. All of these heroes are working for the British Government through the Registration Act. This is the practical application of that view point transferred into a working team. We'll see just how well it works in practice over the coming months of course...

I hope that answers that question, Sam, or at least gives you some material to form your own opinion from it. Now, onto your second:

Also (and I don’t know if I'm making this up) but I think at one stage, in a newer Avengers or new Excalibur, Lionheart is being beaten up it seems to have a physical impact on Britain with bits of London exploding, am I telling the truth and if so is that still a feature of CBs powers or perhaps the ultimate responsibility for choosing the sword?

Don't worry, you're not going mad - that did genuinely happen. I think that the issue you're referring to is Avengers #81, by Chuck Austen and Olivier Coipel, where Kelseigh Leigh, as Captain Britain (She hadn't been given Claremont's 'Lionheart' moniker yet), is fighting against Morgan Le Fay. She's only just been given these powers and isn't aware quite how they work.

Captain Britain's powerset has always been sourced from Otherworld/Avalon, and as that dimension is literally formed by the collective consciousness of all the people of Britain, when the Captain takes a hit so do his people. As can be seen below:

It's a pretty extreme application of the almost symbiotic relationship between a Captain and the people of their world, but it certainly makes its point. This relationship though is a feature of ALL Captains, not merely those who choose the Sword. But it's one of those things which hasn't been referred to very much over the last 15 odd years - largely, I suspect, because of Cap's time as an X-Men associate character. During that time, in all honesty, most of Cap's actual mythos wasn't really explored. It didn't really fit with Excalibur being converted into a pure X-Men title - heaven forbid that Marvel Universe elements should have crept into those...

It was referred to again In Chris Claremont New Excalibur. In issues 4 & 5 Lionheart turns up to try and get some revenge upon Brian for making her a Captain, but having to abandon any relationship with her children. At this point it is shown that Kelsey is actually under the thrall of an alternate universe Captain, who calls himself 'Albion'. It's pretty obvious for any to see that this guy is an alternate Brian Braddock who, as it turns out, chose the Sword rather than the Amulet. The exact nature and reason behind that thrall was never actually explained by the end of the series (Another loose thread in New Excalibur's wrap up) but that storyline did give us a glimpse of what happens when two Captains clash. In #5 while Captain Britain and Albion punch seven bells out of each other above London, down below glass is shattering and the ground is shaking. As they fight the very city is tearing itself up.

I personally was quite impressed by that, and hoped that this was just the start of a more informed exploration of all things Captain Britain in the pages of New Excalibur. Sadly, this event was never referred to again in that title. In fact when we had all of those Captains fighting over London in the final arc of the book none this side-effect wasn't even mentioned.

A bit of a disappointment. Although if you want a little more recent example of the relationship between a Captain and his Country you should look no further than Captain Britain and MI:13 #2. Those opening pages summarise the effect. When Captain Britain dies a whole Nation feels it. No matter where they are, no matter what they are doing. That's a pretty big deal. Maybe we'll see more exploration of that as the new series continues.

I hope that kind of answers your question.

Got a question yourself? Feel free to drop us a line at the address on the right hand side of this page.

Speak soon.

Mark (Sword)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr. Sword thanks for your explanation of the civil war situation, you answered my questions completely. Thanks for all the work and long may it continue.