Because in some of what follows there are going to be some pretty hefty spoilers for both these titles, which are sadly unavoidable.
This is your only warning.
It's quite sad actually. It's been such a while since I've actually had to avoid spoilers for a recently released book, on this site. But as you're probably aware by now something's afoot. We appear to be entering into a whole new chapter in the life of Captain Britain, and it would be wrong not to discuss that on this site, of all places.
Now, all of this basically stems from this...
The moment where Captain Britain accepts that offer from Steve Rogers - the former Captain America - to become an Avenger, in the pages of Age of Heroes #1. A big moment for any Cap fan. And something many older readers have been wanting to see since both 'Captains' fought alongside each other against the Red Skull, all those years ago...
But it does now raise a damn good question.
So he's an Avenger - but where is he going to appear?You see, these days, the Avengers are far from being limited to ONE book. No, no , no. There are all sorts of varieties.
You've got the flagship - Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jnr's Avengers.You've got the more street level title - New Avengers, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen.
You've the youth book - Avengers Academy, by Christos Gage and Mike McKone.And you've Steve Rogers' more covert team - Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato.
There's a lot of choice out there - and we also know that Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung will be back soon with more Young Avengers...
So where exactly within this new status quo will Captain Britain be fitting? It's really kinda hard to call.I've been thinking this over quite a bit. Somehow, I think that New Avengers is unlikely. That's a New York based street level hero book, mostly. It's not that Cap couldn't go there (Although spending serious time ONLY in America would seem a little odd...). But it's probably not that likely.
He could well turn up as a tutor on Avengers Academy. Although the tutors there have mostly already been shown, in publicity material glimpsed so far.
So what about Secret Avengers? Well, I'll admit it, I called that wrong when we were seeing those silhouette teaser adverts. It was Nova. Odd though that might be to comprehend Richard Rider appearing on a 'Secret' team. But I wouldn't necessarily write off Brian turning up here.Secret Avengers is Steve Rogers' own personal team. He's left Maria Hill in charge of running the Main Avengers, while he runs this one. So, given that Steve asked Brian to join, it might makes sense that it was an invitation to join THIS team. Brian has been working with British Military Intelligence. He's used to the kind of operations which we assume the Secret Avengers may be dealing with. And obviously, Steve and Brian go a fair way back.
The thoughts against this though, largely stem from his not having been used in any pre-publicity. And and also the more recent revelation that while there were other members joining who did NOT appear in the pre-publicity, these have now been revealed to be Black Widow and Ant-Man...However, Ed Brubaker did hint that this might not be the final roster, and also if you're going to hype that Captain Britain MIGHT become an Avenger in Age of Heroes #1, then you're not going to use him in pre-publicity for any other title he may appear in, are you? Not if you still want to SELL copies of Age of Heroes, anyway...
The fact that Cap appeared alone on the variant cover for Age of Heroes #1, alone, would also certainly SEEM like an intentional move designed to hint that he would soon be playing a greater role somewhere...
I'd say it's pretty likely that this will be followed up on in this new series.
But why should that be a big deal for Captain Britain fans? Well, do you remember what Steve saw in his vision of the future?
Pretty heavy, huh? But does that look familliar to you? Maybe it should...
Those certainly appear to be the Martian invasion vessels from Roy Thomas' Killraven stories, last seen breaking into Marvel's 616 dimension in the pages of Paul Cornell's Wisdom series. Captain Britain aided the earlier incarnation of MI13 in beating back the invasion, and of course, if Cap is on your team MI13 are also at your disposal.
I would.This is, of course, not the only option though.
And this is the point where I spoil last week's comics...
Avengers #1 launched last week. And as you can imagine, as with all good team book #1's, focussed on the coming together of a new team, and the assembling of a roster.
In this case, and with the new status quo, Steve Rogers finds himself appointed by the President to take over as the top cop of the Marvel Universe. And so it is that we see him contacting members of the Avengers past and present, all of whom (Bar Dr Strange) have been announced on the roster of one of the new range of Avengers brand titles.
Oh, and Wonder Man.
Who says 'No'.
So... Steve Rogers announces and (to coin the phrase) 'Assembles' the new core Avengers team, in the now Sentry-less Avengers Tower. A core team of Thor, Spider-man, Hawkeye (The real Hawkeye), Wolverine, Captain America (Bucky, by the way), Spider-woman and Iron man - All under the guidance of former SHIELD director Maria Hill.
Quite a hard hitting team. But not a complete team. One character who Steve had counted on being here, has not yet arrived...
From the earlier refusal, and Steve leaving the offer open to him, it's pretty clear that Bendis intends the reader to believe that final member is Wonder Man.
Me? I'm not so sure. Because what follows tends to suggest otherwise.
We don't actually get to find out, here, because of the arrival of Kang the Conqueror.
The conundrum is this... There is no love lost between Kang and The Avengers. For good reason. But out of desperation Kang has returned from the future to seek his old adversaries' help. He tells them that in the future he has come from, after an apocalypse caused by Ultron, they (the Avengers) are all dead. But their children are not. The problem is that nobody ever trained those kids. Nobody has ever taught them any kind of moral values.
And so, it seems, these kids are running wild with their inherited powers, with no sense of responsibility for using them or the damage it could cause.
In this case UNIVERSE ENDING damage.
Kang has tried to stop them.
Which is why he claims to be coming to them for help. But it's not that straight forward. The Avengers have no means of travelling to the future. They have no time machine. They have a Tony Stark - but even Tony admits that he hasn't got a clue how to actually build one.
And this is why I don't think their final member can be Wonder Man...
Let's look back at that criteria. Whoever this final member is, they have to complete a puzzle. A puzzle requiring three very distinctly shaped pieces. This member must ideally have:
1) An ability to somehow see into the future - or at least the ability to predict the future from an incredibly informed knowledge of Time.
2) A knowledge of Time Travel and how to avoid making changes which might damage the Timestream (And, you know, probably every other thing in existence in the process).
3) A full and detailed knowledge of Interdimensional travel and the technology required for doing it.
Now I may be reading between the lines here, but that's a pretty specific set of requests. You're not going to find many guys out there who can fit that bill. We already know Reed Richards is unavailable. So who else could possibly cater to such very specific needs.
Well... there is this guy you just made an Avenger?
I AM serious. I know some might see it as a bit of step up for the character, but I seriously cannot believe that it is pure coincidence that the same week they announce that Brian is joining the ranks of the Avengers they appear to be having a problem that is just so incredibly tailor made to suit him.
Let me explain.
If it's a knowledge of time travel, and the timestream, Brian has certainly been THERE. Much as though the story irritated me at the time (Largely because it was an off-panel plot which was established between published issues), and even gave rise to Brian's terrible 'Britannic' persona, Brian spent the time between Excalibur #68 and #75 lost in the timestream - after he was unexpectedly separated from the rest of the team as they travelled back from an adventure set in another future. During this time he made several attempt to try and return, using fellow team-mate Rachel Summers as an anchor, and eventually swapping himself out of the timestream for her.
This was a pretty traumatic experience for all concerned, but the effect left on Brian was a fairly lasting one. Whilst trapped in the timestream he got to watch the entire of human history, and multiple alternate offshoots thereof, happening all around him. And it mucked him up a bit. Seeing the futility of war across the whole of time led Brian to temporarily abandon being a costumed hero, and take up a life of peace. He become Excalibur's non-combatant hero and engineer, resulting in a few teething troubles...
Such as redesigning the team's plane... but forgetting to tell them he wouldn't be putting any weapon systems in it.
But far more interestingly, perhaps, was that after returning to the present Brian also began to experience a number of 'flashforwards' - glimpses of futures, or alternate futures, which he had seen whilst in the timestream. Flashes which his overloaded brain began firing out like a bad flashback to a acid trip from the 60s...
This first occurred in Excalibur #86, but they would soon become a semi-regular occurrence. In fact the whole of #94 (a story set in the future and called 'Days of Future Tense) was even revealed to be one BIG flashforward at the end of the issue.
These flashes stopped after Black Air were taken care of in Excalibur #100, but did give the team a very clear insight into what would happen if the team did not intervene against their adversaries, the recurring shady government department, Black Air.
Gone, but not necessarily without the possibility of a return. Future visions and flashforwards are darn useful devices to have, and given Brian's prolonged immersion in the timestream it is far from unbelievable that these might not return given the correct circumstance - fulfilling Kang's promise.
The same prolonged exposure could also, given Brian's intensely logical and scientific mind, allow Brian to use the trends and flowing lines of the history he experiences first hand as a way of calculating just what effect The Avengers actions might have on the overall timeline. So that they could avoid doing the really heavy damage.
Now THAT really would be useful.
But time travel is not the only reason why I feel that Brian fits the bill here.
IN Avengers #1 Tony Stark is very adamant that they need somebody with an intimate knowledge of multiple dimensions and how to traverse them.
Well, in Marvel comics, there really aren't many people with a stronger knowledge of all things multiversal than Brian Braddock. Certainly not whom are active superheroes, that's for sure.
You see, it's not just that he's travelled to so many alternate universes as Captain Britain, or negotiated Cross-time in a modified steam locomotive with the rest of Excalibur. It goes far beyond than that. Brian was brought into this world with only one purpose in mind. Well, the minds of his father and the God-Wizard Merlyn, anyway... Brian spent five years our time as Guardian of Marvel's multiverse - a position we are told he was always intended to inherit. After 2000's Excalibur mini series Brian was effectively left with the powers and knowledge of a God. He had access to the entire hub of all universes in Marvel's multiverse - he ran the whole show! He travelled the universes creating new Captain Britains to protect new worlds, and watched over countless dimensions himself.
Put simply there is no other active hero with that level of knowledge available to them in the Marvel Universe. In terms of knowledge in that area he even has the edge over the likes of Reed Richards. He more than fits the bill there.
Probably more importantly though, is that when it comes to knowledge of Interdimensional travel Brian's not just got the Otherworld equivalent of Frequent Flier Miles, he's also got one of these...
A fully functioning dimensional gateway. Presumably still sitting in the Darkmoor Research Centre, in the Cheviot Hills, since Excalibur vol 2. Stark wouldn't need Richards. He wouldn't need Doom. Because he'd have Brian. He pretty much is THE authority on this kind of tech. There is nobody better.
Could Noh-Var? Well... no.
Despite what some might think upon who may well turn out to be the final Avenger on the roster, whichever way you look at it, all logical signs still seem to be pointing in Brian's direction.
And do you know what? While he doesn't realise it himself, he even has a past with Kang the Conqueror.
What past is that? WEll for that we need to go back to 2000 again, and to Excalibur vol 2. That story largely centred around the sentient computer from Braddock Manor, all those years ago, going rogue, declaring itself to be the true heir to Brian's father and trying to take over Otherworld - the hub of all the alternate universes.
This ultimately resulted in 'The Mastermind' being defeated and Brian taking up the role of Multiversal Guardian.
But, as it turned out, this might not have so much been the fruits bared of a long built up plan of Merlyn's... but possibly just the machinations of another individual entirely...
Another Time. Another Place. Another attempt to get time sprawling out as he intended. But the suggestion is pretty clear. For some reason Kang manoeuvred Brian into that position, to suit his own agenda.
As we now know, that chapter of Brian's life ended with very little in the way of explanation. He did not get the chance to live up to the ideal he had been intended for. But who knows, maybe all of this was part of Kang's plan. Maybe all of this, and what is about to happen, and the man really pulling Kang's strings - maybe it's ALL tied together?
Either way, whoever the final member of Bendis' Avengers turns out to be, Wolverine says...
And Logan's met Captain Britain a few more times than the other names being banded around, right now.
There's just so many signs pointing off in this specific direction right now that while we CAN only speculate one thing IS for certain. If it turns out it's NOT Captain Britain that's one hell of a wasted opportunity to tie an awful lot of things neatly and logically together.
That's for sure. So here's hoping. Because that really would be a story worth reading!