Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A Theory about Captain Britain and The Avengers (Spoilers for this week's books - Be Warned).

If you haven't yet read Age of heroes #1 and Avengers #1, which came out this week, (And if you intend to) then please hold on a second. If you don't want to get spoiled then please back up, drive away, and come back later when you've read those.

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.

Done that?


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.

Before I begin, yes I will be inserting panels and pages from Avengers #1, and other sources (Including Captain America Reborn, if you are still to read that) in this post. Blogger automatically resizes these images to fit them into the boundaries of this page. So in order to see them properly you'll need to open them in another Tab or Window. May I recommend that you hover over each image, and press in the click wheel of your mouse, in each case. It'll make your reading of this article a heck of a lot easier for you.


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...

But there is one tie which I'm thinking that some folks MAY have forgotten about. And that's actually relating to fallout from Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch's Captain America Reborn series, a few months back. Some of you may remember that after returning to our time Steve Rogers was haunted by visions of things which he saw while trapped in the timestream. Not just the past, but also a pretty nasty vision of a future yet to come.

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.

If, as this suggests, the Martians are coming, to stage an invasion from their home dimension into Marvel's, wouldn't it make sense to have a guy who not only knows a thing or two about alternate dimensions, but also about besting a Martian invasion fleet, on your team...?

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.

And this is why I think that this final member might be a little less obvious.

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.

And Failed.

20 Times.

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?

Oh, yes.

Captain Britain.

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.

So ask yourself - Could Wonder Man offer this? No.

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.

Just saying...

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!


  1. The funny thing is, when they did that "he isn't here" bit in Avengers #1, I automatically assumed they were talking about Brian. It was only later that it occurred to me that Bendis was hinting at Wonder Man.

    You do some fine detective work here, and it certainly supports the Captain Britain Hypothesis. However, Bendis has shown again and again that he's not too good with history, so I wouldn't expect him to pull any of this stuff in. He's more into forging ahead and ignoring what doesn't fit.

    Also, at the end of the day some part of me doesn't want Brian to join the main team because that means Bendis will write him, and a Bendis-written Captain Britain strikes me as horrifying.

  2. I really want to be able to read this prospective story!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. i've been clicking on the site all day waiting for this article, and you didnt disappoint, if you are right, it will make my comic reading year!, it sounds almost perfect..
    i'm just not sure i buy Wolverine thinking of Brian, knowing our luck it will be someone like the aborigine Gateway.
    from wikipedia:
    'Gateway creates wormholes which allow travel through space, time and dimensions'
    i dont think it will be him, CB is a much better idea, i just dont know,
    but great article either way, i hope you are right and cant wait to find out.

  5. It is certainly all there to be drawn on.

    There is also option c) both of the above. He could be brought into the main Avengers for his expertise but Brian also plays a part in Secret Avengers (possibly as and when he is required). Your piece potentially addresses one of the things that was confusing me - the Secret Avengers don't seem that... secret (or covert as the name suggest). War Machine, Nova, Valkyrie? They are all heavy hitters and looking at the line-up that has been assembled it either seems a bit... random (or just pulling together characters not popular to support an ongoing series) but it might be they have been assembled to counter a specific threat - the Martians. It is an interesting mix of covert and power, which suggests Steve Rogers has a number of tasks in mind. If you are right then we might see an apparently unconnected set of stories trying to head off the future he has seen which will start to build up part of a bigger picture. If so we are going to see Jonathan Raven play a critical role which would naturally bring in Pete Wisdom and MI13, with Brian being the obvious Avengers-MI13 link, (as it seems likely he will be a member of one team of Avengers). So even if he is part of the main Avengers it seems possible things might also draw him into the Secret Avengers.

    Of course, two Avengers storylines trying to fend off threats from different possible futures? Might make people's heads hurt (although the Martians is more immediate than Kang's mission, also we can't guarantee Kang isn't up to his tricks, playing a very long game, one that involves Captain Britain).

    It'll be interesting to see what happens, I don't usually pick up the Avengers unless there is an interesting story or characters involved, looks like they might just be gaining themselves another reader ;)

  6. Captain Britain as a mainstream Avenger? Part of me likes the idea, and part of me doesn't. Your research points in the right direction, and if it happened how long would Brian remain an Avenger, history dictates an ever changing rosta, which utilises certain characters to fit a certain storyline. The excited part of me loves the idea of Cap on the big stage, appealing to a wider audience, which if he left would mean more interest in solo projects. The other side is, Marvel can 'Americanise' characters, and I like Brit heroes remaining British in feel, as expertly portrayed by Paul Cornell. So the dilema... Cap becomes mainstream, but could become a different representation all together, or Cap remains as a cult figure, which means only bit parts, but still has a Brit feel.

  7. Great article, the thinking makes perfect sense, but I'm another who can't see Brian Bendis using all that perfectly useful history. If he brought Brian in he'd likely spend all his time drinking with Logan and become alcy-Bri again.

    The two-pager last week implied Brian would be an on-call member, popping up when the stakes were especially bad and his gifts were needed ... the Kang situation certainly fits that.

    While I wouldn't want him based in the States indefinitely - it makes no sense for the character and as Pete Wisdom said, MI-13 needs him - if an Avengers stint keeps him in the public eye, great.

  8. And in Secret Avengers #1 the team get to go to Mars, not to meet the Martians but it does tend to fit the idea I suggested above - a series of adventures that mighty be viewed as separate but which build up to form a bigger picture: the arrival of the Martians. It'll be interesting to see how it shapes up, signs are it is looking good and Brubaker is doing a nice job writing it too.

  9. I think that any of us who read the Dark Avengers annual where Noh-Varr was given that new costume probably assumed that he'd be figuring somewhere.

    Yeah, looks like he's going to be a member. That doesn't mean that he'll be the only one, of course.

    I still live in hope. Because frankly Noh-Varr's tech is not the most logical or best option for this story...

  10. I think Noh-Varr is an interesting character but I'm not convinced this is the best way to build on that, but I'll wait and see.

    What this does mean is that it looks like Cap is going into Secret Avengers which seemed the more likely option with the Martians (and the trip to Mars). Fingers crossed for an appearance soon so we can stop fretting ;)