Sunday, 24 March 2013

ICFD Cover of the Week - 24th March 2013

And... we're back.

The broadband has been restored.

I ended up without an actual phone line after they 'fixed' the broadband,  but this is not the place for petty recriminations. This is the place for covers. And this week I'm going with the following little entry, from only last year...

The cover for The Ultimates (vol 4? I lose track...) #6, with art by Kaare Andrews.

And yes, it was only last year. At the time this issue came out I was convalescing after surgery, and wasn't quite up to posting about it. I was so damned excited about the Ultimate universe's Jamie Braddock becoming the new Captain Britain. But when it was revealed that he was taking on the mantle because that universe's Brian Braddock was dying of cancer, it was a little bit too near the nose for me to talk about, at that time. 

Current Avengers head honcho Jonathan Hickman was the writer of that Ultimates relaunch, at the time, and while the Captain doesn't appear to be in his mainstream Marvel plans he's shown quite a bit of interest in the Braddocks in his Ultimate work, with Brian and Professor James Braddock previous having featured in his Ultimate Comics: Thor mini. That series alone handled magic and mythology so well, in modern and believable setting, that I really hope he does write a mainstream Captain Britain story some day.

Hickman introduced ultimate Jamie Braddock, and the new European Union's 'Excalibur Class' Super-Human program at the start of this volume. Jamie was very much a front an centre member of Hickman's Avengers, enough to get himself on this cover, clearly. It's a really nice piece, showing the always suave older Braddock sibling actually making something of his life. I was so, SO hoping this would be the beginning of a sustained tenure of a Captain Britain featuring in a prominent Marvel team book.

Sadly, not to be...

Hickman's Ultimates tenure did not even last a full year before he was moved on to other larger projects at Marvel. His Ultimates run was very much a return to the roots of the Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch vision of the team, as a much more international organisation, with stories taking place across the entire globe. He was quietly replaced on the book by Sam Humphries, whose vision of the team was far more focussed on being a US only team, dealing with an America which was literally falling apart, State by State. While it's not been a bad run per se, obviously it's a very different tone and vision. One which I'm far less interested in personally. And sadly one which Jamie Braddock is not part of.

Both Jamie and Ultimate Spider-woman (The female Peter Parker clone) were the only heroes at home when the US SWAT teams broke into the Triskelion and tried to reclaim control of The Ultimates program. Both were taken by surprise, and subsequently taken down. But while we've seen Spider-woman back in action since Ultimate Jamie remains MIA.

So much as this is cover of the week I guess it's also somewhat of plea to see Jamie return, also. Because I see Hickman's concept as the exact kind of thing which the Ultimate universe does which only it can do. Mainstream Marvel's Jamie Braddock became mentally unhinged, unable to truly accept the world around him as reality, and (thanks to Rick Remender) dead. In the Ultimate universe Jamie never got involved with any of the unsavoury pursuits which led to his brother disowning him, and leaving him to be driven made by an African warlord. The Ultimate universe's strength, to me, is in its ability to play 'What if...?' in an ongoing and sustained fashion. While it often has characters who bear the identity of all the heroes in mainstream Marvel, that doesn't mean they have to be the same individuals underneath the mask.

Just ask the current Utimate Spider-man, for example.

Having the other Braddock brother become Captain Britain is a concept with real potential. One which somebody really needs to run with, instead of mothballing.

Here's hoping we eventually get to see his return.

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