Sunday, 29 March 2015

Looks like we have confirmation of Captain Britain appearing in Secret Wars.

So, yesterday I posted up a Blog post about how we didn't currently have any clear evidence that Captain Britain (at least in the form of Brian Braddock) would be making an appearance in Marvel's Secret Wars event.

Well, it seems that not long after I posted this up a variant cover by Esad Ribic, for the second issue of the central Secret War limited series, started doing the rounds online. It it shows exactly that. 

That would be Brian, wielding some sort of sword, whose blade is made of energy. 

What exactly that is, I guess we'll have to wait and see. I think it highly unlikely to be 'Excalibur'. Faiza currently has that one. But it does remind me somewhat of modern depictions of the 'Soulsword,' wielded by former New Mutant and current member of Scott Summers' 'Uncanny X-Men' team, Illyana 'Magik' Rasputin.

Probably entirely coincidental. But I guess we'll find out, in time.

The important thing, at least as I see it, is this is a confirmation the he shall be playing at least some role in what comes next. And that's certainly a positive start.

One further thing of note this weekend, which I spotted in this week's Axel-in-Charge column over at Comic Book Resources. This relates to the aftermath of Secret Wars, and how it will be effecting the X-Men.

According to Alonso, Marvel's current editor-in-chief:

The X-Men office is taking the opportunity of "Secret Wars" to build an entire new world for the characters -- to create a shared universe within the X-books that's set off by a huge event/incident/surprise. At that point, they're going to introduce a new team that feels unlike anything you've seen before. It'll be... "extraordinary."

A fair bit of commentary online seems to speculating that this very much sounds like Marvel might be planning to separate the X-Men off into a separate  'Heroes Reborn' style Universe of their own. Something separate to the rest of Marvel's publishing line, with no direct connection to the rest of their books and continuity.

They've done it before, and you could quite easily understand why they might want to. The biggest problem that Marvel have with the X-Men is that (much like the Fantastic Four) they do not own those characters' creative rights in other mediums. Twentieth Century Fox own those. They make X-Men movies and cartoons. Some better than others. Marvel Studios, and more importantly Disney, do not own those.

This goes back to Marvel's teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, back in the 90s. The same period that ultimately also resulted in the winding up and selling off of Marvel UK spurred the publisher to sell of rights to a number of characters, as they tried to keep the business afloat. I know it's a little hard to imagine now, but back then it was really that serious a situation.

Many of you may already have seen that there's a new Fantastic Four movie on the horizon. But don't expect there to be any tie-in comic books. Marvel have cancelled the Fantastic Four comic, and split up the team. Heck, The Human Torch is going to be joining a 'Uncanny Inhumans' title after Secret Wars is done.

The general belief seems to be that Marvel no longer want to make Comics for the properties they don't own in other Media. So Fantastic Four is out. The X-Men on the other hand? Well, the X-Men titles sell much, much higher units. That'd have a financial impact, which might not be quite so easy to justify. But splitting them off into their own pocket universe and continuity, I guess, the logic would be that X-Men fans would still have books to buy, while the rest of the publishing line wouldn't even need to acknowledge their ever having existed.

Now, I'd have to say that this would be a prospect which I would not exactly be happy about. Since his by-proxy absorption into the X-Men office in the late 1980s Captain Britain has been awkwardly allied with the X-Men brand. It was understandable at the time. Chris Claremont created Brian, and he wanted to bring those characters over to his very successful ongoing line of X-men comics. Excalibur was technically (though obviously thematically not) an X-Men title. Even Captain Britain & MI13 was published through the X-Office. There's history here.

In modern Marvel Captain Britain is an Avenger. He fits very naturally into a role which he has always filled, protector of both Marvel's Britain and its Multiverse. He's a true Marvel Universe property.

Twin sister Psylocke, on the other hand, may well have begun that way but became synonymous with the 90s X-Brand. Never absent from those frankly cringeworthy 'X-Men Swimsuit Specials' etc. Criminally misused. Ethnically blurred and confused. But sadly, that is where she has stayed.

If the X-Men are to be split off I honestly wouldn't want Cap to join them. Nor Meggan. Nor Pete Wisdom or any of the other British Excalibur characters. They have far more in common with mainstream Marvel than they ever did with X-Gene. They've always been a poor fit. They need to stay in mainstream Marvel. At all costs in my book.

This also leaves us with the distinct possibility that we could yet end up with one Braddock Twin in one universe, and one in another. And I personally think that this would be a huge waste. We don't get enough Braddock sibling team-ups these days, as it is.

Remember Avengers vs X-Men? One Twin on one side of the divide, as an Avenger. One on the other, as an X-man.

Surely you haven't forgotten how awesomely awkward that encounter was? When they clashed over that? Making full use of such a brilliant metaphor for the entire storyline itself?

Well, you'd be forgiven if you have. Because Marvel forgot to tell that story themselves.


Instead we had Brian sitting in a hospital bed (in full costume no less) while Betsy went off and fought with Daredevil. For... some... reason.

Such an incredible wasted opportunity, that one.

Still, nothing is concrete yet. For all I know this is purely hyperbole and press bluster. I'll be keeping an eye on it, all the same. You can bet on that. :)

Until the next time.

Mark (Sword)

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