Monday, September 30, 2013


From Captain Britain's perspective, EXCALIBUR picks up with our hero deep in sorrow over the apparent death of his twin sister, Betsy, now known as Psylocke of the X-Men.  Brian Braddock has turned to the bottle for solace, and Meggan is unable to snap him out of his alcoholic funk.  Deciding she needs help to get through to Brian, Meggan travels to the Muir Island Research Centre in Scotland to enlist the aid of Kitty Pryde, who she apparently met behind the scenes during Cap's recent encounters with the X-Men.

Soon, Opal Luna Saturnyne sends the Technet to capture Rachel Summers -- Phoenix, who she views as a threat to all reality.  Kitty and her other former teammate, Nightcrawler, team up with Meggan and eventually Cap and Rachel, to best the Technet and a group of creatures called the Warwolves, sent by Mojo to capture Rachel for his own reasons.  In the aftermath of their team-up, Cap, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Kitty, and Rachel choose to honor the memories of their loved ones by banding together as a new super-group: Excalibur.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


What a mouthful! At least we can be thankful ABC didn't follow their usual pattern of calling the show "ABC's Fill-in-the-Blank", or we'd be watching ABC's MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. In any event, I'll just be calling it SHIELD from now on.

I had the fortune of attending the SHIELD panel at Comic-Con back in July, where Marvel's Jeph Loeb introduced the cast and, much to the crowd's delight, screened the pilot. I was going to try and write something up based solely on that viewing, but as usual when something is screened at a convention, the acoustics in the room were awful and audience cheered at every little thing, making the whole show very difficult to hear -- so I decided to wait and watch the episode again on ABC first. Which is probably for the best, as even my razor-keen memory did not recall everything I'd seen back in July.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

The Plot: The Wreckers thwart a scheme by Soundwave to martyr several of his "Neo-Decepticon" followers. Later, Soundwave is approached by Decepticon commander Bludgeon for aid in avenging his forces' defeat on Klo two decades ago. Meanwhile, fed up with Optimus Prime's recent pacifist ways, Kup leads the Wreckers away from Cybertron to travel to all planets touched by the Autobot-Decepticon war and deal with any remaining Decepticon threats. But when the group reaches Earth, they find it in ruins, apparently at the hands of Megatron -- who promptly blows their ship out of the sky.

G1 Continuity: Kup mentions Nucleon, the energy that turned several Transformers into "Action Masters" -- non-transforming Transformers -- near the end of the Marvel series. Notably, Kup also indicates that the Nucleon may have left some of those Transformers mentally unstable as well. Additionally, Kup's team is carried to Earth by Berko and his Cosmic Carnival, introduced in TRANSFORMERS #44. Besides that, Bludgeon brings up the planet Klo, from the final G1 issue.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I tend to write my posts here assuming some pre-existing comic book knowledge on the part of the reader, but at the same time I don't want to confuse anybody.  So, as I did last week with TRANSFORMERS, I'll be tossing out little nuggets like this one before starting a new review series (or in this case continuing one that has moved into the pages of a new title).  If you're already an Excalibur Expert, please feel free to skip the below, though I would advise reading at least the final paragraph.

Art by Alan Davis and Paul Neary

Monday, September 23, 2013


Presenting a special extra-length post to close out the Classic Captain Britain era!

When last we saw Captain Britain, he was on his way home from Sat-Yr-9's parallel Earth.  He arrives in time to console his sister, Betsy, following her murder -- in self-defense -- of Kaptain Briton.  Shortly thereafter, Mastermind reveals to Brian and Betsy that their father was not a human being as they had always believed, but a citizen of Otherworld and a chief adviser to Merlyn.  Mastermind then takes on the holographic appearance of a human butler, to better serve Brian and his family.

Meanwhile, Garbriel and Michael, agents of the Resources Control Executive ("RCX"), the agency which has replaced STRIKE, have tracked down Linda McQuillan, Captain U.K., who is living in peace on our Earth.  They introduce her to the Warpies, mutated children created by the Jaspers' warp.  They want Linda to help them coerce Captain Britain into serving them as a symbol, hopefully preventing a coup of the British government due to civil unrest created by the reality warp.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


You may note that during my Captain Britain reviews, I never use the term, "Earth 616". The reason is simple -- I hate it.

"Earth 616" is the designation that was given during the Dave Thorpe/Alan Moore Captain Britain stories to the Earth where the "real" Marvel Universe resides. I believe Moore has alternately taken credit for the number and said that Thorpe coined it. To my recollection, I don't recall it appearing in a Thorpe story, but it's possible I'm wrong. At any rate, I really feel that if it weren't for its association, deserved or otherwise, with Alan Moore, "616" would not see nearly as much use as it does.

But the point is, the term bothers me because it just sounds silly -- I (figuratively) roll my eyes when I see or hear someone refer to the "main" Marvel Earth as "Earth 616," "616," or, stupidest of all to my ear, "the 616." Just call it the Marvel Universe! No one will stop and ask you if you mean Earth 12, Earth 457, or Earth 8532. I promise we all know exactly which Earth you're talking about. Trust me.

Even if fandom doesn't necessarily agree with my above sentiment, I'm gratified that Marvel does. I've said before that I have little use for modern Marvel, but one area where we see eye-to-eye is the stupidity of "616". Several of Marvel's editors, from Joe Quesada on down, have stated their distaste for the term, as well as their confusion as to why anyone would even want to use it.

So: sorry if I've offended anyone who uses the number. This is only my personal opinion. You will never see the term "616" used on this blog beyond this post. And yet somehow, even without that indicator, you will still know which universe I'm referring to at any given time.

Friday, September 20, 2013


The first collected edition from IDW Comics' TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE series collects issues 80.5 - 85 of the continuation series which follows from Marvel's original TRANSFORMERS comic. Issue 80.5, a contribution to the "Free Comic Book Day" event in 2011, serves as a bridge between the classic series and the new, presenting a series of flashbacks interspersed between pages set in the modern day.

Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall 

The Plot: Twenty-one years have passed since the Autobots' return to Cybertron in TRANSFORMERS #80. A series of flashbacks reminds readers of what has gone before, while in the present, Optimus Prime, living in seclusion, has taken on Hot Rod as his apprentice. Meanwhile, a group of Decepticon terrorists, under Soundwave's leadership, destroys the Last Autobot, beginning the war anew. 

G1 Continuity: This story is filled with it. Among the flashbacks are: the origin of the Transformers via their gods, Primus and Unicron (TRANSFORMERS #61); the Ark's crash-landing on Earth (TF #1); Shockwave's imprisonment of the Autobots (TF #5); the Dinobots vs. Megatron (TF #8); Defensor vs. Bruticus (TF #35, among others); Scorponok vs. Fortress Maximus (TF #38); Starscream possessed by the Underbase (TF #50); Thunderwing with the Creation Matrix (TF #66); Unicron devouring Cybertron (TF #75); Optimus Prime -- dead -- again! (TF #76); Megatron vs. Galvatron (TF #78); the Last Autobot (TF #79); Optimus Prime vs. Bludgeon (TF #80). 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Following the departure of Alan Moore as Captain Britain's writer, Jamie Delano comes on board to continue the series.  But, per Alan Davis's foreword in the CAPTAIN BRITAIN OMNIBUS, Davis himself was doing the bulk of the plotting, and even often rewriting Delano's scripts to bring them closer in line with his own vision for the character.

As this era begins, Cap reflects upon the Jaspers' Warp saga.  Apparently the entire storyline took place over the span of only six months, which seems a very short amount of time to round up and incarcerate so many super-humans in concentration camps around the country.  But Captain Britain's adventures have been chronicled in real time up to this point, and since the story was told in six monthly issues, six months it is.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Captain Britain vs. the Fury
After rescuing his sister Betsy and her fellow psychics from Slaymaster, and knowing the Vixen's forces will still be searching for them, Captain Britain brings them to live, at least temporarily, with him at Braddock Manor. Not long after, Cap is kidnapped by a group of dimension-hopping mercenaries from the future called the Special Executive, and taken to the "Omniversal Hub", where he has been called to serve as a witness for the defense in a trial against Opal Luna Saturnyne, charged with failing in her duties to save the alternate Earth where Cap first found her.*

While at the Hub, Cap learns that he is part of a corps of similarly costumed heroes -- one for every Britain on every Earth in the omniverse. It would be generous to say that our hot-headed hero does not get along with his fellow corpsmen, engaging in fisticuffs with them multiple times during the trial. The "Captain Britain Corps" is more of a throwaway gag here, but the concept would gain great traction later under Alan Davis and Chris Claremont.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Since I'm currently covering Alan Moore's run on CAPTAIN BRITAIN, this seems a good time to toss out my own personal thoughts on the guy. And I have to say, I don't get his influence. I fail to understand why so many in the comic book fandom -- not mention so many industry professionals -- worship at his altar.  He's written some decent stories and some bad ones.  If someone offered me a Moore comic or something by Roger Stern, Kurt Busiek, or Chris Claremont, I'd choose the latter, because while perhaps -- perhaps -- not as technically accomplished as Moore, I know I like their stories better than his.

I'm aware of exactly when I decided Moore wasn't my cup of tea, too... though I didn't even know who he was yet.  I read the "classic" Superman tale, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", when I was about seven years old, and it disturbed the heck out of me.  That depressing snuff story had no place in a comic aimed at children.  The fact that it was disguised as something a kid could enjoy thanks to the throwback covers and Curt Swan artwork only added to the offense.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Art by Bill Sienkiewicz
In 1984, Marvel Comics launched a toy tie-in series called TRANSFORMERS. Originally planned as a four issue limited series, the comic's sales were successful enough to warrant an ongoing run instead. TRANSFORMERS ran for a total of eighty issues, ending in 1991, years after even the popular syndicated cartoon had finished its run.

The majority of the comic's issues were written Marvel editor Bob Budiansky, and it is Budiansky who is credited with creating the names and personalities of many of the first few years' worth of Autobots and Decepticons (one very notable exception: Optimus Prime was named by legendary writer and editor Dennis O'Neil, best known for his long association with the Batman over at DC).

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I've decided to mix it up a little bit. Since my Captain Britain reviews will be going until around late October, I want to add a little variety to my content beyond the one-off posts I've been occasionally tossing up.

So, since I happen to be a huge Transformers fan, and since I happen to have the first two trade paperpbacks of TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE lying around, and since I just started reading them last week, and since I've been writing posts about them to use here... I'm going to be publishing REGENERATION ONE reviews concurrently with the Captain Britain stuff. These reviews will be more like the ones I plan to do going forward -- rather than a retrospective, covering chunks of issues per post a la Captain Britain, the Transformers reviews will summarize and break down one issue apiece.

And since I've managed to remain pretty much completely un-spoiled on this series, you'll be seeing my thoughts and speculations directly after reading the issue in question. I've already read five issues, and wrote a post for each one immediately after I finished it, even if I then read the following issue in that same sitting.

I'll post these reviews every Friday for the next twelve weeks (ten regular issues plus one "point five" issue plus one "primer" post to kick things off), starting tomorrow. Which means, for those keeping score, in the four weeks since I started this blog, I have changed my format three times. The posting schedule will now go:
  • Monday: Captain Britain review
  • Wednesday: Captain Britain review
  • Thursday: Announcements, if necessary (there probably won't be many of these)
  • Friday: Transformers review
  • Saturday & Sunday: Whatever is on my mind for the week, if anything, and/or Captain Britain "supplemental material", if any (this will probably continue for maybe three or four more weeks)
Wish me luck...!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The "Jaspers' Warp" storyline, which -- excepting a few unrelated interludes -- comprises the entirety of the Alan Moore/Alan Davis run, is widely considered the height of Captain Britain's solo adventures. At the very least, it is certainly the best known of those tales. The story picks up exactly where the previous chapter ended, with Jim Jaspers' reality warp re-shaping the parallel Earth where Captain Britain and Jackdaw are stranded.

Incoming writer Alan Moore, before he became THE Alan Moore, runs briefly with Dave Thorpe's premise but immediately and brutally takes the story in his own direction. In response to the reality warp, the British government activates a deadly robotic organism called the Fury, which we learn is responsible for this world's superhero purge of years past.

Monday, September 9, 2013


In roughly 2002 or so, Marvel published a CAPTAIN BRITAIN BY ALAN MOORE & ALAN DAVIS trade paperback. It contained only the material the two Alans produced together, but nothing else. I have no idea why they didn't include this small handful of stories, illustrated by Davis and written by Dave Thorpe, as well. They do a great deal to set up the Moore-Davis run (which will be covered in the next post).

As the Alan Davis era begins, we find Captain Britain and Jackdaw on their way home from Otherworld, when they are sidetracked by a trip to a parallel Earth. Along the way, Cap's costume inexplicably changes to the Davis-designed look -- a superior costume in my opinion, but the arbitrary change is somewhat jarring. Cap simply says something to the effect of, "my costume -- it's changing!" as they pass between dimensions, and that's the end of it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Since I haven't taken the time in my series of Captain Britain reviews to speak about the books themselves, I think I'll do so here.  The stories I've been reviewing are contained in three volumes: BIRTH OF A LEGEND, SIEGE OF CAMELOT, and the CAPTAIN BRITAIN OMNIBUS.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Season Three Blu-Ray Set
So my fiancée and I have been collecting the new STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION Blu-Ray seasons as they've come out -- and by the way, how do you tell when you've met the one for you? When she's more excited than you are that TNG is being released on Blu-Ray! But anyway -- we've been picking them up but not really watching them. We checked out "Where No One Has Gone Before" from the season one set when it first came out, but otherwise, between work, wedding planning, and current TV, we've had little chance to view any more episodes.

Finally, with some spare time last weekend, I decided to check out a few random episodes from seasons three and four. With the fiancée's blessing, since she was out for the day, I watched a handful of episodes which bring me fond memories from my youth: season three's "The Hunted", and season four's "Data's Day", "The Drumhead", and "The Mind's Eye". Not all considered classics, but all episodes I hadn't viewed in many years.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Art by Staz Johnson
Following his appearance in MARVEL TEAM-UP, Captain Britain disappeared for about two years, as Marvel U.K. quit its practice of producing original content.  Previously, it was unlikely that Cap's adventures had proceeded in real time, as most chapters led directly into the next.  However, around this time, when Marvel U.K. began to craft new stories once more, the new creators behind the captain eschewed "Marvel Time" and declared that our hero had been missing in action for the same two years his series had been on hiatus.

In the pages of Marvel U.K.'s HULK comic, Cap returned to fight alongside the Black Knight, a once and future member of the Avengers, headlining his own weekly 1-page strip.  The stories were written by Steve Parkhouse and illustrated by John Stokes.  Stokes's pencil art was inked by Paul Neary, who would soon become the editor-in-chief of Marvel U.K.  Neary's career has spanned decades since, with a stint drawing CAPTAIN AMERICA for Marvel in the U.S., a long stretch as the regular inker of superstar artist Alan Davis, a second term as the EiC of Marvel U.K., and currently, another long stretch as the regular inker of superstar artist Bryan Hitch.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Art by George Perez
Before reviewing the above-mentioned stories, I would like to give a quick overview of my thoughts on Captain Britain's "Lieber Years".  I feel that, in a time when Marvel Comics were really taking strides toward more layered, sophisticated storytelling, Lieber's Captain Britain was a dinosaur of a simpler age.

I like Silver Age silliness as much as the next guy, and I'm sure Lieber's stories appealed to young children -- but from Stan Lee on, Marvel comics usually had something for everybody.  Even Stan's Silver Age stylings could appeal to teens.  And by the 70s, you had folks like Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart writing comics which, while understandable and enjoyable for kids, could also be read and appreciated by an older crowd.  Lieber's stories, on the other hand, seemed to be written strictly for children only -- which is certainly not a bad thing, but it is counter to the direction Marvel was headed at the time.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


There seems to be a debate in the fandom regarding Captain Britain's costume. I see a lot of folks who prefer the original over Alan Davis's redesign.  To each their own, but the Davis costume is Captain Britain to me.

Art by Alan Davis