Today I have a solo guide for a character who previously lived in the shadow of a team guide on the site…
On Wednesday, a new Excalibur title launched as part of Dawn of X – the new line-up of x-books curated by Jonathan Hickman. In this new series, Betsy Braddock (AKA Psylocke) takes on the role of Captain Britain from her brother who is… indisposed.
Captain Britain is an interesting case because he, his sister Psylocke, and his extended mythology are one of only two major imports from Marvel UK to American Marvel.
(I’d say the other is Death’s Head.)
Not only that, but Captain Britain is one of the characters who has had the biggest impact on Marvel’s Universe. Ever.
That’s because of Alan Moore, who briefly scripted Captain Britain along with artist Alan Davis across several UK series just before he dug into Swamp Thing and moved on to Watchmen.
Together, Moore and Davis established the Captain Britain Corps, which are like a multi-universal version of the Green Lantern Corps. With so many alternate Earths in the system, they’d need some kind of designation – just like Green Lanterns refer to Earth’s section of space as Sector 2814.
Moore named Marvel’s main version of Earth “Earth-616.”
Yes, 616. Ring any bells?
“616” is Marvel’s official designation for main-continuity Earth. All of the present day, non-Ultimate stories that you love at Marvel are set in “616 Continuity,” and that term came from a British Captain Britain comic book.
In case that isn’t enough of a shocking revelation for one post, here’s another: Captain Britain and Psylocke were created by Chris Claremont in 1976 and first published in the same two-month frame that he introduced Jean Grey as Phoenix in Uncanny X-Men (1963) #101 (a bi-monthly title, back then).
It gets better.
Drawing Captain Britain in Marvel Super-Heroes (1979) #377 was Alan Davis’s first professional comics work (or maybe second, depending on how you count) . Ever. He was working in a warehouse while he drew that first series. Davis wound up adopting Captain Britain as his pet project, and when he moved on to American comics work for DC in 1985 Marvel UK ended Cap’s series.
OH BUT IT GETS EVEN BETTER.
Davis’s first American Marvel work after leaving DC? He drew New Mutants Annual 2, which Claremont used to introduce his creation Psylocke to American comics before bringing her to the X-Men in UXM #213, also with Davis. And then, of course, Claremont and Davis worked together for a few years on Excalibur, also starring Captain Britain.
So, not only is Captain Britain responsible for the 616, but he is the same age as The Phoenix, and brought both X-Men mainstay Psylocke and all-time-great Alan Davis to American comics.
There aren’t a lot of post-Silver Age comic characters with that kind of significance.
Despite all of those milestones, Captain Britain is weirdly absent from Marvel comics whenever Claremont and Davis aren’t around. Aside from his 2008 Paul Cornell / Leonard Kirk ongoing (which is amazing), he’s just an occasional guest star who has lately been relegated to the quiet life as a headmaster and father…
…that is, until this week.
Current Exclusives For Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 17 Guides!
Indie & Licensed Comics: Spawn
Current Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 45 Guides!
DC Guides: Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Batman – Index of Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Flash, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Justice League, Lucifer, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Sandman Universe, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Marvel Guides: Alpha Flight, Ant-Man & Giant-Man, Captain Britain, Champions, Darkhawk, Blade, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Elsa Bloodstone, Falcon, Gwenpool, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Moon Boy / Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan, Power Pack, Sabretooth, Scarlet Witch, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom, Vision, Weapon X, X-Man – Nate Grey
Indie & Licensed Comics: Spawn