Archive for Captain Britain

Friday Night Fights: Drac Whack!

Why, hello there, October! You’re the best month of the whole year, yes, you are! The weather is cooler, the leaves are changing, and most importantly… Haaaaaalloweeeeen, the best day of the year! So what’s that got to do with Friday Night Fights, especially this early in the month?

Well, simply put, I like to plan ahead. So I went looking for a good fight to save for Halloween. And I found too many of them! Way, way too many. So instead of saving a whole bunch of them for future Halloweens, I’m gonna devote all of this month’s Friday Night Fights (and probably the day after Halloween, too) to monsters and horror. Shall we begin?

Tonight’s battle comes to us from September 2009’s Captain Britain and MI13 #15 by Paul Cornell, Leonard Kirk, and Jay Leisten, in which Faiza Hussain must face the vampiric might of Count Dracula himself!





Ya wanna hear something really, really weird? Something that’ll put the creep into your bones and make you question the nature of reality itself? Neither Faiza Hussain nor Dracula — two absolutely wonderful characters who appeared in highly acclaimed comics — are currently being published in any Marvel comic books. Oooo-weeeeee-ooooo…

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The Sun Never Sets on the British Vampire


Captain Britain and MI-13 #15

Siiiigh. Yet another outstanding comic book gets cancelled.

The final issue of this series also concludes the “Vampire State” storyline. Though Count Dracula and his vampire army have been thrown into disarray, they haven’t been beaten yet… but they’re a lot closer to defeat than they really expected. See, Pete Wisdom has been thinking about a dozen moves ahead of Dracula, most importantly about one little, important piece of misdirection — when Dracula destroyed the skull of Quincy Harker, the relic that kept all vampires out of England… he’d really only destroyed a fake. With Captain Britain battling Dracula’s pet necromancer, and Meggan showing up to sow dissent among the vampiric army, Dracula is completely unprepared when all his vampires start bursting into flame. He retreats to what he thinks is a safe position, only to get attacked by the S.A.S. and a whole bunch of guest stars. And it all comes down to Faiza Hussain, physician, superhero fangirl, and wielder of Excalibur, to take on Dracula in the final showdown.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Man alive, am I going to miss this comic. As always, beautifully created characters, fantastic plotting, so much wonder and excitement. The last three pages of this issue are the best farewell to the readers that I can imagine. Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk created an awfully fine comic — I wish they could’ve kept it going for much, much longer.


Power Girl #3

Power Girl ends up settling Ultra-Humanite’s hash pretty quickly in this issue — in fact, she accidentally roasts him like a hot dog. After that, she and Terra have to figure out how to set Manhattan back down without wrecking everything, and then PeeGee has to try to get Ultra’s ship down safely, without either wrecking New York or dropping into the ocean and causing catastrophic waves.

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up, though the biggest feat is performed by Terra, a guest star… and I’m still a bit irritated that Ultra-Humanite is depicted as an over-the-top sexist. His best-known host, other than the giant albino gorilla, has been Dolores Winters, the fictional film star he transplanted his brain into during the Golden Age. And he’s always struck me as a villain whose primary prejudice was that he thought he was superior to everyone, and that only he had what it took to rule the world. He may hate women — but in fact, he hates them just as much as he hates men. Still, pretty good action and as always, excellent artwork by Amanda Conner.

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House of Dracula


Captain Britain and MI-13 #14

Last issue, Dracula killed everyone. This issue, he realized that it was just too blasted easy — he’d been trapped in the demon Plotka’s magical room of wishes that gives the illusion of the perfect life. So MI-13 is still alive, and the vampires haven’t achieved their victory yet. In fact, they’re way, way far off from victory, because the Brits now know Dracula’s plans, they’ve got ringers aboard the vampires’ ships, and Spitfire hasn’t actually been mentally dominated. British forces wreck the vampires’ ships and deal some heavy losses, but the vampires aren’t finished yet. Dracula still has Faiza Hussein’s father, and Dr. Doom has just given him Meggan, Captain Britain’s ex-wife, who now calls herself Gloriana.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action, great characterizations, a great resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger. Just one more issue of this series left, so hold on to yer hats.


JSA vs. Kobra #1

The international nihilistic terrorism organization Kobra makes a few first strikes against the Justice Society and against Checkmate, the international espionage outfit. Unhappy with Kobra’s continuing existence, the JSA decides to strike back, capturing and interrogating a number of Kobra agents. Kobra makes an attack on a church that draws out the Justice Society, but it may have all been a false-flag attack.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. Doesn’t seem that bad, but is this really something we need a miniseries for? I’ll reserve judgment for an issue or two.

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Glub Glub Glub


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #12

Captain America and Rick Jones are investigating Hydra and snooping around the Hydra homepage, which is full of happy families singing Hydra’s praises and an adorably mascot called Hydra Boy. Cap doesn’t really understand or trust this new-fangled “Internet” thingamabob — and with good reason, because Hydra is able to use webcams to recognize Cap and teleport him and Rick into the Internet itself! While Hydra Boy uses his abilities to alter the website’s environment to vex Cap, Rick sets out behind the scenes to phone for help and figure out how to alter the website himself. In the end, of course, Cap and Rick escape, riding a big search-engine locomotive.

There’s also a backup story, set stateside during WWII, in which Cap and Bucky fight this guy:


A prototype MODOK!

That’s really all I can say about it. Prototype MODOK! Whooo!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hydra Boy was an amusingly nasty villain, and the story contained a wealth of great visual puns about the Internet. And again — Prototype MODOK!


Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual #1

One of the last issues of this comic we’ll see, as Marvel has already announced that they’ve cancelled it. Cancelling really outstanding comics seems to be the very favorite thing for comic publishers to do.

There are two stories here, the first focusing on Meggan, the mutant shapeshifter who used to be married to Captain Britain. Most of the story is a retrospective on her history, from her childhood, where she frequently got into trouble for accidentally using her shapeshifting powers to reflect back what people thought of her (at one point turning into a cartoonish stereotyped image of a Gypsy crone when someone accuses her family of being Roma) to her accidental imprisonment in Hell. However, she’s the only non-tormented soul in Hell, very optimistic and hopeful, which unnerves the rulers of Hell so much that they trick her into using her empathetic powers to let everyone in Hell shape her appearance. Once she’s been turned into a deformed monster, they exile her to a distant part of Hell, where she ends up leading a revolt, receives her first-ever superhero name, and meets up with Dr. Doom.

The second story puts the spotlight on Captain Britain as the rest of the MI-13 team spends an afternoon playing cricket. It’s a pretty amusing story — Blade can’t seem to pitch the ball correctly (Is “pitch” the right word? I know nothing about cricket.), Faiza Hussein is a cricket fanatic, and Spitfire uses very weird British slang.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More emphasis on Meggan than I would’ve expected, but it all seems to work out well. I really don’t understand anything about cricket, but I still thought the second story was funny. Sure, I didn’t understand very much of it because it was grounded so deeply in British culture, but I still enjoyed it.

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England vs. the Vampires


Captain Britain and MI-13 #13

In the newest depressing comic book news, this is the latest outstanding comic to end up on the chopping block. Its last issue is going to be #15.

As for our story: The vampires have destroyed the artifact that keeps the vampires out of Britain. Norman Osborn calls MI-13 to tell them he can’t help, and the Scarlet Witch calls to tell them that the UK has been magically cut off from the rest of the world — people can get out of the country, but an impenetrable forcefield keeps everyone else out. Dracula finally converts Spitfire to evil. And after that, everyone gets killed, and the vampires conquer England.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An absolutely outstanding cliffhanger.


Justice Society of America #26

It’s the last issue with Geoff Johns writing the comic, which he’s done for almost a decade. There’s not a ton of action in this one — most of the focus is on Stargirl’s surprise birthday party, attended by most of the JSA. It’s a very cute slice-of-life issue, with some nice bits with Starman’s inability to understand the concept of birthday presents, the Wildcats hanging out and enjoying each other’s company, a bunch of superheroes roaming around a grocery store, Courtney’s little brother being a pain in the neck, and Green Lantern wearing a silly party hat.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, I know, I’m a sucker for “a day in the life” stories. But I love the nice bits of personality and characterization that get tossed in here — Starman pays for drinks at a kid’s lemonade stand with a combination of C-notes and grocery coupons, Wildcat Sr. is amusingly gruff and loving, Jakeem Thunder, who hasn’t had a lot to do lately, gets a great two-page spread to chat with Courtney. And Stargirl goes to the dentist to get her braces off! Altogether, just a fun little farewell from Geoff Johns to Stargirl, who is probably his favorite character.

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Robots and Monsters and Vampires, Oh My!

Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time #1

Atomic Robo, the wiseacre, action-packed atomic-powered robot created by Nikola Tesla, is back for another pulp-flavored adventure, this time set in 1926. Robo is studying for his physics doctorate when he gets some unwelcome visitors — fantasy/sci-fi/horror author H.P. Lovecraft and weird-phenomena researcher Charles Fort. Many years ago, Lovecraft, Fort, and Lovecraft’s father worked with Tesla to banish a cosmic horror from Earth, but it’s coming back — or it’s been here all along… With Tesla unavailable, can Robo help Fort and Lovecraft before it’s too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. First, anything that teams a snarky robot with Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft is guaranteed to appeal to me. And though this issue is extremely talky, it’s also a great deal of fun. The first few pages, with Lovecraft gibbering along with his over-the-top pseudo-racism about Robo’s pygmy ancestry, is extraordinarily funny. If the rest of the story is as good as the first issue, I’ll be glad to come along for the ride.

Fin Fang 4 Return! #1

This has its genesis in a story a few years ago where a bunch of giant monsters from Marvel’s ’50s era, Fin Fang Foom, Googam, Elektro, and Gorgilla, decide to reform, are reduced to human size, and take up jobs in the human world. So here we’ve got this short anthology of stories — first, the Hulk’s pal Doc Samson tries to psychoanalyze the quartet of monsters. Next, Fin Fang Foom’s job as a chef at a Chinese restaurant leads to an unexpected cure for baldness and an equally unexpected loss of the cure for baldness. After that, Gorgilla goes time-traveling and save Abraham Lincoln from assassination; Googam tries to get adopted by a Hollywood starlet to fund his quest for world domination; and the robotic Elektro gets mistaken for a completely different Electro. Finally, there’s a reprint of a Christmas story as Fin reluctantly teams up with Dr. Strange’s assistant Wong to stop Hydra’s giant evil Santa Claus robot.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, it’s silly and inconsequential. I like stuff that’s silly and inconsequential.

Captain Britain and MI-13 #12

Dracula and his army of vampires are continuing their war on England and MI-13. Spitfire, because of her vampiric heritage, is helpless to resist Dracula’s orders and is forced to kill a civilian in Dracula’s castle on the moon. The rest of the team, meanwhile, is trying to track down a magical artifact — the skull of Blade’s old friend Quincy Harker, enchanted to prevent vampires from entering Britain unless they’re specifically and individually invited. Unfortunately, Dracula’s centuries of unlife have made him one of the greatest military minds ever, and he’s thinking several steps ahead of MI-13.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good bloodsucking fun. My only regret about this one is that Dracula isn’t nearly as pompous or long-winded as he was in the classic ’70s series “Tomb of Dracula.”

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Hail Britannia


Captain Britain and MI-13 #11

Dracula has declared war on Great Britain and made his first attack against MI-13. Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom have escaped injury in their exploding car, but one of their backpacking friends is killed. The Black Knight and Faiza Hussain are stuck in freefall from 10,000 feet up, but Faiza actually manages to heal their injuries as they hit the ground. Faiza’s family, in the meantime, has been targeted by Dracula, and Spitfire’s dead vampire son has come back from the grave to drag his mother into Dracula’s service.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve got some quibbles with the depiction of Dracula, but I’m a bit of a purist for the glories of the “Tomb of Dracula” series from the ’70s. Other than that, there’s nothing but win going on here. The interaction between Spitfire and her son is excellent, Dracula’s taunt at his old foe Blade is much appreciated, and Pete Wisdom’s leadership is wonderful to watch. This comic is huge fun.


Secret Six #7

Deadshot has apparently tried to kill most of the team, but he botched the job on all of them, and now they’re chasing him down to get revenge. Meanwhile, Tarantula, riding along with Deadshot with Bane unconscious in the back seat of the limo, figures out the truth — Deadshot’s an expert assassin, and if he’d wanted his teammates dead, they’d be dead. Everyone finally meets up in Gotham City, with the addition of all the supervillains who’ve been trying to kill them, plus Junior, Ragdoll’s creepy sister, plus the Mad Hatter, plus Huntress, Grace, and Lady Blackhawk. And then Bane finally breaks out his stash of Venom, and things really go nuts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, great interaction between all the characters. Tarantula is just great here, as is Mad Hatter. And it was pretty cool seeing how Bane looks at the world once he’s got Venom in his system. Gail Simone and Nicola Scott are doing outstanding work with this series.

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Scream, Dracula, Scream!


Captain Britain and MI13 #10

Dracula has returned to the Marvel Universe, making his plans against MI13 while the team, unaware of the Vampire King’s machinations, spend some time developing their intra-team relationships. Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom are clubbing in Soho and picking up on tourists. Spitfire and Blade (with his ridiculous, ridiculous hair) are partying and romancing near Hyde Park. The Black Knight has gone to Wakanda to get the Ebony Blade, and he and Faiza discuss their knight-steward relationship. But all the good stuff in this issue belongs to Dracula. You’ve got Dracula’s meeting with Doctor Doom, you’ve got Dracula’s magic/scientific headquarters on the moon, you’ve got Dracula launching guided vampire-missiles on London. And you just want more and more, because Dracula is sooo cool.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Every scene with Dracula in it is a solid winner, and the scenes without Dracula are still pretty good. If I’ve got any complaint, it’s that Dracula isn’t quite the arrogant, loquacious  aristocrat that he was in the classic 1970s series “The Tomb of Dracula.” Still, he hasn’t even had a chance to have a good ranting monologue yet, so maybe that’s coming in the next few issues.


Crossed #3

The maniacally homicidal Crossed don’t figure as much into this issue — they show up at the beginning, but soon disappear. The focus this time is on how bad things have become with civilization in collapse. The small group of survivors are attacked by another group of humans — a schoolteacher and her former students, who have been surviving by attacking people and eating them. After the teacher’s death, the survivors are left with a band of six children to care for. They don’t have the resources to keep everyone fed, and they don’t trust that the kids won’t, at some point, decide to go back to eating people. Is there a good solution out of this?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A somewhat less violent issue, though the moral issues involved are still plenty traumatic. We also get a bit more detail about the survivors, which is something that’s been lacking previously.

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True Love, Fantasies, and Free Stuff


Captain Britain and MI:13 #9

The demonic Plotka has trapped the team in a netherworld, thanks to the treachery of Captain Midlands, and he’s going to use them as a power source to create more Mindless Ones and take over the planet. The team’s science advisor actually climbs inside a captured Mindless One to get to the dimension-lost Captain Britain and lead him to safety… but it turns out Cap’s late wife Meggan may actually really be alive again. Meanwhile, the rest of the team captures Captain Midlands, shatters his fantasy of his beloved wife, and uses the Black Knight’s sword to cut through the “Dream Corridor” and free all the imprisoned souls. But can the team still manage to stop Plotka in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action going on here. I loved the aftermath — awww, Blade and Spitfire are gonna be friends after all! And even better — next issue: Dracula!


War of Kings Saga

It’s a free comic! Designed as a promotion for Marvel’s upcoming “War of Kings” crossover event, this is a history of the Inhumans and everyone connected to them, including Quicksilver, the Starjammers, the Shi’ar Empire, Havok, and many more.

Verdict: I was going to give this a thumbs down, ’cause I can’t summon any interest in “War of Kings” — but it is free, and it’s a pretty good resource for the very convoluted history of the Inhumans. So it’s a thumbs up.

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Bah Humbug!

Christmas is over for another year, there’s torn wrapping paper and spilled eggnog all over the house, and we still didn’t get what we really want (a pony), so it’s time to get right back to reviewing comics.

Captain Britain and MI:13 #8

Spitfire’s in pretty severe trouble, having been severely mangled, but Blade runs off Plotka with a sword made from pages from magical books, then shows Spitfire how to use her vampiric nature to heal herself. The government manages to capture one of the indestructible Mindless Ones, but is then stuck with a whole bunch of other Mindless Ones with no way to capture them, too — time to Run Away! Captain Britain is trying to figure out how to escape from a dreamworld that gives him illusions of whatever he wants — including illusions of ways out of the dreamworld. And the whole team gets betrayed by someone they never expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Blade’s Wordsword is pretty nifty (but, like he says, not much good in the rain). Heck, pretty much every page that has Blade or Spitfire is guaranteed awesome. The rest of the group hasn’t been too interesting lately…

The Age of the Sentry! #4

Cranio, the Man with the Tri-Level Mind, is up to his old tricks, stealing a time machine to unleash chronal chaos. The Sentry manages to capture him, but the mixups in the timestream has created a new version of the Sentry who operated during the 1940s. The new Sentry packs a gun and attacks beatniks, but he helps save the regular Sentry from his arch-foe, the Void. Eventually, they figure out how to send the Golden Age Sentry back to his own dimension. Later, the Sentry teams up with the Blonde Phantom, the new leader of the Avengers, as they try to track down a kidnapped rock band. This leads to another of the Sentry’s terrifying modern-day hallucinations. Will the two heroes be able to survive an attack by the Mole-Men? Will they get to rock out with the band at the end?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the Silver Age freakiness of this title, but I’ve started looking forward to the Sentry’s scary freakouts, where everything gets dark and nightmarish and bizarre. Did these adventures ever really happen? Are they all the Sentry’s hallucinations? Is it all a bedtime story told by bored parents? It’s head-trippy, and I love good mind games.

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