The second issue of Captain Britain kicks off with another Larry Lieber cover. Purchasers were treated to a free gift of a Captain Britan Boomerang, which, if memory serves, was merely two strips of thin card that were joined to create a contraption which could be hurled at your school chums. Surprisingly, it did actually used to return to the thrower!

cover to Captain Britain #2

Claremont, Trimpe and Kida continue to outline the origin of Captain Britain in the comic’s eight-page lead story. “From the Holocaust — A Hero!” (you have to love those Lee-inspired titles) picks up right where the last issue left off. Brian Braddock is being admonished to choose between an amulet and a sword by ghostly figures. Suddenly the Reaver and his men show up and Braddock quickly makes his decision. He grabs the amulet. From the depths of space a bolt of “purest energy” homes in, blasting Braddock. He stands transformed. Captain Britain has arrived!

“This is insane!!” says Britain, looking down at himself. “I feel… bigger, faster, stronger — literally burstng with power.”

Suddenly, the Reaver plucks the sword out of the next stone over and is himself transformed into a golden armour-clad knight. Not too taken aback by this he orders his men to “smash the hero down!”

They attack Cap en masse, but he beats them back. He pulls out a staff that he finds attached to his back and it quickly extends (no sniggering at the back there!) into a formidable weapon that he is able to throw or use as a pole vault. He fends off a blast from the Reaver’s sword, but the Reaver is unphased.

Cap realises that the Reaver’s power and his own are exact opposites, balancing each other out in the cosmic scheme of things. When the Reaver attacks again with another blast from his sword, Cap blocks it with his staff. The energy rebounds back at the Reaver defeating him.

Captain Britain agrees to become the the champion of good against the forces of evil.

Issue 3

cover to Captain Britain #3

“Mayhem on a Monday Morning!” finds Brian Braddock at a bank. He stands helpless as the bank is attacked by a gang of uniform-clad robbers using super-weapons. All in the bank are quickly held hostage, and Braddock is knocked unconscious. The lead robber asks the bank manager to show him to the main vault, however the police arrive outside: someone has tripped an alarm.

As the robbers tackle the police, Braddock revives and rubs his amulet. He is transformed into Captain Britan. Cap attacks the robbers from behind while they concentrate their firepower on the police outside. Luckily, and somewhat unlikely, these police happen to be armed (remember folks, police in Britain are unarmed) and fight back, though none too successfully. Cap continues his rout of the robbers causing mayhem inside the bank. He soon overpowers them all.

Outside, Chief Inspector Dai Thomas has arrived and, seeing the action inside, thinks a police unit is at work. He is upset to find Cap alone, telling him that he is, “One cop who dislikes super-vigilantes as much as he dislikes super-villains.” Naturally he went to have a long career in comics. For those interested, “Dai” is a shortened version of David used extensively in Wales.

Cap is interrogated off-panel — which is a shame cos that would’ve been an interesting scene! The police finally let him go, and after changing back to Brian Braddock, Cap heads for the pub. He meets up with several of his university pals, all of whom seem to have an odd habit of calling each other by their full names: “Jacko Tanner, you make one more crack about Brian and I’m going to forget I’m a lady.” “You shut up Sandy York…”

It seems that Brian has the hots for blonde bombshell Courtney Ross, but is too meek to accept her proposal of a trip to the cinema. Jacko Tanner makes fun of Braddock’s wimpish tendencies.

In a final subplot we get our first glimpse of super-villain the Hurricane who will menace our hero over the next several issues…

cover to Captain Britain #4

So that was how it all began. The idea of all-new material aimed at a British audience was a good one, but perhaps ahead of its time. The comic did well initially, but sales figures soon began to decline — probably once readers came to realise that they were getting rather inferior fare that was no match for the American product. Over time there were changes of personnel on the strip, and, for a few weeks, installments were pencilled by the legendary John Buscema. He was soon replaced by Pablo Marcos however and the comic fell into terminal decline.

Captain Britain was cancelled with issue 39, dated July 6 1977. For a few months the adventures of Cap continued in the combined Spider-Man and Captain Britain title, but then it was over. After an appearance in Marvel Team-Up, Cap was gone. It would be some years before the character was completely rethought and handed over to a young Alan Moore and Alan Davis to salvage.

But that’s a tale for another time..!

Images ©2011 Marvel Characters, Inc