This week in 1976 was a good week for all rampant nationalists, as Marvel UK gave us their first ever super-hero.
Admittedly, he wasn't really their first ever super-hero because they'd already given us the epic legend that was Apeslayer but this one was at least their first ever British super-hero.
I'd like to claim I was blown away by issue #1 of this mag but I never saw it. I don't think I got hold of a copy of the title until it hit its third issue.
What I recall of that comic was that it was mostly in colour, with one page generously left in monochrome so we could colour it in ourselves.
The other thing that most struck me was its rather magnificent smell which was like that of no other comic I'd ever owned. When it came to scents, it was somewhat in the marker pen envelope and was therefore a good thing. Frankly, I could have sat there inhaling its fumes forever.
In all honestly, apart from the smell, the comic never particularly grabbed me. Captain Britain and his cast owed far too much to the early days of Spider-Man for my liking, and the Britain he inhabited was far more like Britain as Americans imagine it to be than it was like the Britain I actually inhabited. Thus we got cobbled streets, gas lamps, knights in shining armour, highwaymen, wizards, sceptres and the Royal Family.
After issues #3 and #4, I didn't see the comic again until after it had switched to the format of Marvel UK's other mags, meaning glossy covers and black and white interiors. To be honest, it was a format I preferred. The colour had always been a bit too bright for my liking and the matt covers had made it feel like it wasn't a proper Marvel mag.
Sadly, the loss of colour robbed it of its special smell - but it now more than made up for that by being drawn by John Buscema and Tom Palmer.
This did strike me at the time as being something akin to a miracle. Bearing in mind Marvel had initially refused to use Buscema on Conan The Barbarian because he was too expensive, his presence on this title does suggest the paymasters in New York were taking the comic surprisingly seriously. As did the decision to team our hero up with Captain America and SHIELD in a battle to prevent the Red Skull bumping off Jimmy Carter and James Callaghan. It does seem like the parent company was making a genuine attempt to turn the thing into a success, even if they didn't really know how to achieve it.
Sadly, Buscema didn't hang around forever and the art soon deteriorated, as did the stories. By the time his own title had failed and the good Captain had moved into the pages of Super Spider-Man, I'd come to regard it as a strip to avoid and I can't tell you how relieved I was when it was finally scrapped and replaced with something else.
But there was a surprise in store - because, some time later, a mysterious figure turned up in the pages of the Black Knight's strip in Marvel UK's Hulkcomic.
It turned out that that figure was Captain Britain who was now involved in a strange Lord of the Rings type fantasy. It did strike me at the time that the new strip seemed classier than the old one but, not being a fan of that particular style of Fantasy, I couldn't be altogether sure. I have a feeling it was now being drawn by Steve Parkhouse but don't quote me on that.
What I could be sure of was that when I next encountered him, I definitely liked what I saw. Now he was in the pages of the monthly Mighty World of Marvel mag and was being produced by Alans Moore and Davis. It was instantly obvious that the whole thing was a drastic cut above anything I'd seen from the character before, as he found himself in an alternate Britain ruled by a seemingly all-powerful Enoch Powell type intent on making Britain not at all a nice place to be. Reader, thank God that prophecy never came true and that Britain now has no one in power making Enoch Powell type noises. This tale was far darker, far more stylish and far more potent than we'd come to expect of the stiff Spider-Man knock-off we'd once been given.
Sadly, after a few months of this, I lost touch with him again until, in the early 1990s, I bought a trade paperback that reprinted his adventures from the immediate post-Moore era.
My knowledge of his career since then can only be called sketchy. I believe he got dragged into Marvel's mutant corner, despite not being a mutant himself. Beyond that, I can say little. But I do know that his sister Betsy became Psylocke and somehow changed from being a blind, posh, non-mutant Englishwoman to being a Japanese mutant ninja martial arts expert. Comics. You have to love them.
So, was Captain Britain a good idea?
No. He was a terrible idea, a British super-hero, for a British audience, created by people with virtually no knowledge of Britain and cast from a mould far too derivative of already existing Marvel heroes. Still, after a number of false starts, he finally came good in the end, so I suppose we should be glad of his creation even if it was all a terrible mistake.
I inflicted the novels "Danny Yates Must Die" and "Mr Landen Has No Brain" on the world, as well as a bunch of short stories under a bunch of pseudonyms.
I also run the blogs "Steve Does Comics" and "Steve Does Dr Who".
My latest novel - "Fatal Inheritance" - is out now on Amazon Kindle. If you like women fighting the forces of evil, it's the book for you.