Monday, 9 April 2012

Captain Britain #4. This is the story of the Hurricane.

Captain Britain #4, the Hurricane
From the deepest valleys of this land to its highest hilltops, from its wettest rivers to its dryest wit, there's one thing everyone knows.

There's no one more patriotic than Steve Who Does Comics.

Why, I even know the first line of the National Anthem.

It begins with the word, "God," and then there are some other words.

But a man who's so wrapped in the flag he probably even knows the second line of the National Anthem, is the man they know as, "Britain's first super-hero."

Admittedly, Billy the Cat and Katie might have something to say about that claim but, nonetheless, in 1976, after years of giving us nothing but reprints, Marvel UK handed us our very own super-doer in the form of Captain Britain. Captain Britain was red, Captain Britain was strong, Captain Britain had a pole.

Captain Britain was in colour.

This was actually the comic's strongest point. Not because it was a visual treat but because it was a nasal one. Thanks to the unique combination of the coloured inks and the paper stock used, it was quite simply the best-smelling comic I can remember ever reading.

Apart from the smell, what also struck me was the strip's total lack of originality. Like Peter Parker, Brian Braddock was a student. Like Peter Parker, he had trouble with the campus big-mouth. Like Peter Parker, he had trouble with a stroppy grown-up determined to expose him for the menace to society he was.

Well, thanks to Joe Bloke at Grantbridge Street having posted it on his blog, I've finally had the chance to re-read Captain Britain #4; the first issue I ever read of that mag.

In it, Brian Braddock's minding his own business when his university's attacked by a man called the Hurricane. Snooker fans'll be disappointed to know it's not Alex "Hurricane" Higgins - who no doubt attacked it the following week - but a villain who wears an armoured costume and fires hurricane-force blasts at people. I quite like the Hurricane. For one thing, he just shows up at the university and starts demolishing it for no good reason. Secondly, he's a bit of a thug and a bully.

Captain Britain probably doesn't like him so much, as, by the end of the tale, the Hurricane's flattened him and left him for dead. I seem to remember this is a fate the poor Captain suffered repeatedly over the years.

The tale's drawn by Herb Trimpe, in a very simple style, possibly suggesting he was in a bit of a rush but, regardless, it's pleasing to look at.

But the truth is, such is the lack of originality and the lack of any real character development in this tale that it's hard to feel involved. It really does seem like a super-hero comic done by numbers. Who would've thought at the time that, from such unpromising beginnings, such future greatness would develop?


Kid said...

I've got the full set right up to when it merged with Super Spider-Man. I've also got these particular issues in the 5 volume set of Captain Britain reprints.

Try and track down Captain Britain Annual 1978, Steve - it's got the first several issues of Cap's adventures from the weekly. Worth having.

joe bloke said...

same as, Kid. I've still got all mine. I loved Captain Britain, as a kid. I was just so stoked that we had our own Marvel hero!

Dougie said...

Just bought the Captain Britain 1978 annual on ebay. I know how generic the Captain is but I like the original version so much more than Alan Davis' hulking comedy guardsman.

Kid said...

Dougie, I got mine in Woolworths back in 1977 - still got it, pristine condition. It really is a nice little collector's item. You're right - the original had a certain charm.

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