Monday, December 29, 2014

Captain Universe No.1 (1954)

Independent comics proliferated in the UK in the years after World War 2. There were still restrictions on certain imports, including American comics (although some did filter through) so British publishers gained the rights to produce UK reprints of many US titles. They also created their own American-style comics, and numerous British superheroes began to appear. One of them was Captain Universe.

Captain Universe No.1 appeared in 1954 by The Arnold Book Company, a publisher based in London's Piccadilly. It was drawn (and perhaps created?) by Mick Anglo, who that same year had created Marvelman. There were similarities to Marvelman too, with Captain Universe's alter ego shouting a magic word to transform into the hero, and the character's seemingly infinite powers.

Here's the story to read for yourselves. It's a strange dreamlike tale with random occurrences and a cheery disregard for basic science. Captain Universe himself proves to be quite brutal, who ends up destroying an entire world! "It was a hard decision to make" he claims, even though we've just seen that it clearly wasn't. As for the 'Horror Plant' of the title, - it appears in just one panel and the Captain dismisses it with "G'wan! Lay off!". Some horror! 

Other stories in this 28 page comic feature Lt. Mike Miller of Homicide and a Western with Rocky Colt and Red Feather. Here are the opening pages...

There's also a one page True Space Facts page by Denis Gifford, who seemed to be in everything in those days!
One thing that Captain Universe didn't have in common with Marvelman was longevity. Issue 2 was the last. However, he did turn up decades later in a cameo appearance in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, as seen here

You can read the story from Captain Universe No.2 in the book Great British Fantasy Comic Book Heroes, published by Ugly Duckling Press.


John Pitt said...

Even more fascinating than your previous post and even more thanks for sharing. It's the first Captain Universe I've ever seen. It's always so exciting seeing something I didn't previously know about!

Lew Stringer said...

The 1950s were full of little interesting items like this. Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs often tell me about them when we meet up. Sadly the fifties are often overlooked except for Eagle and The Beano. I'll be posting more about such rarities soon.

John Pitt said...

Lew, I don't suppose you've got any of the 1960 Captain Miracle on Anglo comics? There were only 9 issues.
If so, I'd love to see a post on it!

Lew Stringer said...

I don't have those, sorry.

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