Friday, October 07, 2016

Captain Britain hits the big 4-0!

Exactly 40 years ago this week in 1976, Marvel UK launched Captain Britain No.1, their first title to feature a strip specifically produced for the British market. Unfortunately I've only gone and misplaced my copy, and unlike some bloggers I'm not the sort to nick images from other sites, so my tribute to the comic will be a bit brief and paltry I'm afraid. 

Above is a page I've shown on this blog before. It's the first page of the story from Captain Britain No.1, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by the late Herb Trimpe and Fred Kida. 

The 32 page comic featured Captain Britain as the lead strip in full colour, with back up strips being black and white reprints of part of a Stan Lee / John Buscema Fantastic Four story (a great era for the strip) and a Jim Steranko Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD story in full colour. 

As a 17 year old at the time I remember thinking that "Captain Britain" sounded a clumsy name compared to the cooler-sounding Captain America. And how exactly was CB a captain anyway? The comic was fun though, so I stuck with it for its 39 issue run (although I threw most of them away years ago). Cap went on to greater glories in later years with Alan Moore and Alan Davis, and still turns up occasionally in American Marvel comics. 

As a reminder to anyone now thinking "They should reprint those old stories", the good news is that Panini UK have, in several chunky softback books. Check them out on Amazon (here) or order them from your comic shop!

The second volume in the series.

Volume 3.

Volume 4. Cover by Staz Johnson


Colin Jones said...

I also thought Captain Britain was a rather stupid name (and I was 10) but I was really excited about the new comic and I loved the colour - it seemed so exotic. But I wasn't much of a Nick Fury fan and I'd have preferred the Fantastic Four in colour instead especially, as you say, it was such a high point for the FF. The thing that really jarred for me in CB #1 was the sight of Brian Braddock smoking a pipe which just seemed weird - I mean can you imagine Peter Parker smoking a pipe ? For me CB started going downhill with that long Red Skull story which I thought was really boring and I've never liked the Red Skull anyway. And then the colour disappeared and all the magic seemed to go from the comic but I had all 39 issues and I continued reading CB after it merged with Super Spider Man.

Lew Stringer said...

I tend to agree with you on all that, Colin, except for Nick Fury. I've liked those Steranko episodes since I was 8. It was such a groundbreaking strip that it deserved to be reprinted in colour, I think.

As for the pipe; I noticed it in reprints of 1950s strips, where it somehow represented a more scientific character than someone smoking a cigarette or cigar. It did look out of date by 1976 though, so it was odd they had Braddock with one.

Cole Burden said...

If memory serves me right, didn't Captain Britain re-appear in a British-only Marvel as a character in the Black Knight in The Hulk Comic?

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, those stories are reprinted in volumes 3 and 4 of the books. Very nice work by John Stokes.

Colin said...

Forty years, how scary! I bought this when it came out came out enthusiastically.
It was great Marvel was doing a British superhero for Britain, and in colour. But it was produced in America by americans, and the colour didn't last, and the name was a silly imitation of Captain America, and personally I always thought that costume was pretty naff.. . But It was great Marvel was doing a British superhero for Britain, and in colour!
Thanks for reminding me Lew. Next time I'm hunting in the attic I might pull a few of these issues and see if they're any better than I remember.

Steve Marchant said...

My copies are at my mom & dad's so I can't check the issue number, but I remember that around #17, many of the pages were all printed in the wrong order, including some for the following issue - it was like it was suddenly written by William Burroughs! They printed an extra section in the following issue that you had to replace/wrap around the middle of #17 for it to make sense.

Lew Stringer said...

That's right, Steve. What a goof that was! I think I kept the bumper issue that had the corrected pages. If I knew where I'd put my Captain Britain comics I could check but never mind. The moment has passed. :)

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