I've set up yet another Blog called 'The Otherworld Book Review'. I want to keep the posts on this Blog dedicated to Captain Britain, and British Marvel related characters, which means stripping out any non related posts, and reposting them on the new Blog. So moving forward any books I read, I'll review and post on the new, Book Blog. Follow the link below to check out my new Blog.
Union Jack London Falling, written by Christos Gage (Iron Man) and illustrated by Mike Perkins (Captain America) collects Union Jack issues 1-4, released in 2007.
This story is told at the time of the Civil War event in the big wide world of the Marvel Universe. I always wondered how other countries sat when this whole Civil War event was happening, with everything happening in America, and no indication of how much influence Stark had on the hero community in general. After reading this graphic novel, I would presume the registration act didn't extend further than America's borders. There is a reference to Nick Fury being 'underground', but no real emphasis on the Civil War itself.
This was the first graphic novel where Union Jack was the main star, not just a supporting character, which is the usual lot for him, playing guest star to Captain Britain, The Invaders, and not forgetting The Knights of Pendragon.
In this graphic novel you'll find Union Jack, not fighting Vampires, but facing real, known villains, although at the start he's facing off against some Vamps. You couldn't have a Union Jack story without at least one Vampire in it!
The basis for this story is that 'wolverine' decimated the ranks of Hydra leaving a power vacuum in the villain community, which R.A.I.D. (Radically Advanced Ideas in Destruction), a splinter cell of Aim, want to fill, and they decide the way to show their might is by hiring a string of mercenaries to attack certain landmarks in London.
MI6 get wind of the plot and get Union Jack to help them save London from these terrorists, with a little help from a few other international heroes from other countries, because Captain Britain, Micromax, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four are all on their own missions, so no help is arriving from the big hitters. So it's Union Jack, former S.H.I.E.L.D Deputy Director Contessa Allegra Valentina De La Fontaine, Sabra from Israel, and the new Arabian Knight from Saudi Arabia.
This tale is a real good old bog-standard hero versus villain fight to the finish with Union Jack taking on a lot of the villains single-handed, and winning, with the highlight being his fight with Jack-O-Lantern, Shockwave, and Jackhammer in a flooded underground. He even helps out the other heroes in his little band to defeat their own foes. In fact, he takes out more villains on his own than the other heroes put together, plus he has to fight Sabra, Arabian Knight, and Val who are being controlled by The Controller.
Obviously he manages to beat them all, so job done, well not quite, there's still one more villain to best! This villain turns out to be a uber-sized Dreadnaught, who's having a whale of a time smashing up Trafalgar Square.
The heroes take a bit of a battering, even Sabra with her super strength, and Union Jack is smashed against a building. He's battered, and bruised, and really shouldn't be standing, but he refuses to give in. This is cue for a few cheesy moments, moments akin to the scene in the recent Spider-Man movie where all the crane drivers in New York line their crane arms up so Spidey can swing through the streets to reach the lizard. Oh how I cringed at that scene, but in this graphic novel it seemed to fit, and was more fun than cringe.
This story seemed to serve the purpose of portraying Union Jack as the British hero of the people, which was summed up in the next few panels. The Dreadnaught is about to zap Union Jack when out of nowhere a wrecking ball smacks him in the chin.
What makes this so funny is the old man who's talking like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, then ends the sentence with 'Innit'. All he needed to add was 'Wicked'. This is then followed by Union Jack picking up a fallen flag pole which has a Union Jack attached to it, which he then and rams into a wound inflicted by Sabra, and Arabian Knight, exposing liquid nitrogen inside the armour, all said with a nice cheesy line.
Job done, and that's pretty much it, apart from Union Jack realising that it's all been the masterplan of the MI6 member who contacted him in the first place, and exposing him to the press.
I really enjoyed this one, it set Union Jack up as a hero in his own right, not one in the shadow of Captain Britain. A real hero, one to represent the average man on the street, with Joey Chapman being the son of a dock worker. As I've already said it was a fun romp, and not to be taken too seriously.
I want more Union Jack, and how cool would it be if you had Union Jack teaming up with Captain Britain, but not the Captain Britain we all know and love now, but the original 1970's version with the red costume and lion on his chest. Hey it's comics, anything is possible, a time travel story isn't impossible.
Paul Cornell wrote the Captain Britain & MI13 comic series, which contained British heroes working for the government agency called MI13.
The team consisted of Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Black Knight, Spitfire, Faiza Hussain (Excalibur), and later on they are joined by Blade.
Spitfire and Blade struck up a relationship, that is once Blade had gotten over trying to kill her. Blade, the vampire hunter, tried to kill her because Spitfire is a vampire.
The story of how Jacqueline Falsworth became Spitfire, got bitten by Baron Blood, became an Invader, lost her powers, regained her powers, and youth, was explained at the start of this issue. In fact Spitfire's entire history was summed up on the very first page, from her very beginnings, right up until the happenings in the final MI13 comics, which were very vampire orientated, with Dracula, and a huge host of other well known vampires.
This story runs at the time of 'The Age of Heroes' happening in the Marvel Universe, with Captain Britain, Meggan, Pete Wisdom & Co hanging out with Steve Rogers, who after his rebirth became in charge of everything, well pretty much everything. Obviously Spitfire and Blade weren't invited to the big Marvel party.
The story itself centres around Spitfire, and Blade, and sort of explores their developing relationship, whilst Blade trains Spitfire to hone her vampire skills. They are in New York hunting a British vampire traitor called Ms. Bertram-Hayes, whilst the rest of the team are having fun elsewhere.
This whole hunt is a way for Blade to hone Spitfires ability, whilst sorting out that pesky aristocratic vampire problem. There's more dialogue, than action contained within this comic, but it is well scripted by Paul Cornell. A pretty much predictable storyline, Spitfire and Blade track her down, Blade is taken out pretty easily, and Spitfire faces her alone and wins by taking her head off.
I finished reading it, and the first thought that entered my head was, that was OK. It felt like one of those filler stories you get in a comic run. The sort of story you get when a major story has ended, and the comic needs a non-connected tale, to fill the gap before normal service is resumed and another major story begins.
Spitfire was portrayed as a typically British aristocrat, but not in a cheesy Dick Van-Dyke type of British way. You can tell a British writer held the reigns. I enjoyed it, but now I've read it I can see why it's come under a bit of fire, but it did leave me wanting more!
This Graphic Novel written by Alex Ross and JimKrueger, and drawn by Steve Sadowski, is set after the events in Marvel's 'Civil War', and the Death of Captain America (Steve Rogers).
It collects all 12 issues of the original comic run, plus some nice extra's at the back of the book. The alternative covers, and black and white pencil sketches by Alex Ross are absolutely fantastic. Alex Ross provided all the covers for this comic run, and as you would expect from his art, it is pretty amazing.
For those of you that don't know, which I'm sure there aren't many of you, The Invaders were a team of Superheroes in World War 2, who battled Hitler's forces. The team was built around three main characters, Captain America, Namor, and The Original Human Torch (Jim Hammond), a supporting cast consisted of Bucky Barnes, Captain America's sidekick, Toro, Jim Hammond's human sidekick, who also burst in to flame, and the two British members, Spitfire and Union Jack.
Quite a lot happens in this Graphic Novel, so I'll try to keep it brief and skirt around the edges a little with what actually happened.
A lot of this story is taken from the journal created by Bucky Barnes, who believes in recording everything, and quite a bit of what happens revolves around Bucky. The story starts in 1943 and The Invaders, and some American soldiers are storming a monastery held by the Germans who have some type of Occult item that Hitler requires.
The Invaders and the American soldiers come under heavy fire, which results in heavy casualties for the soldiers and Union Jack also shot, and mortally wounded.
The Invaders race on on enter a green mist, which then deposits them into the future, New York 2008 to be precise. America is a very different America to the one they were used to.
This is 2008, the Civil War has just ended, Captain America has just been shot, and any heroes that will not register their identity are being hunted. The first thing they encounter is Spider-Man fighting for his life against the government sanctioned Thunderbolts. The Invaders think The Thunderbolts are Nazi's and fight them, and win, quite easily, then go to ground in this new world, which they think is ruled by Nazi's.
As I've already stated, a lot happens after this! The Avengers get involved, both factions, the one lead by Iron Man, who wants to capture them, knowing they shouldn't be in this time stream, and could upset the balance, and the rogue Avengers who are being directed by Doctor Strange, who also knows things are not right, and also wants to return them to their correct time.
A lot of fighting happens, Avenger Versus Avenger Versus Invader Versus a legion of Ultron controlled LMD's. The one thing that stood out for me from the middle section of this book, was how powerful Jim Hammond actually is. Not only was he responsible for defeating the LMD Ultron's, who had duped him in the first place, but he single handedly defeated The Sentry, very quickly.
So the big question is, Just how powerful is Jim Hammond/ He was the original Marvel hero, the very first Marvel creation, but is he more powerful than Johnny Storm?
Doctor Strange traces the anomaly that has caused the Invaders to be in this time, which turns out to be the cosmic cube, which is in the hands of D'Spayre, who in turn, turns out to be The Golden Age Vision, who says he is a caretaker of the Cosmic Cube, and is here to guide it towards it's calling!
The invaders, plus a sole surviving soldier, and various Avengers return to 1943, but at the time of travelling back the soldier takes the cube and trys to save his buddies, who were killed in the initial assault, along with Union Jack. He uses the cube to bring them back to life, and also Union Jack, but forgets to protect himself. He's shot, drops the cube, which is then collected by The Red Skull.
The Red Skull uses the cube to conquer the world, so The Invaders, and Avengers arrive back in a 1943 New York ruled by The Red Skull.
The heroes now have to fight their way to Germany to regain the Cosmic Cube, so they can once again correct history. The Avengers have to wear disguises so as not to let the Red Skull know they are from the future, and these disguise are those of heroes from that era, most of them I've never heard of. Heroes such as Captain Terror, The Black Avenger, and The Challenger, to name but three.
There's a nice bit where the Red Skull ponders the appearance of The Axis heroes, standing in front of a display cabinet, where every hero of that era is pinned, like a butterfly in a collectors display.
Invaders/Avengers fight The Red Skull and his own superhuman beings, Masterman, U-Man etc, the usual WW2 super villains, plus in this reality Thor is a member. Heroes die, both Spitfire, and Union Jack sacrifice themselves to destroy one of the Red Skulls creations, and the American soldier who caused this reality to happen, grabs the fallen cube, dropped by The Red Skull fighting Captain America, grabs the cube brings all the old heroes back to life, and returns time to it's rightful place.
One thing this book explored was the feelings and emotions felt by Bucky and Toro. In the course of their jaunt in to the future Toro discovers that he's dead, this disturbs him greatly, and he has a hard time coming to terms with his death, questioning where was Jim Hammond, and the other Invaders, why had they let him die?
One of the final pages of this tale shows the Golden Age Vision resurrecting Toro, which now makes sense why he was brought back to life. He features in the other Invaders tale written by Alex Ross, 'Invaders Now'.
I really enjoyed this graphic novel, it's far better than the Invaders Now story by Alex Ross. It has lots of action, a huge cast of characters, and some real emotion.
Yesterday I posted a piece of art by Miranda Wah featuring The Invaders, which had Spitfire and Union Jack included in the art. This art was a piece he did a few years ago, which prompted Miranda Wah to kindly send me two separate pieces of art of Spitfire, and Union Jack, from 2012, but with a different take on both characters, and I think they're pretty cool.
For those of you that are following the big Marvel event running at the moment, Age of Ultron, you would have seen that Wolverine and Sue Richards travelled back in time to kill Hank Pym, which would then in turn stop Ultron's creation, which would then lead to there not being an 'Age of Ultron' and no end of the world etc, etc, etc.
Hank Pym has been around since 1962, that's a long time, and the creation of Ultron happened in 1968, so that means by Wolverine killing him, wipes out 45 years of involvement in the Marvel Universe since Ultron's creation, and lets be honest he is one of the longest standing Avengers, a pretty important figure, in the Marvel Universe.
Brian Michael Bendis posted on his Tumblr page a list of events connected to Hank Pym, that could possibly be affected by his death. The list is long, as you would expect, and there's even a connection to a UK character, Spitfire. The connection is this...
*No revival of Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, after Mad Thinker’s usage of him against the FF
*Spitfire would not have been rejuvenated without a second dose of Human Torch blood
*Spitfire’s absence may have affected various missions by the New Invaders and MI-13
The story of spitfire's 'rejuvenation' goes something like this (Taken from Comic Vine)...
A new Life
Jacqueline, now and elderly woman, once again found her past calling to her when Namorita, niece to her old teammate Namor the Sub-Mariner, came looking for her in order to free Namor and Jim Hammond, better known as the Human Torch. They where taken captive by a Neo-Nazi cell in Germany. This resulted in Jacqueline, Union Jack and Captain America bursting in the compound where Jim and Namor where held. During the battle Namor and Jim were freed. Jacqueline was however shot and near fatally wounded. Jim Hammond luckily intervened and once again gave a blood transfusion to save her life. Not only did it save Jacqueline's life this time, but it also changed her body back to that of a 16 year old woman. Jacqueline was now in the strange position of being a young woman once again. Jacqueline struggled with her new life, not knowing whether she should act as a young woman or just as her older self.
So if Hank Pym was no longer alive, then he wouldn't have been around to revive The Original Human Torch, which in turn means Spitfire would have died.
For the full Brian Michael Bendis list follow this CBR link...
So time will tell if Spitfire is really dead, or as I suspect Hank Pym's death will be reversed, because too much time is changed, and it's already been announced that Kang is going to make an appearance.
Wednesday May 8th sees the release of Avengers Assemble #15AU, which features Captain Britain, Captain Marvel, Black Knight and Faiza Hussain (Excalibur), fighting against Ultron's robots in, what's left of the UK.
Here's the blurb connected to this issue...
AGE OF ULTRON TIE-IN
ULTRON RULES OK! The AGE OF ULTRON hits Britain, and Captain Britain hits back with a little help from his friends - including a vacationing Captain Marvel! Fighting a guerilla war in the ruins of London, AGGRO! is a way of life for Avengers UK - but when they might just be the last super heroes left alive, can there still be hope? Or is England dreaming?
Written by Al Ewing, with art by Butch Guice, Tom Palmer, and Rick Magyar.
Here we have the final instalment of Rick Remender's Secret Avengers run, and more importantly, Captain Britain's final inclusion in a mainstream Marvel Title.
So far Remender has not been getting my vote of confidence with the way he's handled Captain Britain. Always portraying him as a bit of a fool, an arrogant, head-strong hero with lots of power but quite selfish in it's use.
It seemed as though RR either hated Captain Britain, or loved the character, but didn't really know how to write him properly, and maybe a little daunted following in the successful footsteps of the likes of Alan Moore, Chris Claremont, Alan Davis, and Paul Cornell, who have all shown love, and respect for the good Captain in previous tales.
I wasn't expecting much from Volume three, after reading the two previous volumes, and Remenders Uncanny X-Force/Otherworld story, with this one containing issues #33-37 of the Secret Avengers comic, written by Rick Remender, and illustrated by Matteo Scalera and Andy Kuhn.
How wrong was I? Very wrong indeed, it seems! What's that I hear you say? I'm complimenting Rick Remender's handling of Captain Britain? Yes I am! I'm not one to let past mistakes cloud my judgement. The story in this volume was very good, I would go as far to say exciting, with lots of pace, and the main Ingredient, lots of Captain Britain.
It's not just the amount of CB contained within, it's the way he's portrayed, you almost get the feeling that RR has looked at his portrayal, and thought that he's not given him a fair, and deserved time in the spotlight. Hawkeye still takes top billing but equally so with Captain Britain, and the relationship between them is spot on, with respect from Hawkeye shown towards Cap, and elements of good natured humour.
This story is the final wrap on the Descendants storyline, where Father and his followers plan to turn the whole planet in to a world of automatons, and the like. The secret Avengers need the 'Orb of Necromancy', which if destroyed will end Father's threat. Captain Britain used his link to Otherworld to hide the Orb in one of the many alternate worlds. This is the first indication of Hawkeye showing respect for Captain Britain, and an understanding of how much responsibility he actually carries.
The Earth Captain Britain has hidden the Orb on is called 'Earth 666', a reality populated by the undead. With it's own band of Avengers called 'The Avengers of the Undead', a little cheesy, but it fits the chapter, with a Vampire Wolverine, a Thor Mummy, Captain America Werewolf, Frankenstein Punisher, to name but a few. The 'Avengers of the Undead' betray Captain Britain, and decide not to relinquish the orb, so a big fight between Hawkeye & Cap ensues against the Undead Avengers.
A nice bit of banter ensues between Hawkeye and Captain Britain, where they work well as a partnership, with Captain Britain portrayed as a hero with a brain, and strength. Long story short, Cap, Hawkeye, and The Beast who appears to help out, escape with the Orb.
Whilst all this is going on, Venom, Valkyrie and Black Widow are up against Black Ant, and more Descendants, Father has released a gas which is turning the world into even more Descendants, and Jim Hammond, the Original Human Torch has been healed by Father and leads all, to turn the world in his image, as the original template used.
Not to mention The Wasp, a Deathlok Wasp, turning Hank Pym into another Deathlok, which was the most disturbing thing in this whole story, quite a shocker, and a little confusing, because I'm sure he's currently not Half Cyborg, Half man at the moment.
Back to the main story where we find Hawkeye and Captain Britain fighting against The Original Human Torch, and his Descendant followers. Hawkeye seems to be well out of his league, and Captain Britain saves his backside several times, disposing of Lady Deathstrike with ease, as she was beating Hawkeye, and saving him from being crushed by the Master Mold Giant sentinel. The giant Sentinel is carted off in to space by Captain Britain and left high n' dry, and not to mention Cap going toe to toe with Jim Hammond.
It's decided that the Orb has to be destroyed before everyone on Earth is changed. Whilst Cap flies off in to space pulling the Giant Sentinel, which contains Father, Hawkeye hesitates with his shot at the Orb, which could doom humanity, and Jim Hammond comes to his senses, after being convinced by Captain Britain that what he's doing is wrong, and destroys the Orb, saving humanity, but condemning his own kind.
Captain Britain in the meantime confronts Father in space, inside the Sentinel, which leaves it with a possible return by Father in the future. The one thing which was easy to miss was the fact that Brian Braddocks father had a hand in creating the Orb of Necromancy, so was a fitting end to have Captain Britain responsible for seeing the threat come to an end.
Looking back at all three volumes, I wonder if it was Rick Remender's plan all along to make Captain Britain look the fool to begin with, only to play the hero at the end, with the whole story connected to his past. So here I am with a smile, at long last with Remenders final portrayal of Captain Britain.
Captain Britain even gets his face on the spine, Volume 2 had Valkyrie, and Volume 1 Hawkeye.