by Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill (Writers), Rich Elson (Artist), Antonio Fabela (Colorist)
The Story: Pete Wisdom and Captain Britain needs to gather the crew back as trouble arrive in the UK with Mys-Tech rearing its ugly head back.
The Review: Marvel has a rather large library of characters. Mutants, magic users, cosmic beings, street-level heroes, monsters, oddities and many more are but a selection of the kind of characters one can see when reading one of their books. While the very same is true for the Distinguished Competition as well, the new 52 reboot kind of crushed this large selection for them in unfortunate ways.
We all have some characters we especially like for various reasons. Nostalgia, a certain cool factor, a presentation or a concept that resonates with what we generally like to read and many others can indicate why we like some characters more than others. One of those character, for me, is Captain Britain. A man that tries to protect the whole omniverse with other people from various universes with the same power sets and similar codenames? Now that’s cool.
My general appreciation of the character made me go out and buy this comic, which was sweetened by the fact it incorporates other elements like Pete Wisdom and writer Andy Lanning, a part of the DnA duo that gave us many excellent cosmic stories. Teamed with Alan Cowsill to revive old UK characters and reintegrate them in the larger Marvel universe and its continuity, this book certainly has potential to be particularly fun.
Potential is certainly something it possess, yet it takes more than a certain possibility for greatness to create a good comic, as this opening issue to this larger story is quite uneven in terms of quality. There are certainly some very nice ideas thrown there, but a lot of aspects of this book are rather weak, which doesn’t help make the case for this revival in the first place.
One of the very first uneven aspect is the pacing and the general integration of old and new ideas. The issue opens in a way that is ripe with exposition, with Pete Wisdom, Captain Britain and other characters pushing forth a lot of information, perhaps a bit too much in fact. While it is necessary to make sure those who are unfamiliar with Marvel UK can catch up with those alien concepts, it makes the introduction to the actual conflict and to some of these elements a bit tedious. Worse yet, some of these developments are actually thrown with close to no explanation, with some change being a bit baffling to fans of some characters. Captain Britain is no longer a protector of the omniverse? He is working with S.H.I.E.L.D., the Europe division? Ret-cons can be justified, yet not when they are hand-waved in such a nonchalant manner.
Still, despite all that exposition, some of those ideas are actually rather interesting and the book manage to gets better when actually dealing with the British heroes and character. The explanation of what might have happened against Mys-Tech and the re-introduction of Colonel Tigon Liger ends up giving a shot in the arm to the comic in general, providing for characters that don’t just speak in explanations and obvious remarks.
Speaking of dialogue, this is unfortunately another aspect that comes a bit on and off in this comic. While there are some lines that are genuinely funny and a certain aspect of British humor and the way they handle fictions and other such things are evident in their speeches, many of them are also rather unnecessary or simply terrible. While Pete Wisdom does tend to add a certain levity to the comic, there are way too many lines that are uttered for close to no reason, stating the obvious without adding much to the character or situation.
The art is pretty much in the same situation as the rest, with Rich Elson having some strengths and weaknesses that are quite apparent. While some pages boast an excellent panelling and a good sense of progress through motion, some other pages are bit too fast and sporadic in their visual flow, resulting in a not-so potent read when it comes to imagery. The same goes for certain characters and their facial expressions. While most of the non-costumed characters do tend to have a certain diversity in terms of emotions, others aren’t so lucky. Pete Wisdom and Agent Keller are a tad more expressive than Captain Britain, who comes off as being mostly angry in most of his apparitions here. Still, the characters make up for it a little bit thanks to some good work through their poses and body language, which is decent enough in this book.
An area where there is a certain balance of quality is the colorization, as done by Antonio Fabela. Able to project normalcy, danger and a sense of chaos through his colors, Fabela manages to make the art a bit better than it is, with some pages being rather striking though his filters. The flashback page with shades of red and a tint of black does wonder as very few cold colors are put here and there, making an emphasis on the urgency of the situation while presenting important elements. The use of a big number of colors to show magic and some of the prediction through them is also quite apt, putting a certain element of chaos that manages to make it look distinct in the pages in which they are featured. The rest is fairly straightforward, though, with a general use of contrasts in a minimal fashion that manage to put the focus where it’s needed, although not all of these pages are exceptional by any means.
The Conclusion: There are hints of a very interesting story being told here, yet this opening issue is a bit too uneven in most areas where it counts to actually use it for its own good. It may develop into something fine, but it certainly could have been a wee bit better.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière