Viking Gods Vs. Good Manners! Thor vs. Captain Britain!

Boy's Knight Out.

What I like about Thor is the simple fact that he is a man who willingly goes into fights armed with nothing but a big hammer. Just imagine it, not only being in the middle of a war with Frost Giants armed only with a hammer which requires you to be within a foot of your enemy for you to do any damage with it at all, but your also Thor, Prince of Asgard and expected to be right in the thick of any battle. And all you have is a brick on the end of a stick with which to swing as hard as you can into the villains face.  And he is also God of Thunder, so while he is bashing your elbows inside out, he is also making a dreadful noise and making it rain on you. I honestly don’t know why anyone would ever have a fight with him.

And do you know what I like about Captain Britain? He’s British, and he drinks big pints, and he isn’t afraid to wear a skin-tight costume. And he doesn’t need to carry a hammer to start any s#!t. He just gets busy with the fists! POW!

So, that said, who would win in a fight?  Lets ask ‘Thor: The Mighty Avenger’ Issue 4! Written with wit by Roger Langridge, and pencilled with panache by Chris Samnee, this series is a completely new set of tales without any need for knowing history or back-story of any of the characters. As far as I can tell it’s aimed at re-introducing young folk and comic readers of all ages to Thor before his big new film comes out next Spring. The basic premise is that Thor, the young and hot-headed prince of Asgard has been kicked out of the golden realm eternal and sent to earth to learn humility. But he doesn’t remember quite what it was he did wrong. He is found by a lovely young lady called Jane Foster who handily works in a museum and is an expert on all things Viking. Thor saves her from the advances of a dastardly villain Mr. Hyde, and once Jane realises Thor actually is the god of legend, she agrees to take him in and teach him about the world, and work on finding a way for him to get back home.

This issue happily gets away from any soap-opera, man-out-of-place plot contrivances to focus on Thor and his three friends who come to visit him from Asgard. Apparently they can come visit him, but the only rule is they must not tell him why he has been exiled or how to get back home. Naturally, when your friends come round to see if you can come out to play, you immediately leap onto your chariot driven by ‘Toothgnasher’ and ‘Toothgrinder’ (who are both giant goats) and head off to Norway to go to a pub.

Ahh! “But where does Captain Britain fit in?” I hear you groan! 

A Friend To All!

Haha! It turns out that Thor’s friends (The Warriors Three, Hogun, Volstagg and Fandral) are absolutely terrible at reading maps, and they end up not in Norway, but in Britain. Happily for us, Thor learns humility by realising he doesn’t know where he is, and goes to ask for directions in a pub. And who should be out for a drink with his own chums but Brian Braddock! And who is this beautiful blond Mr Braddock? He is Captain Britain!

Naturally all hell kicks off when the bar lady mis-hears Thor’s requests for the ‘way to Trondheim’ (“we havent got any waiter called Trondheim. And we don’t call them waiters…”) and Captain Britain steps up to the God of Thunder who carries A MASSIVE HAMMER, and he asks him to step outside. Sadly, the Captain is then punched right through the door.

One short scuffle later (in which I’m sorry to say the Captain gets sat on by a fat man, and one of the giant goats eats someones bicycle) and Thor learns that he shouldn’t start fights just because he is lost, and they all head back into the pub for a booze up! ‘Just a Quick One’ turns into a whole night of it, and as we follow a terrifically drunk Thor back to his parked goats we discover he drank so much he was sick all over poor Capt. Britain, and all the Norse Gods decide the Captain is “a lovely fellow…Lovely Lovely Lovely”.

So, then they get home, and Thor says goodbye to his chums who have to get back to Asgard, and Thor is met by Jane Foster who has also been out on the town with her friends and she is all drunk as well! They have all been at it! And how does this tale end?

I Made A Friend

Thor tells Jane he had an ace night out, and that he made a new friend! Oh Man!!! Call me old-fashioned, Call me soppy, Call me a prize donkey, but there is a part of me that just melts inside to read about how this poor old chap Thor, lost and alone and confused in the modern world has made his first new friend in Captain Britain. Not only is it a coming together of my two favourite heroes, but it is an actual bit of characterisation that we can all relate to! Thor has started his first day at a big new school, and he has made himself a new pal! I feel very proud of them both, and I hope they will continue to go round to each other’s house to play in the garden.

And then the artwork! Goodness me, I’m quite sure you can’t actually tell from the photos in this article just how wonderful the art by Chris Samnee actually is in this series. His work is terrifically simple and cartoony, an economy of lines which is very bold and creates an instant visual impression. It captures the comedy and vibrant life in each panel, and my god can this chap draw some heart-warming hugs! The best thing is that his pictures actually look like they belong in a comic. It isn’t trying to be photo-realistic, it’s not trying to look wide-screen, or cinematic, or hip, it’s just trying to tell an amusing and exciting little story. And the bold colours that bring these pencils and inks to life bounce of the pages like coiled springs. It’s absolutly wonderful to see that such a simple, bold and direct artistic style can be so effective in today’s comic box where it seems every panel has to be passed through 9 different Photoshop filters before hitting the page.

It is just a Lovely Lovely Lovely issue to read. Its made me smile, and laugh, and want to punch the air in victory and also want to phone up all my friends and invite them out for a drink up.

So, Thor Vs. Captain Britain. Who won? Well, I don’t think we will ever know.

But at least Captain Britain didnt sick up on anyone like Thor did.

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Brown Frown

In this comic his glass eye is made from magic, and it turns nice old ladies into Bigots.


In celebration of everyones favourite wally, here is the panel of Captain Britain and MI13 issue one from 2008, featuring the one and only Gordon Brown. He was helping save Britain from an alien invasion. Nice one Gordon!

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Flying the Flag

Fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way! Well, that means fuck all to me.

I’ve always been a fan of British comic book characters, naturally because I’m English, but also because I think that there is something about a British comic book character which is a bit more human and accessable than the typical American hero. I’m going to do a sweeping generalisation here, but so far as I can tell American heros are all fighting because of their own personal hang-ups, private quests for justice, or because they feel the urge to prove themselves as human. But the British heros I know of all fight because it falls to them to take up the mantle and do their duty. It’s just Tradition. It seems as though its their job to stand firm and soldier on, knuckle down with a stiff upper lip while the rest of the country stands back and lets them get on with it. It’s the duty of the British heros to get on with it without any fuss or bother. And it seems as though it’s the duty of all British superheros to fail to sell any comics.

I'm very sorry I'm not american

The two main English superheros who have received any attention in the last few years are Captain Britain and Union Jack. I’ve also just remembered there is John Constantine from the DC ‘Hellblazer’ series, but he is less of a superhero and more of an anti-hero, and I would point out that since he is most well-known as being played by Keanu Reeves in a terrible film I’m going to ignore him. Captain Britain was revived for a short time in the fantastic Marvel series Captain Britain and MI13, written by British writer Paul Cornell who has also worked on a number of television series in the UK, including Doctor Who, and during its 15 issue run it was widely applauded as one of the best written monthly series published. It’s intelligently written plots incorporated many different aspects from the nature of being a hero, the multi-cultural population of the UK, and the British fixation on magic and folklore. This series was the most consistently well reviewed series of 2008-9, and yet after 15 issues it was canceled due to poor sales.

Union Jack is yet another British character which often draws the short straw. Created in 1975 to be part of ‘The Invaders’ squadron helping Captain America fight the Nazis, Union Jack was intended to be a British hero fighting both Nazis and curiously vampires, which seem to be running wild through the British Isles since the First World War. In the last 10 years Union Jack has appeared in only 12 comics (a 3 issue miniseries in 1998,  a 4 issue miniseries in 2006, 4 issues of Captain America and an issue of Captain Britain and MI13).

I’m sure that the reason for this failure can’t just be down to poor writing, since Captain Britain and MI13 was voted number 10 in the top 100 comic series of 2009 by the ‘ Comic Book’, and the art work in Union Jack or Captain Britain has always been second to none. I think that it just comes down to the fact that Americans arent interested in British superheros, and unless a series is popular in an American market it just isn’t going to succeed. The only successful British comic I can think of is ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, and even that is set in a fictional Victorian London totally unlike any real Britain.

Even the issues of 2000AD or Eagle annuals I’ve had chance to read have revealed that most series are based either in alien planets or parallel universes. It appears that the United Kingdom is just so boring that no one would ever seriously entertain the notion that anything very exciting could ever happen here. Over in America one can zip about with a cape on and no one would bat an eyelid. But just you try it in London, and my goodness I expect you would be beaten red, white and blue.