Captain Britain and MI13 #11

17th March 2009 | by | 1 Comment

We’re often wary of being too repetitive on Comics Daily, and of needlessly covering the same books month in, month out – but this is a point that bears making over and over again (not just by us, but by comics reviewers everywhere) until enough people (not just you lot, but comics readers everywhere) get the point : if you’re only reading one mainstream action comic at the moment, it should probably be Captain Britain.

I mean, sure, you might not be particularly bothered about a story that features a Dracula-led horde of vampires as its main villain threat, even if it’s riddled with particularly inspired moments of messing with the classic tropes (Cornell drawing on his old Doctor Who novel Goth Opera for the likes of “vampire missiles” and sleeper agents detonated by holy water). You may not even be as bothered about someone taking British superheroes seriously as we all are. But how can you not want to read effortlessly breezy, action-packed, well-paced (older hands could take lessons from Cornell in how to write a team book without skewing the weight towards or away from any of the cast in particular), at times witty and at times equally emotionally engaging, character-strong drama? If those attributes don’t appeal to you, then are you even in the right medium?

We’re into the second part of a story here, which means we’re in the “uh oh, things are getting even worse than we’d thought” phase – but there’s still time for a particularly inventive bit of heroism on the part of Faiza, Cornell’s imagination stretching to something genuinely unexpected while his storytelling throws in an uncharacteristic but well-pitched prose section. The issue’s let down a touch by some more fill-in artwork from Mike Collins – he’s not dreadful as fill-ins go, and I’d certainly rather this than have the book delayed, but it’s much more of a jarring shift away from the continually superb Kirk’s style than when he stepped in for issue #9; and I don’t know if it was a deliberate choice or if he’s just been drawing DWM strips for too long, but throwing David Tennant into the book, sideburns and all, drags the reader out of the story somewhat.

If I’ve any real criticism of the series, though (and it’s about as qualified as criticism gets – make no mistake, I have more affection for these characters and this title than just about anything else in mainstream comics right now), it’s in the use of old Cap himself. Okay, I know that the book is really just MI13 in all but name, and that Pete Wisdom is really the lead character – and the book does work tremendously well as a supernatural military-intelligence-based action-adventure. And it’s not like Brian hasn’t had a fair few great “civilian” moments, including in the first two parts of the story. But come on, you give him an awesome new costume, you put him front-and-centre on covers such as Stuart Immonen’s utterly wonderful effort this month, you go to the trouble of establishing (in the closing parts of the first storyarc) that he can be taken seriously as a proper superhero… so any chance we could we have him, dare I say it, kicking a little bit more arse a bit more often?