This will be a semi-regular feature concentrating on the lesser known works in the great man's canon. And yes, to me, he is a great man. The best writer comics have ever had. It makes me quite sad now that so many people seem to just know him as that grouchy British dude who keeps picking on DC. I've chosen the term obscurities to cover pretty much anything he wrote that isn't Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Killing Joke, From Hell, Lost Girls, Promethea, Swamp Thing and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen because those books loom so large in peoples opinion of his work that pretty much everything else he wrote feels like it's in relative obscurity by comparison. For example, Lance Parkin's otherwise excellent biography of him - Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life Of Alan Moore - devotes two chapters to Watchmen and it's aftermath, yet his work for Image and most of his ABC work merits little more than a passing mention. So hopefully this feature will bring a little more attention to his wider body of work; Supreme, Judgement Day, Voodoo, The Violator, AARGH etc. While most of this stuff was printed in trade paperbacks, many are out-of-print now including this standalone trade of his Captain Britain strips. Although I believe they are included in a set of more recent trades covering the Dave Thorpe and Jamie Delano ones as well.
The Captain Britain Alan Moore arrived to work on had a somewhat complicated publication history. He didn't have a comic of his own by then, being reduced to eight page strips in other Marvel UK comics at the time, running from 1982-84 and drawn by the talented Alan Davis. Alan Moore's run was spread across Marvel Superheroes #377-388, The Daredevils #1-11 and The Mighty World of Marvel vol. 2, #7-13. The trade paperback of these strips only arrived in 2002, fourteen years after the post-Moore strips had been published in trade. This was due to a tit-for-tat rights withdrawal row over the publication of Marvel/Miracleman Moore was having with Marvel at the time (and it's still on-going, which is why the recent rerelease of Miracleman does not have a writers credit at Alan Moore's request).
|Fair Play OId Chap!|
|Captain Britains first death|
The Fury is a tremendous enemy. Blank faced and non-speaking, it can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. It is Thanatos, the Death Drive incarnate and in the end it's not Captain Britain who defeats it, but a vengeful Captain UK. Tearing the creature apart in blind vengeance for her destroyed universe after The Fury exhausts itself fighting Mad Jim Jaspers. Mad Jim is also an interesting character, a Tory MP (and so of course the obvious political enemy to a lefty like Alan Moore) with reality warping capabilities, later in the collection he manages to twist the main Marvel Universes history so that there have suddenly been concentration camps and anti-superhero purges, with only Captain Britain, his sister Betsy and a couple of other characters able to remember the real history.
|Captain UKtakes revenge at the end of the story|
|The Special Executive|
Captain England: " By 'eck lad. I hope tha knows what tha's getting into."
Captain Britain: "What do you take me for? Of course I know what I'm getting into. I'm in a parallel universe fighting an alternate version of myself alongside a group of parahuman mercenaries who want me to help the wrongly accused Majestrix......... Do you ever get halfway through a sentence and find yourself unable to believe you're actually saying it?"
Captain England: "No" [clonks Captain Britain with a big stick]
Captain Britain, Saturnyne and the Special Executive all arrive back at Brian's house, where Betsy and her lover Tom are waiting. This leads to the wonderfully incongrous image of a bunch of aliens watching telly, and seeing the anti-superhero speech of this worlds Jim Jaspers. A distressed woman, who was the now destroyed alternate earth's Captain UK arrives to warn Brian that what happened on her earth is starting again, while Merlin and his daughter Roma start playing chess with the various characters as pieces. But Merlin hasn't accounted for The Fury which wasn't destroyed when it's universe was and it arrives and tries to kill Captain UK, who Merlin protects from the blast. A battle between The Fury, Captain Britain and The Special Executive ensues. They manage to defeat it for now, but at a cost. One of the Special Executive is killed and another maimed, so they cut their losses and depart.
|The Fury Pwns All|
Betsy: "Of course I'm not alright. England's gone insane. There's concentration camps, curfews and stormtroopers... and how long has it been like this? Days? Or months? How long have we been existing like this? I don't remember anymore."
Captain Britain decides it's time to confront Mad Jim. "The sky is torn. The landscape raped and raw. The night is curdled with nightmares. It's still his country." Back with Merlin, Roma pleads with him to abandon the game, that his peice, which is Captain Britain can't win the battle alone. But Merlin refuses. Meanwhile, Betsy is captured, while Tom is killed and Captain UK flees in terror closely followed by Saturnyne. Merlin loses more pieces, but insists he sculpted Captain Britain to faces this very terror. He'd sent Captain Britain to the alternate earth to practice against a less powerful version of Jim Jasper. This time he cannot fail or the whole omniverse will fall into chaos.
|Mad Jim's Reality Warping Power|
|Jasper versus The Fury|
|A multitude of Captain Britains|