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Captain Britain: Birth of a Legend, Vol. 1


Captain Britain: Birth of a Legend, Vol. 1

The 1970s were a wonderful time for comics creation. The Big Two—Marvel and DC—rolled out a ton of new ideas and heroes, hoping to keep promulgating the glory days of the Golden Age of comics. An answer to Captain America, Captain Britain was a dashing hero across the pond created by X-Men superscribe Chris Claremont and artist Herb Trimbe in a series of weekly comics in 1976. Captain Britain—in real life, British physicist Brian Braddock—is gifted with incredible stamina, strength, and courage by Merlin and his daughter and charged with upkeeping the spirit and law and order of England. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Captain Britain: Birth of a Legend, Vol. 1 reprints 38 issues of Captain Britain’s series (each story is eight pages) as well as a couple Spider-Man team-ups. The stories switch from color to black and white. The stories here were later reprinted in the States in Marvel Tales in the early ’80s.
Although Captain Britain didn’t make a huge smash in the States, he was clearly cemented in Marvel’s superhero universe. A decade later, Claremont would include Braddock’s sister, Psylocke, in the X-Men, and some members of the X-Men would immigrate to England to join forces with Captain Britain in the team Excalibur. If he’s not exactly a household name, he is still nonetheless a product of the Marvel superhero machine of the ’70s—meaning he is entrenched in the storytelling ways of the period. Heavy exposition, thought balloons, over-the-top villains, emotions that run from one extreme to another…all of these staples of comics storytelling from a bygone era.
Speaking of which, one of the joys of this mammoth collection is the stuff at the back of the book: reprints of ads from the ’70s, pin-ups and sketches from the time, cover reprints, and more, all culled from the time and helping to re-create the atmosphere in which the hero was created. It would be nice if there had been more background material—an introductory essay, for example, and more detailed information about the character’s creation and his position in the Marvel universe.

Reviewed by John Hogan on July 6, 2012

Captain Britain: Birth of a Legend, Vol. 1
by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe

  • Publication Date: June 15, 2011
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel
  • ISBN-10: 078515728X
  • ISBN-13: 9780785157281