Thursday, 31 May 2012

1985-86: CAPTAIN BRITAIN

After spending the late seventies in post-cancellation purgatory and the early eighties dodging closure (and the accountant's axe) by jumping from one ailing Marvel monthly to another, it finally looked like CB had found a permanent home in December 1984 (with a January 85 cover date) and the launch of his own monthly.

Inevitably, it was not to be and fourteen months later he was officially homeless.  For a while.  But what a ride.

-  Since the cancellation of his own weekly, CB had appeared in SUPER SPIDER-MAN AND CAPTAIN BRITAIN, HULK COMIC (as a supporting character in the Black Knight strip), two all-reprint specials, MARVEL SUPERHEROES (with a new costume and, for the first time, a British creative team), THE DAREDEVILS and (the revived) THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL.

-  CB's monthly was an all-British affair, a mixture of new strips and reprints (initially Night Raven and Abslom Daak) from the Marvel UK archive.  However, in-house dummy editions featured a different line-up: alongside the new main strip, M-UK had planned to reprint John Bryne's Alpha Flight (which eventually appeared in MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS) and the cross-company X-MEN/ TEEN TITANS team-up (which didn't make it across the Atlantic).

-  At first glance, CB monthly offered a less value-for-money package compared with its contemporaries.  It boasted an overall reduced page-count and no colour interiors.  INDIANA JONES (with no origination costs), in comparison, had more pages and more colour.

- The only free gift was (M-UK favourite) a giant poster in issue 11.  If it was intended to boost sales, it didn't work.

-  Marvel blamed cancellation on poor sales in the UK.  Export copies to North American comic book stores apparently sold well despite the magazine-sized dimensions and black & white interiors.

-  After cancellation, and a brief period in limbo, CB moved across to Marvel USA and became a founding member of the UK-based mutant team EXCALIBUR (by ex-Cap creators Claremont and Davis).  M-UK reclaimed him for a supporting role in KNIGHTS OF PENDRAGON but, perhaps surprisingly, didn't make him a key part of the early-ninties expansion into North America.  After the wholesale annihilation of the US-line (axed during the industry recession which followed the unsustainable boom years), M-UK Editor-in-Chief Paul Neary hatched plans to relaunch CB as a US-format limited series but the plans, and Neary, were canned when Panini took over responsibility for the British subsidery.

ISSUE 1
January 1985

ISSUE 2
February 1985

ISSUE 3
March 1985

ISSUE 4
April 1985

ISSUE 5
May 1985

ISSUE 6
June 1985
Front cover

ISSUE 6
Back cover

ISSUE 7
July 1985

ISSUE 8
August 1985

ISSUE 9
September 1985

ISSUE 10
October 1985

ISSUE 11
November 1985

ISSUE 12
December 1985

Price rises to 60p per issue.

ISSUE 13
January 1986

ISSUE 14
February 1986
Final issue


Editorial page

Farewell... for now.

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