Life Of Brian
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its forty-fourth choice, Captain Britain written by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis and drawn by Alan Davis, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Writers: Jamie Delano and Alan Davis with Mike Collins
Artist: Alan Davis with Noel Davis
Today’s choice is another uniquely British trade.
The year was 1984 and Captain Britain had already been introduced in Captain Britain Weekly seven years earlier by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe. But here we jump forward to 1984, with tales of Captain Britain written and drawn by British creators. Two years earlier we had seen Alan Moore take on DC’s muck monster in Swamp Thing but Delano and Davis pick up where Moore left off in Mighty World Of Marvel. Moore had taken the Captain a step further from Claremont and Trimpe and now he was more than just a clumsy version of what a US comic creator thought a British superhero should be. And here Delano and Davis move things beyond what Moore had done with the character. It was the first time that Delano stepped into Moore’s shoes but it wouldn’t be the last as he was brought in to flesh out John Constantine a little later in the same decade.
Delano and Davis with the odd contribution from the likes of future comics mainstay Mike Collins are a team who had great chemistry, creating and fleshing out existing characters like Slaymaster, Betsy Braddock and Gatecrasher’s Technet. Davis was already a very fully-formed artist by this point and before too long he was also co-writing the series. Like the best British creators, the pair give Brian Braddock his own uniquely British feel with a particularly UK-centric set of family hang-ups and neuroses. You can draw a through line from this run of Captain Britain to Grant Morrison’s take on the superhero, which began with Zenith. Also you can see Delano’s sardonic approach to dialogue begin to crystallise here.
Visually Davis is an exceptional storyteller and he depicts the cast including the supporting players with verve and passion. He also has an adept eye when it comes to scene setting and creating mood. Captain Britain was published a long time ago but it still holds up very well and it can be seen as a series that pointed the way to how creators would approach superheroes in the coming decades.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far