Editor's Note: Captain Britain and MI:13 #3 arrives in stores Thursday, July 10.
I must admit, I am immensely surprised by how much I am enjoying this book. I was a fan of the classic Excalibur (advertised at the end of this volume) but I know very little about Pete Wisdom or the long term history of Captain Britain.
In issue #2, when Captain Britain was lost, it was executed in such a way that you actually could sense the world empty itself of feeling. It was written as a powerful loss of a meaningful symbol, much like Captain America. Not bad for a B-lister from the X-universe, I'd say. So where does that leave us for the third issue?
Well, let's see:
Chief hero of Britain is dead; Check.
Skrulls invading London; Check.
Skrulls have magic; Check.
Magic heroes don't have magic; Check.
Excalibur (the sword) is still stuck in the stone waiting for a hero; Check.
Pete Wisdom hearing voices; not good ... but Check.
Sounds like it would make a pretty good story, right? I have to admit, it is making a pretty good story, and Paul Cornell could have fallen back on tired and true ideas, but instead he has riffed on the sword in the stone idea and come up with a winner of an epic style comic book. The obvious thing would have been to have the secondary characters in the story (e.g. The Black Knight, John Lennon the Skrull, or even Faiza the civilian doctor) to pull the sword in the stone and face down the army of Skrulls, giving rise to a new Captain Britain. Instead, Cornell pulls out a quick little quest myth with Pete Wisdom and has him seek out the voices in his head. I won't spoil the book for you, dear reader, but know that the voices are a familiar one to anyone interested in British mythology.
What I will do is go over how Paul Cornell manages to give characters that I have never ever cared about (the Black Knight) or that he has just created (Faiza) or are just strange (John Lennon) and given each of them a voice. They are powerful, strong and unique characters that are very interesting. Just to see the Black Knight start giving orders like a commander, and standing holding the line against the oncoming Skrull army was outstandingly fun. My only complaint with the writing was the kind of silly notion that all the Skrulls would do when they won was take over the BBC to really show that they won. That gave me a real chuckle at the absurdity of it; and then I think back on living in Britain for the last two years, and it doesn't seem to silly all of a sudden.
The art is gorgeous throughout the book. I think that this book has had the most unique Skrulls in the entire invasion, with demon wings, heads of fire and so much more. Swords gleam with amazing inks and colours, blood seeps through hands and magic flares in various panels. Personally, aside from the rendering of great characters, the environments are my favourite part of this book. I loved the scenes with the Skrull army lined up viewing a portal to the battle. I thought the scenes of the ship heading to Avalon, cloaked in mist gave those moments weight and meaning, much like seeing a story in the mind's eye. Finally, the pulling of the Union Jack from the ramparts of every building were expertly rendered; you could feel the wind in the art, just looking at the panels.
I must mention Joe Caramagna's lettering in this book. The voices in Pete Wisdom's head were characterized just by those letters, and they conveyed the power of the speaker. Well done, sir.
Again, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It is one of the best surprises tied into Secret Invasion, and there isn't a member of the Illuminati to be found anywhere.
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