Category Archives: paul cornell

The Top Comics of 2009 countdown! Number 7 – Captain Britain & MI13 (Marvel)

We lost a few good titles this year due to ‘poor’ sales – but I believe that none were more keenly felt than the loss of Captain Britain & MI13. One of the best (in fact, probably the best) thing to come out of the 2008 Marvel crossover ‘Secret Invasion’, the story went from strength to strength, with ‘Vampire State’ being a highlight of the early part of this year, and ultimately a triumphant swansong for the title.

The plot is stunning, thrilling, high concept brliiance – Dracula, named as the ‘Greatest General of his Generation’ by Captain Britain & MI13 writer Paul Cornell in an interview with Newsarama, and his Vampire army (with aid from Dr Doom) leave their Moon sanctuary to invade Great Britain, with an armada of Space Galleons.

Let me repeat that because I enjoy writing to so much – Dracula and his Vampire Army (with help from Doctor Doom) plot to invade Britain from their Moon base in space Galleons.

I don’t know if I need to persuade you, but if you have not been touched by this comics brilliance then the trades (3 volumes) are available – Secret Invasion, Hell Comes To Brimingham & Vampire State.

Cornell’s ability as a writer is all too evident – he effortlessly integrates marginal / forgotten / out of fashion Heroes with some of his own memorable characters. The title was a real ensemble piece, with Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Blade, Black Knight and Faiza Hussain all having the space to develop and flourish. This was never done at the expense of gripping action produced with a flourish.

Without the right artist, I feel that this title would have been a noble failure (good writing needs the right artist). Luckily, Leonard Kirk was up to the task, delivering some superbly cinematic visions and creating an atmosphere of dread and disaster when called for. He also drew a great Dracula.

A crying shame this could not have gone on, but what we do have is 15 issues (and an annual), 3 trades and a lot of quality. There was not a bad arc, and as 2009 was just concerned with ‘Vampire State’, it easily hits the top 10 of the year.

Gone, but not forgotten.

Reviews of some of the ‘Vampire State’ issues can be seen here and here and here

Review – Captain Britain & MI13 #15 (Marvel, 2009)

Farewell, Captain Britain. For now, no doubt, as we should see him (and hopefully MI13) in some form or other in the future. For now, though, one of the finest titles in recent times has come to an end, with the conclusion of ‘Vampire State’. It is hard to be objective about this as I was aware of this being an end to a great title, but the issue wrapped the current story up and left us with the impression that this team would carry on – there was no disbanding of the line-up.

The conclusion to the Vampire invasion was handled well enough, althoughsome of the earlier issues in this arc were stronger in my opinion. The arrival of the cavalry midway through this issue was a nice touch, even though there appearance was fleeting, and to an extent, pointless, like a substitute coming on in the last 2 minutes of a football match – you rarely get to chance to shine in that sort of scenario.

There was a sort of happy ending to give you that warm fuzzy feeling, and helped (a little) to soften the blow that I will not be reading this title again. I plan to do a review of the whole series in the coming days, so I can try to convey how good Captain Britain & MI13 was.

Review – Captain Britain & MI13 #13 (Marvel, 2009)

Vampire State, the current arc, is stupendously gripping, and this installment really shifts up a gear as Dracula and his legions embark upon their invasion of Britain, which is cut off ‘magically’ from the rest of the world. With Norman Osborn, Britains last hope of outside intervention, offering nothing, and the ‘real’ Avengers desperate to help but unable, it is down to Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Blade, Black Knight and Faiza Hussain to try and stem the awesome tide of the undead.

The pace does not let up, the plot switching effortlessly from frantic diplomatic efforts to the battlefield. By the end of the issue there looks to have been some dramatic developments – the death of at least one character, Britain in the grip of a terror unimaginable – and how this mid-issue of the arc effects the rest of the story is unclear. What is very clear is that Paul Cornell has fashioned a brillaintly simple but effective high concept (vampires led by dracula invade the UK) and with some imagination and foresight has managed to craft one of the titles of the year. It takes some second or even third string characters and makes them vital and heroic. Compulsive reading.

This is going to be one hell of a trade paperback. Its one hell of a comic, right in the midst of its strongest arc yet. Oh, and the final panel is a classic – pure cinematic vision.

Review – Captain Britain and MI13 #12 (Marvel, 2009)

Captain Britain & MI13 is one of the great Marvel successes of the last year (critically if not commercially, as there have been rumours (unfounded) about its cancellation). It has transcended its ‘Secret Invasion’ roots and flourished into an exciting title, retaining a uniquely British flavour while firmly existing in the Marvel Universe.

In this issue, the story arc ‘Vampire State’ really picks up some speed. Lady Jacqueline (aka Spitfire) has fallen victim to Dracula’s powers, thanks to the help of her son, Crichton, and now finds herself an unwilling denizen of his Castle on the Moon. In response to her disappearance, Blade, who is really shining in this arc, is doing his damn best to get her back. Pete Wisdom has a great line about Civil Servants and the accepted ‘job for life’ mentality that goes with it, but Brian Braddock is largely absent. It is testament to Paul Cornell’s writing that the cast of characters is so strong that he doesn’t really need to around. Meanwhile Faiza Hussain wields Excalibur with intent amongst the Vampire legions. Great stuff.

I also have to mention the villain of the piece. It can be a mistake to try and portray a classic, iconic figure in a modern day comic book, but Dracula is superbly portrayed by Cornell – a cross between an old English aristocrat and a General with some antiquated views on race and his vision of Britain, he is a superb Villain, a worthy adversary, eclipsing Dr Dooms appearance earlier on in the arc.

So, what do we get out of Captain Britain and MI13 #12? A fantastic cover (it reminds me of the video to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’). Some truly brilliant writing (a Vampiric Aristocrat who is a dyed-in-the-wool racist. Some heart rending scenes that show the agony and despair of human cattle being (literally) hung out to dry. We get the majesty and epic scope of the appearance of the Vampires Vessel that is intended to subdue Britain. These are some of the highlights, and on top of that a brilliant cliffhanger. This book is as good as it gets this week (and it is a very good week so far).

Captain Britain and MI13 #12 is out now.