Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Early Adventures of Moore and Davis

Captain Britain: Jasper's Warp: written by Alan Moore; illustrated by Alan Davis (1982-83; 2005): Alan Moore wrote one Marvel Comics character, and that was a character who at the time of the writing was almost exclusively only seen in Marvel's occasionally bizarre UK line: Captain Britain.

It's not Moore's first comic-book work, or even his first work on someone else's character. Nonetheless, this collection of Moore's Captain Britain work is fascinating both as a better-than-average early 1980's superhero story and as a foreshadowing of some of the themes and plot twists that would soon define Moore's career.

Moore picks up the narrative half-way through a story started by another writer, with Captain Britain and a ragtag bunch of friends and acquaintances trying to jump-start the development of a parallel Earth (Earth-238 to be exact; normal Marvel Earth is 616). Things rapidly go FUBAR.

As some of the pleasure of this volume lies in the plot twists, including the very early ones, that's really all I can say about the events of this volume. We do get some pretty wacky stuff -- the Captain Britains of all the parallel Earths essentially form a Captain Britain Corps charged with protecting the Omniverse from destruction. Of course, they're not really the Captain Britain Corps because not all of them are named Captain Britain: we meet Captain U.K., Captain Albion, Captain England, Captain Airstrip-One...and I'm not joking about that last one.

Moore seems more fully formed here than his artistic collaborator, Alan Davis, whose first major comic-book work this is. But the volume is worth looking at for Davis as well, and maybe moreso if one enjoys his pleasing, Neal Adams-influenced art (though Davis was and is a much better panel-to-panel storyteller than Adams ever was). Davis grows with astonishing rapidity here, and by the end of the volume he's recognizably entering his mature phase as an illustrator.

My one complaint...what the Hell went on with lettering in the Marvel UK line in the 1980's? This might actually be the worst lettered comic-book from a mainstream company I've ever read. Perhaps later editions fixed this problem with re-lettering. Boy, is it awful. Nonetheless, recommended.

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