Monday, June 8, 2015

Where There's A Fire, There's... Captain Britain!

What you see is what you get, when it comes to this cover of the classic Marvel Team-Up #65:

Well, you won't actually see any construction workers in the story; the point is, it's Spider-Man vs. Captain Britain, and nothing but, when the U.K. hero crosses the Atlantic and gets his first taste of brawling in the Big Apple. But, if these two are going at it for most of the issue, where does the "team-up" part come in?

Captain Britain, created by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe, had already been featured as the headliner in the U.K. weekly of the same name by the time he made his first stateside appearance in 1978. And since the Captain America title couldn't hope to match the wave of popularity that Spider-Man was riding at the time in terms of sales, there seemed no better place than a Spider-Man mag to showcase the British hero. For the most part, the tale in this issue of MTU would have the two heroes clashing in a typical case of misassumption, which Spider-Man's status as a virtual outlaw would often bring about. Captain Britain, in his own way, was as staunch a hero as Captain America, though with perhaps more eagerness to indulge in his relatively new costumed identity and tackle a foe than his more seasoned American counterpart--so it's not entirely surprising to see him jumping the gun in that respect with Spider-Man.

As for what's got him gunning for Spider-Man, we have to backtrack a little to a meeting between Peter Parker and the Captain's civilian identity, Brian Braddock, in what could be boiled down to facilitating a housing arrangement for an exchange student:

(Fifty bucks a week may seem like small change these days for someone paying rent for a New York City apartment, but it was probably nice for a student to pocket in 1978.)

But when Peter steps out that night to go on patrol as Spider-Man, some passing fire truck sirens have Brian running to find Peter (good grief, is a passing fire truck cause for alarm in the U.K.?), and...

It doesn't take long for Captain Britain to overtake the webslinger--and for the sake of giving readers a battle, Cap will attempt to take Spider-Man down as a suspect rather than simply detaining him.

(Wait, let's get this straight: Spider-Man is on patrol, yet he's ignoring his spider-sense. Ho-kay.)

Captain Britain is obviously a capable fighter, but he has an edge over Spider-Man with the use of his "star sceptre," which gives him abilities such as flight, force field projection, and definitely its use as a sturdy club. Soon enough, Spider-Man realizes that he's fighting no lightweight:

Spidey realizes that he needs to move the battle to more closed quarters to offset C.B.'s powers and strength. Which brings us to the construction site that our workers above have since abandoned for the day, but which Spidey finds a use for in order to catch Cap by surprise. And in putting his plan into effect, Spider-Man puts two and two together regarding his blond, British sparring partner:

The battle now over, these two take the time to get to know one another, though Spidey of course has an advantage as far as knowing this masked man's true identity. And through their conversation, we're treated to Captain Britain's origin, where Brian Braddock barely survives a horrific accident only to face his destiny:

Fortunately for Brian, the woman is far more sympathetic to his situation and his choice than her dismissive, brusque companion who regards him like a bug to be stepped on. And so she moderates the rest of this fateful meeting, using words which anyone familiar with Spider-Man's own origin will recognize:

Since that time, it appears that Captain Britain ruffled quite a few feathers in the criminal underworld--because earlier in this story, we witness a meeting taking place between representatives of the European Maggia and a reputed American assassin, as part of a widespread operation to target a number of men suspected of being Captain Britain. And since one of those suspects, Brian Braddock, is currently in the U.S., these men have outsourced Brian's assassination to one whose eccentricities regarding murder have since been featured in other Marvel titles.

This is the first appearance of Arcade, so it's understandable that Spider-Man and his new friend are unfamiliar with the man's rather unusual method of procuring his targets. Regardless, you'd likely rest assured that Spider-Man--Spider-Man, mind you--would be able to avoid being snatched by a garbage truck.  And you would be laughably wrong.

No, I don't know how a man who relies on his spider-sense to avoid bullets and sneak attacks becomes the victim of a sanitation pickup. But we'll soon discover his night of unusual death traps has just begun.

Spidey and Captain Britain give us our first look at

Marvel Team-Up #65

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Bruce Patterson


Colin Jones said...

Star Sceptre ?? In the UK weekly it was just called a staff as far as I remember. I always get extremely excited and rush around like a madman whenever a fire truck passes - we call them fire ENGINES by the way :)

SteveDoesComics said...

I love that Spidey can fight a man who's wearing a Union Jack on his face but struggles to work out where his accent comes from.

Colin Jones said...

Yes, and there are two Union Jacks on his wrists also but Spidey's best guess is that "the guy sounds foreign" lol. When this issue of MTU came out (October '77) Captain Britain's UK weekly had already been cancelled and the CB strip was folded into Spider-Man's UK weekly. In December '77 poor old CB was dropped altogether only 14 months after he'd arrived in a blaze of glory. Of course, he was revived later on with a new costume but it was curtains for the original version.

Comicsfan said...

LOL, Steve--that's an excellent observation!

Colin, I was kinda sorry to see that original costume bite the dust. I'll probably whip up a post with some sort of closure on it; at the time I caught up with C.B. again in Excalibur, he had already made the switch to his next costume without much fanfare. As for his "star sceptre," I can't say I'll miss it--it never seemed to be a good fit for the character.

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