Before I get to the review, I wanted to point out that the first Captain Britain and MI:13 trade collects Captain Britain and MI:13 #1-4 and Marvel Team-Up #65-66 and costs $16. It does not collect issues #1-6, as Amazon.com lists it, nor does it collect issues #1-4 and cost $17, like Marvel.com says.
Also, I am not going to even review the two Marvel Team-Up issues reprinted in the trade because I hate the practice Marvel has recently started with adding "relevant" back issues to their trades to justify an increase of the price. I typically refuse to buy these trades, but made an exception here because Captain Britain and MI:13 is just that good. Hit the jump for the reviews.
Written by Paul Cornell and Christ Claremont
Art by Leonard Kirk and John Byrne
Collects Captain Britain and MI:13 #1-4 and Marvel Team-Up #65-66
Captain Britain and MI:13 is book that has gotten a lot of positive buzz and rightfully so. It is a simple, yet enjoyable book. The book is one of those superhero titles that is just about heroes saving the day, yet has enough depth to it that it isn't boring or dull.
The book launched during Secret Invasion and, while probably not the best idea for the long term health of the book, Cornell uses it to his advantage in several key ways. First and foremost, it provides an easy way for the team to assemble that felt very organic. The Skrulls invade, there is no Excalibur (presumably since they disbanded after Claremont left), so all British heroes are brought under the authority of MI:13, and Pete Wisdom forms a strike team to deal with the Skrull threat. That is the main plot thread with a second subplot dealing with Faiza Hussain and the Black Knight, who both met on the battlefield. The two threads do eventually combine by the end of the story.
The reason the Skrulls are invading Britain is in order to steal the magic from Avalon, a mystic dimension connected to Britain and is also the source of Captain Britain's powers. Things don't go according to plan for Wisdom's team and that sets the later issues in motion. It's a solid read and doesn't do anything too inventive and just works really well. The story is perfectly paced for four issues and flows just fine.
Cornell also does a good job using Secret Invasion to set up the next arc for the book. He works it into the story and it plays into the resolution of the Secret Invasion aspect of the book. The only problem I had with the story is that Cornell mentions some things from his Wisdom miniseries and, while he deals with it well enough, there is also a vagueness to it that could be a problem for anyone that didn't read that miniseries. There is plenty of action here for those looking for some less cerebral endeavours,but Cornell doesn't let it overwhelm the characters either. Each get plenty of facetime and he does a good job of introducing and expanded upon the cast.
Speaking of the cast, they are one of my favourite groups of characters currently being published. There is a nice diversity to the cast and Cornell, as said above, does a good job of introducing them to the reader. Cornell also does a really good job of playing the characters off of one another, Faiza and Black Knight in particular. Pete Wisdom isn't as sarcastic and amusing as he was in Wisdom, but he's still an enjoyable characters. The rest are fine, but I have no prior experience with a couple of the characters to properly judge them by. Well, actually, I read Reginald Hudlin's first arc on Black Panther (definitely not recommended) where Black Knight was an idiot, racist Crusader, but I don't think that counts since Cornell retcons it in later arcs of this series.
One of the more interesting aspects of the book was the fact the Paul Cornell was British and you could tell that in the writing, especially the dialogue.
The art by Kirk is generally suitable. He does a good job with all of the heroes and his art is clear and readable. There is also a lot to draw in the book given the various locals shows us and just a lot of different stuff that Cornell puts into the story that you don't usually see in the standard New York Avengers slugfest. The only thing I have a problem with is the Skrull designs. Although I did not like Secret Invasion, Leinil Yu did a terrific job with the various Super Skrulls and Kirk's designs just can't compete. He did do a fantastic job with the magic-based Super Skrull though.
Verdict - Must Read. A simple yet engrossing book that is a stunning examples of what superhero stories can be when you take away all of the distractions. Cornell crafts a solid and enjoyable story with a captivating cast and creates one of the best titles that Marvel is currently putting out.
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