Contrary to the rumors, Marvel is not canceling Captain Britain and MI13. Makes you wonder where that rumor came from, seeing as how the title’s got some much-hyped next few issues coming up in the upcoming story arc involving motherfucking Dracula.
So I don’t know where the rumor started exactly, I first saw it after a message boarder linked to a conversation on the CBR message boards, where somewhere who may or may not have claimed to work at Marvel dropped it in their post. I’m not entirely sure because I don’t remember and don’t feel like going back to find it, so I’ll once again restate that I’m not sure so don’t quote me.
Anyway, the fan reaction to the rumor, before Marvel and Newsarama.com officially squashed it (for the record, I heard about it before Newsarama stated it through one of the Around Comics guys) was immediate. It’s a much-loved title with great art and fantastic writing, another one of those non-mainstay titles that was birthed post-“Secret Invasion” that just pounded out fantastic issues every single time. Paul Cornell is one of my new favorite writers right now because of this. The message boards and blogs started buzzing. Is it true? Was Marvel thinking about ANOTHER Wolverine title maybe or decided that the critical and fan reaction weren’t translating into the reaction they wanted, ie an instant sellout like “SI” and DC’s “Final Crisis”? Or was it going to become Marvel’s Blue Beetle, a title that is plagued with rumors of cancellation from the get-go and end up canceled out of the blue after one after another critically and fan-loved storyarc?
I’m not gonna recap the whole title and character, but Captain Britain is, unsurprisingly, a British superhero probably best known for not only having been a title that the venerated Alan Moore had worked on at one point, but also for being the sister to X-Man Psylocke. MI13, a fictional British secret agency dealing with the superhuman and the supernatural, recruits a reborn Britain (killed temporarily during “The Guns of Avalon”, the first storyarc and what’s happening to Britain during the “Secret Invasion”) as well as other heroes like Blade the vampire killer (born in the UK actually), the Black Knight (descended from a line of knights with roots in the age of King Arthur), Spitfire (a WW2 heroine with powers derived from superhuman and vampiric blood transfusions), and British mutant spymaster Pete Wisdom, and former superhero fangirl Faiza Hussein, mysteriously imbued with superpowers and the current (unintentional) wielder of the mystic sword Excalibur. “The Guns of Avalon” and the next storyline “Hell Comes To Birmingham” are great, the dialogue is fucking sharp, every character is great from Captain Britain to background faces with maybe a single frame of dialogue, and it stands out as another rare shining star in Marvel’s library.
As you can see, the title’s got a mostly British cast. The title gained a bit of notoriety for actually referencing and including current British politicians in the story, and it’s here that I think the root of some of the validity people felt about the rumor came from. It’s sort of seen as a successor to other UK-based Marvel superhero teams that used the name Excalibur, which has actually had casts of non-British heroes (barring Cap Brit himself). But the point here is that some might think that the fact that the title is hemmed by Marvel characters that A) aren’t American and B) are sometimes seen as second-stringers means that it depends on the strength of the almost immediate reception to the first storyline. It seemed like post-“SI” though that that concept would change, with the rebirth of Agents of Atlas among others bringing new titles with non-major Marvel characters starring and this title too, which was also using aspects of that whole “superhero spy tale” thing that I dig.
Wolverine titles sell because Wolverine is in them. They could be totally terrible or pointless but the run will sell out and it’ll get coverage, because Wolverine is an incredibly popular character. But a title like this seems like it’d have to jump through flaming hoops over a pit of acid once a month just to prove itself, just like other titles in the same metaphorical boat.
I just felt like it was interesting to see the reaction to the rumor, because it seems like it affirmed not only the immense popularity of a character like Captain Britain, who wasn’t that visible in Marvel sometimes when he should have been, but also affirmed Marvel’s commitment to the title. Because they totally could have just ignored the rumors. But they didn’t, which I think was very cool.