Review: Captain Britain and MI13 #15
Captain Britain and MI13 #15
Reviewer: Chris Nuttall, firstname.lastname@example.org
Story Title: Vampire State (Conclusion).
You have been watching….
Writer: Paul Cornell
Pencils: Leonard Kirk with Mike Collins
Inker: Jay Leisten with Robin Riggs
Colours: Brian Reber with Rain Beredo
Colours: Stuart Immonen
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Nick Lowe
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Published by: Marvel
I may be a bit of a cold fish, but I was profoundly unimpressed with the ending to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The boast that people had cried after reading it might have been true, but I didn’t cry. I was more inclined to think that JKR had caught Victory Disease and hadn’t managed to complete the series properly. In some ways, I had the same feeling with this issue, and yet…it works on levels that Harry Potter barely touched after Book 4.
This issue marks not only the end of Vampire State, the most ambitious story the series has yet produced, but also the end of Captain Britain and MI13 – at least until the grown-ups at Marvel sack Joe Disaster and put someone reasonably competent in his place. The issue ties in threads going all the way back to Issue One, reintroducing Meggan – Captain Britain’s long-lost wife – and finally ending the problem of the Black Knight’s stone heart. It is perhaps the most affecting issue of the series, and yet…it suffers from trying to be clever.
As the story opens, Dracula’s fleet is descending on Britain, watched by Pete Wisdom and his latest flame, a girl whose friend was killed in Dracula’s opening strikes. Wisdom has a trick up his sleeve, however; the magical skull that bars uninvited vampires from landing on Britain (seemingly destroyed back in issue 12) is still in existence. Everything that MI13 has done was designed around one purpose; preventing Dracula from realising the truth until it was far too late. Ouch. As the vampires streak back to the moon, MI13 gives chase, finally ending the threat of the vampires.
Oh, and Fazia and Dane share their first kiss.
The truly irritating thing about this issue is that it raises so many hints of where the story would have gone afterwards, had Marvel not decided to cancel it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s not another repeat of the Squadron Supreme or NewUniversal debacle (where the issues cut off on a cliffhanger and were never seen again) but there was so much more to explore. What will happen in the future between Brian and Meggen, Blade and Spitfire, Fazia and Dane…and, least we forget, Fazia’s father, who will now have to deal with becoming a vampire himself? The only consolation is that the series could be picked up again without a retcon, although I only pray that it’s by a competent writer.
And yet…part of me isn’t sure about the ending at all. I didn’t see any hints or foreshadowing in the prior issues about Wisdom’s trick, something that rather disappoints me. It’s nice to see that Wisdom wasn't completely led by the nose by Dracula, but part of me wanted to see the vampire-ruled state, even if it did mean that half the characters were wiped out. It seems a little Deux Ex Machina in a way, even though it all worked out surprisingly well. Even the cameos from a handful of old UK Marvel characters fitted in neatly, although I do wonder about the pacing. The final moments of the series, with Dracula’s final fight, should have been longer. If Marvel was going to stiff us, the readers, they might as well have given us a double-sized issue. They did it for Cable and Deadpool, didn’t they?
The artwork seemed to improve in this issue, although there are still a handful of problems. The pacing, as I noted above, seemed flawed, although that wasn't the fault of the artist. The book needed to be much longer.
Cornell also manages to get in a few British comments as well, rather than the more American-sided comments of more mundane titles. Brian’s speech at the end about the British character and how poor Dr Hussein is trapped in a romantic sitcom mixed with a tragedy is very British. The story also works well in the interplay between the characters, outshining both JLA and the various current Avengers titles. The characters are not just defined by their powers, but by their personalities as well. The ending, with the voice-over by Merlin, fits in perfectly, sentimental without overdoing it.
The most important such character is Fazia. When we meet her way back in issue one, she’s introduced as a brave if somewhat naïve character, standing up to the Skulls with true valour. As she grows and develops, she takes on far more than just another politically-correct character, becoming the heart and soul of the book. I was astonishingly relieved to discover that she had survived Issue 13 and the moments between her and Dane were what made the book’s background work.
I still don’t understand Marvel’s decision to cancel this series. It had a growing fan base and an extremely good writer. It outshone the remainder of Secret Invasion and even paid homage to Dark Reign, even though most of Dark Reign is simply puerile. Marvel’s decision to go for endless blockbuster titles instead of well-written stories simply let the whole side down.
In the future, when people ask whatever became of Marvel, I will have a ready answer. Marvel is no longer trusted by its readers. What is the point of becoming attached to a comic if you cannot rely on Marvel to complete the series and give an excellent ending? How many delays and cutbacks have affected readers? No one believed that it would last and no one believed that it would be good – how many good series come out of crossovers anyway – and so no one invested in it. No one will be investing in the future either. We don’t want to be let down again.
Farewell, Captain Britain. You will be sorely missed.
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