This is the first of an unknown number of parts of Chapter Seven of The Last War in Albion, focusing on Alan Moore’s work on Captain Britain for Marvel UK. The omnibus for this chapter is not quite ready yet, and I’ll post it next week.
The stories discussed in this chapter are currently out of print in the US with this being the most affordable collection. For UK audiences, they are still in print in thesetwo collections.
Previously in The Last War in Albion:Alan Moore and Alan Davis had a vibrant and popular creative partnership in 2000 AD on the D.R. & Quinch strips, but the roots of their collaboration go back to 1982 and their work together for Marvel UK…
“The Promethean age had been announced; the time of men as gods who bore fire in the palms of their hands had come.” – Grant Morrison, Supergods
This is hardly surprising for what was, by the time of D.R. & Quinch, a well-honed creative partnership. Moore and Davis had been working together since June of 1982 when Moore, having made his bones on the Star Wars and Doctor Who titles published by Marvel UK, was given the reins of Marvel UK’s Captain Britain, at the time an ongoing series in the monthly anthology Marvel Superheroes. Davis had been drawing Captain Britain for the comic since September of 1981, where he made his mainstream debut illustrating a script by Dave Thorpe that served as the character’s first appearance in that title. But the history of the character stretches back considerably further.
|Figure 307: Uncanny Tales, one of the many|
pulp magazines published by Martin
To understand the nature of Captain Britain as a character it is necessary to understand Marvel UK, which in turn requires an understanding of Marvel Comics. The company originated out of the broader publishing portfolio of Martin Goodman, born Moses Goodman in 1908 to Lithuanian immigrants to the United States. Goodman’s family was large and poor, and Goodman had to drop out of school in the fifth grade to enter the workforce, and finally started traveling the country as a teenager, riding the rails and staying in hobo camps throughout the Great Depression. Eventually he returned to enter the publishing industry, rising through the ranks at Eastern Distributing Corperation, and then jumping ship to form his own company, Newsstand Publications with Archie Comics cofounder Louis Siberkleit. In 1934 Newsstand Publications went bankrupt when their distributor went under, leading Silberkleit to depart the company, but Goodman managed to convince creditors that he could turn the company around, which he proceeded to do.
Goodman’s business model was based on trend-surfing. He changed the insignias on his titles regularly, creating different lines to house different sorts of books, and was ruthless about pushing out clones of successful titles. The bulk of his magazines were pulps in the classic model: All Star Adventure Fiction, Ka-Zar, Two-Gun Western, Uncanny Tales, and, in a title that Goodman would use later to more success, Marvel Tales.