42: NM 41 - 44 (Captain Britain Crash Course)

What’s Covered?

New Mutants Volume 1 # 41 - 45 (March - July '86), NM Annual # 2, X-Men Annual # 10, Captain Britain Primer

Roster Watch


My Connections


With New Mutants Annual # 2 giving us the introduction of Betsy Braddock into the X-Men universe, we are going to spend some time doing a little investigation into what's been happening with Captain Britain to date.


In addition to Psylocke soon joining the X-Men, you've been hearing me talk (over the last few blogs) about my excitement for Excalibur (which starts in 1988) . I know next to nothing about Excalibur but I'm pumped to go down that path. To bring me up to speed, I started perusing Captain Britain Volume 1. This was a short run with each issue being 12 pages (as opposed to the traditional 24) and I believe it was published in the newspaper. I read the first few issues but it was pretty terrible and I couldn't bring myself to go any further.


I picked up Captain Britain Volume 2 which was much better, so that was my true introduction to Captain Britain (Brian Braddock), Betsy Braddock (Brian's twin sister), and Meggan (girlfriend of Brian and founding member of Excalibur).


I will also be covering New Mutants 41 - 44, but they are all pretty low stakes as the team splits up and tries to lick their wounds as they recover from the trauma from the Beyonder events.




Captain Britain Primer

We'll start be briefly taking a look at how Captain Britain's origin from the original volume.

As Brian Braddock is fleeing from a villain, the Gods of Arthurian legend (long story) offer him either the amulet of life or the sword of death.

Brian makes "the right" choice and chooses life, transforming him into Captain Britain.

Next, we'll get a crash course introduction to the characters from Captain Britain Volume 2:

So the image above shows the new look of Captain Britain.

So the image above shows Betsy Braddock, who we will eventually know as Psylocke. If you're like me, you are probably curious why Betsy is a pale British chick. I cheated and read online to learn that eventually Betsy will take over the body of a Japanese assassin named Kwannon, which is the sexy asian look most people are familiar with from the 90's incarnation.

I feel like I'm missing some backstory on Meggan, but she started as the image above. A winged, bat-like creature who was really more of a child. There was a lot of plot about how eventually she would go through a metamorphasis and change into her true form.

By the end of the 14 issue second volume, Meggan transforms into this beautiful creature. Brian and her spend a lot of time secluded and in love while Betsy is transformed into Captain Britain herself. All is resolved by the end of the series.

The Captain Britain and Excalibur series is known for being "weird." Much of these series take place in alternate realities and dimensions with fantastical looking creatures. I believe that a majority of Excalibur revolves around Otherworld, which is the dimension that Merlin and King Arthur originated from. (Don't quote me on that).


Synopsis


New Mutants Annual # 2: Mojo and Spiral are so hot right now

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Alan Davis


The issue begins with the capture of Betsy Braddock by Mojo and Spiral. It looks as though they have removed her eyes (messed up) and replaced them with bionic eyes. She also appears to be severely brainwashed.


FIRST ALERT - This was the first time we saw Betsy Braddock in the X-Men universe.

A new, hypnotic television show is being broadcast to earth featuring Mojo, Spiral, and Psylocke (Betsy).

The show is designed to indoctrinate it's watchers. This comic features 7 characters who become brainwashed and transformed by the television show. Sunspot and Wolfsbane from the New Mutants, Karma's two younger siblings, and the three members of the brat pack (first introduced in the Longshot miniseries).

Doug is commiserating with Dani about how he feels alone and an outcast. He's questioning his worth and feels a bit trapped. This is obviously echoing the continued theme that his powers are worthless. This annual really tries to change that mentality as the author's know that the readers are probably feeling the same way.

The New Mutants go out looking for Bobby and Rahne and end up ambushed by the 7 transformed characters, including their two teammates.

One of the brat pack is tranformed into a character named Jubilee who has firework powers............. Huh? I looked it up and this character has no relation to the Jubilee we know. Obviously someone had an idea for a character with this power set and was trying things out here, hoping we would forget about this when the real Jubilee was introduced in the 90's.

Doug and Warlock are the only two members of the team who get away from the ambush and they find a de-aged Brian Braddock.

Doug and Warlock (who are starting to join) come across Psylocke, who they believe to be behind everything. She is, but she's obviously not the main villain pulling the strings.

FIRST ALERT


Warlock offers Doug the opportunity to completely integrate with him, however he warns that this could be very dangerous if done for too long or repeated too many times. Doug welcomes the risk because he thinks it's necessary to save the day.

Douglock connects with Psylocke and the combination of Warlock connecting to the technology and Doug being able to read any language (including computer systems), allows him/them to free Psylocke.

This frees Psylocke from Spiral's control and as a powerful telepath, she is able to drive Spiral away.

There is a tender moment between Doug and Betsy. Over the next few issues, there is a potential romance here, but eventually it is noted that Doug is a teenager and Betsy is in her thirties and this is quickly dismissed. They do remain close though as Betsy is grateful to Doug for saving her life.


X-Men Annual # 10: Still feelin' the Mojo

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Art Adams


You're probably thinking to yourself "Why are you putting an X-Men annual" with a New Mutants themed blog?! It's a good question, random blog reader. This annual is not an exact follow up to the New Mutants Annual (like the Asgard story was), but it's a direct continuation of Psylocke and it includes more Mojo and Spiral inspired storytelling.

Magneto is whooping on the X-Men during their danger room session. I love how he likes to just jump in there with his students and personally whip them into shape. It's one way to earn their respect. Not only am I in charge, but I can kick your ass too!

Psylocke is introduced in a New Mutants story and is not training with the X-Men here, but she does find herself wondering which team she should be serving on.

It turns out that Mojo had an ulterior motive for letting Betsy keep her bionic eyes. He's been watching everything happening with the X-Men through her eyes and he decides to bring them all to him for the ultimate entertainment show on his planet.

During training, Longshot appears through a portal and will stay with the X-Men from this point forward. Don't get too excited though because he disappears for the entire Mutant Massacre storyline (that's coming up next) before re-appearing as a member of the team.

The X-Men wake up the next morning severely de-aged.

So this is a continuation of a big plot point. Doug got a taste of joining with Warlock in the last annual and he wants to do it again. Warlock sternly warns him that eventually it will leave him permanently as a techno organic entity. This doesn't seem to stop Doug at all. In this instance, he thinks this will help him to figure out what happened to the X-Men.

It works and he can tell everyone that this is Mojo and Spirals fault.

So this leaves the New Mutants as the Senior team and they get to bust out their graduation costumes. I'm going to have fun and comment on every single one of them.


Cannonball's isn't terrible except that he wouldn't need kneepads or a helmet when protected by his force blast (as he still reminds us EVERY time he turns it on. We get it, Claremont!)


I guess Mirage's ok. They are really committed to sexualizing her which I never really understood why they feel like they need to do that. Those legs literally go on for miles.


Get used to thinking "Why is Cyclops here!? Oh, it's Cypher."


Lol @ Warlock.


Magma and Magik's actually look pretty badass. They should start wearing that immediately.


Karma, no. Just, no. Gaudy. Did Wolfsbane even change!?

The New Mutants are pitted against the baby X-Men on live Mojoverse TV.

The New Mutants are able to snap them out of it one by one. Wolverine with reason. Rogue by absorbing powers. And so on.

Psylocke gets her revenge on Spiral and forces her to send them all back.


NM # 41: Dani back home

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jackson Guice

This is a Dani one shot issue where she goes back home to see her parents.

While shopping at the new shopping center that popped up (this is the 80's), she runs into a boy her age named Pat. When Dani's parents were believed to be dead, she lived with Pat and his family. Pat is being a HUGE jerk to Dani and at first she has no idea why.

Dani got her Valkyrie warning that Pat was going to die so she followed him around and finds him after he gets in a bad car accident. Here she learns that Pat had a huge crush on her and was heart broken when she left to live with the New Mutants and didn't bother to say good bye.

In this issue we learn that Dani's Valkyrie powers allow her to not only be warned that someone will die, but she has the opportunity to fight death on behalf of the dying person. In this case she actually wins, but finds out that Pat's damages were too severe and he no longer had higher brain functions. She lets death take him.


NM: 42: Sam and Lila

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jackson Guice

This is a Sam one-shot issue where he goes home to Kentucky to see his mom and million little brother and sisters.

For most of the issue his brother Josh, the next oldest, is very rude to him. It seems as though he resents Sam, but eventually they open up to each other and bury the hatchet. He had decided he was going to move home to help the family, but his mother and brother help him realize that they are doing just fine without him.

Sam was very nervous to introduce Lila to his mother. At first there was a dramatic scene where Lila had given Sam the heads up that she was going to give a gift to his mom, but Sam accused her of stealing it (since she's a former galactic thief). Dazzler tells her that she didn't steal it, she's spent months creating it from scratch. Eventually they make up and Lila shows up dressed as her typical punk rocker. It makes Sam a bit nervous, but he's ready to move forward anyway. Lila tells him that was a test and then she reveals her true outfit, which is much more traditional.


43: Revenge on Empath

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Steve Purcell

If you recall, Bobby had left the New Mutants right before the Beyonder had killed them all. This is the issue where he comes back and Sam and Dani are there to meet him in the sky.

When they all get back, Bobby does what he does best...rile the team up. When he hears about what Empath did to all of them, he convinces them to get payback. It didn't take Illyana much convincing because she is supposedly "super wicked." Illyana teleports him and his entire bed to Limbo so the team can scare the hell out of him.

They each take turns using their powers to scare him until he's just about peeing in his pants.

Eventually the rest of the Hellions show up, with Warpath now as their leader, and promise that they will punish Empath themselves since he's one of their own.


NM # 44: Legion

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jackson Guice

This is a legion issue. I get confused because sometimes they make it seem like he's hanging around with the New Mutants but most of the time he's no where to be found. At this point he was staying at Muir Island when a beam fell down and was going to crush Moira and Rahne. In order to acccess his telekinesis, he let the Jack Wayne personality come to the forefront and the rest of this issue is about his shenanigans.

Dani senses that Rahne is in trouble and goes to Illyana to teleport to Scotland.

There is a "Do Not Disturb" sign on her door, like most teenage girls have, but this sign was legit because Illyana was literally in her demon form and playing with some demons.

Before we go to Scotland, we see that Bobby is scared to death of Limbo. A theme that persists.

Legion as Jack Wayne is causing problems at a local watering hole.

The New Mutants corner and attack him. Jack starts making threats that he will do harm to David's body if they don't release him.

Eventually Magik goes all demon and scares the living hell out of him because she's "so wicked" and he is scared into releasing control back to David. Story over and Legion will disappear again for a while.


NM # 45: A very special episode.

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jackson Guice

The New Mutants (plus Kitty, of course) go to a party. Sam is kind of hitting on Amara and she nicely rejects him. Is she EVER going to form a relationship with anyone? She seems like she's just kind of "there." I wonder if she'll go evil at some point since she comes across rather cold. Ha.


Boys are walking right past Kitty to get to Illyana. Probably because she's "so wicked!"

Lol @ Bobby getting his mack on. Of course. Kitty ends up pairing off with a boy who just moved to the town, Larry. They get to know each other really well, however the bullies at the part go out of their way to give him a hard time.

It turns out that Larry was a mutant. The bullies tried to scare him by telling him that they were going to report him to X-Factor (cross over!)

We learn that the fear of X-Factor, the bullying by those kids, the shock of moving to a new town, and striking out with Kitty was all too much for him and he committed suicide. It's a sad story and gives Kitty a chance to give one of her classic great speeches.


Creators


There's a cool Comic Book Legends Revealed article about New Mutants # 44 where Jackson Guice was accused of modeling a picture of Dani after an adult magazine. According to the article, he firmly denies that, but after hearing this suggestion, it really makes you wonder.


It's fun to see Alan Davis pencil NM Annual # 2 as he was one of the original creators of many British heroes (like Captain Britain, Betsy, Meggan, etc.) and he will one day go on to lead one of the best Excalibur runs.


I also noticed Whilce Portacio on inks for the X-Men Annual. Whilce will go on to become the primary penciler and even plotter on Uncanny X-Men shortly before leaving to found Image in the 90's.


My Rating - 6/10


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