Brian Braddock meets Byron Bra-Dhok and readers’ heads explode all over the damn place – Captain Britain #5
Ah, Captain Britain. The tall, Olympian-built champion of the Sceptered Isle, the beefy hero who would one day lead some X-Men castoffs in the team called Excalibur, which is perhaps the most Anglo-Saxon sounding team name ev-
Okay, who they hell is the guy with the basketball head?
This magazine-sized (in length and height, if not thickness) comic is a part of Captain Britain’s 1980s U.K. reinvention. An outgrowth of that character’s adventures in the anthology The Mighty World of Marvel, it follows the format of most larger British comics. Black and white interiors, serialized stories — you’re likely familiar with the drill. What sets this apart from the rest and plays into the presence of Mr. Basketball up there? Well, you know the Marvel multiverse, the interdimensionality that made the Marvel Earth that we all know and love “Earth-616″? The one tended originally by none other than Merlyn, the one that was never wiped out by Crisis nonsense? The one fleshed out by Alan Moore and Alan Davis, who never intended the “616″ moniker to have such broad, international, company-wide usage? It’s in here, personified by that differently garbed Captain you see on the cover. The guy who looks to be wearing Union Jack briefs on his head is Kaptain Briton, a fellow member of the inter-dimensional Captain Britain Corps (all gaurdians of the multiverse, no matter if they were good or evil) who hails from Earth-794, a darker reality than our own.
His arrival brings up several discussion points that need airing out, if only for my own sanity. A quick look at the proceedings within should get us going.
What usually happens when a superpowered being comes face to face with his extra-dimensional doppelgänger? Why, they punch each other in the face, of course! (Script: Jamie Delano, Art: Davis):
The two Captains (Kaptins) slug it out while the people tracking Briton from his own dimension arrive at (stately?) Braddock Manor and clue Betsy Braddock (the future Psylocke) and the rest of the CB penumbra in on what’s going on. Finally our Captain shows up with Briton’s unconscious body, he’s handed over to the cops and all seems right with the 616 world. Well, unless you bother to look at the triumphant Britain, who, though clean-shaven, might as well be twirling a mustache:
Yes, this is the evil Kaptin, who makes the switcheroo all too clear when he jams his tongue down his erstwhile sister’s throat and starts a good old-fashioned sexual assault:
Ah, rape. Such a cheery subject.
(Just so you know, the vile act is never consummated, and Betsy uses her psionic powers to mess with Briton’s mind and kill him. HAPPY ENDINGS.)
They’re not exactly germane, but several additional serials follow, including — perhaps to cinch the Britishness of the book — a Doctor Who spinoff reprint (Script: Steve Moore, Art: Steve Dillon). Are there Daleks screeching EX-TER-MIN-ATE therein? You betcha:
Back to the rapist Kaptin.
There are two things we need to chew on here. First is the obvious mind-bender of multiple universes and endless versions of the same people within those universes, implications that get really nuts when you get into the ad infinitum kaleidoscope of alternate Brian Braddocks and Captain Britains. The Captain Britain Corps went to telescopic depths that DC’s multiverse never approached, an extent that becomes clear when you look at the list of members for the Captain Britain Corps on the Wikipedia page. Even Superman, the most venerable and oft-appropriated champion of American comics, has never had his other selves united in the same way, team-ups with the Superboy-Primes of the multiverse notwithstanding. Granted, a lot of Captain Britain variants were faces in a crowd and names mentioned in passing, but still.
Think about this enough, and it gets personal. Have you ever wondered what your alternate versions would be like? How the version of you IN A WORLD WHERE HITLER WON WORLD WAR II would act? How the version of you IN A WORLD WHERE ROME NEVER FELL would look in a toga? How the version of you IN A WORLD WHERE APES EVOLVED FROM MEN would hurl his filth? A WORLD WHERE EVERYONE IS A TOASTER? Hell, maybe there’s a Jahr-Uhd out there who runs a Bog into Moisture website. (Doubtful.)
I don’t know what point I’m making, other than the multiverse crap is all a big, infinite, silly, yet often entertaining mess.
There’s a corollary to this, and that will be our second puzzler. Kaptain Briton begins a sexual assault of Captain Britain’s sister here. In no way am I attempting to make light of rape — God no — but is there an added layer of creepiness involved? Take the assault out of the equation, and suppose Betsy took a liking to this tall, handsome man who reminds her so much of a beloved brother, and wanted nothing more than for him to grind on her. Would that be incest? Is it incest if you diddle a sibling of your alter-Earth proxy, the person who’s you but not you? Is this an extra-dimensional taboo? Would it even be wrong? Can you get locked up for even thinking about it? Or writing about it? (Perhaps exceptions might be made for the later Psylocke incarnation of Ms. Braddock, when she became ridiculously chestular and battled evil in a bathing suit that appeared to be painted on.)
I don’t know that we want to delve too deeply into such things, but we might as well mull it over a little.
Anyway. Junk food for thought. Thank you, Captain Britain, for stimulating minds all across the globe with your endless other selves, some of whom try to rape your sister. EXCELSIOR.