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Captain Britain & Spider-Man

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

After chance finds their civilian identities sharing an apartment, a misunderstanding leads to a city-spanning battle between Spider-Man and Captain Britain. Desperate to avoid injuring the visiting hero, Spider-Man lures his opponent onto a construction site, and snares him with a well-placed web. The misunderstanding resolved, the two heroes discover that their troubles are only beginning, as the villainous Arcade springs an elaborate trap.

You've got to think that somebody on the Hasbro design team loves Captain Britain. Since his creation in 1976, he's had four toys: a ToyBiz repaint, a Marvel Legend, and two Minimates. But since Marvel Universe started, he's had four figures in that line (and its ancillaries) alone! One in MU proper, two in the Captain America line, and now this comic pack version! Who's the secret admirer?

Captain Britain is built from the same massive body as The Wrecking Crew, which normally would be fine, but not in this case. Yes, he's a large, muscular character, but he's gotten bigger over the years, commensurate with his increases in power. When he was just starting out, he was a comparatively slender guy - less "Power Man" and more "Iron Fist." In fact, it was a plot point in one of his books that he'd gotten too big to wear this outfit any more! Somebody's been hitting the Creatine.

In all honesty, this costume is pretty terrible. It's solid red, with blue stripes around the shoulders (and sometimes blue gloves and boots to match), a golden lion rampant on his chest, and Union Jacks on his wrists and forehead. His nose and mouth are covered by a blue patch that takes the place of the cutout on a traditional superhero mask - only his hair is exposed. No matter how bad the suit may look, everything is painted well, even those tiny white lines on his flags.

British Brian has two accessories: the Amulet of Right, and the Star Sceptre. The Amulet is the source of his powers, and the object which allowed wimpy Brian Braddock to become the superhuman Captain Britain - it gave him super strength, stamina and agility. The Sceptre added a few more abilities, such as flight and a forcefield, but also works as a big, heavy truncheon. There's a hook on one side, but he's not the stabby sort.

The Spider-Man in this set is pieced together from pre-existing Spideys: everything above the hips - and we mean everything - comes from the black-suited Spider-Man, while the legs come from Scarlet Spider. Why switch the legs? Because these have additional swivels in the thighs, making him more mobile, as any good Spider-Man should be. Honestly, unless you're selling toys for the preschool crowd, there's no excuse for a Spider-Man to not show off the highest level of articulation your company can muster.

The colors on this Spidey are very vibrant, suiting the era of origin - he's based on a comic from 1978, and they didn't look anywhere near as nice as the ones today. His lines are all painted cleanly, but it feels like the eyes are a bit too low on his mask. Maybe that's just my imagination.

Spider-Man comes with an accessory several previous releases have used, but none of the ones I've bought. It's a webline, but rather than just being a straight shot from his wrist, it's a big, knotted bundle. Clearly this is done to hide the way it attaches to the figure (thus avoiding the mistake so many Iron Men have made), but it doesn't work too well. After all, why would he ever have a big spool of webline below his hand that way? Eh, it could be worse.

The set includes a reprint comic, of course. For years, the American comics didn't acknowledge that Marvel UK existed: while US characters might appear in a UK story, it was a one-way street. Then in Marvel Team-Up #65, Captain Britain made the jump across the pond. The issue also introduced Arcade, who's best known as an X-Men villain, which I guess makes him part of the Supervillain Shuffle.

This isn't a straight reprint, though: there's one minor change that's so very weird, so strangely pointless that we have to spend an entire paragraph writing about it. So on page 10, Spidey and Captain Britain are right in the middle of their traditional "heroes meet and start fighting" thing. Spider-Man is just piecing together that the British guy he met earlier in the day and the British guy chasing him are the same person, and describes him as "this blond noob." Wait, what? "Noob?" A comic from 1978 used the word noob? That seemed highly unlikely, so I did some research (aka, bothered to look inside a copy of the original issue).

On page 10, we flip to the same scene and see Spider-Man thinking "this blond boob." Which is not only more period appropriate, but also leaves us with only one of two options: either the film had faded and needed to be relettered before it went to print, but the person in charge didn't realize what the word was supposed to be; or someone at Marvel or Hasbro changed it because they thought people would be offended by the word "boob."

It's a bit disappointing that this comic pack comes with Captain Britain and Spider-Man: we understand why they did it - better to have at least one big name in there - but anyone who's obsessive enough to care about this version of Captain Britain is sure to have at least one Spider-Man already. It would have been cooler if the pack had been Captain Britain and Arcade, because face it: when are we ever likely to see an Arcade action figure in any other context? He's just a guy in a plain white suit, which would have looked pretty neat next to the all-red Cap. We wouldn't even have minded Cap's large body as much.

-- 01/30/12

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