Tuesday, July 8, 2008

O Captain! My Captain!

Oh, how comic book super-hero fans LOVE to compare the DC and Marvel universes, particularly similarities between the heroes: Green Arrow and Hawkeye, Captain America and Batman, Superman and Thor, blah, blah, blah, blah ...

So (in keeping with my current, favorite super-hero obsession), which Marvel hero is most commonly compared with Green Lantern? Well, you have the Iron Man camp, arguing that both heroes are weapons-based and have similar abilities. Then we have Nova and the Nova Corps, which some fans claim are just like the Green Lantern Corps.

There's another candidate for comparison that's often overlooked, and I think it's a shame because I believe this particular Marvel hero wins the Green Lantern comparison contest. Not only does he have a lot in common with Green Lantern(s) in general, he has a lot in common with Hal Jordan:

- He's a member of a corps.
- He died but was brought back to life.
- He gets pushed around by nigh-omnipotent beings.
- He's very powerful.
- He's very pretty.
- He's a self-absorbed, arrogant jerk.
- He's kinda dumb.
- He's heroic to a fault.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you CAPTAIN BRITAIN!

Yes, Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) of Earth-616 really does have a lot in common with dear Mr. Jordan. Similar to Hal, in addition to the things I've already cited, Brian has been known, on and off, to be among the best of the best of the Captain Britain Corps. And he hasn't always gotten along very well with other members:

Did I mention that Brian also tends to get smacked in the head a lot? (At least, unlike Hal, Brian wears a helmet!)

Brian and Hal also have close ties to siblings (parents are deceased), and are prone to strong feelings of guilt when things don't quite work out the way they should.

Each also once tried to retire from his Corps, until disaster struck and brought him back to the super-hero gig (in Hal's case, the original Crisis; in Brian's case, his sister's brutal attack by Slaymaster).

Oh, but there are big differences between Hal and Brian, to be sure:

- Brian was born to privilege (an impoverished privilege, but privilege nonetheless), whereas Hal is a USAF brat.

- Brian has a rotten temper and is prone to fits of pessimism and depression. Hal is more likely to shrug things off and keep forging ahead.

- Brian is no prude, but he isn't half the womanizer that Hal is (but who is?). And there's no way Hal would put up with a clingy female like Meggan for long.

- Brian started off as a gawky teenager (was Hal ever gawky?) but quickly grew into a stereotypical big, muscular, blond super-hero. Hal, on the other hand, is still atypical in that he has brown hair and a slim, light build.

Perhaps the biggest difference of all is that while Hal tends to willingly plow head-first into trouble (and has received the whacks on the head to prove it), Brian usually walks into battle very reluctantly, and often has to be forced into it -- unless someone makes him mad.

Another major difference between the two heroes is that while it's pretty easy to keep track of Hal Jordan's supporting cast, Brian Braddock's supporting cast is SO huge and SO complicated that it makes the X-men look like a barbershop quartet by comparison.

Actually, the cast is probably the single biggest obstacle for new readers trying to get a handle on Captain Britain. Keeping track of Saturnyne (or Sat-Yr-9, or Sat'neen, or Courtney Ross, or whatever), Roma, Merlyn, and the various members of the Technet, the Crazy Gang, Excalibur, the Captain Britain Corps (and their respective alternate dimensions), S.T.R.I.K.E., the Warpies, the R.C.X, and so on, and so forth, can be a real pain in the patootie. It's also a pain trying to make sense of all of the reality warping and interdimensional craziness in Captain Britain stories (which started long before the group Excalibur was ever even formed).

Ah, but what stories they are! They're much more fantasy-based than Green Lantern (which is pure science fiction), but they're endlessly fascinating, and at once humorous and gut-wrenching. And never has Captain Britain been better than when handled by the creative "dream team" of Alan Moore and Alan Davis, in the original battle(s) involving Mad Jim Jaspers and the Fury. Now THOSE were some serious villains!

OR, at least serious MOST of the time ...

Okay, that's enough gushing about Captain Britain. I've finished weeding out my C-to-F comics (and just why the heck am I fond of heroes who are self-absorbed, arrogant jerks?). Time to start going through my G (gulp!) comics!


Sleestak said...

One could argue that Hal, being the son of an officer (and fighter pilot) was privileged. Compared to how the Enlisted and their families are treated he was royalty.

SallyP said...

Well gosh, I never thought of this, but it makes sense in a weird sort of way. I think that Captain Britain has a little bit of Kyle in him as well, with his reluctance to fight and willingness to put up with someone like Meggan.

Was Hal ever gawky? I don't think so...he was CLUMSY! There's a difference.

Aren't you having fun going through your books? I am looking forward to the "G"s with bated breath.

Sea_of_Green said...

I think you're on to something there, Sleestak. I ran the notion by Mr. Sea (who's an army brat), and while he doesn't feel that he was necessarily privileged, he understands why some people might interpret it that way.

Sally, I'm very sorry, but I've wussed out on G for now -- as reported. :-(

SallyP said...

Interestingly enough, your comparison with Captain Britain and Hal, has been picked up by some guy from the DC Message boards, and there was quite a discussion about it.

They all more or less disagreed with you, but for a change, they were relatively polite about it.

Sea_of_Green said...

Is that so? LOL! That's okay -- people are free to disagree with me. I just wrote this for fun, anyway. :-)