Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Captain Britain and MI:13 #15

Captain Britain and MI:13 #15 (Final Issue!)
Written by Paul Cornell
Pencils by Leonard Kirk

MI:13 has come a long way since the Skrull Invasion; some friends have died, some have returned, relationships have blossomed, and Britain has been saved on more than one occasion, but now things have finally come down to the wire. Britain and Dracula's vampire army face off for the future of the English Island in the final chapter in Paul Cornell's outstanding series.

With only some foresight and a few months notice, Paul Cornell set out to write a satisfying end to the series he started more than 15 months ago, but in trying to tie-up all of his loose ends, it feels like Cornell lost some of the magic that made his series so outstanding. This final issue tries and more or less succeeds in bringing a close to virtually all of the plot-points that Cornell has written but none are given a satisfying amount of breathing room to appreciate them. The final issue of Captain Britain reads more like a Sparknotes summery of the conclusion of Vampire State than the actual end of the story.

I can only assume that Cornell was trying to fit his story into the time frame that Marvel gave him (I imagine they told him he had until the end of Vampire State to conclude the series, but if the end of the previous two stories are any indication, Cornell tends to have a "buffer" issue between stories). What I had hoped would be a fairly quick resolution to Vampire State turned out to be a somewhat lengthy conclusion, and unsurprisingly Cornell didn't have the time to put the metaphorical bow on the package to give the reader the sense of how far the story has come which I think is always the hallmark of an outstanding ending.

On one specific front, however, Cornell does manage to make room for the glimpse at the road traveled. In many ways this series has been more about Cornell's created character Faiza Hussain, starting her story in the streets of Skull invaded Britain as a super-hero worshiping groupie, plagued by insecurity, to love-struck hero in training, and finally a hero. The series has often focused more on Faiza, and her journey is one of the few things completely apparent in this final issue, and it's very rewarding.

Although its conclusion was generally lackluster, and not up to par with what Cornell has written in the past, the series as a whole has been a fascinating roller coaster of plot reversals and unexpected developments. Characters like Pete Wisdom, and Spitfire who were likely unknown to readers when the series began are now fully realized characters that can actually evoke pathos. Cornell even made the impossible-to-write vampire hunter Blade work in his series seamlessly. Captain Britain and MI13 has been a stunning series, and to great regret has been cut down well before its time.

RATING (Issue): 5 out of 10
RATING (Series): 8 out of 10
Please consider buying the volumes of Captain Britain and MI13 as they come out in trade. It's wonderfully entertaining and good sales could potentially mean a miniseries sometime in the near future!

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