This was how Captain Britain developed. It seemed a logical enough name. A British version of Captain America as much as anything, albeit in name only.
Captain Britain was Brian Braddock, chosen by the ancient wizard Merlin to become Britain's modern-day protector. Captain Britain's stories were published exclusively by Marvel UK, and for several years, the character remained largely unknown to American audiences. Oh, they'd heard about him, through Marvel's in-magazine "Bullpen Bulletins" and such, but they didn't really know anything about him. Remember, this was in the days before cyberspace, before the comics fan community really came together the way it has today, where you could've simply logged online, and either hit a host of online stores dedicated to comics and super-heroes and probably just ordered half a dozen issues with the click of a button. To American comics fans, Captain Britain remained a mystery. And they wanted to know more.
Finally, in the pages of MARVEL TEAM-UP, a book in which Spider-Man teamed up with a different Marvel hero each issue or so, it was decided to bring Captain Britain to the States for a visit. Brian Braddock came over as part of a student exchange program, and ultimately, he and Spider-Man ended up fighting the lunatic assassin Arcade in his deadly amusement park, Murderworld. This was also Arcade's first appearance. He'd go on to pester the X-Men not long after, and he's still around to this day.
Captain Britain's early appearance looked almost nothing like his modern incarnation. Cap's early costume was predominantly red, with a golden lion on the chest, and a red and blue mask covering everything except his blonde hair.
Granted, coming up with a uniform that, for example, more closely resembled the modern British flag woud've been impossible. A long established British hero in the American Marvel Comics had that design sewn up. His name, not inappropriately, was Union Jack. A multi- generational hero, he's still around, and recently got a mini-series.
Now, I'll admit, I haven't followed Captain Britain's adventures all that closely. Eventually, it was decided to bring Captain Britain into the Marvel Universe more fully, and apparently his book had been cancelled overseas, so the character was available. Somewhat surprisingly, they plugged him into the X-Universe, even though he wasn't a mutant. His sister was, however. Her name was Elizabeth Braddock, and she would go on to be better known as Psylocke.
Captain Britain would go on to help found the super-team known as Excalibur, which would locate itself in Europe, although the title was published for the American audience. By this time, Cap had a costume that more closely resembled the British flag, at least, shall we say, to the degree that Captain America's costume resembles the American flag. No one's going to claim that Captain America's costume is an accurate representation of the American flag. But it captures the spirit of it. Captain America's costume is predominantly blue, with a white star on the front and another on the back, and the midriff is alternating red and white stripes.
Similarly, Captain Britain's costume has a blue top, with two huge intersecting lines of red, framed in white, running across the chest and down the sleeves, on the front and back. The lower part of the costume is white, with high blue boots. Captain Britain's mask is blue with a red front, which also has red lines framed in white. As I said, it captures the spirit of the British flag much as Captain America's does the American flag.
Apparently Captain Britain's history took some strange turns along the way. According to the information on the back of the Marvel Legends figure, it states that Merlin selected Brian Braddock to be Earth's representative in the "reality-spanning Captain Britain Corps". That's a pretty strange name to give any sort of reality-spanning organization. I live in Tucson, Arizona, and this strikes me as the equivalent of being pulled over in my town by a cop from North Pole, Alaska. Granted, it used to be rightly said that the sun never set on the British Empire. Now, Britain is still a fine place. I've visited there once and would like to do so again. But the Empire isn't what it used to be, and either Merlin wasn't keeping up with current events, or he was being overly sentimental with that name for his organization.
The description goes on to say that, "Brian has since become ruler of Otherworld, a glorious kingdom positioned at the nexus of reality, where science and sorcery exist as one." Well, that must get confusing at times, but it does sound as though Braddock traded up a bit.
A new, female Captain Britain did appear briefly in the pages of Avengers, right before the "Disassembled" storyline got rolling. She hasn't been heard from since to my knowledge, and from what I remember from reading those stories -- no big loss.
Captain Britain was made part of the exclusive Marvel Legends assortment that appeared at Wal-Mart. This assortment also included Age of Apocalypse versions of Sabretooth and Wolverine (Weapon X), as well as figures of Kitty Pryde, Ant-Man, Thor, Havok, Warbird, and Sentry.
I initially didn't pick up the Captain Britain figure because of the costume design. It wasn't his original "red with golden lion" costume, and it wasn't his "near-British flag" costume. It was actually a later costume, which apart from being red, white, and blue, didn't particularly resemble anything British. The costume had a mostly red shirt, with a blue and white collar, white leggings and blue boots, and a mostly red mask with two blue semi-rectangles on it. It wasn't a bad costume design, it just wasn't especially distinctive.
If one needs any evidence that Marvel Legends remains one of the few really hot action figure lines, one need only have done some time-lapse photography on the Wal-Mart Marvel Legends display. Even figures that aren't exclusive to Wal-Mart tend to blow out of the store in short order. But make it an exclusive, and watch 'em disappear. I managed to snag the ones that I wanted from this assortment a while back, and I more or less figured that was it. I'd assumed that the assortment had run its course and wouldn't be heard from again.
So imagine my surprise when the assortment was restocked. Then imagine my even greater surprise when I noticed that the Captain Britain figure had been given his sort-of British flag costume! Given how much more intricate this is compared to the other red-white-and-blue outfit, I almost feel sorry for the stencil cutters. Anyway, this time, Cappy came with me!
Overall, it's an excellent figure. Although Captain Britain in his early days seemed to be a somewhat slender individual, he'd obviously bulked up along the way, because the figure, and his images in the comic book, have tended to be those of something of a powerhouse. The shoulders on the figure are perhaps a little too high, and the arm articulation at the shoulder is a little weird as such, but it's nothing intolerable.
I am of the opinion that this is an entirely new figure. Even though there's nothing all that unusual about the costume design -- except for the high flared boots, it's pretty much a standard super-hero bodysuit -- the copyright date on the figure is 2006, and there haven't been that many figures this year. So I think this is a mold that was created specifically for Captain Britain.
There's a sort of texturing to the costume as well, which I've encountered on a few other Marvel Legends figures here and there. Personally, I don't much care for it, but for all I know, this is supposed to be a somewhat armored costume. As I said, my specifics to that degree on Captain Britain are a little hazy.
The figure is very neatly painted, and given the intricacy and precision needed, that can't have been easy. I believe that the upper portion of the figure, except for the gloves, was molded in red, and the white and blue was sprayed on. This would make sense, especially if one considers the original version of this figure, in which the shirt was MOSTLY red. This would also explain why the trunks, which are entirely white on this version of Captain Britain, were nonetheless molded in red as well, since on the first version of this figure, the red did taper down that far. The rest of the figure is molded in the appropriate colors, which means white leggings and blue boots.
Part of me wonders if the figure was painted before or after assembly. It's really quite an intricate design, especially the stripes down the sleeves, which even take in the rather small elbow joints, which are double-articulated. The lines also line up perfectly, admittedly only in a certain pose, but that they do so at all is pretty impressive.
There's a certain detailing overspray, designed to look like shading, on the figure, which I could've really done without, but it's not too bad, except it's a little excessive on the boots. Articulation is, of course, superb, as one would expect from a Marvel Legends figure.
So, do I recommend Captain Britain? If you can find THIS version of him, then absolutely. It's easily the most British-looking version of Captain Britain, and it's also the version pictured on the cover to the comic book that is included, a reprint of EXCALIBUR #1. But I will say that I doubt this version will be easy to find. As one might expect, this resupply of the Wal-Mart exclusive Marvel Legends assortment didn't last long, and unless it comes back one more time, then I'm very glad I snagged this version of CAPTAIN BRITAIN when I did.
If you can find him, then I definitely recommend him!