Saturday, March 6, 2010

More and Moore

Forgot I put this old ST review (2002) up here.

Views changed over time as one read and learn more. Back then, I focused on the similarities between Capt Britain and Marvelman and how the former foreshadowed the superhero revisionism that Moore would expand in Marvelman and Watchmen. Also, one can't help but to notice all the references to X-Men circa Claremont/Byrne. (Claremont was the co-creator of Capt Britain with Herb Trimpe in 1976)

But thinking about Moore's Capt Britain now, it's actually more aligned to his other series in Warrior, V For Vendetta. When he started V in 1982, it was the height of Thatcherism. V wasn't just about a dystopian future ala 1984, but it reflected Moore's very real fears as a father back then. He was afraid of the apocalyptic future his daughter would grow up to, especially the Cold War rhetoric of Iron Lady Thatcher and Ronnie Raygun which threatened to plunge us into a nuclear war when they went head on with Brezhnev and Andropov - remember Star Wars (Strategic Defense Initiative) and Ronnie's evil empire speech?

That's the context. Moore's view of early 80s England was one that would only become increasing fascist. At that point, Moore was writing V and Capt Britain at the same time. While V was completed as a Vertigo series after Warrior folded in 1985, his Capt Britain stories would not see print again until after 2000AD. While V is still the better written series, it is unfortunate that Capt Britain is lowly regarded in Moore's oeuvre given it's similarities in themes and concerns to V.

V dealt with the fear of a fascist England by having a Guy Fawkes character making things right. Capt Britain made things right by destroying the lead character. Under Moore's charge, Capt Britain gets murdered when he entered the world of an alternative Earth run by dictators, the British National Party.

Mind you, that was a real British far-right political party that was formed in 1982 (a splinter group from the National Front), around the time Moore started on Capt Britain.

So if Capt Britain is the spirit of England, then he gets bloody murdered by the fascist forces overtaking the country/world. It doesn't get as literal as that. Moore was saying that if the British allowed their freedom to be trampled upon by right wing parties, then they only had themselves to blame. If you can't save the world, you may as well destroy it. The Nation and its racist tenets were to be feared and rejected. The idea of nationalism then was not a multi-racial one. It was white nationalism.

Moore was not the first to deal with the problem of rising fascism in early 80s England. Most people have forgotten this, but Judge Dredd was created to make fun of the fascists. If you think about it, Dredd is still a fascist today. But Moore took it the extreme to reject the whole notion of the nation itself. The idea of the nation is the basis for fascism.

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