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Comic Book / Captain Britain and MI13

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Captain Britain and MI13 is a Marvel Comics series set in the Britain of the Marvel Universe, created as a successor to New Excalibur and to Paul Cornell's Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom miniseries. It was written by Paul Cornell, and ran for 15 issues (July, 2008-September, 2009).

The first story arc was a tie-in with the Secret Invasion (2008) event. In the first issue, a young Pakistani-British doctor, Faiza Hussain, gets zapped by an alien machine while tending to the casualties of a Skrull attack, gains superpowers, and becomes one of the series' central characters.

Captain Britain and MI13 provides examples of:

  • Accidental Proposal: Sort of. The Black Knight is trying to explain to Faiza's parents why she's now a superhero. Flustered after getting off to the wrong start with her father and trying to find a way out of his predicament, he comments that he's "made a big decision" about him and Faiza after they "became very close during the battle", to which her mother concludes (not entirely unjustifiably) "You're getting married?!" Cue massive Verbal Backspacing...
  • Artistic License – Biology: So ... Black Knight's heart is made of stone now? How does he...? Uh, never mind. A Wizard Did It.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Faiza Hussain was a superhero fangirl before gaining superpowers herself.
  • Back for the Dead: The Skrull Beatles and Mortimer Grimsdale return from Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom but don't survive the first arc (although the fate of the original human Grimsdale is unclear).
  • Back from the Dead: Captain Britain.
  • Badass Pacifist: One of Faiza's favorite go-to tactics as an Actual Pacifist is using her body manipulation powers to shut down a fight without bloodshed, though it causes her to butt heads with the Black Knight's Blood Knight tendencies sometimes.
  • Baseball Episode: The annual had a story with the cast playing Cricket.
  • Black Comedy
  • The Chessmaster: Wisdom, Dracula, and Doctor Doom all qualify. Dracula comes off worst.
  • C-List Fodder: The unfortunate fate of the original MI13 team members returning from the previous Wisdom mini-series. John the Skrull is killed off in the first arc, Captain Midlands becomes a traitor and then (possibly) dies in the second arc. Tink was lucky and only got Put on a Bus. Note though, that this was actually done by Cornell, who also wrote Wisdom.
  • Civvie Spandex: Black Knight started wearing a leather jacket in this book, but over ordinary clothes. He still wears his helmet, though.
  • Continuity Nod: Paul Cornell is really good at these.
  • Continuity Lockout: Averted- while it's fun to know what the Shout Outs and Continuity Nods mean, you don't need to understand them in order to understand what's going on.
  • Covers Always Lie
  • Deal with the Devil: Played with: Pete Wisdom willingly releases a whole bunch of demons in order to get Merlin back so he can resurrect Captain Britain... which becomes a subversion of this trope when some of the demons decide that the rules of magic mandate that they offer him a reward.
    • The irony, of course, is that Wisdom could easily have just said "No, I Don't Want Anything". The imbalance of input/output would then have exploded the demons, and all that Britain would have to do would be to mop up the remaining Skrulls.
    • Also, the demonic Doctor Plokta is willing to give you what you want... anything you want... in return for your soul. What the characters do about this is up to them. Doctor Plokta dangles Captain Britain's (sorta) dead wife in front of him, offering to bring her back to life in return for his soul. He decides to Take a Third Option.
  • Death by Origin Story: Faiza Hussain gets zapped by a Skrull machine, which gives her superpowers instead of killing her off for real.
  • Defector from Decadence: John the Skrull (Sorta. He was originally sent to infiltrate human society, and liked it much better than the warmongering Skrull society, so he decided to stay.)
  • Defiant to the End: John the Skrull
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Blade's papier mache sword, made from the pages of magical books. "Good against demons. Not so good in the rain."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: At one point the Black Knight half-jokes that he's tempted to slice through a group of mind-controlled civilians "because track suits as day wear..." Faiza chews him out over it.
  • Expy: Captain Midlands is a joke version of Captain America.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Captain Midlands will do anything to get his wife Nancy back again, even if it means turning his colleagues over to Plokta.
  • Fangirl: Faiza Hussain, a civilian doctor who's a big fan of superheroes, particularly British ones. She eventually ends up with superpowers herself and a superhero for a boyfriend.
    Pete Wisdom: So you're into cricket?
    Faiza: It's my other fandom.
    Pete Wisdom: You're calling British Occult Intelligence and the S.A.S. a "fandom"?
  • Fight Dracula: The "Vampire State" arc.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Blade and Spitfire start out this way, though it eventually turns into just plain old romance.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: MI: 13, of course.
  • Hell Has New Management: As of the series' annual, Meggan led a band of rebels and then helped forge them into a new country in order to spread hope in Hell.
  • Heroes "R" Us: MI:13 is a British Government agency.
  • Humanity Ensues: John the Skrull
  • I Shall Taunt You: Horribly subverted: John the Skrull is a cheeky, chirpy character who keeps up a constant stream of Witty Banter and taunts even when the situation seems hopeless. He'd be a Deadpan Snarker if he was, y'know, deadpan. The Skrull invaders eventually get fed up and decide to just shoot him.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: At one point, part vampire superhero Spitfire is being mentally controlled by Dracula. To test if she really is under his control or working as a mole for the good guys she is ordered to kill an innocent prisoner.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: When Fallen Hero Captain Midlands is arrested for betraying the team, he and Pete Wisdom discuss how neither of them want a trial (in Wisdom's case because he's not sure it will result in a conviction), and Wisdom leaves a gun in the cell. As he walks off, he doesn't hear a shot, and bitterly reflects that the worst part is he's not even surprised.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Turns out the reason Blade joined up is because he wanted to stake Spitfire. They eventually reach an understanding after beating each other up enough times.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Doctor Plokta's dream corridors.
  • Little "No": Faiza gives one when the Skrulls offer to spare her if she surrenders and lets them take the Westminster Bridge.
  • Magitek: The pentagram tesseract.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Subverted twice. Dracula centers some of his plotting around the romances between Blade and Spitfire and the Black Knight and Faiza, but is stymied on that front when nobody but him sees either as a big deal. Meanwhile, Faiza's father is initially unhappy at the Black Knight having fought in the Crusades, but is eventually won over by the Knight's bumbling charm, noting somewhat grumpily that it's hard to stay annoyed at him... which in itself is annoying.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The evil Doctor Plokta.
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: When a large crowd ends up seeing the Black Knight trying to land his flying horse while holding Faiza dangling by one arm after she almost fell, his response is a casual "Afternoon, all. It's just us, pay no attention."
  • My Greatest Failure: Pete Wisdom is pretty cut up over the deaths of Temporary Love Interest Maureen Raven and fellow team mate John the Skrull.
  • Noodle Incident: Alistaire Stuart explains his changing appearance was due to a tea party with Morgan le Fay.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dane Whitman AKA the Black Knight.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Spitfire has it under control. Apparently. At least until Dracula and his vampire army shows up... and even then, it's probably all a ploy by Wisdom to infiltrate Dracula's ranks. After all, why NOT use one of your vampires to get into the enemy camp?
  • Prequel: Paul Cornell laid out the groundwork for this series in his Wisdom miniseries.
  • Out-Gambitted: The last bit of the book is an epic chess battle between Pete Wisdom and Dracula, which Wisdom wins via making fine use of Chekhov's Armoury.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Dracula is depicted as a virulent anti-Muslim bigot, both generally and in his treatment of Faiza. He also tries to play on Islamophobia to get Doom's support. Doom dismisses Dracula's racism as "an assumption", before remarking that from humans, he treats it with contempt... but from a vampire, or "a mystical viral package", it's almost funny.
  • Psychoactive Powers: Captain Britain's powers are depicted as working like this; super strength and durability in proportion to his confidence and emotional stability.
  • Public Domain Artifact: Excalibur
  • Public Domain Character: Dracula
  • Real After All: Captain Britain thinks Meggan is just an illusion created by Doctor Plokta's Dream Corridors when he realizes he's been trapped in one, and abandons her to escape. The audience eventually sees that no, it really was her, and the Dream Corridor really did form a link to where she ended up. Oops. Although she did finally find him towards the end of the series.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: From the Skrull's perspective, at least: John the Skrull.
  • Running Gag: "The Ebony Blade says hello!"
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Faiza is Dane's steward. Really. Even when Gambit is trying to hit on her. Amusingly Faiza seems to find that more romantic anyway.
  • Ship Tease: The cover of issue 7. Word of God is that it's a hint to what Faiza's heart's desire in Plokta's corridor was.
  • Shout-Out:
    • John the Skrull (a Skrull pretending to be John Lennon).
    • Tink, the fairy princess.
    • "No more Skrulls."
    • Faiza Hussain's surname is a Shout-Out to the former Captain of the England Cricket Team, Nasser Hussain.
    • Plokta is named after a well-known British SF fanzine.
  • Shown Their Work: Paul Cornell asked a group of Muslim women for help with characterizing Faiza. They're listed in the credits.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: The tie-in with Secret Invasion (2008) reveals that the global invasion force is just a cover for every Super-Skrull they have to invade Britain and steal all the Earth's magic straight from the source. After succeeding at killing Captain Britain and taking control over Earth's source of magic, the Super-Skrull Sorcerer Supreme stands over a woman who is, at the time, a civilian — a simple Muslim doctor standing in the way. The Super-Skrull describes how Britain will be erased from existence, so that it had never been. When the Skrull empire takes us as slaves, then we would know true pride and glory. Cue the return with Excalibur.
    Captain Britain: I think you'll find, we already do. We just don't like to make a fuss.
  • The Squire: The Black Knight originally asks Faiza to be his just to talk his way out of her mother thinking he's proposing to her, but Faiza rather likes the idea and gets him to let her take it seriously. He also mentions his original squire Sean Dolan at one point.
  • Smooch of Victory:
    • Captain Britain gets not one, but two with his long-lost wife Meggan. Once when he thinks he's rescued her from Plokta, and once when he actually has rescued both of them from Lilith.
    • Played with in regards to Faiza planting one on the Black Knight after she just rescued him from being killed by Dracula.
  • Techno Babble: "This is a pentagram tesseract, an intrusion of magical fields into another dimension."
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Happens in issue 5, which has the same overall explanation about the current superheroes & demons situation being given by Pete Wisdom to Blade at MI13 HQ and the Black Knight to Faiza Hussain's parents at said parents' house.
  • Villains Never Lie: Deliberately invoked by one of said villains. Plotka counts on the Captain to assume he's telling the truth about Meggan being trapped in another dimension, then gloats afterwards about how superheroes always assume villains tell the truth.
  • Villainous Rescue: Doctor Doom pulls Meggan out of Hell, although it's partially for his own reasons.
  • Wall Glower: Lampshaded when someone calls out Blade for standing against a wall with his arms crossed and sunglasses on not speaking to anyone, during a party. Since it's an SAS party, no one's particularly impressed, and after a tense moment when confronted about it, he takes off the glasses and apologizes, remarking that he'd been hanging out with superheroes too long, and starts socializing.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: John the Skrull
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Norman Osborn says he respects Pete Wisdom as a "fellow player". Wisdom is less than pleased.