Captain Britain and MI13 #5

Issue Date: 
November 2008
Story Title: 
Hell Comes to Birmingham – prologue

Paul Cornell (writer), Pat Oliffe (penciler), Paul Neary (inker), Brian Reber with Raul Trevino (colorists), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

MI-13 tests Captain Britain’s abilities and soon learn that his new powers are dependant on his belief in himself, a piece of information he takes in a stride. Later, he is introduced to the team’s newest member, the vampire hunter Blade. Spitfire fights cultists with her close friend Union Jack and discusses his state with him. The Black Knight visits Faiza’s parents to explain their daughter’s newfound powers and status to them. They are all called to Birmingham, where Captain Midlands is attacked by some demonic creatures. En route, Blade meets Spitfire for the first time… and immediately stakes her.

Full Summary: 

Mi-13 Headquarters, Whitehall:

Captain Britain is testing his powers and fighting skills against SAS soldiers in armored suits. Deflecting a blast, he remarks that, if he didn’t’ know better, he’d think they were trying to kill him. They are, sir, one of them replies respectfully. Otherwise it wouldn’t be—
Cap hits him back. Point taken, Cap agrees.

Pete Wisdom and Alistaire Stuart enter the room. Death has done wonders for Brian, Pete jokes. Going through the test results, Stuart adds that Brian is at least as powerful as before, but there is something worrying…

Pete interrupts him, asking Brian if he remembers what death was like. One minute boom… Brian recalls. The next… he’s in Lancashire. Probably for the best. Did Pete accept that medal? Not his sort of thing, the other man admits embarrassed. Not while the rest of the world has that Skrull problem… And… well, John.

He changes the subject, remarking that with their two prospective recruits they’ll have their core team sorted though. They are joined by MI13’s scientist O, who hands Stuart the results of the scans taken during Captain Britain’s test. It’s as Alistaire thought. Pete tries to interrupt this is only a first guess. Undeterred, Stuart explains that Cap’s strength and vulnerability vary from moment to moment, in tandem with his emotion and confidence. So there’s no limit to what he could do. He should have brought these to him first, Pete hisses. But he can go from bulletproof to tissue paper at a moment’s notice, Alistaire explains.

Unphased, Brian announces that he is Captain Britain. Pete will just have to make sure he doesn’t get too conceited. So who’s this new recruit?

Outside, a plane lands on runway 2, having completed its extraction mission from still Skrull-infected Manhattan. A muscular black man dressed in black leather leaves the plane. Warily, he looks around. Blade the Vampire-hunter has arrived.

Sons of the Serpent recruitment meeting. Somewhere on Dulwich:

Spitfire and Union Jack are taking care of the villains without working up much of a sweat. He takes her to the nicest places, Spitfire jokes. Union Jack observes that she is fast today and hesitatingly asks if she is ok. She knows she shouldn’t have told him, she laughs. Here they are: Daylight! No blood lust! No fangs! She points to her mouth. Best of both worlds.

So why keep it a secret from her mates? Joe presses. A lady does not reveal her intimate details, she retorts and admits that she feels a little ashamed. Joe suggests that maybe they both made a mistake. Maybe they should be together. He could look after her.

Jokingly, Jaqueline calls him a charmer and suggests he find her some proper dancing. And they’ll see. After she’s popped up north to see an old friend.

Chelmsford, Essex where Faiza Hussain and Dane Whitman are about to visit her parents. Faiza babbles about the kind of cloud Pete has to get her transferred to the intelligence services. She’s loving the training. Her doing kung-fu? She’s like the new Welsh Dragon! Except not Welsh, obviously. And everyone’s made her feel really welcome except… her parents aren’t really on board yet. She confides that they were really scared by the battle of Westminster Bridge and proud in the end, but they are not being told everything? ‘Cause the vetting process is hard on… Muslim families. And they freaked out about her powers. So she thought bringing home a childhood hero…

He’s surprised she chose him, Dane admits. Surprised, flattered … but mostly scared. He hopes he can live up to…

“Faiza!” a middle-aged woman with a headscarf cries and waves at them. She tells her daughter to get inside before someone sees them. Faiza hugs her mother and tells her not to worry. They’ve been given a number that will get a superhero here instantly. Oh, that makes her feel so secure, Mrs. Hussain replies sarcastically before asking her daughter how dare she sign up for some dangerous government job and not a word to them?

Mrs. Hussain… please excuse, Dane starts in jumbled Urdu and bows. My Urdu not modern sort. Bit useless. But wanted to be… meaningless charming. He adds that he is the Black Knight, formerly of the Avengers. Her brilliant and brave daughter helped save Britain from the Skrulls and saved him. He’s here to explain. Mrs. Hussain harrumphs and states that Faiza’s father will want a word.

Blade is welcomed at the MI-13 headquarters. True to form, it’s raining. Instead of returning Pete’s greeting, Blade remarks that rain makes the circuits in his right hand unreliable. He doesn’t care for it. When does he meet the team?

He didn’t even realize Blade was British, Captain Britain remarks, trying to make small-talk. Grew up here, comes the reply. Made here. But why come over now? Brian wonders. Didn’t Blade want to stay in the US and fight Skrulls? Skrulls? Blade asks. Skrulls are just the weather. They’ll pass. Demons and vampires: They’re ours. Always. His calling brought him here.

At a cemetery near Strawberry Fields, in Liverpool. Jaqueline visits the grave of John the Skrull and lays down flowers. She apologizes to him for the funeral being so low-key. It’s hard to hold a Skrull ceremony in their country now. Pete’s taken his death really hard, though he won’t show it. She only wishes…

A shadow falls upon her. Jaq whirls around, ready to fight, but finds she is all alone.

Back at the Hussains, things could be going better. Faiza’s father points an accusing finger at Dane. This is who they send to be diplomatic? he shouts. He knows where the Black Knight got his linguistic skills – in the Crusades! He knows his superheroes, too! So what is this – a deliberate insult? Or just institutional stupidity?

Erm… pass… Dane replies, trying to calm him. They seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. So if Dr. Hussain and – Dr. Hussain would give him a moment to tell them about… Dr. Hussain and he…

During the battle, he and Faiza became close, he tries to explain and so he’s made a big decision…

They’re getting married! Faiza’s mother bursts out. !Mum! Faiza sighs embarrassed. Of course, not, Dane blurts out. He means not “of course not” because… obviously Faiza is… she’s very… His steward! he finally shouts. That’s what he’s saying. He wants her to become his new steward!

Really? Faiza asks flattered while her mother wryly comments it’s always interesting to see what happens when she says that to a boy. It’s hard to be annoyed at him, her husband observes. That in itself is annoying.

Okay… dignity gone now, Dane sighs. They’ve kind of been hard done by. He’s the loose cannon of the outfit. How about he just tell them everything?

Pete and Cap show Blade around. They are refitting MI-13 as a modern superhero intelligence strikeforce, Pete explains. With a very specific mission. The public want to see Captain Britain flying into battle. Spitfire and the Black Knight and other famous heroes alongside. But they don’t necessarily need or want to know…

…what their heroes will be fighting, Dane tells the Hussains. That’s what they keep secret. That’s why they are working with the intelligence community. They are targeting the monsters that were set free. And any others that see Britain as an easy mark. Monsters, he stresses. Not suspected terrorists, not decadent supervillains or other heroes. Supernatural evil. Isn’t that the best any of them can aspire to?

Faiza’s powers are defensive. Healing. They will keep her safe. Her identity will be kept secret by “D” notice, technology and magic. She won’t even have to bother with a mask.

Is he ashamed of his daughter? Faiza’s father asks enraged. Laughing, his wife tells him to make up his mind. It’s to keep Faiza safe, Dane assures him. Running the team like this, embedded in the official world…

… this very British mix of professional and amateur might be the best, most secure way of running a superhero team, Pete explains. Amateur adventurers, professional resources, intelligence community culture. But, Cap stresses, with great freedom within that responsibility, so nobody gets compromised. It’s about time someone tried this.

Yeah, so when does he get to meet the others? Blade asks unimpressed. They’ve got a staff meeting this night, Pete begins, but then an emergency alarm sounds and they are informed of a priority communication.

But why did they choose Faiza? her mother asks. They didn’t, Dane replies. Faiza reaches into her bag. She already decided she was going to show this to her folks. The media think it vanished from Westminster Bridge. But here’s why she said yes to all this. She shows them Excalibur and explains that it chose her. She asks her father if he wants to hold it. Almost startled, he admits he can feel it… it is of this nation… and thus… his. Theirs. He is not a particularly religious man, but he can feel it, this is blessed. He hands the sword back to his daughter, asking if she realizes what this is … Unconditional acceptance!

Back at MI-13’s HQ, Pete and the others get the shaky message on the screen. Pete recognizes his old friend and teammate Sid Ridley aka Captain Midlands. He’s got proof, the local hero announces. The supernatural thingummies Pete told them to be on the lookout for, like… they’re right here! They’re – he screams and the connection is broken.

Pete’s aide informs him that they do have his precise location. He is in Birmingham. Go? Brian simply asks. Go, Pete replies and presses the alarm button.

Faiza and Dane get the signal. Faiza’s father hands back the sword, admitting he’d have made the same choice for this. He’s glad Mr. Whitman felt able to be honest with them. He asks her to fight the monsters and make them proud. Be careful. She will, Faiza promises. Her mum hugs her, admitting she will be worried, but Faiza made them so proud. And about Mr. Whitman, she adds in a conspirative whisper… Faiza could do worse. Mum! she exclaims.

Dane contacts Wisdom, telling him no need for VTOL pick-up. He’s brought transport of his own.

Pete tells Captain Britain to fly ahead. Mission: Whoever they are, whatever they are, go right through them… rescue Sid. Wilco, Brian replies. You can do it, Pete adds. He knows, Brian replies and flies off.

He was hoping to get him signed on to the pension plan and stuff, Pete tells Blade but he thinks they are going to have to call this on the job training.

They and more agents run towards the transport vessel while the Knight and Faiza use Dane’s flying hose. Holding onto Dane, Faiza asks what being his steward means. Just something he came up with to get himself out of a corner, Dane admits. If she doesn’t want to…

No, she assures him. It’s a great honor. He can tell her about it on the way. And maybe more about that heart of stone thing…

In the meantime, Spitfire races upward and joins the others in the carrier five minutes away from the target while the Knight and Faiza are also about to catch up. Pete introduces Jaqueline to Blade. “Lady Jaqueline,” Blade repeats. That’s not what she is to him. And what is she to him? she asks, flirting. He stabs her through the heart with a stake. Another dead vampire!

Characters Involved: 

Black Knight, Captain Britain, Faiza Hussain, John the Skrull, Spitfire, Pete Wisdom (all members of MI 13)

Union Jack
Alistaire Stuart

SAS soldiers
Mr & Mrs Hussain
Sons of the serpent
on screen

Captain Midlands

Story Notes: 

Union Jack and Spitfire always had a close relationship. Originally, Union Joe Chapman became Union Jack as a favour to Jaqueline’s son, his best friend. In the New Invaders, they briefly had a romantic relationship which didn’t last.

Blade the vampire hunter originally appeared in Tomb of Dracula (1st series) #10. Originally, he only had a form of immunity to vampirism, but when he was bitten by Morbius (Peter Parker: Spider-Man #8), his enzymes reacted with Morbius’ unique form of vampirism in an unexpected way, giving him several vampire-strengths without the weaknesses, making him closer to the Daywalker of the movie version.

D-Notice (UK) is a censorship notice issued by the Department of Defence to the media to prohibit the publication of information on matters alleged to be of national security. The system dates from 1922.

Issue Information: 
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