Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

97 – The Crooked World

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.

In which we venture out of our wheelhouse; Contest of Champions is ridiculous in any medium; Captain Britain would like you to unhand that elf; the Fury is legitimately terrifying; the Special Executive is the best at heists; Brian Braddock knows exactly what he’s getting into; Merlyn is the multiversal Charles Xavier; and this is really just the tip of the iceberg.


  • Various Contests of Champions
  • ISO-8
  • Marvel UK
  • Marvel Superheroes 377-388
  • Daredevils 1-11
  • Mighty World of Marvel 7-13
  • Captain Britain (Brian Braddock)
  • Jackdaw
  • Earth-238
  • Mad Jim Jaspers
  • The Crazy Gang
  • Algernon the Rat
  • Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne
  • Life-Enhancing Fluid
  • The Fury
  • Alan Moore juvenilia
  • The (first) death and rebirth of Captain Britain
  • How to make a retcon work
  • Mastermind (but not that Mastermind)
  • Emma Collins
  • Pre-Psylocke Betsy Braddock
  • S.T.R.I.K.E.
  • Vixen
  • Slaymaster
  • The Trial of Saturnyne
  • The Special Executive
  • Mandragon
  • The Captain Britain Corps
  • Captain U.K. (Linda McQuillan)
  • Marvelman vs. Miracleman
  • Future Traumatic Stress Disorder

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      1. It has been removed from our timeline by the Special Executive, to be returned after a lengthy series of interdimensional hijinks that also involves Miles’ beard being reshaped into a Union Jack.

  1. Regarding Jim Jaspers: while Thorpe and Davis, as you correctly said, based his appearance on Terry Thomas, Moore reformatted him to represent another (in)famous Briton. Both visually, but more importantly politically, Jaspers was based upon the late 60’s odious UK politician Enoch Powell, and his speech about the internment of anyone different based upon Powell’s horrible speech against immigration that would come to be know as “The Rivers of Blood” speech. There is a snippet from a documentary here about Powell and the speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix_7p1qczXs Please be warned both the video and the comments contain deeply racist views and language.

    A lot has been discussed recently about how mutants fail as a metaphor for race, but listening to Powell you do get the idea that Moore wanted to take Claremont’s Days of Future Past ideas to their logical conclusions, and marry them to one of the most repellant near-contemporary political figures who was still having an effect on the then government.

    Indeed, as I type this the UK has started it’s debate on whether to remain in the European Union, and much of the arguments against are framed using the same ideas as Powell espoused.

    I read this at the time in early adolescence and while he has produced technically better work, Moore’s Captain Britain remains one of his more powerful works for me..

  2. You touched on this in the podcast, but I really like the relationship between Saturnyne and Captain UK in this story. You talked about the part near the end where Saturnyne makes Linda suit up and get ready to fight the Fury, but there’s also this moment, just after they first meet:



    I love this combination of FTSD-stricken Captain UK and ultra-competent, borderline amoral Saturnyne, who is willing to manipulate and bully but also take care of other characters to make sure things turn out the way she wants. It isn’t a relationship I had seen before in superhero comics, and I really appreciate that this sort of human element doesn’t get lost in the grand cosmic scope of it all.

    1. Yeah – that’s one of my favorite scenes. I always enjoy characters who are manipulative for a good cause, and getting to see Saturnyne’s usually-hidden compassion come out from under her impenetrable air of imperiousness was a great (and heartwarming) character moment.

      1. One of my favs, too –this awesome Moore’s skill to deeply move you with a casual sentence in the most unsuspected moment (sorta Jaime Hernandez or Peter Bagge style). There’s talent here.

  3. Will there ever be a way to read the zine without meeting you in person at a con? I’d be happy to pay postage or read it online.

    1. It’ll be available digitally at some point; but it’s gonna be a pain–it’s physical paste-up, so we’ll have a ton of scanning and clean-up to do–and it hasn’t been a priority time-wise yet. Hopefully this spring or summer!

  4. By the way, it might be worth mentioning to any listeners who want to read this stuff that it was reprinted by Marvel USA in a seven-issue series, X-Men Archives featuring Captain Britain, in the ’90s. You can pick up the issues on eBay for next to nothing. They reprint all of the Thorpe/Davis/Moore stories (and I think this is the only place you can get the whole thing in colour).

    1. @ajimdandy on Twitter pointed out that Marvel Unlimited now has the relevant Marvel Super Heroes stuff, too! No Daredevils or Mighty World of Marvel yet, though…

  5. Coming in with the first Moore issue, as those of us who read this in the 2002(?) TPB did, made this seem even more bonkers when I read it. The Fury fight and the Mad Jim Tea Party are even more nightmarish if you haven’t seen what came before. There are a lot of tiny moments that I just absolutely adore, starting with Jackdaw’s death (Moore and Davis do a great job of selling the utter helpless despair Brian is going through). Cobweb’s narration on what’s going to happen to Legion. The fact that Brian basically just needs to be in the right place at the right time, more than actually do anything. (Damn, I need to read it again.)

    1. THIS!

      Jackdaw’s death where he bleeds out in Cap’s arms, still confident that Merlin will save them both, was what cemented The Fury as a truly horrific killing machine, and that THIS, THIS was the darkest damn comic I’d read in years.
      (Here’s the frame: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NmGvW68ptLE/U35UJCx0IiI/AAAAAAAAEc8/rivOw4tE6UA/s1600/MSH-387-04.gif ) Ironically that’s a link on “The Last War in Albion” a brilliant series of essays on the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrisson, and if that concept doesn’t excite you, them I’m afraid we can’t be friends any more. (See here for LWiA: http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/tag/last-war-in-albion/ )

  6. Contest of Champions! I enjoy the rhythm fighting in that. I sadly share the low-scoring fate in the arenas, though. 42 thousand people are better at it than I am at last report.

    I think my first contact with Captain Britain involved Saturnyne declaring, “Avant Guard! Teleport Formation!” as a squad of bowler-hatted men stood in a circle with umbrellas opened like shields. It was a truly memorable panel.

    The other echo of the Jaspers Warp I remember was much, much later and with unrelated characters, but one issue of Exiles had shapeshifting funnyman Morph battling reality-warper The Impossible Man who had his sense of humor removed. He keeps trying to be funny, but all his green-and-purple shapes have a blank-eyed stare and the Avengers are paperdolls floating above the Capitol building, which is itself a giant toilet.
    Warpers are more interesting when they are out of touch with both reality and themselves.

  7. So now that the whole “fuck Deadpool” thing has been demystified, what’s the next unlikely uprising?

    I’m putting seven to five on Maggot and Marrow fans coming out of the woodwork.

    I should say here that I am one of those fans, though not like, super-militant. I did like Marrow being such a hateful pain in the ass in her early tenure as an X-Man.

  8. The Jasper’s Warp is amazing (and the Fury may be the most terrifying villain in comics*). I do wish the Crooked World stories that predate the Jasper’s Warp were included in TPB because it’s really confusing trying to follow where it starts. The very first stories of Captain Britain starting with Chris Claremont (for better or worse) are available in Hard Cover, but it’s a frustrating gap after that.

    * Side note, there’s a Secret Wars story involving the Fury, which is the Fury from Captain Britain with the original Nick Fury’s head.

    IMO, the destruction of Earth-238 presaged the recent Secret Wars destruction of universes. It made me really happy when Brian Braddock finally showed up (since, imo, he should have been leading the god-damn Illuminati).

  9. Captain Britain was so goddamn weird, and so fun for it. And then he dies and it’s horrific.

    The Fury was far more effective than it had any right to be. It was genuinely creepy, despite its odd appearance. It was definitely at its best in this period. It’s been brought back a few times, to mixed effectiveness, but it never reached this level of awesomeness again.

  10. As somebody whose primary X-perience growing up was a couple dozen back issues of Excalibur, I spent a whole loooot of time as an adolescent wondering where the heck stuff like the Crazy Gang and Saturnyne came from. Good to know the answer is even weirder than I anticipated, I guess! Time to dust off those old floppies.

  11. People tend to forget that Moore got his start doing 2000AD (like most UK comics guys from that time), Warrior and more conventional comics. And just like his turn on Swamp Thing, Moore basically picks up a comic in mid-stream, does some house-cleaning, fixing and then proceeds to kick major ass, narratively.

    It’s interesting to see how Alan Davis gets his feet under him as this run kicks off, honing the skills that will serve him well for decades to come. Truly one of my favorite and most expressive artists. The most shocking thing here: MEGAN SMOKING. Never having read these stories, seeing that was kind of shocking (given the Megan of Excalibur).

    It’s always fascinating to me to read Moore’s superhero stuff before he left that realm. His work was often great, even in the context of existing worlds. I loved his Clayface story from a Batman annual, for example. Many of his ideas were the kernel of ideas that would be exploited later (to varying degrees of success, see John Constantine: Good, Other colored Lanters:variable).

  12. Yeah! f*** Namor!

    This episode was really interesting and I enjoyed learning all this stuff on Captain Britain, but I do miss the main series and Inferno.

    1. Kid, if you’re talking smack about the King of Abs-lantis, we’re going to have to step outside (because the people in this coffee shop probably don’t want to hear me explain why Namor is awesome for two hours).

      1. That he may be, he is still no X-men.
        And I’ll defend this argument with my life!
        Or untill my computer’s battery is gone since I didn’t bring my charger… Then I’ll have to come back later this evening and defend this argument with my life.

    2. I get the feeling Namor would simultaneously appreciate 1) people being ineffectually mad at him and 2) wanting to cheat on their wives and/or husbands with him.

  13. Hi folks,

    Just to say (from this side of the Atlantic) that, yes, Jay, you were exactly right about where Moore took over. Somewhere in the middle of the Siege of Camelot Trade Paperback, they reprint Moore’s ‘A Short History of Britain’ in which he notes ‘I took over the scripting of Captain Britain with the last page of the episode featured in Marvel Super-Heroes 386’ which is exactly the point you note. He goes on to say, ‘… and within less than two issues had managed to kill off all the major characters, including Captain Britain.’ It’s a startling resume, with segments like ‘the only ingredient needed to rocket The Captain to new heights of international stardom and artistic triumph was me’, and you can’t quite work out how serious he’s being when he writes it.

    On an ‘um, actually’ kind of note, it’s possibly worth mentioning that, before Alan Moore, Vixen had never appeared. She’d been mentioned in throwaway Claremont lines really early in the run, but the plot had never been followed up, so Moore provided her first appearance (something else he mentions in his commentary) and, basically, defined who she was. (It really is an amazing document, also referencing the early appearance of Betsy’s psychic powers and demonstrating how he intends to pull the whole thing together; if you can’t get hold of it, let me know and I’ll scan it for you and send it over.)

    Finally (and this is just my take), I thought it might be worth mentioning that, by my reckoning, Moore, fresh of writing Doctor Who, created the Fury as what he thought the Cybermen should be: invincible and utterly implacable. It does genuinely feel like that’s how they were designed and he was probably disappointed by their actuality too.

    Anyway, many thanks for this episode (and all the others, but this one in particular). And with very best wishes,


  14. I LOVED the Fury in the Captain Britain series, well not so much “loved” as “was deeply disturbed by”, the design is so raw and ugly and utilitarian.

    And Mad Jim being different in every single panel musthave been a nightmare to keep straight.

  15. So I’ve never read any Captain Britain or Excalibur before but I have read Claremont’s X-Men: Die by the Sword because I’m a big Exiles fan.

    I never realized how much the Jasper’s Warp plays into that crossover. What other Excalibur/Captain Britain issues should I read to make that crossover actually make sense?

    1. The upcoming part 2 of this Captain Britain coverage should deal some more with Warpie related matters, like the Cherubim (who even got their own backup story) who debut in Captain Britain Monthly.

      The Alan Davis written run of Excalibur also features them heavily in #61 to #65 which serves as an intended end to their story.

  16. Hey guys, I really enjoyed this episode. Learned a lot. I’ve become a big fan of your work recently. Thanks for all you do.

    I hope you don’t mind an unrelated question, but has anyone heard whether Havok might return to the comics soon? Makes sense that he would, since his namesake will be in a big movie soon. I haven’t bought a comic in 20 years (have been keeping up via reviews like yours), but his return might get me back into it.

  17. So, it having been established that A.- this is a pretty rad group of fans and B.- some of us play Contest of Champions, would it be appropriate to leave game info (I am ASummersBrother) here? That we may get to play said game with said rad people, Jay included…?

  18. I’ve got to say, I’m not looking for when deadpool /does/ become directly relevant. Because that way lies Liefeld and the destruction of the New Mutants (not literally, but I have to suspect that I’m not alone in the fact that New Mutants #87 was the last issue I ever read of that book)

  19. Sigh. Maybe if Wolverine or Deadpool had been in the Jaspers Warp story, Marvel would keep it in print.

    How did you get your hands on it?

  20. Didn’t the Fury make an appearance during Claremont’s third run on Uncanny, somewhere between #445-473, around ~2005 or so? Honestly, my memories of that era are a bit of a blur because…well, it was far from Claremont’s best work.

    1. Apparently yes, he did. #462 has a story about Mad Jim Jaspers being revived as a fusion with the Fury, and that led into the Mini-series X-Men: Die by the Sword, where Jaspers killed many of the Captain Britain Corps.

  21. For a terrible example of the type of retcon that Moore did with Captain Britain, see Dan Way’s “Wolverine: Origins”

  22. Deadpool is great when done correctly. Joe Kelly’s run in the late 1990’s, Gale Simone’s Deadpool/AgentX run, and (most of) Nicieza’s Cable & Deadpool were all a ton of fun.

    The rest, I could do without.

    He’s also one of the very few new Marvel characters to catch on since the early 1980’s. I’d say him, Gambit, Cable, and the Winter Soldier. Maybe one or two I’m overlooking…

  23. I am a writer and artist of a fan fiction comics underthe umbrella of Avengers UK. We are a collective of creators who base our own fan fiction stories on those characters of the Captain Britain characters and the 90s Marvel UK characters.
    I myself write a spin off series that was based on events in the Crooked World Saga .
    I recently posted this new comic which I created an origin for Earth 238’s Captain UK which was never told.
    It is available on the AVENGERS UK page the latest FREE comic
    – “Defenders UK Special Edition: Mistake Number 238” –
    The untold origin of Captain UK *Linda McQuillan) and the last days of the ‘Heroes of Earth 238’ – and how the actions of ROMA and MERLYN effect the not only their destiny but that of DEFENDERS UK.
    to view the full issue for FREE – see

  24. Another awesome ep.

    Interestingly I grew up in the UK (I’m English) and started buying comic books in the 90s. I had no real idea about Marvel UK and certainly by then, it seemed to be far less visible than normal Marvel.

    Do any other Brits agree? If it turns out that it was very visible and I just missed it, I will join with Miles and be like:


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