How did this series actually get better in the past month? Somehow, Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk keep making each issue of “Captain Britain and MI:13” better than the last, and I’m mystified at how they do it, because with each issue, I think that it can’t possibly get any better. Never have I been so happy to be wrong.
What makes this book so good is the wit and intelligence behind every scene. A team of superheroes fighting a demon isn’t anything new, but in Cornell’s hands it’s unpredictable, fresh, and original. Early in the issue, the demon Plokta is closing in on Spitfire, but is quickly dispatched by Blade with a sword made of… paper? He explains, “Wordsword. Papier mache. Made of pages from magical books. Good against demons. Not so good in the rain.” Inventive and absurdly entertaining ideas like this crop up throughout the book.
Those moments are just window-dressing for Cornell’s fantastic ability to have characters evolve and grow. One of the best subplots of this story arc has been the growing relationship between Blade and Spitfire, beginning with animosity as Blade tried to kill her because she’s a vampire. But, in this issue, they’ve gained a mutual respect that causes her to defend Blade from the scorn of Pete Wisdom and the rest of the team. And, the change in their relationship has come about organically over the past few issues — but that doesn’t mean, when this is all over, Blade won’t try to kill again, especially with the ever unpredictable Cornell at the helm.
Kirk’s art continues to grow stronger with each issue as well, as he manages to depict groups of people in confined spaces with immense skill. Things looks cramped but not crowded, a subtle difference that most artists can’t pull off. He shifts between the cramped confines of the apartment building hallways and the Ditko-esque dream corridor that Captain Britain finds himself in with ease. His style may not be flashy, but it’s crisp, clean, and does everything it can to enhance the clarity of the story.
As well, his depiction of Captain Britain’s awareness of the falsity of his reality in the dream corridor is some of his best work ever. The subtle sadness that the Captain’s face shows as he struggles between losing his heart’s desire and trying to keep it together, so he can escape is the work of a true professional.
Each month, I think that “Captain Britain and MI:13” cannot possibly get any better. Each month, Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk prove me wrong. I look forward to being wrong again next month.
(Ever seen a demon beat with a paper sword? No? Well, check out CBR’s preview of this issue then!)