Over a year since “Captain Britain and MI:13” ended, Paul Cornell returns to one of the book’s members with a “Spitfire” one-shot that’s part of Marvel’s “Women of Marvel” initiative. With Cornell now a DC exclusive, this could be the last chance for fans of the title to see him handling some of the characters for a few years, at least, and Cornell does not disappoint. While the comic stars and focuses on Spitfire, Blade also features prominently as Cornell continues to build on their relationship with one another as they go vampire hunting in New York City.
“Spitfire” acts in many ways as an epilogue to “Vampire State,” the final story arc of “Captain Britain and MI:13” with Lady Jacqueline still dealing with her vampire nature and what that means. It’s a natural place to start, especially since she’s dating Blade, a vampire hunter. In New York, the two track down an aristocratic vampire that’s suspected of selling British secrets to a corporation. The two follow her scent, literally, to a vampire wannabe bar where the two are treated with a weird form of admiration. Cornell is much gentler with the goth kids that like vampires than Garth Ennis was in “Preacher,” which makes for an interesting take.
Part of the conflict for Lady Jacqueline is the knowledge that she’s effectively immortal and wondering what that will do to her. The aristocrat they’re after talks about how she spied for the Nazis and even this latest act as simply efforts to stave off boredom. If you live long enough, concepts like nations and regular human affairs lose their luster and that’s something Spitfire struggles with throughout the issue. She’s not comfortable being a vampire, but she does gain some knowledge and comfort in the issue. Blade is a help in that regard and the two make for a great couple. Hopefully, when they show up next, Cornell’s inspired decision to put them together won’t be forgotten.
I haven’t seen Elena Casagrande’s art before now, but some quick research shows that she’s done a lot of work for IDW as well as the odd issue for Marvel recently. While Leonard Kirk would no doubt be most people’s first choice for this book because of his tenure on “Captain Britain and MI:13,” Casagrande’s tenure on “Angel” makes her a natural choice for an urban vampire story. Her use of thick, bold lines suits the setting of the book with much of it taking place at night. She definitely has a strong handle on lighting and having characters move through darkened streets.
Her line work has a lot of energy in it, looking dashed off in a good way, and that is never more apparent than when she has Spitfire moving at superspeed through the streets. Spitfire has a look of movement and restless about her in this issue that ties in to her powers and her inner turmoil. While I didn’t know who Casagrande was before this issue, she’s definitely someone I’ll be keeping an eye out for.
Fans of “Captain Britain and MI:13” will no doubt delight at this issue, but it functions well as a solo (or team-up) story for Spitfire with Cornell and Casagrande doing a great job of making the story all about her. New readers shouldn’t have any problems jumping in and having fun with Lady Jacqueline as she and Blade hunt down a vampire traitor in New York.