Based on a sort-of recommendation I got through Rob Williams' blog I decided to give Captain Britain and MI:13 (a series that, until now, I have almost completely ignored) the ol' college try. I had seen the wonderful Bryan Hitch covers on the shelf and peeked at the artwork of Leonard Kirk (which I thought was quite good) but not knowing anything about the writer, Paul Cornell, I just passed on the thing expecting it to be no better than previous attempts to keep this character around and operating in the Marvel U. To my surprise (and to Cornell and Kirk's credit), however, I found that I really quite enjoyed it.
Considering my track record, I think it's typical of me to have initially ignored this series when it first hit the shelves (I can't tell you how many times I've caught on to a good title late - and even sometimes too late - in the game). In addition to my general unfamiliarity with the project and it's writer, I also had trouble sussing out what the point of this book was? What purpose did it serve for Marvel other than keeping Captain Britain around even though there were a number of recently failed series behind him? The Secret Invasion tie-in was just as likely to turn people like me away as it was to attract their attentions. With comic book funds at a low, experimenting on a book that I couldn't bring myself to care about was just not a consideration.
And look at me now, shouting out into the blogosphere after reading only two issues that I'm a total convert and ready to evangelize on its behalf. I think it's just so uncommon for me, these days, to find a book within one of the established super-hero universes that I can enjoy purely on the creative team's overall talent at telling good, interesting stories.
Part of my conversion has to do with just how much I love Leonard Kirk's work on the book. Leonard is rarely a let down and his Agents of Atlas work was some of the best coming out from any company at the time of that series' release. It reminds me, in spirit, of the old Alan Davis and Bryan Hitch days of Cap in his own title or either of their work on Excalibur. The layouts are easy on the eyes, his linework is clean and expressive, and his ability to show everything from drama to comedy in his characters is top-notch.
I should also point out how very pleased I am with the writing of Paul Cornell. He has taken a group of characters that haven't been very compelling (or even made much sense) since Davis left Excalibur the second time (with the exception of Wisdom who wasn't present at the time), and he's made them genuinely interesting. The dialogue is crisp and feels natural, the story has the definite feeling of going somewhere rather than padding things out for the eventual trade collection, and his collaboration with Kirk appears effortless. These guys appear to be pretty much in sync.
Looking at how my pull-list has been shrinking these days (I'm sure I've lost a half-dozen titles in as many months, mostly Marvel and DC books) it's a nice feeling to be able to find a diamond in the rough like CBaMI:13. Now, if issues three and four turn out to be just as entertaining as the first two, consider me on board for the long haul.
Thank you Cornell and Kirk.