Well thank goodness you can’t judge a book by its cover, cos this is one boring cover. It’s well-rendered, but the image of Faiza and the Black Knight on flying steed doesn’t excite so much as calm. And that bloody dull logo doesn’t hurt, making the book look like an auto manual.
Inside, there’s some great stuff going on. Britain’s number one (and only) super-team are in Birmingham, battling refugees from the Dark Dimension usually seen in Dr Strange. The demon Plokta is tempting people with their heart’s desire, and using the energy he gains when they give in to create Mindless Ones, who remain among my favourite Steve Ditko creations. Captain Britain, in a moment of overconfidence, crosses a magical threshold in a bid to rescue long-lost wifey Meggan, while the Knight, Faiza, Pete Wisdom and Captain Midlands try not to think of what they really really want. Meanwhile, Spitfire and Blade the Vampire Hunter/Pompous Bore stop trying to kill one another and start flirting.
There’s a nice mix of characterisation and action – the dream demon business allows us to get to know our heroes better as they struggle against the evil targeting them. And still we don’t learn what Captain Midlands’ hidden desire is. The cliffhanger’s not too thrilling, apparently being a bit of continuity business tied to the Black Panther’s series. But that’s just one panel. The rest of the book is a tour de force of well-paced, spooky fun which really shows why author Paul Cornell is such a great scriptwriter for Doctor Who.
The artwork’s better than it’s been for a couple of months, with always terrific penciller Leonard Kirk given great support by inkers Michael Bair, Jay Leisten and Craig Yeung, while colourists John Rauch and Brian Reber ensure it’s a hot day in the hell that is Birmingham.
Best moment? A subtle cameo by Lockheed the dragon which warmed my heart.