Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Where did the sasquatches come from?" Captain Canuck Summer Special/Canada Day Edition#1 review

Although Canadian-born Joe Shuster co-created the first true super hero, Superman - granting Canada a 50% stake in the concept of super heroes - we don't have a rich history of Canadian super heroes. The 1940s saw a terrific spike of heroes like Nelvana & Johnny Canuck during the wartime period where imported US periodicals were diminished, necessitating homespun products; however, once the US heroes came back over our border, our heroes retreated into barely-remembered nostalgia.

Come the 1970s, Richard Comely was one of several self-publishing Canucks to get in the game, via his 1975 creation Captain Canuck; it lasted a few years and made some impression on Canadian comic book fans of the era, but soon the good Captain slipped into our poorly-maintained collective memories.

To celebrate Canada Day this year, Captain Canuck is back in the Captain Canuck Summer Special/Canada Day Edition#1, a free comic book being distributed to shops across Canada. Some people may pick up the comic for nostalgic reasons, but there's no effort made here to revamp the Captain into someone adults will feel less-ashamed to read about - he remains an all-ages (re: suitable for children) hero, unlike most of his brethren in the States.

Case in point: the book opens with Paul Gardner & Dean Henry's "Happy Canada Day," in which the hyperactive child Aziz relates an adventure of Captain Canuck to the real-life Captain Canuck, who reacts with some bemusement as the boy pits him against sasquatches, terrorists who have kidnapped Pierre Eliot Trudeau (who, much to the Captain's confusion, is Prime Minister in 2014!) and finally a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's all quite humourous and follows the kind of inane child logic anyone who has spent time babysitting would expect; Canuck's ability to have a replacement vehicle waiting in the exact location his previous one crashed is a pretty good joke.

Next up is "True North" by Richard Comely & George Freeman (Freeman being one of the original Captain Canuck artists). This tale is a bit confusing - it's set back in 1981, where Captain Canuck has traveled from 1994; perhaps it's a follow-up to Comely's previous Captain Canuck stories? At any rate, Canuck is journeying around in a truck pulling a trailer wherein dwells the Stygian, a dangerous extraterrestrial he has to shield from humanity; unfortunately, some men steal his truck and the Stygian briefly gets loose, forcing the Captain to battle the tentacled monstrosity.

The issue is filled out by various ads for other Captain Canuck products, but also all manner of advertising for Canadian comic shops and other coast-to-coast businesses, plus a 7-page directory of Canadian comic shops and a letter from Governor-General David Johnston wherein he professes his love of the Captain. That's a pretty good "get" for a comic book! When's the last time a high-ranking US politician sponsored an issue of Captain America, or a British MP vouched for Captain Britain? Quite, I thought not!

Priced at the enormous sum of $0.00, it's a fine excuse to visit your local shop this Canada Day!

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