Captain Canuck has become as much an image and an icon as a character. Combine that with C.C.'s bumpy publishing history making him seem less than sacrosanct, and you have a character that, like many U.S. superheroes before him, has been re-invented in recent years, in the hopes of exploiting the character's name and image, while using it as a springboard for new interpretations...
C.C. for the 1990s...
Captain Canuck Reborn
(Captain Canuck II, published by Semple Comics)
This was written and drawn by original C.C. creator Richard Comely himself, and ran for four issues beginning in 1993 (coincidentally, the year in which the first issue of the original series was set): the obligatory 0 issue so popular these days, plus #1-3. It also spawned a newspaper strip and, for a while, an official web site.
It was set in modern times, featuring a completely new C.C. He was Darren Oak, the philanthropic scion of a wealthy Ontario family who operates a rural rehabilitation centre and is raising his deaf son, but learns his brother Nathan is involved in a Super-Capitalist conspiracy (the themes clearly continue from the political fears that fueled Richard Comely's Star Rider and the Peace Machine). Donning the Captain Canuck costume as a symbol of hope, aided by his Native Indian associate, Daniel, Darren set out to thwart his brother's scheme. Despite the seriousness of the premise, Comely included a healthy dose of wit and wry humour as well.
Also included in the new series was Splatter, a superhero using a paint gun and a computer that could predict criminal activity. Splatter, like C.C., was a reinvention of an existing image...namely Catman from the original series.
Rumours began as early as 2004 that this
version of the character would make a comeback...and sure enough, the
first issue of a new, four issue mini-series was finally released in
2006. Captain Canuck Legacy featured Darren Oak battling arms
smugglers and, as part of Comely's attempt to streamline the versions
into one "reality" -- as we saw hints of in
C.C. for the 21st Centiry...
Captain Canuck: Utopian Moments
(Captain Canuck III -- or should that be Captain Canuck 1-B?-- published by Matrix Graphics)
This proposed four issue mini-series is shaping up to be one of those "if only..." projects fans can dream about for years to come. Rumored as far back as, I believe, 2000, the first issue was even released, in 2001, as a rare, limited "ashcan" edition (a version intended more to test the market, rather than as an official, mass release). That issue was re-released as a very limited edition in 2004 but, so far, that's it. As far as I know, the project isn't officially dead...but only in the way that Jimmy Hoffa or Ambrose Small aren't "officially" dead, but it's a good bet they are.
It is written by pro-writer (and long-time Captain Canuck fan) Mark Shainblum (of Northguard, Angloman fame) and drawn by Sandy Carruthers (Men in Black) who actually drew some of the '90s comic strip. It will be in black & white.
The behind-the-scenes info is that it would've been titled THE NEW ORIGINAL CAPTAIN CANUCK and feature Tom Evans as C.C., complete with supporting players from C.I.S.O. and Earth Patrol. How does that work, you wonder, considering the original series ended with C.C. removed from his time and place? According to Mark Shainblum, his version would've been viewed as a kind of What if...?/Elseworlds type story, presumably ignoring both the events in Captain Canuck #14 and any subsequent revival of the original character set in contemporary times.
The plot itself was going to include Heather and feature actual super villain opponents and with a grandiose title like "Utopian Moments" sounded kind of cool.
Oh, well, maybe
someday... Some sample pages are available for viewing at Sandy
official web site at http://www.sandycarruthers.com.
Captain Canuck: Unholy War
(Captain Canuck IV, published by Comely Comix)
Yet another completely new interpretation seemed to come out of almost nowhere and hit the stands with its first issue in September of 2004 (the 3rd and concluding issue was published in January, 2005). Edited by Richard Comely, published under his old Comely Comix banner in snazzy full colour between glossy covers (contributed by Comely himself and some Canadians prominent in the U.S. comics biz including Dave Ross and Kaare Andrews), this three issue mini-series is written and created by Riel Langlois and drawn by his brother Drue Langlois. This time even the costume has been changed.
The story has modern day R.C.M.P. officer David Semple donning a Captain Canuck costume (supposedly inspired by having read the comics when he was a kid) to investigate a biker gang in British Columbia, the Unholy Avengers, and to prove their leader, who is believed dead, is still alive. Oblique references to a C.C. who appeared briefly in Ottawa suggest this is supposed to be set in the same reality as the Captain Canuck Reborn version.
If the original C.C. was standard iconic heroism, and Captain Canuck Reborn a political thriller, than Unholy War, though a drama, is going for a lighter touch, with self-reflective humour (something which Comely himself liked to include in both earlier versions...this just cranks it up more) and hip pop references (like one villain mocking the other by saying "By your command" when ordered to do something -- a reference to the 1970s "Battlestar: Galactica"). Dave's motive for donning a costume is, basically, because deep down inside he's a comic book geek who thought it would be cool to be a super hero. With amusing badinage, and scenes where Captain Canuck emerges from a fight as much by luck as by skill, it's meant to be light hearted, quirky fun. And it is. Drue Langlois' art is more suited to low-key, autobiographical comics than two-fisted super heroes, but that's sort of the tone they're going for. The visuals are clear and easy to follow.
The biker idea is an interestingly "Canadian" premise. Although Hollywood usually presents the face of organized crime as being mobsters (ala the Godfather and The Sopranos), in Canada, organized crime -- at least the type that grabs the headlines -- is very much dominated by biker gangs (who apparently do a lot more than just ride their hogs and tear up diners), with some high profile trials, gang wars, and a hit CBC mini-series (The Last Chapter) keeping bikers in the public eye. But Langlois also acknowledges the complexity of things by having Dave be friends with an Unholy Avenger who is not part of the crime wing of the organization.
Along the way are homages to the old series, with the biker leader being an albino named "Mr. Gold", and C.C. dubs his lady sidekick "Blue Fox". Other characters include Dave's police partner (and Native Indian) Keith Smoke, and an elite East-Indian assassin, Nemisar, who follows his own code of honour. The heroes' name, Semple, is apparently an homage to one Paul Semple, a true life good samaritan who was killed while intervening in a mugging (Comely named his 1993 company after him, too).
The third issue features a surprise guest appearance -- the original Captain Canuck! -- that seems intended to streamline the various Captain Canucks and place them all within the same reality (as opposed to saying "this series is the 'real' character, and these characters are apochryphal") only time will tell how this all plays out. Though sold as a three-part "mini-series", the story was sufficiently open ended (without being "to be continued") that future adventures of David/Canuck were certainly implied. And sure enough, a belated fourth issue was published...but it was basically used to clean house, abruptly having the original Captain Canuck announce he'd found a way back to his own time/dimension and David hung up his C.C. costume...all prepatory to the character continuing in some non-C.C. related comics from the Langlois brothers.
Some trivia notes: the inside title of each issue is borrowed from a Canadian pop/rock song (#1: "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young, #2: "Misguided Angel" by The Cowboy Junkies and #3: "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" by Bruce Cockburn). And in #1, a couple of the bikers on the boat are meant to be jokes on the famous French comic book duo, Asterix and Obelix. Now why "colour" is consistently misspelled...I dunno.
At one point in the mid-2000s there were plans for a new series about the original Captain Canuck from a company called Smash! with George Freeman back on pencils, with some ads and promos even being published. But it came to naught as Richard Comely pulled the plug (the "why" depends on who you hear it from). Too bad (Freeman back doing C.C. woulda been... Ah, well.)
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