Captain Canuck: Unholy War
(2005-2006 - issues #1-3, Comely Comix; 2007 - issue #4, Hot Hail Comix)
Written by Riel Langlois. Illustrated by Drue Langlois.
Captain Canuck was a Canadian super hero created in the 1970s and which has achieved a surprisingly durable cult status, even outside of Canada. Though commercial success has remained elusive, the character has enjoyed periodic revivals -- or at least, the name has, though the character himself has been re-imagined a time or two.
Case in point is Captain Canuck: Unholy War, which introduces a totally new Captain, with a redesigned costume, as well. Created by brothers Riel and Drue Langlois, but overseen by original C.C. creator, Richard Comely, this C.C. is Dave Semple, a Canadian R.C.M.P. officer who decides to become a super hero, as the hook line for the series went, simply because he could -- not because of any dark origin or supernatural compulsion. Dave is basically a comic book geek who decides to model himself after the comic book super hero, Captain Canuck, because he thinks it will help him track down the elusive Mr. Gold, the leader of a British Columbia biker gang, the Unholy Avengers. Gold is believed to be dead by Dave's superiors, but Dave isn't so sure.
There's a light-hearted tone to this Captain Canuck that might flash you back a few years to characters like Spider-Man or early Nova comics. Just because Dave "can" be a super hero, doesn't mean he's that great at it, and there's an everyman quality as Dave triumphs in fights as much through dumb luck as any skill, and there's plenty of amusing quips and quirky ideas. But it's not all a jokes, maintaining an undercurrent of drama and humanity to the proceedings, too. There's a nice grey-area reality, as Dave has a friend who belongs to the non-criminal wing of the Unholy Avengers. And even Mr. Gold is given an intriguing self-justifying monologue at one point. Plus Riel Langlois creates a nice sense of rooted reality in some of the exchanges between Dave and his friends, throwing in grounding minutia like exchanges about the best way to serve lamb curry and the like. There's a kitchen sink realism in among the quirky humour and adventure.
Drue Langlois' art serves that realism, in that there's a low keyness to the art. It's not particularly dynamic or explosive art, but tells the story with a solid clarity. The rich, textured colours by Laurie E. Smith and Greg Waller are quite attractive, too.
Although there are knowing references and allusions to the original Captain Canuck it doesn't really require being familiar with the original comic -- well, except toward the end, when an attempt is made to tie the various mythos together...but even then, it's explained (in fact, the mini-series includes a few pages in each issue recapping the original series).
After the three-part story, there was a fourth issue published quite a bit later that isn't really essential. It was basically just a house cleaning excercise, including having Dave give up the C.C. identity (so Dave, sans costume, could be featured in some web comics by the creators). So the "West Coast" Captain Canuck was not the start of a whole new C.C. franchise, but just a self-contained little digression.
Re-reading this mini-series, I'm reminded how kind of, well, fun it is -- it's a likeable effort with a likeable hero. And that makes it pretty, well, likeable!