Captain Canuck!

Captain Canuck: The Complete Edition: written by Richard Comely and George Freeman; illustrated by George Freeman, Richard Comely, and J.C. St-Aubin; Captain Canuck created by Ron Leishman and Richard Comely (1975-1981; collected 2011): Canadian superhero Captain Canuck originally appeared in 1975. He would ultimately star in about 15 issues of his own comic book before finally vanishing in the early 1980’s; later, there would be revivals, but this volume collects that first run.

Richard Comely would write and draw the first published adventures of Canuck. In those issues we met a hero who’d gained super-strength from an encounter with mysterious aliens. As he was a Mountie at the time, he would end up becoming a sort of super-Mountie for the growing world power that was Canada in the far-flung future of…the mid-1990’s!

OK, so the book got technological and social changes really, really, really wrong. So it goes.

Comely was (and still is, I believe) a One-World Conspiracy adherent, and some of that creeps into the pages of Canuck (though not nearly as much as it did into another Comely project from the same time, Star Rider and the Peace Machine). For the most part, though, the book sticks to superheroics, often in vaguely James-Bond-like situations in the first few issues.

Where Captain Canuck really takes off is with the addition of writer/artist/colourist George Freeman and artist/colourist J.C. St-Aubin to the creative team. The colouring on Captain Canuck was markedly better than the mainstream offerings of DC and Marvel right from the start; Freeman and St-Aubin would make the book look remarkably good from a production standpoint. Freeman was also a much better, cleaner cartoonist than Comely.

By issue 9 or so, Captain Canuck looked great, and the stories had begun to flow more smoothly — and to ‘pop’ as well with odd situations and characters. Not many comic books in any time period would have had the desire and the skilful creators to pull off an homage to (Canadian) Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant; Captain Canuck does.

All things end, of course, and given the difficulty in securing adequate distribution, Captain Canuck was probably always doomed — especially in a world in which comic shops were just starting to become the primary means of comic-book distribution. The book ends on a cliffhanger. So it goes. Recommended.

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